Margaret Keys to bring ‘Music for a Summer’s Evening’ to Christ Church
Next month the singer will bring a taste of well-known light classical music to the heart of Derry at Christ Church - the final of a trio of church-based concerts across the North called ‘Music for a Summer’s Evening’.
Margaret said: “It’s almost like a little ‘Proms’ concert – an evening of light entertainment with many pieces that people know, classical pieces that people enjoy.
“There will be Irish songs and duets with Fr. Eugene O’Hagan from ‘The Priests’. We are going to do duets from ‘West Side Story’ and some traditional duets like ‘Danny Boy’.
"We’ll have a few more performers as well. The Scala String Orchestra, and the wonderful Trevor Burnside will accompany us throughout the evening”.
The idea for the concerts came from an approach from one of the churches who needed a boost to their restoration fund and were also inspired by a series of cathedral concerts by Welsh tenor Aled Jones.
“We thought that might be a way to do something for the churches and so each of the churches we perform in will receive a contribution towards their funds.
"Theatres are fantastic to perform in, but sometimes it’s good to give to a place that needs it. It was hard to choose the churches, but perhaps next time we can choose three different churches.
"So, people can donate on the night, but we will also make a contribution and any sponsorship we receive for these concerts will also go to the churches.
“It’s easier for the artist if concerts are in theatres because there are booking offices and so on, but in the long-term I think there’s more satisfaction in doing these types of concerts. Obviously, Fr. Eugene had a passion for this as well and was happy to get onboard with it when they approached us.”
Fisherwick Church in Belfast is the venue for the first ‘Music for a Summer’s Evening’ on June 3, with the second at St. Malachy’s Church in Castlewellan, the following week on June 10. Christ Church is the venue for the last concert in the series on Saturday, June 17.
It is a place that Margaret Keys knows well and has a great affection for.
“The last time I was in Christ Church, I was recording for the Derry Feis album to commemorate the centenary. Honestly, not only are the acoustics beautiful, but the piano is also gorgeous. The whole ambience of the place is fantastic.
"We will obviously have our own sound and lighting and it will look very impressive on the evening. It is a beautiful place. I have performed in many different churches.
"At Christmas I performed in St. Augustine’s which is absolutely beautiful as well. This concert is a bit bigger and as we build it up, we might go to the Long Tower or St. Eugene’s Cathedral. But Christ Church is somewhere that I have always loved to sing in.
"I have done a few things in there and it’s a beautiful place to sing live in as well as record in. There’s a lot of music that happens in Christ Church.
“I have done a lot of episodes of ‘Songs of Praise’ and I will be doing more with them this year. Aled Jones does a tour of cathedrals and I have been part of that at times and they are wonderful settings for concerts.
"People love that because churches belong to everybody, and it works really well for that reason. We are going to organise coffees and teas afterwards and bring the community in even more and that’s another reason why we decided on church concerts. Having Fr. Eugene involved is a definite plus as well,” Margaret said.
‘The Priests’ have enthralled audiences across the globe for many years with their eponymously titled 2008 album going seven times platinum in Ireland.
Fr. Eugene O’Hagan said: “I’ve sung in Christ Church a few times and the last time was with the Altnagelvin Hospital Choir. It’s a lovely church and it’s a lovely, welcoming space for music and it’s great that it’s available to the city for that”.
Asked if there was any particular aspect of teaming up with Margaret Keys that he was looking forward to Fr. O’Hagan said: “Well, firstly I am looking forward to singing with her.
"The last time I sang with her was for the diamond anniversary of the Londonderry Musical Society at the Millennium Forum. I have sung occasionally with Margaret, but more through accident rather than design. This is the first time we’ve teamed up together for a series of concerts. So, I’m looking forward to that and to working on our repertoire together.
“Some of the songs will be immediately recognisable both from our solo repertoire lists and we are working now on a couple of pieces to do together. It won’t be very esoteric that people haven’t heard before.
"We aren’t going for the unknown, it’ll be music that’s known by people and hopefully our arrangements of them will do credit to both Margaret’s voice and mine all being well.
“Nobody should worry that I am making a break to do a kind of Robbie Williams and extending my repertoire outside of the band.”
Margaret added: “It’s also just good fun, it’s not all serious and I love interacting and having fun with the audience. There’ll be a range of emotions throughout these concerts.”
Tickets are £20 and can be purchased online at: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/music-for-a-summers-evening-with-margaret-keys-and-eugene-o-hagan-tickets-621710030437?aff=e and by calling 07812588010 or Long Tower Parochial House on 02871262301.