Katie Melua, Collabro & Josh Widdicombe Join Forces for 'SYMFUNNY NO. 2' at Royal Albert Hall

Parkinson's UK have announced that multimillion selling and award-winning recording artist Katie Melua will be performing alongside the world's most successful musical theatre group Collabro and comedian Josh Widdicombe at the Royal Albert Hall as part of Parkinson's UK presents: Symfunny No. 2 on April 19.

Katie Melua, Collabro and Josh Widdicombe are the latest acts confirmed for the second Symfunny event, that unites amazing musicians and comedians in raising funds for Parkinson's research. Jack Dee and the I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue team will also be taking to the stage. They will all be accompanied by the specially created Symfunny Orchestra and Choir, featuring some of the best professional musicians and voices in the UK. Further acts from the worlds of comedy and music are to be announced ahead of the event.

This very special fundraising event, hosted by Parkinson's UK, was the brainchild of conductor, composer and producer, James Morgan who was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson's in 2012. James, along with his partner, fellow composer, producer and mezzo soprano Juliette Pochin, wanted to use their connections to help raise money for and awareness of this progressive condition, for which there is currently no cure.

Known as Morgan Pochin, James and Juliette's work includes hit albums for Katherine Jenkins, Alfie Boe and Collabro, films including Dustin Hoffman's Quartet (starring Billy Connolly and Dame Maggie Smith) and classical stage work at venues like the Royal Festival Hall. James has conducted artists from Aqua to Andrea Bocelli, and Juliette has recorded for Sony Classical and performed with most of the UK's leading orchestras, including three appearances at BBC Proms in the Park.

Having conducted Katie Melua in Denmark, James reached out to her to take part in Symfunny No. 2. Katie said, "Working with James is a joy and inspiration, so when he asked if I could perform at Symfunny No. 2 it was an instant 'yes'. I'm thrilled to be a part of such a great night of entertainment and to support such a worthwhile charity."

Vocal group Collabro said, "We are absolutely thrilled be performing at Symfunny for such a fantastic cause. We have a great relationship with Morgan Pochin, they produced our second album, 'Act Two', and have just completed producing our new album, 'Home'. It's an honour to perform at The Royal Albert Hall, it's a beautiful venue and we are excited to be on the same bill as such phenomenal talent."

Comedian Josh Widdicombe said, "I am delighted to be performing for such a great cause and on such an amazing bill. I just hope my set isn't too similar to what Katie Melua and Collabro are planning. "

Symfunny made its debut at the Royal Albert Hall in 2014 when it was hosted by Al Murray and saw music and comedy stars including Jason Manford, Alfie Boe and Rebecca Ferguson come together to give performances on the night.

For Symfunny No. 2, James and Juliette will be helped in curating the event by actress, author and Parkinson's UK President Jane Asher, as well as Paul Mayhew-Archer, best known for his work with Mrs Brown's Boys and the Vicar of Dibley. Paul was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2011 and recently wrote and presented Parkinson's: The Funny Side for the BBC for which he won the Grierson Trust's 'Best Documentary Presenter' award.

Steve Ford, Chief Executive at Parkinson's UK said, "We are delighted to be able to announce some fantastic names for what we know will be a memorable evening of entertainment - and there will be more special guests to add to the excitement, so watch this space.

"Living with Parkinson's can be immensely challenging, especially for those, like James, who are diagnosed at an early age. Symfunny No. 2 will help to fund much needed research into new and better treatments, so we are looking forward to raising the roof at the Royal Albert Hall and raising lots of money on the night."

For tickets and further information, visit www.parkinsons.org.uk/symfunny.

About Parkinson's UK

Every hour, someone in the UK is told they have Parkinson's. It affects 127,000 people in the UK - which is around one in 500 of the population.

Parkinson's is a degenerative neurological condition, for which there currently is no cure. The main symptoms of the condition are tremor, slowness of movement and rigidity.

Parkinson's UK is the UK's leading charity supporting those with the condition. Its mission is to find a cure and improve life for everyone affected by Parkinson's through cutting edge research, information, support and campaigning.

For advice, information and support, visit www.parkinsons.org.uk or call our free, confidential helpline on 0808 800 0303.

About Morgan Pochin

James Morgan and Juliette Pochin met at Cambridge and began working in TV, with credits including the Emmy winning The Kumars at No. 42, Armstrong and Miller, Harry Enfield and Ian Hislop.

Film work includes, First Night, (Richard E. Grant, Sarah Brightman), with its soundtrack album on Sony Classical featuring Juliette singing and James conducting, Dustin Hoffman's Quartet, (Dame Maggie Smith, Billly Connolly), and National Geographic's Killing Jesus (Kelsey Grammar, Rufus Sewell).

Morgan Pochin's production and composing credits include top ten chart albums for Decca by Alfie Boe, Katherine Jenkins, Collabro and Joe McElderry; other credits include recordings by Julian Lloyd Webber, Elton John and Robert Plant. Plans include albums for Decca - Dame Vera Lynn's 100th birthday album, and Rami Basisah's debut disc, for Classic FM (Pop Meets Classical) and for Verve - Ella Fitzgerald's centenary album with the LSO. Stage work includes The Great Enormo with Michael Rosen (RFH, Symphony Hall, Birmingham, Brighton Festival). Morgan Pochin are published by Faber Music.

Juliette's work as mezzo soprano has included such diverse performances as Sea Pictures with Iain Burnside and Gerontius with the CBSO, to duetting with Meatloaf on Popstar to Opera Star; she has had a chocolate named after her by Hotel Chocolat. Her recordings include Venezia (Sony Classical) and Vaughan Williams' The Sky Above the Roof (Gramophone editor's choice).

As conductor, James has worked with many of the UK's leading orchestras and choirs, and artists as diverse as Andrea Bocelli, Jamie Cullum, Nicola Benedetti, and Rick Astley; his work is regularly broadcast on TV and radio and he has conducted numerous CD recordings.

About Paul Mayhew-Archer

Paul Mayhew-Archer's TV credits include script editor on Spitting Image, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and Miranda, and screenwriter of Mrs Brown's Boys and The Vicar of Dibley. In 2014 he and his Dibley co-writer, Richard Curtis, teamed up again to adapt Roald Dahl's Esio Trot, starring Dustin Hoffman and Judi Dench.

On radio he's produced Weekending (starring David Jason), I'm Sorry I haven't A Clue and Old Harry's Game. He's also worked in commissioning, bringing Drop the Dead Donkey and Father Ted to Channel 4.

Paul was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2011 and has been working with Parkinson's UK ever since. As well as being an active member of his local support group Paul is on the organising committee for our 2017 Royal Albert Hall fundraiser Symfunny; he gives talks to business groups and schools; does media interviews; and promotes discussion on policy with MPs and other decision makers - he was a great hit at our recent parliamentary reception.

Paul has no intention of letting Parkinson's slow him down. He's working as hard as ever and has been commissioned by the BBC to write a rom com about romance blossoming in a Parkinson's ballet class. Meanwhile he has written and presented a documentary Parkinson's: The Funny Side, shown during Parkinson's Awareness Week on BBC1.It is available to watch on-demand via iPlayer.

About Jane Asher

Jane Asher became Parkinson's UK President in February 2007. She was inspired to help after her brother-in-law, Gordon Scarfe, was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2004.

Jane is a successful actress, author and businesswoman. She has been working professionally in film, theatre and radio since she was five years old. She's currently in rehearsals for An American in Paris at the Dominion Theatre which opens in March, recent TV includes the BBC's Eve, Sky's Stella, and hosting Best Bakes Ever on BBC2. For many years Jane ran a successful cake business in Chelsea, London, and has written more than a dozen books, including three best-selling novels.

Jane is married to cartoonist, illustrator and designer Gerald Scarfe.



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