Posted: 11.09.20 at 09:02 by Derek Davis
Singing with a world class opera star tonight climaxes quite a week for Woolverstone's very own teenage singing sensation James Hodgkinson.
13-year-old James spent Tuesday auditioning with superstar Aled Jones for the BBC's Young Chorister of the Year show, and will tonight perform along with soprano Christina Johnson as she lives streams songs from the Phantom of the Opera from a studio at her Felixstowe home.
Former Canterbury Cathedral chorister James has chosen two songs for tonights concert, and tried them out on Aled when they met up in Manchester, and then rehearsed them at Christina's home the following day.
"I was really thrilled when Christina asked if I would like to sing on her live stream," James told Nub News.
"She’d heard about my appearance on ITV’s Voice Kids and listened to me singing.
"We talked about what I should sing. I decided on The Pie Jesu by Faure as it is a classical piece from my time as a Chorister at Canterbury Cathedral, and Love Changes Everything by Andrew Lloyd Webber, as Christina is singing his music tonight.
"I’ve been practising hard for it and am really excited that Christina has given me the opportunity. I love to sing and I'm pleased to have the chance to share my voice with more people."
James, who is now studying at St Joseph's College, is no stranger to working with mega stars after performing on stage with Paloma Faith when she turned her chair in the blind auditions of ITV's The Voice Kids. The pair performed 'Walking in the Air, made famous by Aled Jones, but he long been a huge fan of Christina.
He said: "Christina is a truly amazing singer and performer and I’ve enjoyed watching he Friday evening live streams. She’s lovely and has been very supportive and I hope everyone enjoys my performance tonight.
"I met Aled Jones as I’m involved in BBC’s Young Chorister of the year. He listened to the two pieces I’ve chosen to sing and gave me some help and coaching.
"I don’t know what this will lead to but it’s great experience and an opportunity to meet Aled who was a Chorister and became a professional singer which is what I want to be."
Spending time with James and his parents Chris and Angela this week for rehearsals has helped lift Christina's spirits as she is going through a difficult personal issue, and he reminded her a lot of the passion and desire she showed at that age when she was growing up with pop star Ed Sheeran in Framlingham.
"He is such a lovely boy, with a lovely genuine family," said Christina. "I remember being at his age and I could see in him the passion and love of singing that I have always had and without that you won't get anywhere.
"Believe me if you want to be famous you may never get there, but if you want to a be a singer then you need to have that passion and he has that."
Christina will be performing hits from the Phantom of the Opera with even more emotion than usual tonight as she battles through her own personal heartbreak after being told her husband Viacheslav Myachin, known as Slav, has no choice but to leave the UK on Tuesday and return to Russia, after being refused permission to stay longer after visa has expired.
The decision comes despite Slav's strong connections, even passing an English test last week with flying colours,
and having a long standing association with England. The couple actually met at Framlingham College when they were 13, he and Christina have been battling immigration for months. They have received no help from Suffolk Coastal MP Theresa Coffey or UK officials but continue to try and find a way of staying together.
Christina is applying for a visa to perform in Russia where she can be with Slav at least for short while, with some of the equipment she uses to sing live here, being flown to his mother's house.
The upheaval has meant Christina has found it difficult to focus on rehearsals for tonight's show but being the consummate professional insist the show will go on.
"It has been difficult to rehearse knowing Slav will have to go back to Russia on Tuesday," said Christina. "We spoke with an immigration solicitor on Monday and it was a bit of a shock to learn he would have to go back so soon.
"It is heartbreaking, we have been together for 10 years. He has been here in the UK throughout lockdown and we have been together 24/7, so it will be incredibly sad when he has to go on Tuesday."
The couple hope to be reunited as soon as possible, especially as their 10th wedding anniversary is on October 16, but the pair are likely to be separated at Christmas as Christina returns home to be with her mother Gillian.
"She has told me to go," said Christina. "But I need to be back to help care for her."
Christina has performed across the world, and personally asked to sing for the Chinese and Czech Republic presidents at different times and sang on stage with a number of outstanding orchestras and other superstars.
Among the concerts performed by Christina from her Felixstowe studio since March are classics from Evita, Moulin Rouge, The Greatest Showman, and tonight's Phantom of the Opera, which can be watched on Christina's official Facebook page, as well as on her YouTube channel.
Hear more of James performances on his website here...