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Where to hear G4 in Norfolk and Suffolk this Christmas

G4 love their Christmas tour. Picture: G4
G4 love their Christmas tour. Picture: G4

The harmonies of Christmas swell through historic buildings as the pop-opera maestros of G4 wrap audiences in the feel-good vibes of their festive tour.

The band share Christmas memories and perform seasonal carols and songs, filling cathedrals, chapels and halls with glorious melodies and fabulous interpretations of carols and classics.

G4 front man Jonathan Ansell said: ‘We all love singing carols and festive classics, so to be able to share that at this time of year is lovely. And we love coming to such beautiful venues to do it.’

This year’s Christmas tour takes them to 18 cathedrals, including St Edmundsbury in Bury St Edmunds, on December 16, plus minsters, the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, the Chapel of the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook, near Ipswich, on December 21 and The Halls in Norwich on December 22.

‘All three of our Norfolk and Suffolk venues are wonderful,’ said Jonathan. ‘We have toured in the counties quite a few times and it is always good to have a chance to explore.

‘I love the Royal Hospital Chapel. The vista when you are there on the river Stour is gorgeous. I’m very fortunate that our tour manager, Nathan, has what he calls a beach hut but is one of the lovely little rustic wooden houses, on the other side of the river from the hospital school, and he’s got a little fishing boat there. We head out on the river regularly.

‘It is great to see the river there when we’re at the venue although we’ll be a bit more wrapped up warm than when we normally go!

‘And the Norwich Halls are wonderful because you are right in the middle of town. There are some wonderful coffee shops nearby and a great couple of antique and knick knacky shops, one in a converted church, which I love exploring.’

Great British Life: G4 in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: G4G4 in Bury St Edmunds. Picture: G4

The band’s hugely popular festive concerts include the singers recalling childhood Christmases.

‘We have little chats about how the songs are special to us and how the music resonates and reminds us of certain moments,’ said Jonathan. ‘There are normally a few songs that I used to perform when I was a boy treble and we try to just draw people back to the reason those songs are so special to us, which is a lovely part of it.

‘We do Away in a Manger which is obviously a complete classic. It’s something I remember performing a lot when I was younger and I even did a recording as a treble which is pretty scratchy but a fond memory – and a sweet voice!’

G4 shot to fame after coming second in the first series of X-Factor, in 2024.

Jonathan fell in love with singing as a child, ‘I grew up going to a Methodist church and my mum always sang louder than everyone else and held the notes on right to the end of the bar, much to all of our embarrassment!’ he said.

He joined a county choir at the age of seven, which toured nationally and even internationally.

When his voice broke and he developed a tenor voice Jonathan trained as a singer at the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. It was here that G4 (standing for Guildhall 4) was launched, with three other students, initially as a busking barbershop quartet, singing at weddings and events.

Great British Life: St Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds.Picture: Rob Atherton/Getty ImagesSt Edmundsbury Cathedral, Bury St Edmunds.Picture: Rob Atherton/Getty Images

Then Jonathan saw a television advert about auditions for a new talent show – and wondered whether the band might be able to get a good publicity quote.

The rest is musical and reality tv history as G4’s blend of classical training, glorious voices and repertoire of popular and operatic songs performed with mesmerising harmonies won them fans, first across the country and then around the world.

‘I watched more tv than the other guys and I saw the advert for this new show in an ad break,’ said Jonathan. I wrote down the phone number and called them, left a voice mail and forgot about it.

‘About six weeks later I got a call from a producer from the show, saying they were interested in having us to one of the audition rounds. We then got very nervous, prepared our song which was Bohemian Rhapsody in a four-part harmony, went along and ended up coming second in the show!

‘So it was great that I saw that advert. And we definitely got a fabulous quote! Simon Cowell said, ‘You are really, really, really good.’

‘But we certainly didn’t think it would be a career-defining moment.

‘We had an extra 30 people turn up to the recital room at college, intrigued by what Simon had seen in this four-part harmony group. Never did we dare dream it would go any further.’

But their debut album, G4, topped the charts and they collaborated with musicians including Lesley Garrett, Robin Gibb, Stephen Gately and Cliff Richard. Tour venues included the Royal Albert Hall and they even had a roller-coaster named after them.

Almost 20 years later Jonathan still adores performing.

Great British Life: G4. Picture: G4G4. Picture: G4

‘Even before X Factor I was earning my living by singing. I’d given up my job in Tesco and was singing at weddings and corporate dinners and events and became a professional busker. That was a big part of our income and how we got other gigs.

‘My mum and dad say I haven’t had a proper job since I was 19! I’ve been very blessed to be able to do something I love.’

However, becoming famous so quickly was not entirely easy.

‘It was definitely a shock but I’m delighted to say that social media didn’t exist.

‘I think it’s even harder nowadays as it becomes incredibly intrusive, not just when you are out and about but in every waking moment of your life because people are just always attached to their phones nowadays.

‘For us it was very weird. And exciting. X Factor was such a hugely viewed show. Nearly 20 million people watched the final.

‘We were thrilled to be part of it and it was transformative in all of our lives.’

Three years after the show G4 disbanded to pursue individual interests, reuniting for the 10th anniversary in 2014.

Jonathan’s solo career included a number one classical album, starring roles in stage musicals and his own touring show, Les Musicals. He performed at the Festival of Remembrance and the Classical Brits, both in the Royal Albert Hall, and his second album included the 2008 Rugby League World Cup song, Hearts of England, by Norfolk composer Patrick Hawes, which Jonathan sang live at the Wembley final.

He has also used his voice to support charities. The Christmas G4 concerts include collections for Missing People. ‘It’s a particularly poignant cause at Christmas and we’ve got a great connection with them and the fabulous volunteers who come and shake their buckets,’ said Jonathan.

His own Christmas will be spent at home in Yorkshire with his wife and children Sienna and Dexter, aged 13 and nine.

‘They’re great fun!’ said Jonathan, ‘And definitely theatrical. My daughter has just sung a Guys and Dolls song at a local charity concert and blew everyone away. My little boy is developing a bit of an acting career which is crazy at his age. He's just done a big movie for Sky. The entertainment bug has definitely rubbed off and they are loving it and enjoying themselves.

‘We have a great time at Christmas with family and friends visiting. Traditionally I cook a multi-bird roast, a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey. I do a bit of prep on Christmas Eve and get straight back to it on Christmas morning.

‘Christmas is a wonderful time. We’ve got no particular tradition to sing together at home at Christmas – but it often happens once a few egg nogs have gone down! We get the karaoke system out or someone sits by the piano and all of a sudden there is a sing-song going. It’s lovely. Celebrating life and being together is important; those moments when you can be a family and forget all the rubbish that’s going on in the world for a brief moment.’

Jonathan’s favourite carol is Oh Holy Night.

‘It is definitely a pinnacle for us as performers. I also love stripping things back to really simple acapella moments. We do Silent Night acapella and we get to just hear the beauty of the voices resonate around the buildings.

‘The Christmas show is just a pianist and a piano with the four voices. That’s deliberate to allow the voices to ring. It’s super-exposed and super-vulnerable, but super-exciting because of that.’

The singers love their now-traditional Christmas tour – and Jonathan waxes lyrical on the joys of performing as part of a group. ‘We certainly have a wonderful time and enjoy each other’s company off-stage, but those moments of togetherness with the music are really special,’ he said.

G4 will be back in East Anglia next year with a spectacular 20th anniversary tour including dates at the Pavilion Theatre on Cromer Pier on April 18, King’s Lynn Corn Exchange on May 22, the Marina Theatre, Lowestoft on May 23 and The Apex, Bury St Edmunds on May 24.

The Christmas tour comes to St Edmundsbury Cathedral on December 16, The Chapel of the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook, near Ipswich, on December 21 and The Halls, Norwich December 22.


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