Church plays host to surprise Royal visitors

Aberdeen University Chamber Choir
Aberdeen University Chamber Choir is performing at Glenmuick Kirk in Ballater.

The Duke and Duchess of Rothesay were the surprise guests of honour at a special concert to raise money for people affected by severe flooding on Royal Deeside.

Prince Charles and his wife Camilla surprised hundreds of people gathered in Glenmuick Kirk in Ballater tonight for the launch of a charity CD featuring choral renditions of works by celebrated poet, Robert Burns.

Minister Rev David Barr said the down-to-earth couple, whose property at nearby Birkhall was damaged by Storm Frank which devastated around 600 homes and 100 businesses, were very much a “big part” of the community.

He added that Prince Charles, who inherited Birkhall from the late Queen Mother in 2002 and spent his honeymoon there with his second wife, was a very compassionate man who cared deeply about local people.

Surprise

Mr Barr said: “I am very honoured that their Royal Highnesses are attending the concert in the church.

“They are a big part of the community and when the flood happened, they really felt it.

“I have no doubt that people will be very surprised and pleased when they see their Royal Highnesses in the audience.”

The concert will see the poetry of Robert Burns given a new lease of musical life in a unique recording featuring the University of Aberdeen’s world-renowned composer, Paul Mealor, and its much-celebrated Chamber Choir.

All proceeds from the sale of The Immortal Memory, will be donated to support the projects established in Ballater by Prince Charles and The Dumfries House Trust following Storm Frank, which resulted in the River Dee bursting its banks.

It follows a traditional Burns Supper and includes many of his favourite works including Auld Lang Syne, Ae Fond Kiss, A Man's a Man and Afton Water.

Professor Mealor said the decision to donate all revenue from sales of the album to the His Royal Highness’s appeal came from strong ties forged with the Deeside community.

Support

“The Chamber Choir has performed regularly at events in Royal Deeside, including at celebrations at Balmoral, in Braemar and in Crathie Kirk,” he added.

“We have got to know the people of this area through our concerts and they have been a tremendous support to the choir over the years.

“We thought it would be appropriate to give something back in recognition of that support.”

The church has a seating capacity of 660 and Mr Barr said he expected it will be full to capacity.

The Very Reverend Professor Iain Torrance, Dean of the Chapel Royal, and his wife Morag attended.

Prince Charles and his wife, who joined in a rousing chorus ofAuld Lang Syne during the performance,contributed to a fundraising drive to rebuild the devastated caravan park and is now supporting the redevelopment of the town with the opening of a restaurant named The Rothesay Rooms.

Professor Mealor was behind the Military Wives' Choir hit, Wherever You Are, which was a Christmas No 1 in 2011.

His music Ubi caritas was played at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge earlier that year.