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.

Photo: Ben Tomlin

Read the last of our 2021 cohort blogs, this time by composer Alex Ho. Alex highlights his time with NYCGB and in the spirit of learning and sharing, he accompanies three things which he has learnt from the Young Composer Scheme, with a short track. A thoroughly enjoyable, honest and unique piece.

3 Things I have learnt from NYCGB Young Composers

With two new choral pieces written, two recording sessions completed, mentoring sessions with Cheryl Frances-Hoad, masterclasses with Jonathan Dove and Alexandra Harwood, workshops on using Dorico software, a residency at Aldeburgh, as well as visits to Stainer & Bell publishers, VOCES8 Centre, and several NYCGB residential courses, it has undoubtedly been an action-packed nine months participating on NYCGB’s Young Composer Scheme. 

I am perhaps most grateful for the ways that learning and sharing has been so deeply embedded in the NYCGB programme. Too often, I find that emerging artist platforms are rigid in approach. They lack sensitivity not only towards understanding the needs of the artists, but also in considering how the platform benefits from each individual artist. In this way, whilst I have been greatly inspired by the discussions over the last year with the choir members, my fellow composers, the NYCGB Fellows, and the organisation itself (shout out to Ruth Evans, Ben Parry, and Elizabeth Curwen), I feel that I have been genuinely listened to and valued. The community that NYCGB holds is truly special.

In the spirit of learning and sharing, I wanted to share three things I have learnt from the Young Composer Scheme, each of which is accompanied by a short track:

1/ For those who struggle with the idea of being confident, consider being intentional

Shiva Feshareki is an incredible artist who inspires me through her music, the way she talks about it, and the way she talks to others. Check out her piece for strings, VENUS/ZOHREH.

I have never considered myself a confident person and have struggled with it, not least because of my fear of the confidence spilling over into arrogance. A lovely mentor suggested I think of myself as being intentional instead. I find this a helpful way to balance how I value my worth alongside making sure I listen to and appreciate others.

2/ For artists interested in collaboration, context is important

Check out Shruthi Rajasekar’s captivating Gaanam. Beyond the programme note in the link, you can read more about Gaanam in this fascinating blog by Shruthi on British Music Collection which features her NYCGB piece, Numbers.

I have been lucky to collaborate with some brilliant people. The more I work with others, whether with youth choirs, conductors, professional orchestras, opera singers, directors, performers of Chinese instruments, choreographers, VR artists, communities, or audiences directly, the more I understand that the context of a piece or project is vital to communicate to your collaborators. It can be tempting to go into a rehearsal and work immediately on the music in order to save time, but I find connecting the dots between what is on the page and why they are there is invaluable. On the most basic level, it helps everyone understand why they are in the same room together.

3/ Reminder to self and other composers, do not forget that notation is about saving time

This last track is called Drip Music by Katherine Balch where thanks to Score Follower, you can see the way this intricate web of sound is notated.

Notation of western classical music is about communicating how to create sounds to the performer(s) who are often not the composer. There is never enough time to rehearse a piece. There is never enough time to record a piece. It is hugely important to notate ideas so the performer(s) knows exactly what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. In rehearsals, this saves time which means you can rehearse other things.

I have made some real blunders in the past so here’s to being a better collaborator going forwards!


Alex Ho is a British-Chinese composer based in London. One of the Royal Philharmonic Society’s RPS Composers 2021/22, he has had pieces performed/commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Opera House, Music Theatre Wales, and London Sinfonietta. Alex currently serves as Artist-in-Residence at Opéra Orchestre National Montpellier and co-director of Tangram, a collective of performers of Chinese and western instruments.