A LONG-established Ayrshire choral group are gearing up for their festive concert, writes Stewart McConnell.

The Choir of Ayrshire Voices, now firmly established as Prestwick’s very own classical music choir, brings Christmas choral classics to St Nicholas Church this Saturday, December 7 with “Midwinter Voices”, a programme of words and music specially devised for the choir by Artistic Director Marilyn de Blieck.

Carols and other Christmas music will be joined in the programme by seasonal poetry and prose by a wide range of authors, with Dickens, Ogden Nash, and Scottish poet Robert Fergusson featuring strongly alongside music by Herbert Howells, Brahms, John Rutter, and Arnold Bax.

The musical numbers range from Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” to Howell’s 1919 Carol Anthem “Here is the Little Door”, which sums up the nation’s feelings after the end of World War One, and which has been on conductor Raymond Bramwell’s choral “bucket list” for many years.

Other carols and seasonal music will feature Christmas music composers like John Rutter, Vaughan Williams and Brahms. The concert also features Arnold Bax’s “Fantasia on Polish Carols”, composed in 1945 in tribute to the people of Poland, and light relief in the form of Mike Batt and Tim Rice’s “A Winter’s Tale”.

Marilyn de Blieck said: “I wanted to mix some favourite words with music both familiar and less well-known, and to highlight the myriad aspects of the winter season which do not always feature in performances by choirs at this time of year, particularly the celebratory and comic side of the annual December/January festival.

I hope that the Prestwick audience will come out in support of its very own choir; we have now moved the entire Ayrshire Voices operation to the town.”

The concert is at 7pm for 7.30pm on Saturday.