Will.i.am and NYCGB members at Rivergreen Centre in Durham.

29 November 2017

Musician and entrepreneur Will.i.am visited Durham on Monday in his role as strategic advisor to app-only bank Atom, whose Rivergreen Centre headquarters is also the home of NYCGB's office.

Atom approached NYCGB to provide a choir for the occasion, but on terms of strict confidentiality. Local NYCGB members signing up for the engagement were told only that they would be singing for 'a celebrity'.

National Youth Boys' Choir member Oscar said:

"I was extremely excited about who the mystery guest would be, I had no idea who we would be performing for. I realised who it was when he walked down the stairs when we were in the waiting room, he came past us and said hi!"

The singers were prepared on the afternoon by NYCGB Assistant Music Director Dominic Ellis-Peckham, who devised a special choreographed mash-up of a Scandinavian folksong, JP Cooper's 'She's On My Mind', Ed Sheeran's 'Sing' and Will.i.am's new song 'Fiyah'.

Dominic said:

"Will was full of congratulations, and really impressed with our performance. He was particularly impressed with how tight our modulations and general tuning were, and amazed that we had only started learning the piece an hour and a half before the performance!"

Oscar, who was one of several to grab a selfie with Will.i.am after the performance, said:

"It was so exciting seeing his reaction, especially when we performed a section of his song, and he recorded the whole thing! It was a great experience which I will always remember and I'll always have the photo I got with him. I had a great day!"

Will.i.am's visit supported a widely-reported announcement of a major new partnership between Atom Bank and The Prince's Trust.