If you are looking for something different to help raise money for your parish church, you might want to look at Free Concerts UK.
Owner Richard Hutchinson worked several years as a musician supporting artists such as Made to Measure, a Top Club Act in Anglia for 8 years, and John Ellis, an opera tenor.
After working for many years as a musician, about six years ago he had what he calls “a light bulb moment”. He wanted to help churches raise money for their buildings by giving his musical services for free.
“There are so many churches out there that are in desperate needs of money – a duff organ or leaky roof. This is just a good way to raise some funds.” The churches don’t have to do anything; they just need to have a couple of 13 amp sockets for him to plug into, the rest up to him.
“I have a smoke machine and lighting rig, it’s a full concert. I like adding different effects – the music is a black and white picture and the lights and the smoke colour the picture in – it adds another dimension.”
Richard plays selections from all of big West End shows, such as Miss Saigon, Les Miserables and has done a special arrangement of Phantom of the Opera.
“I love putting things together. I play the Dambusters March by Eric Coates. It starts out with everything going dark and the sound of an air raid siren. Suddenly there are searchlights and a Lancaster Bomber seems to fly overhead, smoke then and then the march comes up. People love it. Some people have cried after it all.”
St Matthew’s in Eye had Richard in for a concert last September. Liz Hurst, part of St Matthew’s said, “People really enjoyed it – we didn’t have a huge audience because no-one was quite sure what they were coming to. People appreciated that he offered this free of charge so that we could raise funds through it – very generous.”
His Free Concerts UK show lasts for two and a half hours, including the half hour intermission. The church organises the publicity, sells the tickets and refreshments and keeps all of the money at the end. Richard does sell his CD’s at the concert to pay his travel and kit expenses, but everything the church raises is their own.
To contact Richard for a Free Concert, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone: 01733 560040.