So many groups have struggled to keep themselves afloat during lockdown. All the more inspiring therefore are those who against all odds have found means and gone to remarkable lengths to support others in need. Orkney’s Winter Choir and Camerata is a shining example of this. Both the community choir and the chamber orchestra are long-standing and well-supported musical groups within the Orkney islands.
In lockdown, they found themselves unable to give their annual fundraising Christmas Concert at St Magnus Cathedral in aid of the Malawi Music Fund: an Orkney charity that transforms the lives of orphaned children in East Africa through music. Through sheer determination, the Choir and Camerata found a way to keep generating funds for this vital cause. Last Autumn, they created a CD of Christmas music: Together for Christmas. 100 Orkney singers and players rehearsed and recorded their parts remotely, while two tracks were included from Likhubula Children's Choir, the group of orphaned children whose education is made possible by the Fund. Everything, from the musical direction to the mixing and cover design, was done voluntarily and all proceeds went directly to the charity. Their inspiring endeavour not only saw Orkney’s musical community keep creatively connected in isolation, but also raise £3,000 for vulnerable children we might all too easily forget given the immediate challenges on our doorstep.
‘When the invitation to sing in the virtual Winter Choir dropped into my Inbox I was thrilled. At last a chance to sing. We had sadly missed the camaraderie and music-making of our choral rehearsals, so this meant a great deal. The final outcome, a wonderful CD of Christmas music, was a triumph over remote recording. We are delighted that our CD would raise money for another very different community, that of the needy children of Malawi.’
Loraine Littlejohn, soprano, Orkney Winter Choir
‘I have had the immense privilege of playing with Orkney Camerata the past 10 years. It’s a perfect pastime away from being an island GP. The group is very friendly, welcoming and inclusive, always encouraging young players to participate while achieving high standards of performance. The annual Winter Concert at St Magnus Cathedral is an Orkney highlight so it was fantastic to be able to contribute to the CD during the difficult months when playing together became impossible.’
Catriona Kemp, violin, Orkney Camerata
Public voting for the 2021 RPS Inspiration Award has now closed and the winner will be announced at the RPS Awards at Wigmore Hall on Monday 1 November. Here you can read about the other five shortlistees: