NYCGB plus alumni at the Royal Albert Hall

Panoramic photograph of the interior of the Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall—as people were arriving before the concert

This past weekend I’ve been in London with some old friends (some going back nearly 28 years!) to sing with the NYCGB alumni choir at the Royal Albert Hall.

This was the first official outing of the alumni choir — obviously made up of former members of the various National Youth Choirs of Great Britain. Around 110 people turned up, including one alumnus and his son who is now also an alumnus!

We were made to feel so welcome and were included immediately as part of the family. It felt like coming home!

A few of our friends turned up to sing with us...
A few of our friends turned up to sing with us…

In all there were around 800 people singing, from boys’ and girls’ choirs, Cambiata Voices (boys whose voices are changing), training choir, main choir, chamber choir, fellowship octet and, of course, us.

Alone, we sang Five Negro Spirituals from ‘A Child of Our Time’ by Michael Tippett (1905–1998) with solos provided by fellow alumnae Kitty Whately (mezzo-soprano), Rachael Lloyd (mezzo-soprano), Paul Hopwood (tenor) and Roland Wood (baritone).

Having had about half a proper rehearsal of this five part piece I think we did not too bad, to be honest.

With the rest of the choir we sang two songs. The first was If I Ruled the World by Bricusse / Ornadel / Cullum, arranged Sam Coates. It’s the Sir Harry Secombe song arranged for choirs in a jazz style. Nice! What was really nice is that Sir Harry’s grandson was singing as he is also in NYCGB.

The final song of the evening was the gorgeous Lay a Garland by Robert Lucas de Pearsall (1795–1856).

And that was that. I bowed and left the stage, grinning from ear to ear. There is nothing in this world like singing with NYCGB. The sound is unique. The discipline is… well, okay, let’s not talk about our discipline. And the banter is heart-warming and side-splitting.

As many know, this year hasn’t been easy for me, but as I sat on the back row during the first half (and enjoyed my little snooze!) I realised that I was surrounded by friends whom I love and trust, and amongst whom I feel loved and supported. I phoned my mum this evening and thanked her for encouraging me to audition and supporting me through my time in NYC even though my dad had lost his job and money was really tight.

So, I want to say a massive thank you to NYCGB for including us as part of the family once again. And an equally enormous thank you to all the alumni who turned up and sang—seemingly they were turning alumni away on Thursday as we’d simply run out of space to seat everyone!

An email from Luxembourg

Map of Europe highlighting location of Luxembourg
Map of Europe highlighting (in red) the location of Luxembourg

Last night I received an email from Luxembourg. I had to look up on Google Maps to remind me where Luxembourg is. It’s in Europe (I knew that), near France (I knew that too), and next to Belgium and Germany (that’s the bit that I’d forgotten).

The email was inviting me to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in April to a dual celebration: the baptism/christening of Georgina and the 40th birthday of her father, my dear (and sensible) friend Jonny Grocock.

Danny Curtis, Gareth Saunders and Jonny Grocock sitting on a car in 1993
Danny Curtis, Gareth Saunders and Jonny Grocock sitting on a car in 1993

I first met Jonny in December 1988 at St Elphin’s School, Darley Dale on my first National Youth Choir of Great Britain (NYC) course. That was the night the water pipes broke and we were all evacuated to the library at around 3:00 am.

The burst pipes had nothing to do with NYC.

Nope. Nothing. Nothing at all. Well…maybe just a little bit.

But not me: I was asleep. Being sensible.

That’s what I was like in those days. It was my first NYC course and I woke around 2:30 am to the sound of running water. I just assumed that this was an NYC tradition: showers in the middle of the night of the first night of a course.

It could happen!

Jonny, Danny Curtis and me all became Social Secretaries in NYC in 1993, after the first World Tour.  They are two of my best friends in all the world. And perhaps even further afield.

I’m going to do my very best to get to Luxembourg to see him. You just watch me!