Queen guitarist joined by West Sussex choir

Brian May and Kerry Ellis with members of the West Sussex Youth Choir at the Hawth,  Crawley (Pic by Jon Rigby - RMJ_2766)
Brian May and Kerry Ellis with members of the West Sussex Youth Choir at the Hawth, Crawley (Pic by Jon Rigby - RMJ_2766)

Members of the County Youth Choir have been retelling their experience of performing with one of the country’s most loved rock stars.

The choir, which rehearses at the Weald School in Billingshurst, was on stage with Brian May at The Hawth in Crawley last week as part of an acoustic tour around the country with West End star Kerry Ellis.

The choir performed three songs with the Queen guitarist including the poignant No One But You - a song Brian May wrote for the late Freddy Mercury.

Brian and Kerry also helped choreograph the audience in the stomping and clamping for the crowd-pleaser We Will Rock You.

Speaking after the concert, Rachel Warwick, aged 18, said: “Brian and Kerry were both very friendly.

“They just seemed to enjoy playing with us on stage and the concert came together very well with their help.

“I had been looking forward to the gig for a long time, I mean how often do you get to play with two world famous musicians?”

James Branchflower, aged 15, said: “I have only been in the choir for a few months but obviously joined at the right time for such an opportunity to come up.

“Emily has been superb, I have never had singing lessons before, but she is really enthusiastic and is a great choir leader.”

Katelyn, also 15, said: “I was really nervous on stage and a little excited as well – it was Brian May after all.

“The choir has helped my confidence both in and outside of school and I’m now hoping to take music further by studying it at A-Level.

“Emily has been a great help, she is kind, enthusiastic and this has really developed my singing voice.”

Peter Hopkins, 17, said: “I was absolutely buzzing on stage. The chance to gig with one of the biggest rock stars in the world, I couldn’t resist telling everyone about it.”

Choir leader Emily Barden said: “This is quite literally a once in a lifetime opportunity for us, a chance to sing with an iconic figure in British music.”

The County Youth Choir, which rehearses at the Weald School in Billingshurst every month, is made up of nearly 30 youngsters all aged under 18.

The students are part of 15,000 other young and adult musicians who learn with the West Sussex Music Service every year.

Peter Griffiths, county council cabinet member for education and schools, said: “The concert is a fantastic prospect for all the children involved in the choir and certainly something they will never forget.

“Being invited to play alongside two internationally-
recognised performers shows the high standard the County Youth Choir has attained under Emily Barden’s leadership.”

For the choir’s final number they joined Kerry in singing a version of In the Bleak Mid Winter. Other highlights will include May’s solo section for Somebody to Love.

The special intimate concerts are raising awareness of the Born Free Foundation, a global organisation that works to protect and conserve threatened species like Africa’s lions.

To find out about the County Youth Choir call 01243 642 361 or email: music@westsussex.gov.uk.

For more about joining the West Sussex Music Service, visit the website at: www.westsussexmusicservice.co.uk