THE new chairman of a concert series in the town centre is hoping to make classical music more accessible to young people in Warrington.

Sharon Cannell has taken the lead on organising the weekly recitals at Holy Trinity Church in Market Gate.

The free classical showcases offer a platform to emerging talent and have been hosted in the town by WACIDOM (Warrington Arts Council Initiative for the Development of Music) since 2000.

Westbrook resident Sharon became chairman of the charity after the death of Norman Cutter, who dedicated almost two decades to the project.

She had been working with Norman for three years and was a trustee of WACIDOM when he died on December 9 after a short battle with cancer.

Sharon said: “I was familiar with how things worked when I took on the role but it’s really hard to fill Norman’s shoes because he was so well known, had so many connections and had such a huge amount of knowledge. I feel honoured to have taken over.”

WACIDOM hosts 25 recitals throughout the year in three series.

Sharon added: “The recitals we have done so far have run really smoothly and that’s because there are great teams behind them, both at WACIDOM and Holy Trinity Church. It’s been great to work in that environment with people who all have the same aim to carry on what Norman started and honour his memory. We’re really enthusiastic about carrying on with all of the concerts.

“It was a big shock to us all that we lost Norman. He was quietly determined and he built enthusiasm for the work we do here which never waned. It was infectious. It wasn’t difficult to want to work with Norman to make a success of things so we want to carry on in that way.”

Warrington Guardian:

Now Sharon wants to widen the appeal of the recitals as she feels many people do not realise the great talent that is regularly coming to Warrington. Concerts attract between 70 and 90 each week but few young people attend.

Sharon, who is also a committee member of Friends of Walton Hall Music, added: “I was brought up on Alice Cooper and David Bowie but now I’m leaning more towards the classical side.

“It really does knock you out sometimes how good these musicians are. It’s good to hear a new piece of music that may go on to be a classic of the future.

“Classical music doesn’t always appeal to everybody and I think it can be off-putting to come into something you’re not familiar with. But it’s a free concert that is open to absolutely everybody. Our initial thoughts were just to keep it going and carry on with the great work that Norman did.

“But one initiative we are looking to promote is engaging more young people in Warrington in classical music. It’s something that Norman would like to have done and we want to do that in his honour. We’re pulling our thoughts together. It would be great if we could introduce classical music to a wider audience in Warrington, especially young people who might not have experienced it at all.

“That would be fantastic.”

Sharon’s highlight since becoming chairman has been the teamwork aspect of the recitals and also giving opportunities to young musicians.

She said: “The whole point of WACIDOM is to give a platform and a stage to young musicians. Some of them are very young considering their incredible talent.

“We had pianists with us the other week who were 10 and upwards and recently we had a quartet and they are former Royal Northern College of Music students. It’s a mutual benefit as we give them a platform to hone their skills and perform in front of an audience and our audience get a free concert from some stunning musicians.

“Musicians have come through the ranks that we’ve worked with for years. We’ve got a concert coming up in the next series with Matthew Drinkwater, a pianist who has been working with WACIDOM for a number of years. And Yuanfan Yang, who performed for our 400th concert has got in touch to say he’d be happy to continue his association with the charity. I think Norman built up a wonderful goodwill with people which will very hopefully carry on...”

Recitals are free to attend and are at Holy Trinity Church in Market Gate on Saturdays between 12.30pm and 1.15pm