Henrik Wager sang with the National Youth Choir from 1986-1991. He now lives in Italy.

When were you in NYCGB and what part did you sing?

I was in the National Youth Choir from 1986 to 1991 as a Tenor 1.

Where do you now live, and what do you do?

I live in Italy with my wife and two boys and spend the majority of my time (along with my wife Debora) looking for missing shoes, turning lights off and repairing cracked touchscreens on the cheap. I do however have another job which is…

Do you still sing, and if so, in what capacity?

...singing. I am a jack of all trades when it comes to singing which has served me well in an ever changing world. I work much of the time in Germany often as a rock/pop voice for classic musicals such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Hair, Chess, The Rocky Horror Show, Evita, Rock of Ages etc., but also many crossover projects with symphony orchestras. My current role is the Celebrant in a staged version of Leonard Bernstein's Mass. I also have a pet project called Tape Five which is an Electro Swing Band.

What is your standout moment from your time in NYCGB?

The most life-changing experience was the 1986 tour (and my first NYC tour) to West Coast USA, Hawaii and Western Canada. The experience of making music with so many wonderful, fun, flamboyant young adults was a game-changer. I still fondly watch the video of that tour. 

What is the one piece that if you heard it again would remind you of NYCGB?

So much music is burned into my memory but above all is the sublime 'Hymn to St Cecilia' by Britten, not least as we also sang it at the funeral of NYCGB Alumnus Will Reynish. 'Blessed Cecilia, appear in visions to all musicians, appear and inspire'... Music heals and never divides. 

If you were to design a tour for the current National Youth Choir where would you take them?

I think a gastro/singing tour of Italy with 15 old VW vans would be on the cards. Travelling in convoy, stopping for lunch and singing in every town square and crumbling church we could find. Bring the magic to the people.

What skills did you gain in NYCGB that you still use in everyday life?

Understanding that every cog is important in the machine, staying focused through long rehearsals, singing but truly listening at the same time, having high expectations and reaching goals through rigour and attention to detail… all that and surviving on little sleep.

You are having a fantasy dinner party: who's invited?

Neil deGrass Tyson (Astrophysicist), Sammy Davis Jr., Maurice White (Earth, Wind and Fire), Steve Jobs, my English grandfather L. R. Wager (explorer and geologist who passed before I was born) and Tim Curry at the head of the table. Also sundry politicians and over-paid movie stars to serve the food and clear the plates (in silence).

Your house is on fire. Your family and pets are safe, but you have time to save just one possession. What do you save?

I know it's a boring answer but it would be my big back-up disk. A few years some kids stole a box full of CDs including every demo song I made and video clips of concerts/TV etc. It had no value to them but was basically a record of my early creative life gone. If it happened again I would be devastated…reminds me to upload to the cloud!

What is the theme tune to your nightmares/ dreams?

Having young children means that the music I hear most in my free time is animated film soundtracks. My nightmare music would be something like 'Let it go' from Disney’s Frozen playing on a loop and I would wake up crying and sweating…but then watch it all again later that day.

Henrik Wager was interviewed by Lizzie Spear.

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