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.

Chris O

Photo credit: Belinda Lawley

What a year it’s been! I can’t quite believe that my time on the Fellowship programme has come to an end. There’s so much to say and not much space in which to say it, so read on to get behind-the-scenes scoop on the 2024 Showcase!

Following the recording of Young Composers 5 back in October, the 2023 Fellows and Young Composers reconvened one last time at the VOCES8 centre to rehearse and film the annual Showcase; an opportunity for us to reflect on our time together and pass the baton to the new cohort of Emerging Professional Artists. There was some sadness knowing that we were leaving the programme after such a fantastic year, but the chance to reunite once more and look back at our time together, laugh, and create wonderful music was a real joy. In fact, the weekend we spent putting the broadcast together seemed a perfect snapshot of what our year has really been all about; making memories with great musicians and music!

This year, we had the chance to curate our own interviews based around what we individually had been inspired by or had taken away from the numerous workshops, courses, and residencies throughout the programme. That way, meeting the new Fellows and Composers and hearing what they were looking forward to was a real added bonus! We were then into recording the music, and - between the undeniable catchiness of Will’s Three Madrigals, the unsurpassable good vibes of Millicent’s Finding Your Home, the poignancy and personal connection to Emily’s khāné, and the heartful beauty of Alex’s RainFlow’rs - the process was nothing but a pleasure.

Thanks must go to Nic Chalmers for his wonderful direction, and to each composer for their words of wisdom that helped us bring their music to life one more time. It should also be mentioned that the Fellowship Ensemble could only exist with the four fabulous additions we had in the form of ‘graduates’ from previous years of the scheme; Ailsa, Olivia, Tim, Jason – thank you all once again for helping to make this last performance of ours so memorable.

Chris and Sarina, a south asian woman, presenting to camera holding cue cards group shot of the 8 person Fellowship Ensemble and Nic Chalmers, all dressed in black

All that remained was to officially pass the baton to the new Fellows and Young Composers in the form of a final showstopper… and what better way to do that than to come together and be conducted by a past Fellow in a performance of a work by a previous Young Composer? Congratulations and thanks to both Olivia and Kristina for all they did to make the latter’s momentous An Ode to the World such a fitting ending to both the showcase and the whole weekend.

I’ve had so many wonderful opportunities as part of the Emerging Professional Artist programme and cannot wait to carry both the memories and expertise I have picked up along the way into the future. Even though I was new to National Youth Choir one year ago, the chance to work with the amazing musicians of all ages and backgrounds that are brought together by this organisation has transformed the way I view my own work as a choral leader. Ultimately, the Fellowship scheme has shown me just how viable working in the arts is, and that is something for which I will be forever grateful. As I move onto the next stage on my career, I am heartened by the fact that I know it is not ‘goodbye’ but rather ‘see you later’. After all, to quote last year’s Royal Albert Hall showstopper, we are all part of one long song!

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