In today's BBC Radio 2 programme at lunchtime (28/10/2015), it was reported that studies show that singing is the fastest way for any of us to make friends. Something to do with the breathing in unison perhaps...
During the summer the London Youth Choir (LYC) hosted its annual summer singing course for its five choirs to spend time with other talented singers from around London, learn new songs in different styles, enjoying small group vocal coaching, have fun at special guest workshops and enjoy some social time together.
The course, which was held at the City Hope Church, Bermondsey, was spread over two days and was open to young people between the ages of 8 and 21. A free to attend concert was held on the final day of the course to showcase to family and friends what was learnt over the two days.
As part of LYC’s charitable endeavours, the choir was able to offer the course for free to underprivileged children in Southwark. To raise the money for this, the choir took part in The Childhood Trust’s Summer Give campaign, which over the course of five days raised just under £25,000. In total the campaign raised £500,000 for local children’s charities across the London to help London's poorest children to have a summer filled with fun, food and adventures.
The children were taught by a number of guest tutors, who covered a large number of different styles, including gospel, classical, spiritual and jazz, as well as hosting a number of activities and musical games.
As a result of the money raised by The Childhood Trust, there were enough children for the final concert to feature two distinct choirs: juniors and seniors. In the space of two days, both groups of young people learnt an enormous amount of repertoire from which Rachel Staunton, Director of the London Youth Choir, was able to create a full 30 minute concert, at which all the singers performed from memory.
Katie Neilson from The Voices Foundation, a national music education charity that works in primary schools throughout England, was one of the main guest tutors. She opened the course with a highly stimulating music education session, which got all the juniors playing singing and rhythm games and gaining important musical skills.
Charles MacDougall was the other main guest tutor who is a renowned choral animateur and vocal coach. Founder-member of the international award-winning ensemble VOCES8, Charles also works regularly with the London Symphony Orchestra Youth Choir. He led a highly stimulating choral workshop resulting in all the participants performing the theme song from the film ‘Skyfall’ at the final concert.
As well as providing an exciting and interactive activity for children during the summer, the course was also an opportunity for future choristers to audition for a place in the London Youth Choir. A number of these successful auditions came from children who were able to come only because of the money raised through the Summer Give campaign. These new recruits have now become full members of the London Youth Choir and will be attending weekly rehearsals throughout term time and taking part in a number of prestigious concerts and events.
Rachel Staunton, Director of The London Youth Choir says: “We are thrilled to be supported by the Childhood Trust with whom we share a common vision to inspire and help young people in London rise above their circumstance and really get the most out of life.”
Gordon Grant, Chairman of The Childhood Trust, says: “The London Youth Choir is a brilliant example of why I started The Childhood Trust. By providing an exciting and educational course for the children of Bermondsey, it was able to give disadvantaged children the opportunities that more affluent families enjoy every day. We are delighted to have been able to play a part in this fantastic cause and hope to continue our relationship in the future.”
At the time of writing, London Youth Choir are preparing to raise more money for children across London to join in the singing, as part of The Childhood Trust Christmas Give (December 4-14 at www.thebiggive.org.uk). Almost one third of the 35 projects aiming to get online donations doubled will be 'musically inspired'.