Launched in 2015, the National Youth Choir Fellowship Programme aims to create the most highly skilled and multi-talented choral singers in the UK. Each year, 4 singers aged 22-25 are selected from an intensive three round audition process to benefit from a comprehensive, remunerated training programme which develops outstanding skills in performance, education and leadership.

Eleanor Bray on performing at the spectacular Carols at the Royal Albert Hall

In the days before Christmas NYCGB returned to the Royal Albert Hall to perform with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Choral Society, performing a variety of Christmas favourites in a programme entitled ‘Carols at the Royal Albert Hall’. There were nine performances of the programme over four days, demonstrating just how keen people are for a sing-along! We split into two teams to share the workload over the week, with some admirably committed members of NYCGB singing in all nine concerts.

On our rehearsal day we were excited to get stuck into the music. It was great to meet Lucy Joy Morris, our artistic lead for this event and the new Principal Conductor for the National Youth Boys’ Choir, who started by leading the whole choir in a warm-up. We went through the programme with Lucy before a rehearsal with our conductor for the concerts, Richard Cooke. 

The next day was the first of many to come at the Royal Albert Hall! We found our dressing rooms before a full rehearsal in the hall with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Choral Society. It was great to hear the music come alive with the orchestra, particularly some of the new arrangements such as the brilliant version of We Three Kings by Guy Barker which involved the Fanfare Team from the Band of the Grenadier Guards and bell-ringers from the Royal College of Music Junior Department. 

It was a great atmosphere in the hall. The audience really seemed to enjoy being involved, both with the carol singing and with the Mexican waves! On one of the mornings it was great to see that there was an accessible relaxed performance, which was shorter than the other concerts with no interval and had sign-language interpretation. All of the audiences were ably encouraged by NYCGB’s very own Greg Beardsell, who was the compère for the concerts. He had everybody sharing their photos and videos on social media using #RAHChristmas and managed to get to No. 1 trending in London on Twitter! The performances in each concert of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ were fantastic as Greg got the whole hall involved in singing along.

The singing was at a consistently high level throughout the week and was a testament to the hard work of everyone involved. It was great to sing with NYCGB again after a few months apart, and I’m really looking forward to our next National Youth Choir project in April.

The NYCGB Fellowship Programme is supported by Principal Programme Supporter ABRSM with additional generous support from the Ofenheim Trust, and by programme partners Making Music and AOTOS (Association of Teachers of Singing).