THE Grand Opera House in Belfast is the setting for a variety concert being organised by local man Brian Johnston, with the proceeds going to Marie Curie Cancer Care.
Some of Northern Ireland's most popular artists will be performing, most of them for the first time at this prestigious venue. Ballyclare Male Choir, formed in 1933, has become well known throughout the British Isles and Europe, and has obtained many accolades as a result of performances on radio, television and the concert platform. Phyllis Boyd was appointed conductor in 2007 and the choir's repertoire of secular and sacred music is in much demand at concerts and Church services throughout the province and further afield.
Roughan Silver Band, located between Augher and Ballygawley have a remarkable history. Formed in 1905, descendants of those who first thought of forming the band are still involved, and indeed, members of the 6th generation are currently learners.
Their present conductor, Keith Anderson has brought the band much success and it gained promotion to Grade 2 in 2008. Sheelagh Greer, who in 1997 was awarded the title 'Northern Ireland Singer', is one of the finest mezzo sopranos in the province. She continues to be in demand as a soloist throughout Ireland and beyond, and her album 'My Soul Shall Sing' is regularly played on radio.
The Lindsay Chorale originated as a small group of singers formed in 1990 by the late Tom Lindsay, at that time organist of 1st Saintfield Presbyterian Church. Over the years the members of the Chorale have performed at a number of prestigious venues, including Hillsborough Castle, The Waterfront Hall, The Ulster Hall and Belfast City Hall.
Iryna Kachura was born in Mariupol, Ukraine and by the age of 9 she was already playing Mozart sonatas and giving concerts throughout Ukraine and Russia. At the still tender age of 15, she gained a scholarship to study full time at the Prokofiev Academy, graduating with the highest honours of distinction, and she was asked to remain there as a professor of the faculty. Iryna has won several prominent international piano competitions, and, renowned for her interpretation of the works of Mozart, Bach, Chifra, Listz and Chopin, she continues to perform as a soloist throughout the world. Iryna has very recently come to live in Northern Ireland.
Jonathan Johnston studied under the late William Dunwoody before continuing studies at the Royal Northern College of Music, graduating with an honours degree in performance. Throughout his career, Jonathan has won numerous awards and scholarships, including the 'Northern Ireland Young Musician of the Year'. In addition to being a favourite headline entertainer on cruise ships all over the world, classical performances have taken him to many concert halls, where he has played as both a soloist and orchestral musician under the batons of such esteemed conductors as Sir Simon Rattle and Daniel Barenboim. Jonathan has recorded five albums, ranging from classical to crossover repertoire, encompassing many different styles and genres.
The concert will be compered by Brian himself, who no doubt will add humour to the event in his own inimitable style. Earlier this year Brian launched a book of humorous stories, poems and limericks which has to date sold over one thousand copies, the proceeds of which are also going to Marie Curie Cancer Care.
Tickets for the concert, which will be held on Thursday March 22, 2012, are already selling fast. Tickets are £15 and these can be obtained only from Brian directly, by telephoning 07773 765 781 or 028 9263 8546. Alternatively he can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.