AN enthusiastic audience at Hexham‘s Queen’s Hall applauded and cheered the vocal talents of a group of singers at the North Pennines Young Voice Concert.

Funded by the National Foundation for Youth Music, the project showcased a varied programme by performers aged from eight to 18.

The show kicked off with ensemble numbers including a rousing Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass , which showed off stage movement and dance put together by Hayley Walton.

This was followed with a complete change of tempo with the African choral piece Akekho Otanano Jesu which was performed a capella, with harmonies so beautifully arranged, they caused more than a few hairs to stand on end.

The Allendale Singers then took to the stage and performed a very nicely designed mash-up of Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud and Sam Smith’s I’m Not The Only One .

Vocal leaders Samantha Hutchinson and Anna Harrison are to be congratulated for this complex production.

Sam and Anna then wowed the audience with a stunning version of Robyn’s Dancing on My Own . Such wonderful harmonies and haunting vocals throughout, evoked an emotional response in the audience.

A very sound performance of the song from The Hobbit – I See Fire – was presented by Kieron Young, accompanied by Sam on vocals and acoustic guitar.

Then it was the turn of Taylor Swift’s Love Story, which the Haltwhistle Singers brought to life with some very nicely arranged vocals and harmonies.

When young Stephanie Russell, aged 10 came tentatively to the stage, the audience waited, prepared to be supportive and kind. When Adele’s Someone Like You began to echo through the theatre, a pin drop could be heard during an awe-inspiring performance, with rich tones, spot on key vocals and an incredible range in one so young.

The Haltwhistle girls took to the stage again for Omi’s Cheerleader, with special live on stage accompaniment from David Hignett who provided truly stirring live trumpet harmonies.

Connor Hignett, Chris Kelly and Josh Wright then performed their own composition Counter Strike followed by Little Comet’s Mathilda and this talented trio brought another tier to the musical offerings of the night through effective vocals, drum and guitar sound.

A complete change of pace and audience participation was brought by the Bridge Singers James Bell, Ashlyn Harrison, Ellie Brown, Charlotte Fletcher and Emily Boertien when they performed an acapella New Orleans sea shanty.

Emily Boertien remained on stage alone and delighted the audience with her version of Rihanna’s Stay .

The Bridge group then performed Bright by Echosmith, in which lead vocal Naomi Sloan displayed lovely sweet tones and conquered the high notes with ease.

The last song in the first act was another Ed Sheeran song Lego House harmonised and performed beautifully by the ensemble cast.

The second act provided a total change of tempo and style opening to the sound of the Tyne Valley Youth Big Band which charged into Birdland, Bad, Bad Leroy Brown and Brooklyn. There is nothing better than a big band sound, and this group of very talented young musicians added much to the variety and atmosphere of the whole show.

Next to take the stage was Ashlyn Harrison for a solo performance, choosing the vocally challenging Imagine (John Lennon).

A total change of tempo came next when Haltwhistle and Bridge Singers performed an energetic mash-up of Olly Murs U p and Demi Lovato’s Really Like You .

This was followed by Artem Taloyev, who impressed the audience with a version of Enrique Inglesias Hero – completely in Spanish!

Chelsey Sloan, Ellie Bryant, Eve Smith and Olivia Harrison then delivered a lovely performance of Bruno Mars Count on Me , each singer taking a solo line and singing it perfectly.

Vocalist and acoustic guitarist Richard Stewart, from Allendale, captivated the audience with his own version of the Goo Goo Dolls Iris (from the film City of Angels ) followed by Photograph by Nickelback.

Naomi Sloan performed a very brave performance of Demi Lovato’s Warrior . This song caused some confusion in the audience, as the performance was billed as “Secret” in the programme! This was indeed a secret – and a surprise for Naomi’s mother, as the song had special meaning for them both.

The show ended with upbeat performances and audience participation with a larger-than-life Up Town Funk accompanied live by the Tyne Valley Youth Big Band and Hey Jude which involved a lot of arm-waving and sheer joy from all in the theatre.

Creative director Barbara Hignett is to be congratulated for supporting our young talent and creating a wonderful end-of-year performance.

Julie Humes