16 June 2024

Free concert aims to make live music inclusive

By Tim Nuttall

Live music will return to Withernsea Methodist Church later this month when the Hull Road venue hosts a concert by acclaimed harp and guitar duo Máire Ní Chathasaigh and Chris Newman.

The event, which takes place on the evening of Saturday, September 24, has been sponsored by Withernsea Big Local as part of a bid to encourage people to engage with quality live music.

Its support, following the success of a bid submitted by the church, means the performance will be free to attend for all members of the community. By removing the cover charge, typically about £5 for similar events, it is hoped that the concert will be inclusive for all – particularly at a time when disposable income is on the decline for many in the face of rising fuel, food and energy costs.

Comprising Chris on acoustic guitar and Máire on harp, the talented pairing promise to take their audience on a musical journey through traditional Irish music, hot jazz, bluegrass and baroque.

Since making their main stage debut as a duo at the 1987 Cambridge Folk Festival, Máire and Chris, both also solo artists in their own right, have recorded seven albums and toured the world together. They can be found equally at home in the historic churches of England as they can at major venues such as London’s Barbican Centre, Cologne’s Philharmonie Hall and Sydney Town Hall.

The success of a concert by folk duo Mayor and James held at Withernsea Methodist Church last October, the first such event to take place since Covid restrictions were eased, helped to pave the way for further events – with a successful spring concert by multi-instrumentalist duo Mambo Jambo having taken place in March this year.

The positive response and overwhelming success of these concerts has now paved the way for this forthcoming event which organisers hope will introduce more people to live music.

Gordon Beastall, property steward and church leadership member, said: “We were extremely grateful to the community for the support received at our previous music events.

“The turnout and response to these highlighted the local appetite for live music and encouraged us to create another opportunity for members of the community to attend a unique experience right on their doorstep.

“This time we are delighted to have received the backing of the Withernsea Big Local, whose generous sponsorship of the event means that we are able to offer an inclusive opportunity for members of the community to experience a live performance at no cost to themselves.

“At a time when finances are at the forefront of people’s concerns, this concert will offer many people, especially those on low incomes, a chance to enjoy live music and an evening of escapism among friends.”

The concert has been organised in conjunction with Blaize – a community arts organisation that works nationally, but predominantly throughout the north of England, aiming to bring quality theatre, music, dance, children’s entertainment and comedy to isolated rural communities.

Through its ArtERY rural touring scheme, Blaize helps to deliver professional performances throughout East Yorkshire.

Thanks to organisations such as these, the hard work of dedicated volunteers at local venues, and the support of local communities, opportunities are created in areas where access to the arts may otherwise be limited.

Gordon added: “It is a real privilege for Withernsea Methodist Church to host events such as this for the benefit of the community and it is a genuine pleasure to help bring performers of this calibre to the town.

“As we continue to emerge from the lingering effects of the pandemic, we also aim to assist more vulnerable members of our community, who may still be getting used to socialising again, by offering them a safe and supportive environment where they can enjoy events and rebuild confidence.”

Although admission to the event is free, tickets for the event must still be reserved in advance (maximum of four per person). This can be done by calling or texting Gordon on 07977 685878.

For more information about Máire Ní Chathasaigh and Chris Newman, visit maireandchris.com.