CHOIRS come in all shapes, sizes, sounds and formats in York,whether mixed male and female, men only, women only, youth, barbershop, classical or world music, singing in competition or only for fun.

All come together for the York Community Choir Festival, now in its fourth year at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, where the newly extended annual event will run from Sunday to next Saturday with more than 600 singers involved.

"What unites the choirs is the sheer enjoyment of mixing with others with similar interests and, incidentally, the undoubted health and well-being benefits of having a good old sing," says festival founder Graham Mitchell, the JoRo's fundraising and events director and company secretary.

"In 2016 the Rowntree Theatre’s board recognised the opportunity to gather together choirs great and small from around York and give them the opportunity to sing in a proper theatre and to see and hear other choirs. The choirs absolutely love it and they have grasped the opportunity.

York Press:

Dunnington Community Choir, who open the festival on Sunday. Picture: Michael J Oakes

"So, having started out with 11 choirs spread over three concerts, it has grown to 24 choirs over six concerts, one more than last year. This year we have seven choirs new to the festival, Community Chorus from Haxby, Stagecoach Performing Arts Youth Choir, The Stonegate Singers, Garrowby Singers, Stamford Bridge Community Choir, York Military Wives Choir and The Chorus Crew.

Four youth choirs will be participating: Queen Ethelburga's School Choir, Tutti Amici Chamber Choir, York Light Youth Choir and the aforementioned Stagecoach choir.

Opening the festival on Sunday at 6pm will be Dunnington Community Choir, followed by Community Chorus, from Haxby, Jubilate, from Easingwold, and Hempland Community Choir, from York.

York Press:

TadChorale: concluding Tuesday's concert. Picture: Michael J Oakes

"The Sunday song list is indicative of the varied content of every concert with African anthems, Tamla Motown, Lloyd Webber and Kate Rusby songs all featured, alongside film and pop songs and traditional folk song," says Graham. "On other nights, there's a wide variety of world music, show tunes, pop songs and classical items, some specially written for the choirs. Next Friday even features a selection of sea shanties."

The Tuesday to Saturday concerts all start at 7.30pm, with Tuesday's line-up comprising Stagecoach Performing Arts Youth Choir, Stonegate Singers, In Harmony and TadChorale. Wednesday features Track29 Close Harmony, Euphonics, Garrowby Singers and the York Celebration Singers; Thursday offers Spirit Of Harmony Barbershop Quartet, Stamford Bridge Community Choir, Queen Ethelburga’s School Choir and York Military Wives Choir; Friday assembles Osbaldwick Community Choir, Sounds Fun Singers, The Chorus Crew and York Philharmonic Male Voice Choir.

The festival concludes with the Saturday programme by Tutti Amici Youth Choir, Supersingers, York Light Youth Choir and Main Street Sound Ladies Barbershop Chorus.

Tickets are available from JoRo box office in Haxby Road, on 01904 501935 or on the door.