Young Composers

Emily Hazrati, a white woman with brown hair and a stripey jumper


Five months since we embarked on our journey as Young Composers with the National Youth Choir, it's all gone by in a flash. It’s incredible to reflect on what a rich experience we have had already – making up the ‘Discovery’ phase of the programme – as we begin to write our new pieces, immersing ourselves in the wealth of inspiration this organisation has to offer.

Now approaching our Summer residency and workshops, this blog highlights just some of the many things we have been getting up to, before the exploration and realisation of our compositions is set in motion:


  1. THE PEOPLE: introductory sessions & meeting our cohort

Our first meeting dispelled any anxiety I might feel when meeting a new group of people for the first time: from group headshots to sharing our favourite choral music and singing as a group, there was an immediate feeling of warmth, generosity and humour in the room. As we delved into introductory sessions with National Youth Choir’s Principal Conductors, Learning & Engagement programme, and partners AOTOS and Dorico, it became clear that these are qualities that permeate the organisation through and through.


  1. NYCGB SHOWCASE 2023: listening, sharing & performing

Embarking on our journey as newly introduced Composers and Fellows, it made sense to look to our great predecessors for inspiration. Hearing live performances of work from all four composers from the previous cohort was mesmerising, nurturing our creativity with beautiful, idiosyncratic sounds of all sorts. It also reminded us that we have very big shoes to fill! Suddenly it was our turn to smile for the camera, musing on our aspirations for the year, then joining Fellows past and present to perform David Bednall’s brilliant showcase finale. A joyous occasion, although I have since refused to sing the word ‘Alleluia’ ever again…


  1. 40th ANNIVERSARY: numbers, trees, & ‘structured fun’

Next, we were on a packed train to Reading for National Youth Choir’s Easter Course. What happened thereafter was a blur of new faces, astonishing music making, and wild traditions including the infamous ‘NYCGB News’. This was the time that really began to fuel my imagination: I was astonished by how much these singers had to give, and the sheer breadth of the repertoire they tackled; from Shruthi’s Rajasekar’s virtuosic ‘Numbers’ to the choir’s moving, environmental co-creation with The Swingles ‘Until it’s Gone’. A fervently made musical sketch marked my experience of the week, before celebrating the National Youth Choir’s 40th Anniversary in style at the Royal Albert Hall. Here, we were met by the organisation’s choirs in entirety (National Youth Training Choir being an astonishing highlight), culminating in Ben Parry’s epic ‘One Long Song’ with words by Anoushka Lukas.


     4. STAINER & BELL VISIT: scores & cake

Two months later, the composers visited Stainer & Bell to learn all about music publishing! As well as having a tour of the publishing house, learning about their heritage and intricate structures, we had the chance to ask our own questions and discuss how the business impacts our work as composers today. More importantly, as Stainer & Bell’s growing reputation for it demands, there was cake… What an insightful and nourishing day!


  1. THE ENVIRONMENT: an incremental creative process

To me, what makes National Youth Choir unique is the amount of care put into every aspect of the organisation, spanning its choirs, young artists, partners, outreach programmes and more. It feels like the Young Composers are a genuine, valued part of this family, and every stage of our journey has enriched our creative palettes further and further. I personally love to draw inspiration from all sorts of places – from environments and narratives to collaborations with writers and performers – long before forming any concrete musical ideas. It therefore feels apt to be working with an organisation which fosters our artistry incrementally, and from so many different perspectives.


I am so excited for what the rest of this year holds, and cannot wait to experience National Youth Choir bringing our ideas to life over the coming months!