Genesis Sixteen students in rehearsal. Image: The Sixteen


10 November 2017

Harry Christophers discusses the training scheme's success, and why working with young singers is special.

Genesis Sixteen is The Sixteen’s free young artists’ scheme, which aims to nurture the next generation of talented ensemble singers. During the course of a year, a series of week-long and weekend courses are led by key figures from The Sixteen, including founder and conductor (and NYCGB Vice President) Harry Christophers. As the scheme prepares to open applications for its eighth edition, we spoke with Harry to find out more.


You must be generally happy about Genesis reaching its eighth edition, but is there anything that stands out for you particularly?

I’m absolutely delighted! The amazing vision of John Studzinski and the Genesis Foundation to make this project possible has been invaluable to the professional music scene, and the scheme has surpassed all of our hopes and expectations. Part of our aim is to show young singers just what might be possible, that there are numerous areas in which music making is possible. To see so many groups (some consorts, some larger ensembles) created as a result of Genesis Sixteen is just brilliant. But we have also enjoyed being a part of creating some wonderful solo singers: James Newby (Winner of the 2016 Kathleen Ferrier Award and the 52nd John Christie Award); James Way (OAE Rising Star), Sinead O’Kelly (National Opera Studio). Three alumni have also been awarded full scholarships to the Royal College of Music (Camilla Harris, Jessica Cale, Samuel Jenkins). Not least every top ensemble in the UK benefiting from the excellence of Genesis Sixteen singers! 

What is different about working with Genesis students to working with The Sixteen?

The Sixteen are a group of top professionals, singers who are at the top of their game and who know each other like the back of their hands. What is brilliant about working with our Genesis students is that they all have their own special something to bring to the table. What they learn through our project is how to listen to each other, how to take risks in their music making, how to give to their full potential but above all how to support and feed off their colleagues. Awareness comes with experience. What is particularly exciting about Genesis singers is seeing them work in consorts with members of The Sixteen as their tutors and mentors as well as have singing tuition and technical advice from The Sixteen. 

What do you look for in a young professional choral singer?

The ability to be constantly alert, aware of every part and not just their own, total communication with me and the audience, to feel the music and express that outwardly, to be facially expressive and above all I need to feel their sense of enjoyment.

Who can apply for Genesis and when does the application process open?

The Genesis Sixteen scheme lasts for one year, during which singers take part in two week-long courses and two weekend courses. There are 22 places available in the scheme each year. In order to apply for the 2018-19 programme you must be aged between 18 and 23 on Sunday 19 August 2018, be resident in the UK, receive regular singing lessons and be free for all the course dates without exception.


Applications for the 2018-19 group will open on Monday 20th November and the deadline for applications is Monday 15 January 2018. Full details can be found at: www.thesixteen.com/education/genesis-sixteen