This latest film in our campaign to tell our story here in the Diocese of Leeds, takes us behind the scenes at St Paul’s Birkenshaw as they welcome a visiting choir from Bradford Cathedral for the latest concert in their month long Music Festival.
It was the first time that the church, situated between Bradford and Huddersfield, had organised a music festival – but the vicar, the Revd Danny Walker, wanted to build on the fact that everybody loves music; create something to appeal to all tastes and bring people in to church to hear some fantastic music.
And that’s exactly what he did. His rich and varied programme that took place during the month of October, included a Reggae Mass, a performance by Opera North, a jazz and soul band from Kirklees Musical Service, a film night; a Good Old Days event performed by the congregation; a Swing Band; Choral Evensong performed by the visiting choir of men and boys from Bradford Cathedral and finished with Songs of Praise featuring a brass band.
The Music Festival proved to be a huge success; it saw well over 2,000 people come along, most of the events were sold out and the church even made a healthy profit.
Said Danny: “It just built and built as the month went on. It was lovely. It brought together the talents of the local community as well as gave people the chance to experience something special right here in Birkenshaw.
“We discovered all sorts of local talents – we even had our own “Susan Boyle moment too, ‘ he said.
“During our Good old Days event, performed by members of our congregation, we were all taken aback to hear one of our church members sing.
“ He hadn’t told us he used to sing in the clubs!”
And one year on – its legacy continues. The number of those who attend the regular film night has swelled from 12 to a regular 40-50. And earlier this summer, the church organised a jazz concert in front of church which attracted over 130 people; before the Music Festival, Danny said they would have been lucky to have got 50.
“But more than that,”said Danny. “ It has created a buzz in the community and buoyed up the congregation.
“They are much more confident now knowing they have done something that has brought in the community and that folk really enjoyed it.
“And it’s put the church at the heart of the community. That’s worth much more to me than what we raised,’ he added.
Pictured left are the visiting Men and Boys Choir from Bradford Cathedral rehearsing before performing Choral Evensong for St Paul's Music Festival
Plans are in the pipeline for another Music Festival in 2018 – it will take as its inspiration the end of the anniversary of the First World War. Danny said they are pleased to have already signed up local Big Band Singer, Paul Stone and Opera North want to perform again too.