National Youth Choir of Scotland Finds Ways to Sing In Person Across the Land

Over the coming days all 15 Regional Choirs of the National Youth Choir of Scotland (NYCOS) will return to in person rehearsals and concerts across Scotland.

Since its formation in 1998, NYCOS have been rehearsing in schools, largely in partnership with the local education authorities in the area. However, uncertainty around Covid and current guidelines in Scotland mean that many schools are unwilling to host outside groups using the facilities, wanting to keep the premises safe, healthy and secure for their own pupils.

Faced with a lack of venues, NYCOS turned for help to the Church of Scotland, that has many and varied premises across Scotland. Following a high level meeting that included the current Moderator of the C of S, Jim Wallace, a pledge to help was given.  Regions where NYCOS was having difficulty were identified and nine of the Regional Choirs are now able to continue thanks to C of S help.

Rt Hon Lord Wallace (Jim Wallace) Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland said “Recognising the importance of choir singing both musically and socially for Scotland’s young people, and the difficulties NYCOS was having in securing venues for its choirs to rehearse, I was delighted to encourage our congregations across the country to help accommodate these wonderful singers.”  

NYCOS residentials are the backbone of the National Choir’s activity but the last full NYCOS residential was in July 2019 with the choir being unable to meet in July 2020 or July 2021 due to Covid. During a six-day residential, the singers learn all the music they will sing over the next year and past performances have included the BBC Proms, Edinburgh International Festival, national and international tours.

Thinking creatively, NYCOS instead found Field Studies Centre (FSC Millport) on the island of Cumbrae that hosted rehearsals under an enormous marquee in its grounds.  Seventy members travelled to Cumbrae from all over Scotland and beyond to rehearse for three days in the beautiful scenery in stunning weather that prepared the choir to return to performance at the highest level.

Apart from singing on BBC Breakfast, NYCOS will mark its first performance since re-emerging from lockdown when it performs to audiences arriving at the celebrated Lammermuir Festival on Saturday 11 and Saturday 18 September at venues across East Lothian. A programme of classical favourites and traditional Scots songs will greet those turning out for the Festival in Dunbar, Haddington, Stenton and Crichton Collegiate Church.

Christopher Bell, founder and Artistic Director of NYCOS said “There is nothing like the experience of singing in a choir with like-minded and talented peers. After almost 18 months singing online we were ready for a face to face return but having difficulty securing our usual venues. These creative solutions, including our wonderful partnership with the Church of Scotland, have been life savers for Scotland’s Young singers.”

NYCOS is currently open to new singers. Anyone interested in applying should please register interest at their website.

Irene Brown

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