The National Youth Choir of Scotland (NYCoS) Isle of Lewis choir is celebrating its tenth anniversary – and all are invited to hear the sound of a decade of success at the choir’s Town Hall concert at 7pm on Wednesday May 30th. You can book here
Tickets for the NYCoS Isle of Lewis May concert are priced £8 (£5 for those under 26yrs) and are available on-line or at Nicolsons paper shop in Cromwell Street, Stornoway, or at the door on the night.
The date of the event is Wednesday May 30th and not as incorrectly stated in the current edition of EVENTS newspaper which apologises for that error.
Background to the choir
The National Youth Choir of Scotland was established in 1996 to support and develop choral singing across the country by providing opportunities for young singers, teachers and choir directors.
In 2007, the Isle of Lewis NYCoS area choir was set up following a visit to Stornoway by NYCoS musical and creative director Christopher Bell, with an initial uptake of around 36 pupils, under the direction of island music teacher Avril Allen.
Ten years on and the talents and experience of singers and musicians Andrew Yearly, Calum Watt, and Claire Davine, alongside Choir Director Cath Fish, now provide support and mentorship for the 48-strong choir.
Cath says: “The NYCoS kids are a great team. Everyone gets on. They’re all in different classes and schools (in the case of the primary children) and it’s a great chance to just enjoy being together. The age range is from 7 (Primary 3) to 15, and we have several S3s in the choir who have been in since P3. I think that shows just how much they must enjoy it.”
Auditions for the NYCoS – which take place locally this year in June – are a must as the choir does only accept young people who can sing; but membership is about much more than simply singing, as Cath said: “The big thing about NYCoS is that it’s not just a choir.
“Members spend half their time at sessions learning musicianship skills – in layman’s terms this simply means learning to read music – and this has obvious educational benefits.
“Membership is not free, but there are bursaries available and no one has ever been turned away due to lack of funds,” she continued. “The costs work out at between £2/£3 a session for younger members, rising to £4 as they get older, and really that is not a lot to pay for a weekly music lesson!”
Area choir members can also audition to go on to sing with the national NYCoS choirs, as have a number from the Isle of Lewis choir: “Many of our young singers audition successfully for the national NYCoS choirs and we’ve had many singers gain places in the National Girls Choir and National Boys Choir, both extremely well regarded national choirs,” said Cath. “As they get older they can join the National Boys Choir for Changed Voices and National Youth Choir for members aged 16-24.
“Caitlin Mackenzie, who is about to leave school, is our longest servicing NYCoS Lewis member at 17 years old and she has successfully got into the Youth Choir this year. Their engagements include opening the Edinburgh Festival and a concert in Carnegie Hall…the New York one!”
10th anniversary concert
Cath said: “There’s some Bach on the programme, some beautiful arrangements of Scottish folk songs, some really fun songs for the younger ones in particular, show songs from Oliver, Les Misérables, and Porgy & Bess, some classical songs by John Ireland and Schubert, and a selection of NYCoS songs which are specially written for NYCoS area choirs.
“The kids are seasoned performers so the concerts don’t faze them anymore!” she continued. “And then after the concert we’re going to have a Choir Cèilidh Dance to let off some steam!”
“We have 31 Primary 3s and 4s coming to try out at NYCoS and audition over the next five weeks,” said Cath.
Cath added: “Stornoway Primary is a great school to meet at and perform in. The acoustics are some of the best on the island and we would like to take this opportunity to thank Mrs Annette Murray for her support over the ten years we’ve been doing this. She and her staff have been a great support to us over the years.”
You can find out more about National Youth Choirs of Scotland, and the Isle of Lewis area choir, online at www.nycos.co.uk