5 May 2021

NYCGB Chair appointed May 2021 David Roper


National Youth Choirs of Great Britain (NYCGB) bids a fond farewell to Professor Chris Higgins, who as Chair of the Board of Trustees for more than ten years, is stepping down at the end of his final term. During Chris’ tenure, NYCGB has grown to become an organisation widely recognised as a leader and champion for youth choral music and education nationally and internationally. Chris has been a huge asset to NYCGB supporting its development and enabling many talented young singers and emerging music professionals from across the UK to develop their music-making and life skills during a pivotal time in the organisation’s almost 40-year history.

Chris Higgins, NYCGB Chair of ten years until May 2021

NYCGB is delighted to welcome David Roper as Chris’ successor, who takes up the position from early May 2021 following a wide-ranging search. David brings a wealth of experience to the role. He graduated from Selwyn College, Cambridge with a Music Degree and he then trained as a chartered accountant, becoming a partner at PwC in 2002. After retiring from PwC in 2018 he joined the boards of Atom Bank (Durham) and NFU Mutual (Stratford-upon-Avon). David’s currently the Deputy Chair of the Royal Northern College of Music where he’s been a governor since 2008 and is also the Deputy Chair of both ABRSM and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

David joins NYCGB at an exciting moment as the organisation goes from strength to strength. Key achievements of the last ten years include: 

  • Celebrated diversity in youth choral music through large-scale events and performances, including the International Youth Choir Festival, ImagiNATIONS and prestigious performances such as BBC Proms, Centenary Commemorations of the First World War and Carols at the Royal Albert Hall;
  • Increased membership by 50% from fewer than 600 to over 900 members in 2021;
  • Launched Fellowship and Young Composers Schemes introducing specialist support for emerging young professionals in the choral sector from a diversity of backgrounds;
  • Inspired more young people from a wide range of backgrounds to take part in ensemble singing through the creation of a Learning and Engagement programme and development of new regional partnerships;
  • Enabled over 170 members (in 2020 alone) who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to take part in NYCGB Choirs, through the expansion of the Financial Assistance programme;
  • Supported the creation of new music and pushed the boundaries of what choral music can be through works such as who we are by Kerry Andrew, My Granny Sarah by Errollyn Wallen and She Who by Jessica Curry.
  • Launched NYCGB’s digital label releasing almost 200 pieces of music recorded by NYCGB members and Fellows;
  • Delivered an exceptional online programme in 2020/21 despite the Covid-19 pandemic, supporting young singers to develop their skills, come together in a supportive environment with others and continue to excel during challenging times;
  • Developed outstanding practice in safeguarding, working with the NSPCC and NYCGB’s Head of Safeguarding to become a sector leader;
  • Developed the National Youth Choir Annual Programme for its flagship choir, offering an unbeatable, inspirational and diverse learning experience for members.

In terms of forthcoming developments, NYCGB has much to look forward to not least in its ambitions to widen its reach, increase diversity and inclusion across the organisation and further its artistic and educational ambitions. Noteworthy developments over the next few years will see NYCGB:

  • Championing the social and educational impact of choral singing on young lives and advocating for all young people to have access to a high-quality music education in its national leadership role;
  • Helping shape the future of the choral sector and its workforce by further developing its work with emerging professional artists;
  • Working harder to reach more young people from a greater diversity of backgrounds, including developing key partnerships to support this including Black Lives in Music;
  • Expanding its national Learning and Engagement programme into new regions, offering more young people opportunities to discover and develop their talent for singing;
  • Continuing to develop its artistic ambition, creating exciting ideas and opportunities for young people, including performances this summer at the Royal Albert Hall’s 150th Birthday concert and Three Choirs Festival;
  • Continuing to extend its reach through building and developing exciting supporter and performance partnerships including Dorico, ABRSM, Stainer & Bell, Royal Albert Hall, NMC Recordings, Britten Pears Arts and many others;
  • Celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2023, which will see NYCGB acknowledge its achievements so far, and launch plans for the next 10 years;
  • Continue to extend its ‘New Music Programme’ sponsored by Dorico supporting composers and growing an exciting new wave of commissions for release on its digital label.

Anne Besford, NYCGB Chief Executive said:

During Chris Higgins’ time at NYCGB, the organisation has transformed into the UK’s leading organisation for youth choral music and has supported many talented young singers to grow in their lives and their music-making during this time. We are extremely grateful for the incredible contribution that he has made and wish him all the very best in his future endeavours. We are thrilled to welcome David Roper as our new Chair. David has extensive experience and expertise to bring to the role and we have no doubt that he will lead NYCGB forward with enthusiasm and vigour into our next phase as we continue to develop as an exciting and inclusive organisation at the forefront of youth choral music.

Ben Parry, NYCGB Artistic Director & Principal Conductor commented:

I am so very grateful to Chris for all his sage advice and guidance over the past years, and look forward to working closely with David in the future. NYCGB has grown and developed into the go-to organisation for young singers during Chris’ tenure, and the next few years will see us consolidate on the many achievements and challenges we have set ourselves.

Chris Higgins Said:

NYCGB is a remarkable organisation with remarkable people doing so much for young people and music. I am now looking forward to enjoying NYCGB from a different perspective – sitting back and listening to the wonderful live music-making of our young people and following the careers of those who have entered the profession.

David Roper commented:

I’m delighted to be joining the team at NYCGB as their new Chair at this exciting time. The opportunities that NYCGB provides for young people to develop and perform together are incredibly valuable, especially as we come out of the pandemic. I know from my own experiences growing up through the state school system, that being able to sing in choirs and ensembles can really help develop a wide range of skills which can be invaluable in later life, and I’m particularly keen that children from all backgrounds should have the opportunity to participate in music-making at the highest possible level.