Christopher Morley talks to the man conducting a celebration of youthful talent at Worcester Cathedral.
Two hundred young singers from secondary schools across the county of Worcestershire join together on Saturday for a performance of Mozart’s Requiem in Worcester Cathedral.
This is the culmination of a project organised by Sing UK, a national singing organisation which creates performance opportunities throughout the country, especially for young people.
Its artistic director is the acclaimed choral conductor and music educationalist Malcolm Goldring, who conducts Saturday’s concert.
“The chance to perform a major choral work with professional soloists (including Worcestershire’s own Nathan Vale) and orchestra – here the English Symphony Orchestra – is a stunning experience for these students,” he says.
“Young people have the right to be introduced to music that can be uplifting, inspirational and challenging. Last year’s performance of Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man certainly lit a spark from many local students. Responses from the schools were ecstatic, and reminded us that if young people are challenged and are offered something of quality they will respond positively.
“With so much musical quality out there which is of dubious quality, we believe that what we’re doing is presenting a significant alternative to all that.
“This is such powerful music, and the opportunity for young singers to perform the Mozart Requiem and Bob Chilcott’s Jubilate in the Cathedral is something they’ll remember for a very long time. I feel very honoured to have had the privilege of working with them all.”
The rehearsal process began in individual schools, progressing eventually to whole-chorus rehearsals.
“The first time the young singers came together it was a great shock to many of them,” he says. “Most had never sung in such a large choir – in fact many of them had never sung in any choir – and they found the experience breathtaking.
“We found it refreshing and exciting, the sound of all those fresh young voices was wonderful. Here are the potential choral society singers of the future.”
King Charles I School in Kidderminster is one of those participating, all the students keen singers from Year 11. There are also three members of staff helping to stiffen the ranks.
Music teacher Lindsay Southall is enthusiastic: “It’s exciting to hear young voices from all over the county blending together in wonderful harmony,”
Sixteen-year-olds Bethany Hill and Megan Oliver describe it as “a great experience” and “hard work but rewarding”.
It isn’t only Worcestershire youngsters taking part. Kari Hakala is a 26-year-old student from Finland, currently completing a Business Studies course at Worcester University.
“I’m singing in this concert with Sing UK because my experience in singing in the Armed Man last year was so good,” he says.
“It is an enjoyable experience with a great atmosphere. The choir is well supported and we have fun. Malcolm Goldring is very inspiring.”
Dyson Perrins School in Malvern is new to the scheme but music teacher says she is glad Claire Gardner they signed up to it.
“We’ve a group of six students and two staff taking part. The music is tough, but our mentor, Carol Green, has been very supportive. I feel very proud to stand by the students that I teach, in a project like this, and we all enjoy the rehearsals enormously.
“I’m looking forward to the concert in Worcester Cathedral, and feel excited that the students we teach have an opportunity like this so early on in their music careers.”
*A different kind of ground-breaking goes ahead back in Birmingham on Saturday night, when Birmingham Symphonic Winds perform at the CBSO Centre in preparation for their New York debut a week later.
Now nearly 20 years old, BSW has a proud record of commissioning and premiering new works, and this concert is no exception. Kenneth Hesketh’s Danceries II will receive its world premiere as part of the Atlantic Crossing programme.
A week later, on April 17, they will be performing the programme again in the Alice Tully Hall at New York’s prestigious Lincoln Center.
It also includes Guy Woolfenden’s Divertimento for Band and the Shakespeare Pictures by Nigel Hess (that’s a lot of Stratford ending up Stateside, and there is also Philip Sparke’s Second City Ceremony to represent Birmingham).
Keith Allen conducts, and Simone Rebello is soloist in Martin Ellerby’s percussion concerto The Canticle of the Sun, with David Childs soloist in Karl Jenkins’ (him again) Euphonium Concerto.
* Sing UK performs Mozart’s Requiem at Worcester Cathedral on Saturday April 9 (7.30pm). Details on 01905 611427.
* Birmingham Symphonic Winds perform at the CBSO Centre, Berkley Street on Saturday April 9 (7.30pm). Details on 0121 780 3333.