Orchestra's historic debut

Local musicmakers are to the fore at Preston Guild Hall this weekend - including the debut performance by the city's newly-formed professional City of Preston Orchestra.

Formed by Preston-based conductor Chris Gill, it brings together some of the finest musicians from the city and the surrounding area.

The orchestra is joined on Sunday night by Preston Cecilian Choral Society, the city's oldest and largest choir. Founded in 1927, it now boasts around 70 members.

Chris has been the choir's musical director for the past four years, during which time he has conducted 16 concerts with them. He has also conducted many other choirs, orchestras and operas, both at home and abroad.

The vocal soloists also have local connections.

Soprano Serenna Wagner, tenor Michael Bracegirdle and baritone David Usher all completed their postgraduate vocal training at the Royal Northern College of Music in

Manchester and either originate from Preston or now live near the city. The historic event is being captured on film by local director Stephen Johnson-Davies, a member of BAFTA.

They will be performing Handel's Messiah his most famous oratorio. It includes famous arias and choruses such as I Know that my Redeemer Liveth, For Unto Us a Child is Born and of course the ever-popular Hallelujah chorus.

But first, on Saturday night, it's the annual performance from Preston Orpheus Choir with their Festival for Chritmas 2006.

With conductor Harry Duckworth and accompanist Paul Greenhalgh the production also features the BT Band (Stockport), Heather Fitchett School Of Performing Arts, Kirkham Grammar Junior School Choir, St. Aiden's C/E Primary School nativity, Leyland Morris Men, Emma Johnston (soprano) and Rev. Peter Sheasby.

Comperes are Mary and Harry Duckworth.

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