Celebrated soloist with choir

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THERE is a harmonious buzz in the air this week in Arbroath as the town’s famous male voice choir puts the finishing touches to the programme for its 79th annual concert tonight (Friday) in the Webster Memorial Theatre at 7.30 p.m.

The special guest soloist is Margaret Keys, internationally famed Irish classical-crossover soprano.

Choir president, Dr Richard Irvine said: “Arbroath Male Voice Choir will be singing an exciting blend of songs old and new which cuts across the musical spectrum; with songs from the shows, romantic ballads, a touch of the blues and soulful spirituals. There is very much something to please everyone, a real recipe for success.”

Margaret Keys began singing at the age of four in Derry, Northern Ireland, and she was awarded the Trinity College of Music London Medal for the best overall performer in music examinations within the UK at just 15 years of age.

While studying for a Bachelor of Music Education at St Mary’s University College, Belfast, Margaret continued her vocal studies with the late Irene Sandford, professor of vocal studies at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin. After obtaining a First Class Honours degree, she was awarded a Masters degree scholarship at the prestigious Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland). During her studies, she performed as a soloist at the Rennie Mackintosh Museum and took master-classes with Dame Felicity Lott and Sir Philip Langridge.

She entered the BBC talent show ‘How do you solve a problem like Maria?’ and worked alongside Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and top West End coaches. Margaret made it down to the final cut and was awarded the BBC Fame Academy Award. Winner of the RTÉ Radio 1 (Ireland) ‘Search for a Musical Star’ competition, she performed the role of Carrie in the RTÉ production of ‘Carousel’ with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra.

Margaret was awarded the New York Artist Award which allowed her to travel to New York and train with Broadway stars and Opera New York vocal coaches.

She became the Face of the Northern Ireland Arts Festival in 2009 and 2010 and is now an ambassador and supporter for Derry, the UK City of Culture 2013.

Margaret released her debut album ‘Legato’ with Universal Records to critical acclaim.

She featured in the BBC Proms ‘A Celebration to Sondheim at 80’ in the Royal Albert Hall with Dame Judi Dench and has performed as special guest artiste with the renowned Welsh choir, platinum selling and Classical Brit nominees, The Fron Male Voice Choir, in both the UK and USA.

Margaret has performed in several prestigious theatres within the USA and in the prestigious St Patrick’s Day concerts, ‘Ireland’s Favourite Stars’ in Los Angeles, alongside America’s Got Talent finalists as well as performing in several Broadway concerts with the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra.

Margaret is accompanied by Walter Blair. Throughout his career, Walter has been involved in many aspects of music, particularly as a performer and in music education. In education he has been associated with the training of specialist young musicians, both in schools and at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland where he was on the full time staff for almost 20 years.

He is much in demand as a pianist and accompanist and has performed with many well known singers and instrumentalists, both on the concert platform and in the recording studio.

Arbroath Male Voice Choir will be under the expert musical direction of Sheena Guthrie and will be accompanied by Alison Hart.

The choir was founded in 1934 and held its first annual concert in the then Webster Hall in April, 1935. It currently has over 40 members who are drawn from across Angus and Dundee and is one of the region’s oldest musical ensembles. Tickets cost £12 and are available via the theatre box office either in person or by ‘phone on 01241 435800.