Singing success

York alumni land five National Youth Choirs Fellowships

Elspeth Piggott, Ana Beard-Fernandez, Helena Cooke, Ben Inman and Jamie Wright all graduated from York in the last four years and will now embark on a paid year of concerts and training, giving them unparalleled experience into the professional choral and consort world.

Launched in 2015, the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain (NYCGB) Fellowship Programme is a major new initiative that aims to create the most highly skilled and multi-talented choral singers in the UK. Each year, eight singers aged 22-25 are selected following an intensive three-round audition process.

York’s Department of Music continues to produce alumni that go on to achieve notable success in the professional world. The similarly prestigious Genesis scheme, run by one of the world’s best ensembles The Sixteen, featured two York students in 2015-16 and seven out of 23 in 2014-15.

Staff in the Department of Music include renowned choral musician Professor Peter Seymour and Anniversary Reader Robert Hollingworth, Director of one of the UK’s top professional vocal ensembles, I Fagiolini.

Helena Cooke, one of the York graduates selected for the NYCBG: “‘The five of us that studied at the University of York can credit the excellent performance training we received. The flexible course gives you a lot of performance opportunities, the singing teachers are first-rate and having Robert Hollingworth as a Reader and choir director was a huge asset to the department and a reason why I chose it in the first place.” 

Professor Ambrose Field, Head of the Department of Music praised the department: “York provides a unique opportunity for students to professionalise their work whilst studying for their degrees. We are extremely pleased to see their success in one of the most active and prestigious national music organisations.”

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Current singers in the Department will this year visit Florence

Ana Beard Fernandez, another York alumni and recipient of the Fellowship expressed her gratitude to the University’s Music department: “It is thanks to the University of York’s Department of Music’s world-class teaching, support and grounding, founded on an ethos of creativity and innovation, that we five have been successful.”

David Clegg, Choral Manager of The Gabrieli Consort, one of the world’s foremost choral ensembles, said: “What is going on chorally at York is having a real impact on the business. The days of the traditional strongholds of choral music dominating the professional music scene are being excitingly challenged.”

Current singers in the Department will this year visit Florence to sing alongside the UK’s best professional musicians in a rare performance of a recently discovered 40-part mass.