Concert Review: National Youth Choirs of GB, Royal Albert Hall

The opening song, with all the choirs assembled.

A tsunami of young people, banked up higher than the organist, produced the most enjoyable, eclectic, powerful choral concert I have seen, as the National Youth Choirs NYCGB celebrated its 40th year. One of them was our friend E who had been practising for months, and we were there to support them. If your child has a great voice, this is where to approach for online auditions.

The choir masters and mistresses were incredible in their ability to harness the young energy, weaving complex harmonies across hundreds of voices. Yet they understood the limits and with a flick of the wrist, allowed the singers to break ranks and hug and do their victory waggles.

Ben Parry, Principal Conductor, brings beat-boxing to the mix

The music was a spicy mix of modern, ethnic and classical, with many pieces adapted especially for the concert. The composers were in the audience and got the spotlight at the end of their piece, for them to personally thank the singers and vice versa. It felt very nurturing.  Themes touching the anxieties of the next generation included peace, love, ecology and our common humanity. Unlike the usual choral concert which looks like a Elven military parade, choreographed moves blended in with the music, so the Haitian song was enriched visually by singers swaying and dipping with the rhythm.

The Alumni and National Youth Chamber Choirs had a chance to sing their hearts out with an immersive Spes in Alium by Thomas Tallis, where the 40 singers, all with separate parts, stood around the Promenaders circle facing inwards and we felt our goosebumps rise as the voices crescendoed.

The visuals included a powerpoint in which members of the choir explained the pieces from their own viewpoints and introduced important people in the choir’s journey. During the Leonardo da Vinci piece, 3 puppeteers made a near-life-sized da Vinci tour the singers and get a pop-star crowd-ride at the end!

The young ones contributed their pure treble voices

Aged from 8 to 25, everyone felt included and was clearly enjoying themselves. Most impressive had to be the number of teen boys, who are notoriously reluctant to sing. As I was thinking back to those heart-warming programmes by Gareth Malone, who battled all the odds to win over dozens of sullen / feisty yoofs, WHO should I see in front of me but GM himself. I did the involuntary ‘OMG!!’ with a cheesy arm-reach just to compete the embarrassment. But it was a magic get what you wish for moment. He stared, pointedly, blankly, back, like I’d sung out of turn. A smile would have been common human courtesy, wouldn’t you think? Hero-worship, never do it.

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