Actor and presenter Sir Tony Robinson has joined forces with renowned composer Professor Paul Mealor to create a Christmas concert that will raise funds for cancer and dementia research at the University of Aberdeen.
The fourth annual Celebration of Carols - hosted by the University’s Alumni Relations team - will take place at St Machar’s Cathedral in Aberdeen on 12th December, and at St Marylebone Parish Church in London on 21st December.
As the University’s flagship alumni engagement event, the annual fundraiser will bring together alumni and friends of the University for a celebration to help fund ground-breaking research into cancer and dementia.
Sir Tony and Professor Mealor have written ‘The Three Ships’ - a Christmas story which offers a unique interpretation of the traditional nativity, narrated by special guests.
The collaboration follows Sir Tony’s involvement in last year’s concert in London, where Professor Mealor, who is Chair in Composition at the University, performed with the University of Aberdeen Chamber Choir.
“It all came out of just one conversation,” Sir Tony explained. “I was blown away by Paul’s interpretation of ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ at last year’s concert, and afterwards we were chatting about how there are few pieces that challenge us to engage in the drama of the nativity.
“I thought if we could create something that fills that gap – that addresses modern day issues but gives us the opportunity to sing the carols we all love, and be dazzled by the performance of great musicians - then that would be something really special.”
As well as raising funds for dementia and cancer research, they hope the concert will be performed by other groups in years to come. In the meantime they are looking forward to the debut performance at St Machar’s Cathedral.
Professor Mealor said: “I am confident that we’ve got this right and I think people are going to go away feeling good about it. There’s some new music in there, but a lot of old favourites.
“The great thing about this - and it is thanks to Tony’s writing - is that the tale has new ideas and there are things to question as well. It’s a wonderful family event but there are questions in there that lifts it above just entertainment.”
Professor Steve Heys, Head of the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition at the University, added: “The Celebration of Carols is a fantastic event that raises vital funds for medical research, and we are delighted that Sir Tony Robinson and Professor Mealor have teamed up to support the University in this effort.
"Not only will the concert be a joyous celebration of Christmas, but the funds raised will support research to tackle two of the most devastating diseases of our time, dementia and cancer. As well as working to improve the diagnosis and treatment of dementia, the University is raising £4.5m to transform cancer research and will add to the excellent cancer care already provided in north-east Scotland through the new ANCHOR Centre."