HIS choir sang their hearts out but it was a sad moment for Ilkley tenor James Griffett and his wife Cathy, who drew down the curtain on 21 years of annual charity Concerts for the Street Children after Sunday’s event at Ilkley Baptist Church.

The choir is made up of friends and former pupils of James Griffett during his long career as an outstanding tenor and musical director, and they come together on the day of the performance – this time from all over Europe – for a final polish before the performance begins.

The concerts have raised thousands of pounds for children’s charities over the years, featuring very fine singers and a variety of festive music ranging from mediaeval plainchant to works by Holst and Mawby. For many people in Ilkley this concert marked the real start of the Christmas period and an opportunity to hear pieces outside the normal run of carols.

Although there were many fine solos throughout the concert, which James directed with his usual sensitivity, particular mention must be made of the extended solo pieces performed by Ruby Hendry (Maria Wiegenlied by Max Reger) and Ambrose Connolly (The Three Kings by Peter Cornelius) which were both outstanding and of truly professional quality.

Tribute was paid after the concert to James and Cathy, and all the young people who had contributed to the concerts over the years, by Rev Brian Gregory, who was Vicar of St John’s, Ben Rhydding, when the concerts started there in 1997. He described it as a truly unique event, which would be greatly missed, and in particular thanked Alison Davies and Stephen Davis who have provided piano and recorder accompaniment for many years. James, he said, has a heart for developing young people in music and this whole series of concerts was something he could be truly proud of.

A total of £620 was raised on the evening, to be shared between the Baptist Church “Beyond Borders – Haiti” Charity, and the Ilkley Wharfedale “Schoolbags for Nepal” campaign.