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First West Northants Choir Festival 20 Nov 2023 First West Northants Choir Festival announces special guest Royal wedding performer and more of the award-winning line-up

Royal Wedding Choir Director, Karen Gibson MBE, will exclusively perform alongside West Northants based Northampton Male Voice Choir, Queen Eleanor Choir and Northants Sings Out (West) – with more acts yet to be announced. Here’s what we know about Collide: A ChoirFest Experience so far...

2 billion people worldwide watched in awe as the celebrated Kingdom Choir director delivered an unforgettable performance of Ben E King’s 1962 hit, “Stand by Me” at the wedding of The Duke & Duchess of Sussex. What followed included a record deal with Sony Music UK, a debut album, plus sell-out UK and USA tours.

Now, Karen Gibson MBE will be sharing the stage with 200 West Northamptonshire voices at COLLIDE: a ChoirFest Experience.

Taking place at Northampton’s prestigious Royal & Derngate Theatre on Saturday, 30th March 2024, the artist will appear as a special guest during this ambitious musical experience fused together by Artistic Direction. The show is set to celebrate creative and cultural collaboration through much loved genres such as pop, rock, jazz, and gospel colliding with classical and orchestral to create a perfectly blended show for all.

Who is Karen Gibson?

Known as “Britain’s Godmother of Gospel”, award-winning conductor Karen Gibson MBE is an internationally recognised powerhouse of inspiration and one of the UK’s most respected choir conductors, credited for her passion for embracing communities through singing together. Karen founded The Kingdom Choir in London over 20 years ago.

She said: “I am excited and honoured to be taking part in ChoirFest 2024! I love the joy, community and inspiration of choirs and can't wait for what will be an unforgettable weekend of singing and performance.

“I guarantee that there will be something for everyone, and strongly encourage all who can come to do so. They will not regret it!”

Karen received a call from one of King Charles’ staff whilst travelling on a bus, requesting the choir perform at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The momentous occasion was cited as the most diverse ceremony of the British royal family in recent history.

In the aftermath of their captivating performance, Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir have garnered even more international acclaim. Their hit debut album entitled Stand By Me, which featured renditions of Beyonce’s Halo and Stormzy’s Blinded By Your Grace Part 2, stormed the UK and international charts.

With Karen at the helm, The Kingdom Choir’s success has continued, with performances at the closing ceremony of the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney and on the hit BBC show Call the Midwife plus ad campaigns for British Airways, Coca – Cola and Skoda UK 2020.

Karen will now share an exclusive performance at ChoirFest. Boasting an eclectic line-up including Northamptonshire Local Music Awards 2023 Community Choir of the Year award nominees The Northampton Male Voice Choir and Queen Eleanor Choir and Northants Sings Out (West), the West Northamptonshire Council led production will also include performers from an array of artistic disciplines who will be announced shortly, completing the line-up for this innovative production.

Featuring specially arranged mass ensemble pieces created and conducted by award winning Northants-raised Music Director Gareth Fuller, the evening is set against a backdrop of an all-star live band and string quartet plus full production crew all credited with supporting A-list music artists at iconic international venues and festivals.

Who is Gareth Fuller?

Gareth Fuller is a well-respected and much-loved figure across the Northamptonshire music community and learnt his musical craft at Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts Trust (NMPAT) before continuing his training at the prestigious Trinity Music College in London.

Gareth, Choir Director at Liam Gallagher’s sell out Knebworth shows attended by over 160,000, said: “It is an honour to share the stage with Karen Gibson at Collide: A ChoirFest Experience, which promises to be an extraordinary production showcasing the amazing music across West Northants.

“Karen and The Kingdom Choir have put the international spotlight on the high calibre UK choir industry, paving the way for so many in the process. I am sure the 200 voices performing will agree that ChoirFest is a unique, exciting opportunity for West Northants talent, one I am most definitely delighted to be part of.”

Councillor Adam Brown, WNC’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing, Culture and Leisure said: “I am thrilled that West Northamptonshire is the chosen destination for such big household names to deliver what is set to be a showstopping musical production – taking place right in the heart of Northampton’s Cultural Quarter.

“This event is the perfect opportunity to showcase the array of unique talent we have in our county, and I urge everyone to buy your tickets now to avoid disappointment.”

Tickets for Collide: A ChoirFest Experience are on sale now, available from royalandderngate.co.uk.