Emerging Professional Artist programmes

The National Youth Choir exists to provide exciting and inclusive creative opportunities for all young people. 

As part of this remit, our Emerging Professional Artists programme, supports young singers, composers and conductors as they emerge into the professional world. It aims to address inequalities in the music industry by creating professional development pathways for those who are under-represented in choral music. Participants in our Emerging Professional Artists programmes work closely with the National Youth Choir (18-25 years) and our other choirs.

The year so far from the point of view of Claire Victoria Roberts, one of NYCGB Young Composers 2022. Enjoy her reflections on her time as part of the NYCGB Young Composers Scheme which has been filled with courses, workshops, Zoom calls and collaboration.

Starting the Young Composer programme 

Our first day as Young Composers and Fellows was an opportunity to share with one another what type of vocal and choral music we like, and why. Having insight on ‘choral bangers’ from the experienced Fellows was a great starting point for us Composers, and graphic notated scores with no text or fixed pitches / durations was a chance for the Fellows to hear the variety of contemporary styles that may or may not influence our work when we write for them. What I really enjoyed about the day was the opportunity to sing together as a group, and to learn about choral conducting and rehearsal technique. The joint sessions between Fellows and Composers allow us to watch and participate in singing and conducting masterclasses, and as both a singer and composer this is something I have continued to benefit from throughout the initial phases of the programme.  


Using the power of Zoom, we were able to meet during some of the stormiest days of February, March, and April for online sessions. Our session with AOTOS (The Association of Teachers of Singing) was a basic introduction to vocal technique, followed by a discussion between Fellows and Composers on ways to lead choirs in warmups and in singing across different styles. We finished with a vocal cool down from Nikki Kennedy (AOTOS Singing Teacher) which left us all very zen. The workshop with Dorico was thankfully recorded, as there is no way I will be getting to grips with the software any time soon! It’s an amazing partner for the Young Composers Scheme and certainly the way most composers are headed, however, as a complete technophobe, I will have to spend a bit of time working on the notation programme before it all sinks in, I think. Prior to Spring Residential, we met with the Principal Conductors from Training Choir, Boys’ and Girls’ Choirs where yet again we had an opportunity to think about the various considerations when writing for and working with young singers. The most interesting element for me was learning about cambiata or changing voices in Boys' Choir. I had no idea how the ranges were affected and where the strengths or weaknesses were in the voice types for teenage boys. Our most recent masterclass was focused on arranging for choirs, with Alexander and Joanna L’Estrange. They have tasked us with arranging a piano and body percussion pop vamp for a cappella choir, using whatever sounds and textures we think could work! A final meeting for us composers was at the NYCGB (National Youth Choirs of Great Britain) publishing partner Stainer & Bell, having an insight into what scores are flying off the shelves and why. 


Spring Residential

Arriving at the Girls' Choir course in Uppingham, I was welcomed with tea, biscuits, and the instruction to stock up on evening snacks for the staff room if we wanted. The course was leading up to a recording of a commission of ‘A Short Story of Falling’ by Joanna Marsh, which was a brand new and challenging work for the singers. Over the rehearsals and sectionals, it was amazing to hear the music come together and the details which made such a difference to the sound: vowels, diphthongs, timing of “s” and “t”, tongue position, word painting. In addition, the whole group were able to use solfège as part of their musicianship training in order to understand intricate rhythms and pitch intervals. Coming away from the course, I felt really inspired to take on some of this training and apply it to my own education work. Mariana Rosas was the musicianship lead and would energetically step in to translate any difficult passages during rehearsals into the language of solfège, with hand actions or body percussion to reinforce the rhythms and pitches.