Fellowship

Photo: Ben Tomlin


15 March 2021


In our first 2021 Fellowship Blog, Elizabeth Leather describes her experience of meeting together with the Fellows and Young Composers' for their first day of online activity with NYCGB


As a Fellow with NYCGB, I knew I could access fantastic mentors and network with colleagues who share my passion to shape the choral music world for children and young people. After our first days together, I can say that - even online - the experience is even more varied and exciting than I’d imagined. The overriding theme of our first sessions together was ‘support’ – how we can support each other’s journeys, how supportive the staff are of us, and how driven the NYCGB team is to support young people across the UK who have discovered an interest in singing.

I want to use music to create connection and to positively influence young people’s lives. It was clear from the first sessions that the entire NYCGB team have become mentors to help me achieve this. I am learning about adapting my work for Zoom, composing for youth choirs, safeguarding young people, levelling up my marketing and admin skills, and leading effective singing workshops in schools.

It’s also amazing to build relationships with industry professionals at Dorico, AOTOS, and Stainer & Bell. I’m most excited to be paired with a singing teacher from AOTOS, who can help me understand how to nurture young voices in the best possible way, and I am also grateful for the opportunity to try out new things outside my comfort zone, like music notation software, and editing scores.

A highlight of the weekend was sharing songs of our choice with the group. I chose a German folk song, Der Mond ist aufgegangen, for the theme ‘cultural identity’. At a concert in Germany a few years back, my choir sang this piece as the encore. The whole audience joined in. I found it so moving that the song brought together everyone in that space as people sharing a common culture.

I was completely inspired by other people’s choices. We all have such different influences – the music we listen to, where we’ve grown up, the languages we speak. Hearing other perspectives is so important to me; listening to someone else’s story helps me to understand them better and connect on a deeper level.

Continuing the theme of connection and understanding, I loved the sessions with Principal Conductor, National Youth Boys' Choir, Lucy Joy Morris and Principal Conductor of the National Youth Training Choir, Greg Beardsell. What stood out to me is how I really need to know my choirs - their vocal range and sound – to cultivate a sense of bravery. Everyone is exploring their voice and needs to feel safe doing so, so I need to programme music they can sing and want to sing!

Now I’ve met the other Fellows, Young Composers and the team at NYCGB, all that’s left is to meet the choir members and to start rehearsing together. I know it will be so worth the wait!

...and a few comments from Elizabeth's peers:

I have never been asked to share music that I identify with as a British Asian musician - thank you NYCGB for making me feel like I can belong in this industry and feel appreciated.

Shivani Rattan, Fellow

The entire NYCGB are such a friendly bunch, we have been welcomed into the family with such warm arms.

Derri Lewis, Young Composer