Jonathan Grocock sang with the National Youth Choir from 1988-1993 and was also one of NYCGB's early Choir Administrators. He now lives in Oxfordshire.


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

I was a second tenor. My first course was (rather bizarrely) a reunion get-together in Ranmoor, Sheffield on New Year’s Day 1988. From early 1993 I switched from singing to helping run courses for a year or so.

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

Along with my wife, Sam, and our young family, I moved to Henley around three years ago, having spent the previous 15 years working in France, Switzerland and Luxembourg. I work for HSBC as the Chief Administrative Officer for retail banking in Europe. 

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

I’ve kept singing over the years and now sing regularly with Coro, a choir set up in London in the early 1990s by a group of NYCGB Alumni. It’s great to sing with old friends and new, and I’ve recently taken on the role of treasurer. 

What is your standout moment from your time in NYCGB?

So many! Albert Hall concerts, great courses, but I guess it would have to be the 1992 World Tour; singing 'Only You' for beer in the pub outside Christchurch Cathedral, the students from Te Aute College doing a haka at the start of our concert (I almost pooped myself) and lunch in Doyle’s restaurant, Watson’s Bay. I made friends for life and my brother, Richard, was there. A real blessing. 

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

Besides the New Zealand National Anthem (you had to be there...) it would probably be Honegger’s 'Christmas Cantata'.  I sang it twice at the Albert Hall with a mass children’s choir, which was sat up above us. The ending, with the kids’ chorus, the organ playing at full tilt and NYC stood singing in the middle of the Albert Hall stage was spine tingling. 

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

It would be called “the Eclectic Tour”, taking in Luxembourg (much maligned but a wonderful place with a great sense of itself), then on to parts of Africa to experience a different extreme, and finishing in New Zealand; it really marked me when I was there - another place with real 'soul'. 

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

I use them all the time. The drive to excel, an attention to detail and the life and management skills you get from living and 'working' with a group of high performers.

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

I’m really lucky. I get to do that once a year when a group of 10+ NYCGB Alumni come together for our annual Christmas dinner. But away from NYCGB, it would be “Beefy” Botham, Rick Stein and Peter Kay (responsible for wine, food and banter respectively).

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’ve a framed poster I was given by my Nan when I was struggling with my A-Levels - it contains the poem 'It's All In the State of Mind' by Walter D. Wintle. It’s about perseverance and positive thinking....something tenors need in abundance!

What is the theme tune to your nightmares/ dreams?

To my dreams? Shenandoah arr Erb. To my nightmares? Sourwood Mountain, the 1992 Tour 'Waiheke Island' version. We got into a loop we couldn’t get out of and it included a modulation.... sopranos started to drop like flies and Jasper Blakeley, who’d been allowed to dance a one-person American folk dance on the benches at the back of the stage (......?) eventually just gave up - so the singers then did.

Jonathan Grocock was interviewed by Gareth Saunders.


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