Caribbean choir to perform with Stoke Newington group after founder’s outreach trip following Hurricane Irma

The National Youth Choir of Antigua and Barbuda.

The National Youth Choir of Antigua and Barbuda. - Credit: Archant

A youth choir from the devastated Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda will be performing in Stoke Newington on Saturday during their first tour in the UK.

The National Youth Choir of Antigua and Barbuda is performing alongside Chorus of Dissent at St Matthias Church in Wordsworth Road.

The unusual collaboration came about after Ruth Whitehead Associates, the financial firm that leases the hall from the church, raised £5,000 for the island relief fund after they were hit by Hurricane Irma last year.

Ruth Whitehead, also the choir founder, personally delivered the resources to schools in Barbuda, which was most heavily damaged by the hurricane.

“The community is in a helpless situation,” Ruth told the Gazette. “Many are trying to make sure life goes on amidst flattened buildings, with no electricity or running water.

“And they fear that debris still lying around could be whipped up and lethal when the hurricane season starts again in August.

“It felt very moving to be able to translate the hard work we had put in raising the funds into books and pens, to physically carry them in the schools and to present teachers and pupils with them.”

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The youth choir was born in 2004 as part of an initiative to bring together young people from across the islands with an interest in music. Ruth also taught music masterclasses while in the Caribbean, and helped to create the Antigua Barbuda Youth Symphony Orchestra, a project meant to make classical music more accessible to young and non-white people.

And the concert at St Matthias Church in Wordsworth Road is Antigua and Barbuda’s return visit.

“This is the chance to celebrate a connection – and to do it in the best of the ways, with music,” Ruth added.

“It will be a privilege to perform with them. They are a national choir and we are just a local one, and they are fantastic singers.”

The choir has a mixed repertoire that ranges from classical to gospel and pop.

High Commissioner for Antigua and Barbuda in London Karen-Mae Hill will also be attending the concert.

The choir will be joined on the evening by Stoke Newington choir Chorus of Dissent.

Tickets for the event are £11, and are on sale at