TIS' the season to be jolly and there's nothing quite like a choral concert to send the spirits soaring.

Pro Nobis Singers stage their Christmas soiree musicale of seasonal tunes and readings at St Mark’s Church, Natland, on Sunday, December 10 (7.30pm).

Under the title Wolcum Yule!, the choir will be joined this year by in-demand harpist AnnaKate Pearson for a performance of Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols in its original version for three upper voices and harp.

AnnaKate says its a very popular piece during the festive period: "It’s become a part of Christmas for me and I always enjoy playing it. It was a piece my harp teacher insisted I learnt due to its popularity."

A former student at St Anne’s School - now Windermere School - AnnaKate's first foray into music was playing the flute. "I soon took up the piano too. I learnt these two instruments for a number of years and had very inspiring teachers."

However, the harp's golden strings beckoned.

"My parents tell me they think this was due to seeing a harpist play in a hotel when I was young. I can’t remember that but I definitely had a draw to its sound and kept asking if I could learn to play it. There was also an appeal that no one else played it in the school.

Initially she took up the clarsach harp (lever), later transferring to the pedal harp.

"My knowledge from the piano and flute created a great musical grounding to make quick progress with the harp. It soon became clear I enjoyed the instrument the most and began considering music as a profession."

AnnaKate went on to study at Glasgow's Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, for a time under the guidance of Karen Vaughan, who was the co-principal harpist for the LSO.

These days she inspires her own students, teaching harp at Windermere School, Sedbergh School, Queen Elizabeth School at Kirkby Lonsdale and Lancaster Girls Grammar School.

On the concert platform she is a popular player with orchestras and choral societies and performs recitals with her own two musical pairings: Leven Duo, with well-known flute player Jo Ashcroft, and two pedal harp outfit Style 85, which is booked for next year's Sedbergh Festival.

Also included in the Pro Nobis programme are Francis Poulenc’s four Christmas motets and music by the choir’s conductor, Clive Walkley.

Admission is by programme available from Northern Lights Stained Glass, Blackhall Yard, Kendal, or alternatively reserved via the choir’s website or by telephone on 01539-723482.

ELSEWHERE, many of the region's other choirs will be in fine voice during the run up to Christmas.

K SHOES Male Voice Choir returns to the stage with a super show in prospect at St Thomas's Church, Kendal on Friday, December 8 (7.30pm). Oh Come, All Ye Faithful is a fundraiser for Orchid and Prostate Cancer UK and features guest performances by the newly-formed Men United choir and Otto Voco.

Tickets on 07397-911920 or at the door.

ONE of the region's most versatile and talented voices joins Lancaster and District Choral Society for its Opera Highlights and Carols concert at Lancaster Priory on Saturday (December 9, 7.30pm). Singing epic popular choruses from Aida to Cavalleria Rusticana, the choir is joined by Kendal soprano Emily Robinson and accompanied by a 21-piece orchestra, conducted by John Perrin.

Habanera, from Carmen, Dido’s Lament, Mascagni’s Easter Hymn Musetta’s Waltz Song and Strauss’s Laughing Song and Champagne Chorus give Emily the chance to display her acclaimed virtuosity.

Carols by Bach, Bullard, Rutter, Sargent and Willcocks complete was promises to be a highly entertaining evening.

Tickets are available from visitor information centres at Lancaster on 01524-582394, Morecambe 01524-582808 or from choir members.

JOLYON Dodgson combines the roles of conductor and baritone soloist in Ambleside and District Choral Society's Christmas Concert on Saturday (December 9, 7.30pm) at Ambleside Parish Church. The centrepiece of the programme is Charpentier's Messe de Minuit, a delightful and lively mass setting based on tunes from French folk carols. However, Jolyon picks up the baton and sings in the programme's other substantial work, Vaughan Williams' ever-popular Fantasia on Christmas Carols. The evening also include carols for choir and for the audience with Andy Plowman at the organ.

Tickets are available at the door or by telephone on 015394-36260 or 33944.

ALSO on Saturday (December 9, 7.30pm) Cartmel Choral Society switch into Christmas mode at the Priory. The programme will include extracts from JS Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Mendelsson’s Hymn of Praise. For tickets and further information telephone Ron Ward on 015395-34388.

NOVA! Nova! is a celebration of good news courtesy of Levens Choir at St Mary’s Church, Borwick, on Sunday (December 10, 4pm).

Conducted by Ian Jones and accompanied by Phil Burton, the tinsel-tinted ensemble sing Christmas music by Thomas Tallis, John Tavener, Morten Lauridsen, Benjamin Britten, Bob Chilcott, Howard Skempton and Mr 'choral' Christmas himself, John Rutter. There will also be a couple of tunes previewing Levens Choir's big Tallis concert with the Marian Consort in March.

Tickets from St Mary’s or telephone 01524-732825.

SUNDAY (December 10, 7.30pm) also sees Kendal Choral Society in full choral flight at Kendal Parish Church celebrating 145 years of singing.

Under the highly regarded guidance of director of music Duncan Lloyd, Music for Christmas includes John Rutter's Magnificat and carols old and new. Soloist will be soprano, Emily Robinson, accompanied by organist, Andy Plowman, keyboard, Mike Critchlow and an invited orchestra led by Julian Cann.

Tickets available at the door or from choir members.

FESTIVE fare takes centre stage in Staveley Choral Society's Now Bring Us Some Figgy Pudding! Christmas concert on Monday, December 11 (7.30pm).

Staveley Village Hall hosts a veritable choral feast with The Boar’s Head traditional piece, The Pie by Bob Chilcott, Mince Pie Massacre by The Sopranos, Musical Risotto by Jonathan Willcocks, John Rutter's Banquet Fugue and Whines from the Wood by Bob Chilcott, and Rupert the Chocolate Angel sung by Staveley Primary School, just to name a few. Popular soloist Rebecca Chandler returns to help dish up with readings also on the menu.

Tickets available at the door, from choir members and also at Staveley Pharmacy.

ULVERSTON Choral Society perform Handel's festive favourite Messiah at the town's St Marys Parish Church on Friday, December 15 (7.30pm).

Written in 1741, the mighty work will be accompanied by an invited orchestra under the baton of music director, Jolyon Dodgson with soloists, soprano, Julie Leavett, alto, Claire Eadington, tenor, Austin Gunn and baritone, David Hoult.

Tickets at the door or on 01229-716321.

TWO works by Alexander L'Estrange, as well as seasonal carols for audience participation, are in the Arnside Choral Society programme for its Saturday, December 16 (7.30pm) concert at St James Church, Arnside.

For the historical, foot tapping, Ahoy! Sing the Mary Rose, the popular choristers will be joined by the choir of Arnside National Primary School and for Wassail, a mixture of traditional carols and quirky arrangements, the Milli Youth Choir will share the spotlight with the the 70 strong choral society.

Conducted by Ian Allan, the concert also features the Wassail Five Quintet and soprano soloist Faye Bowness.

Tickets in advance from Posh Sardine, choir members or www.arnsidechoralsociety.co.uk.

BURTON Singers A Touch of Winter Christmas concert is on Saturday, December 16 (doors open 7.30pm) at Burton-in-Kendal Memorial Hall, featuring a sprinkling of seasonal songs and festive pop hits. Tickets are available at the village store with all proceeds donated to local charities.

EVERSLEY Choir’s Christmas concert Hail Smiling Morn, is a celebration of carols and readings from Thomas Hardy's Under the Greenwood Tree, taking place at St Thomas's Church, Milnthorpe, on December 18 (7.30pm). Also in the programme is Hallelujah Chorus, Cherry Tree Carol, Angels from the Realms of Glory and more. Tickets on 015396-21559.