Phoenix Christmas Charity Single for VASL


Phoenix Saxophone Orchestra has released a virtual Christmas charity single to help raise much needed funds for Harborough based charity Voluntary Action South Leicestershire.

The orchestra has recorded a rousing version of the atmospheric Christmas tune Gaudete!, which was first published in the 16th Century and made famous in the 70s by English folk rock band Steeleye Span.

You can download the track for free and we’re inviting donations for VASL through Just Giving. And for added atmosphere, there’s also a festive video available capturing the orchestra in action!

Phoenix Saxophone Orchestra’s Communications Director Jane Smith says: “We’re really lucky to have been able to carry on with our music virtually this year, and for Christmas we wanted to be able to use our music to help people in our local community who may be struggling right now.

“VASL is a fantastic charity supporting vulnerable people in many different ways, including ‘My Mind Matters’, a support service for people feeling anxious and isolated, which is particularly important during these difficult times. As there’s strong evidence that music can aid mental wellbeing, this is the perfect partnership for us. We’re hoping that anyone out there who enjoys music will make a donation, however small, to help this worthwhile cause.”

Maureen O’ Malley, Charity Manager for VASL, said “We are really excited that Phoenix Saxophone Orchestra has chosen VASL as their charity.  Every penny raised will help people in the community and improve their lives. We wish Phoenix every success with this brilliant Christmas single.”

Recorded individually by 14 of the orchestra’s members in their homes, Gaudete! features six different types of saxophone, from the tiny sopranino through the more commonly seen soprano, alto, tenor and baritone saxes to the enormous contrabass sax. It’s been arranged by the orchestra’s Musical Director Tony Rifugiato, who also plays percussion on the track. The orchestra’s version has a deliberately medieval feel, in keeping with the tune’s 16th Century origins.

The performers are:

  • Sopranino: Helen Jones
  • Sopranos: Ann Churcher, Doris Schierer
  • Altos: Stephen Bashforth, Katie Burrows, Judith Allen, Kathy Davison, Jane Smith
  • Tenors: Ann Hanson, Greg Hayes, David Fiander, Kathy West
  • Baritone: Liz Pearce
  • Contrabass: Jonathan Shaw
  • Percussion and MD: Tony Rifugiato

‘Gaudete Sunday’ is the third Sunday of Advent and this year falls on Sunday 13 December. The day takes its common name from the Latin word Gaudete, meaning ‘Rejoice!’ and it is a joyous occasion.

This is the orchestra’s third lockdown recording, during which time they’ve also attracted a new patron Gerard McChrystal, a major national sponsor Saxtet Publications, several new members and are building lasting relationships with fellow saxophone orchestras as far afield as Aberdeenshire and Hudson Valley, New York!

All being well, the group is planning to get back to physical rehearsals early in the New Year.

For more information, please contact:

Jane Smith, Phoenix Saxophone Orchestra, tel: 07800 523077, email:

Maureen O’ Malley, VASL, tel: 01858 433232, email:

View media

BBC Radio Leicester, 8 December 2020

Harborough Mail website, 9 November 2020

BBC East Midlands Today, 9 November 2020

Harborough FM, Owen Brooks Show, 10 December 2020

Harborough FM News bulletins, 11 December 2020

Leicester Mercury, 14 December 2020

Harborough FM website, 14 December 2020

Harborough Mail, 24 December 2020