Gloucestershire Youth Choir (GYC)
Gloucestershire Youth Choir (GYC) represents the very best young singers in years 7-13 from across the county's 39 secondary schools. By joining, you'll get the chance to take part in singing courses three times a year during weekends or school holidays, working with vocal tutors and visiting professional singers. Each course has a fee of £40. Busaries are available so please contact us on 01452 427242 for more information about applicable criteria.
Recommendations for membership are usually made by secondary school Heads of Music - contact yours if you're interested and then ask them, and your parents/guardian, to email email@example.com
Click on the 'Our next concert and course' tab below to see the next opportunity to get involved in!
The story of GYC
The Gloucestershire County Youth Choir is a place for all passionate young singers aged 11-18 yrs to come together and enjoy the wonderful experience of singing together as an ensemble in a range of styles with professional tutors and exciting professional guest artists.. Our choir has a membership of 60+ members. Overall these members represent 90% of secondary schools in Gloucestershire, with our aim to have representatives from all of the secondary schools, so we are nearly there! Students are recommended for membership by their school’s Head of Music, community choir leaders or singing tutors.
The choir meets on a course basis at various times during the year where they work with lead professional singers who have recently included West End Performer, Craig Mather; National Youth Choir of Great Britain Tutor, Robbie Jacobs; Popular Artist, Fyfe Dangerfield; West End Performer and Leader of the West End Gospel Choir, Nathaniel Morrison; West End Performer, Andy Coxon; Composer and Choir Leader, Alexander L'Estrange and most recently the hip-hop/beatboxing quintet, 5 Mics. The choir is run by our team of expert teachers and professional performers Ben Sawyer, Catherine Perfect and Hannah Davey, accompanied by Rob Kempner and managed by Lisa Mayo. We aim to give the singers experiences of contrasting genres throughout the year (this year it has been a mixture of classical, folk/hip-hop/beatboxing fusion, and next comes musical theatre/popular styles!) and provide them with high quality, large scale events to perform at.
2016 / 17 was an incredible year for the choir, as they performed at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the Music for Youth Proms in November, which was a truly amazing experience. They performed the premiere of Philip Harper’s ‘Shakespearean Triptych’ alongside singers from two of our neighbouring Hubs (Bath and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire) and a joint Wind Orchestra conducted by the composer himself, the leader of the world’s number one brass band, Cory Band. What an honour!
GYC have also performed at the Cheltenham Town Hall, Cirencester Parish Church and Tewkesbury Abbey and have recently performed at the National Festival for Music for Youth (the largest youth music festival in the country!) at the Birmingham Symphony Hall, which was a great experience!
Our next concert and course
What is coming up in 2021?
Autumn / Winter Sessions 2021
Saturday 13th and Sunday 21st November 2021 (plus our evening concert on 27th November 2021)
2 - 4:30pm
Colwell Arts Centre, Derby Road, Gloucester. GL1 4AD
GYC – Jennifer Walker - Get Back to Singing!
The Gloucestershire Youth Choir will be coming back together for the first time since the pandemic started to help our young singers build their confidence and find their voices once again and enjoy singing in harmony with their like-minded peers - something we have all missed so much. Jennifer, professional Soprano and music educator (see biog below), will help our young singers to take those first steps back into the joy of singing and prepare them for their first performance in a long time at our Gloucestershire Music Winter Concert at Pittville Pump Rooms. There will be some familiar repertoire along with some new songs that will ensure each young person leaves each session with a smile on their faces and a glow in their soul. Register your interest now (before the 10th November) by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The workshops/performance costs £20 in total (50% off the normal termly fee) but bursaries are available for anyone who is facing financial challenges. Simply include in the email a request for a bursary and we will send your Parent/Guardian the relevant form. Once signed up we will issue an invoice for payment.
Guest Artist - Jennifer Walker - Soprano
Jennifer displayed an exceptional talent for music at an early age. She graduated from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama with the highest possible honours in July 2006, winning almost all of the college’s prizes for both performance and academia. She subsequently completed her Masters degree in performance at RWCMD, supported by a full scholarship from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and has won numerous prestigious prizes, including the Russel Sheppard Memorial Scholarship, Geraint Evans Scholarship and the Prize of the Province of Noord Brabant in the International Vocal Concours in ‘s-Hertogenbosch (Holland).
Jennifer has made her solo debut at many of the UK’s leading concert venues and has recorded several solos for BBC Radio 3, including First Lady in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte , Britten’s Hymn to St Cecilia and most recently A.M.D.G (Britten). Operatic credits include the title role in the World Premiere of Brian Irvine’s The Tailor’s Daughter for the Youth Company of Welsh National Opera, the title role in Cendrillon (Massanet) at RWCMD, Denise (Veronique – Messager) for Buxton Festival Opera, Cousin in Madama Butterfly (Puccini) for Grange Park Opera. For New London Opera Players / Secret Opera she performed both Mimi in Puccini’s La Bohème and Violetta in La Traviata and Gretel in their touring production of Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel. More recently she sang Micaela (Carmen) for Opera Commedia, and completed a concert tour of the UK with Magical Mozart by Candlelight. Last year she sang the role of ‘Shepherd Boy’ (Tosca) in Abu Dhabi alongside Bryn Terfel, and has recently returned from a trip to Morocco with Welsh National Opera. She recently performaned the soprano solo in ‘And Death Shall Have No Dominion’ (Maconchy) for BBC Radio 3.
In 2018 she co-founded Opera Boots (Bringing Our Opera To Schools) and has since been working with schools and festivals to offer young people the opportunity to perform alongside professional opera singers. Their productions to date include Puss in Boots (Cui), Hansel and Gretel (Humperdinck) and in 2020 a new commission of the fairy tale Rumplestiltskin with composer Helen Woods, which has been converted to film so that children can still access opera during the Covid pandemic.
Jennifer works extensively in education and outreach, leading and supporting projects for Welsh National Opera, the BBC National Chorus of Wales, CânSing, Arts Active, Ty Cerdd and the National Youth Choir of Wales. She is also the Head of Vocal Studies at The King’s School, Gloucester. During lockdown 2020 she was part of the creative team and cast for WNO’s ‘A Song for the Future’, premiered in January 2021.
Ben Sawyer has been involved with Gloucestershire County Youth Choir since the very beginning when he was chorus master for the 500 or so singers that travelled down to the Royal Albert Hall in November 2012. Since then he has worked with Catherine Perfect and Hannah Davey as part of the GYC team, but this is only a small part of what he does in his work as a choral conductor, singer and teacher. He was appointed director of the ‘Oriel Singers’ in February 2015, an award winning chamber choir based in Cheltenham. He is vocal tutor to the choristers of Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum and teaches singing at Dean Close School. His first pupil to gain a choral scholarship to King’s College, Cambridge started there in September. But that’s not all. In his spare time, Ben sings with another award winning group, ‘The Songmen’. They are a male voice a cappella group singing music from the 15th century all the way to pieces he has written and arranged for the group himself. All in all a rewarding and enjoyable way to make a living!
(Photograph provided by Catherine Perfect)
Catherine started her music education as a scholar at the King’s School, Gloucester. She went on to be awarded choral scholarships at the Universities of London and Cambridge. After several years teaching music in Birmingham and Wolverhampton, Catherine returned to her home county as Head of Music at St Peter’s RC High School, a position she has held for the last ten years.
Aside from juggling a hectic school schedule with two energetic children, Catherine performs regularly with the renowned Birmingham-based choir Ex Cathedra. She is also active in its extensive education programme and was an original member of the innovative and award-winning Singing Medicine team which works in the long term wards of Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
Most recently, Catherine was admitted as the first female lay-clerk in Gloucester Cathedral.
(Photograph provided by Hannah Davey)
Hannah grew up in Winchcombe and enjoyed singing and playing the cello in many Gloucestershire Music groups. After school she worked for a few years as a music administrator at Cheltenham Festivals before realising that what she really wanted to do is sing - all the time! She then moved to Birmingham to study at the Conservatoire where she sang in operas, chamber choirs and jazz ensembles as well as lots of solo song recitals.
Since she graduated, Hannah has been lucky enough to perform around the UK and Europe. She often sings with the Orchestra of St John's as well as choral societies and her jazz ensemble the Derek Paravicini Quartet. Hannah also regularly travels to schools for children with Autism and Special Educational Needs to sing and make music with them.
As well as performing, Hannah is passionate about teaching singing and has a wonderful group of students at Pates, Cheltenham College and privately. She believes that singing and making music with others is the most fun, exciting and rewarding thing you can do and she is very pleased to be involved with GYC!
What's it like to be a member of GYC?
Thoughts from one of our newest members:
"I was really proud to have been selected by my music teacher to represent Kingshill School in GYC. It was a great experience because we got to stretch out of our vocal comfort zones and try gospel music and ended up loving it! We were really lucky to be mentored by West End star Nathaniel Morrison who was truly inspirational and great fun to work with.
I met lots of people from different schools and even made some new friends along the way. The concert that we took part in at Cheltenham Town Hall was fabulous. It felt amazing to be taking part in an event where there were so many talented young people. I can't wait until we all get together again."
Comments from one our existing members:
"Being in Gloucestershire County Youth Choir guarantees you exceptional performance opportunities- from the Cheltenham Town Hall, to the Royal Albert Hall- you'll always be performing with either a full orchestra or a piano, giving you invaluable experience for future performances. But what I love the most about the County Youth Choir is the teachers, who from the minute you step into the rehearsal room greet you with professionalism yet still managing to keep the feeling of inclusiveness- it really is a family atmosphere where everyone will feel welcome! I love how one minute we can be singing Rutter and the next minute singing a gospel cover of a pop song- you get the chance to experiment with your own voice and really gain an understanding of how to make it work for anything that is thrown at you."Photographs (unless otherwise specified) by Steve Green & Malcolm Pollock, freelance photographers
GYC's Lockdown Virtual Performance 2020 - 'Walking on Sunshine!'
GYC's 2 Day Songwriting Course January 2020 - 'Rise Up With Me'
Here are some videos from the choir’s performance at the Music For Youth Regional Festival 2018 - held at Cheltenham Town Hall:
You can keep up to date with what the choir are up to by liking and following our Gloucestershire Music Facebook page @glosmusic and Twitter Feed @glos_music.