Choir Lights Up Leeds Arena


Over the years, the Thomas Fredrick Willetts Foundation has had a number of projects which have aimed to meet young people where they are and unite them through the performing arts. The Choir Of Light is one such project.

Back In September, the foundation was asked to provide one of their choirs to sing with Andrea Bocelli in a concert at Leeds Arena. In this opportunity, which had been extended to us just once before, we saw a wonderful chance to showcase just what has been achieved through our Choir Of Light program.

The chosen choir was from the Mossbourne Community Academy in Hackney, London. On Sunday, November 24th, the choir of 21 children, skilfully led by the talented Sarah Denton and Kati Black, travelled from london to Leeds towards the opportunity of a lifetime. Assisted beautifully by Sian Morten, Sarah and Kati coached the choir with precision and passion; each note was more beautiful than the last, each song had the fullest sound.

The choir were warmly hosted for the night at the Hinsley Hall Conference Centre in Headingly, where they were also able to rehearse and play as the afternoon before the concert unfolded.  The sense of excitement was tangible as we wandered the hallways of our accommodation (the only guests for the night, lovely!) and could hear the wave of harmonies erupt and roll through the building as the various groups practised their parts.

From the West Wing, the sopranos and the altos; from the Chapel, the basses; and from the East Wing, the tenors.

Even without the excitement of the upcoming concert, this would   have been enough. This moment: young people singing with passion, talent and vitality; and my heart pounding with the knowledge that this was made possible by the TFW Foundation.

As we arrived at Leeds Arena, the mood on the coach suddenly shifted. What had been chaotic, yet beautiful, excitement was simmering into a palpable sense of nervous anticipation; a quiet murmuring, as though each member of the choir were a synapse of the brain, jolting with electricity.

As we moved into the main auditorium for rehearsal, we were all, adults and teenagers alike, struck with the unexpected enormity of our surroundings. the Arena, which is only a few years old, seats 16,300 people and by the time the curtain call rolled around, each and every seat had been filled.

They sang beautifully, each of their three songs, concluding the concert with a fourth as Andrea Bocelli himself invited them onto the stage during the encore. “Thank you” He said, in booming Italian tenor, “to the Thomas Fredrick Willetts Foundation and their beautiful Choir of Light.” Smiles abounded as each of us realised that we were not the only ones who felt honoured to be included in this incredible event, but that Andrea felt honoured to have us. We had arrived, wholly; our vision had been realised: Young people feeling empowered by the arts and making a difference in the art community.


To Support the Thomas Fredrick Willetts Foundation and The Choir of Light program, please contact or or log onto our website

Twitter: @tfwillets



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