NYCGB 2018/19 Fellows


Current NYCGB Fellow Sam Gilliatt shares his experience of working with young singers from 9 schools as they prepared for their Christmas debut at Nottingham's Royal Concert Hall.

On the morning of 10th December we arrived tired-eyed and bushy-haired at the Music Rehearsal Studio of Nottingham Trent University ahead of a long day of workshops and rehearsals leading up to a wonderful concert at the Royal Concert Hall, fittingly titled 'An Inspired Christmas'. For this day, the Fellowship octet welcomed two fresh faces, tenor James Botcher and bass David Valsamidis (standing in for the absent Jack Harberd and George Cook), both of whom slotted into proceedings seamlessly and were a joy to work with.

Morning rehearsals were led by Emily Dickens (ex-Voces8 soprano) while we supported from the sidelines. It was such a pleasure to watch Emily work as she kept 9 school's worth of Key Stage 3 pupils engaged and enthused for long periods of time, tackling challenging repertoire. The whole group learned two pieces by heart, Alexander L'Estrange's arrangement of the Cornish folk tune 'The first tree in the greenwood' and Jingle Bell Rock.

In addition to helping out in rehearsals, the Fellowship also performed two short sets in the concert including some of our old favourites (such as Judith Weir's beautiful 'Love Bade Me Welcome' and Toby Young's lively and percussive arrangement of 'Kelele') as well as some festive treats in the form of Pearsall's 'In Dulci Jubilo' and Jonathan Rathbone's luscious 'The Oxen'.

The dropping jaws of the children stepping on stage in the Royal Concert Hall for the first time was a true sight to behold and each and every one of them rose to the occasion in spectacular fashion. When the clock struck 7 and the hypothetical curtains opened the audience was full of parents, grandparents, siblings and friends all beaming with pride and I strongly hope that the rapturous reception every performance received will inspire all the children involved to pursue their musical interests and passions further.