Scots singer releases charity CD tribute to her late mother

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By Niamh Anderson

Justine Riccomini has made a CD of songs that were loved by her late mother

A SINGER with Scotland’s national symphony orchestra is hoping to raise thousands of pounds for a cancer charity with a CD tribute to her late mother.

Justine Riccomini has performed with the chorus of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) in Scotland and overseas for the past seven years.

But her most recent project is on a much more personal level – a CD of songs that were loved by her mother, Mavis, who died of breast cancer in four years ago.   

Justine, 44, is on target to raise £10,000 for the Marie Curie Hospice in Edinburgh.  

Justine, whose performances include Faure’s Requiem at the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, in January 2010, said the album helped her through the healing process after he mother died in Spain, aged 73.

The alto said: “I needed to do something when my mum died.  She died in Spain and she got no help or palliative care in her last years of life.

“It’s benefitted me very much- I’ve started to dedicate my time to easing people’s suffering but it’s an awful thing to have to watch your loved one die of cancer,” she said.  

Justine, who works as a senior employment tax manager at Chartered Accountants Chiene and Tait, was approached by Marie Curie last November to sing at the pre-Christmas candlelight dedication event at the Edinburgh Hospice. 

Mavis Van Der Vliet died of breast cancer four years ago

But she realised that she could do more than just sing at a concert to raise awareness of cancer.

Together with singers from the RSNO and local musicians, the Bo’ness-based singer recorded the ten track album, entitled Hopes and Fears, in one day in St Michael’s RC church in Linlithgow.

“With all of the expenses involved, we were under a huge amount of pressure to get the album recorded in a short space of time so we did two takes of each song and took the best versions for the album.”

“It was a very emotional experience,” she added.

With the help of local artists, musicians and priests, 1,000 copies of Hopes and Fears were produced and went on sale in June.

“We’re delighted with the way sales are going. Since June we’ve already sold more than half so if demand exceeds supply we’ll have to produce even more.”

But the softly spoken singer isn’t hoping to raise her profile in the musical industry.

“The only reason I’m doing this is to give something back and to provide cancer sufferers with the care and support that my mother didn’t get.

“If I can in some way relieve their suffering and somehow provide them with care, then that’s great,” she said.

The singer’s mother, Mavis Van der Vliet, died four years ago.

Living in the south of Spain, cancer support was limited for the former nurse and property development manager.

Justine hopes the CD will raise £10,000 for the Marie Curie Hospice in Edinburgh

“There’s only one charity in the south of Spain that offers cancer support and they’re inundated with cancer patients. They did what they could but the last few years of my mothers life was made very difficult.

My mum wasn’t benefitting from the kind of help that cancer patients get here in the UK,” said Justine.

Being an only child, the singer and her mother had a special relationship. 

“We were very close. I rang her every day. When she was diagnosed with terminal cancer I wanted to quit my job to look after her.

“She refused to let me, so I visited her once a month for the last three years of her life.

“It was very difficult going over there and leaving her every time.

“She loved to hear me sing so I bought a guitar and brought it over there. I used to sit in her garden and sing to her- she loved it,” she added. 

Songs on the CD include Londonderry Air, Amazing Grace, Pie Jesu and Puccini’s O Mio Babbino Caro.

“I chose songs I know my mother would have liked. There’s not one song on it which I feel like she’s disapprove of,” she added.

Hopes and Fears is available for purchasing at www.justgiving.com/JustineRiccomini for £9.99.

The funds raised by the sales of the CD will go directly to Marie Curie services in its Edinburgh Hospice. 

Fiona Bushby, Hospice Manager said: “Justine is truly an inspiration – both to our patients and to other fundraisers.  She has used her talents to create something beautiful for the benefit of others.  There is no better memorial to her late mother.”

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