University Chamber Choir alumni hit high notes for NHS Charities

14 July 2020

101 voices perform much loved graduation anthem

Former music theatre graduates from the University of Central Lancashire’s (UCLan) award-winning Chamber Choir have come together to record a special version of a graduation anthem in an effort to raise money for the NHS.

May It Be by Enya, is traditionally sung by the UCLan choir during graduation ceremonies which this summer have been postponed because of Covid-19.

In a week when the ceremonies were due to take place the former students, under the guidance of Musician in Residence and Choir Director Mark Goggins, have released a special version of the song, recorded remotely, which not only aims to raise the spirits but also raise valuable funds for NHS charities.

The project, set up in April via a Facebook appeal, involved the participation of 101 former choir members who each performed one part in the song’s four-part harmony. Once all the parts had been recorded and submitted it was down to Mark to finish the mammoth task of editing and mixing all the voices and adding an orchestral accompaniment.

"The work that the NHS staff, carers and volunteers do is incredible and to be able to provide charities with support to help physical and mental health and emotional wellbeing is vital."

“This is a song that has always been in the repertoire, so everyone who has ever been in the choir knows it,” explained Mark. “We have sung it many times at Graduation ceremonies as well as in concerts. The song is all about staying strong, making it through, and most important of all conveys a message of hope. We think it will strike a chord with all those who listen to it.”

In addition to their performances the former students each sent a video of themselves singing so that an accompanying video could also be produced.

One of the former students involved was Bradley Judge, a member of the choir in 2014. Since graduating from UCLan he has pursued a career in musical theatre appearing in a variety of musicals including Sister Act, Grease, Yank!, Pippin, Salad Days, Hair and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. 

Commenting on the fundraising initiative Bradley said: “When the project was suggested I jumped at the chance to be involved. As part of the choir May It Be was my favourite song and it brings back so many nostalgic memories. I remember singing it in a restaurant in France, acapella-style, because it was a local lady’s birthday. It really is a beautiful song and the finished production is very special. It’s also wonderful to see the different faces of so many people who over the years have been members of the choir.”

Fellow UCLan alumna Katy Clayton sang with the choir for three years between 2013 and 2016. After graduating she appeared in the musical ‘The Band’ which toured the UK for 18 months including a West End run. Last year she played ‘Janet’ one of the leading roles in the British feature film ‘Me, Myself and Di’ which will be released later in 2020. Most recently she appeared in the National Theatre’s production of ‘A Taste of Honey’ on its UK tour and West End run at Trafalgar Studios. 

Katy added: “It’s a joy to take part in making music, especially when it’s raising money for such a good cause. The work that the NHS staff, carers and volunteers do is incredible and to be able to provide charities with support to help physical and mental health and emotional wellbeing is vital. I hope people find May It Be, which is essentially our choir’s anthem, as uplifting in these strange and difficult times as it was for me to take part in singing it once again.”

The one-off performance has been included as part of a special message email to all this year’s graduates from the UCLan Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Baldwin and Chancellor Ranvir Singh.

A Just Giving page has been set up inviting people who see the video online to make a donation to support NHS staff and volunteers caring for Covid-19 patients.