A CAPACITY audience greeted the National Youth Training Choir of Great Britain (NYCGB) for its concert in the Richard Whiteley Theatre in Giggleswick, writes LINDY WILLIAMS. From the moment the choir came on to the platform, turned and smiled at the audience it was clear that we were in for a treat. This was an exceptionally professional start and it was clear that attention had been paid to platform manner, something which may sound unimportant but seeing and feeling a sense of purpose and unity from performers immediately holds an audience’s attention.

This group of 68 young people had spent an intensive residential week preparing a difficult and varied programme under the direction of Greg Beardsall, Lucy Joy Morris and Robert Brooks, each of whom brought his or her specific skills to the choir’s music-making.

Accompanying the choir and entertaining with stunning playing of some duets was internationally renowned O Duo, percussion players, Oliver Cox and Owen Gunnell. A great way to give the choir some rest time in the intensive programme but also bringing most enjoyable interludes.

The concert opened with Bob Chilcott’s five songs The Making of the Drum, which was inspired by the composer’s visit to Uganda where the process is an important ritual. The choir sang with lively rhythmic precision, varied dynamics and excellent diction, talents that were evident throughout the whole concert. Roxanna Panufnik’s Love Endureth was beautifully sung, the choir capturing the haunting qualities admirably.

And so this extraordinary standard continued throughout the programme. In every piece the choir captured the mood, whether it was contemplative or lively, Whitacre’s Seal Lullaby, Esenvalds' I have loved hours at sea, a piece by Malin Gavelin sung in in Swedish or the exciting final work, Rytmus by Ivan Hrusovsky.

It was a real joy to hear young people singing with such skill and commitment. Many congratulations are due of course to choir members but also to those involved in coaching them to such a high standard of performance, musicianship and presentation. Perhaps most heartening of all was the fact that they were clearly enjoying themselves. These people are the future of choral singing so we must hope that the skills they have developed will stay with them throughout their lives.

As with all such projects, this one is expensive. NYCGB has a policy of not excluding anyone on the basis of ability to pay and provides financial assistance to one in five of the young people it works with annually to assist them with audition fees and all costs of membership, including course fees and travel costs. Cuts have bitten hard and the organisation’s Summer Appeal 2018 is a call to raise £15,000, all of which will go to providing assistance to young singers.

Anyone who wishes to contribute or who knows someone who might be should go online at www.nycgb.org.uk/appeal/summer-appeal-2018.

Any talented young singers interested in auditioning for National Youth Training Choir can do so from September 27.

For further information visit www.nycgb.org.uk/audition.