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Cumbria concert for National Youth Chamber Choir

The National Youth Chamber Choir of Great Britain will perform at St John’s Church, Workington, at 6pm on Sunday 10 March. Photo courtesy of Julian Forbes.

THE National Youth Chamber Choir of Great Britain will present Sun, Sea, Sky, Stars at St John’s Church, Workington, on Sunday 10 March in a special Rosehill on the Road event.

It is the acclaimed choir’s first performance in Cumbria.

This hand-picked ensemble is drawn from the ranks of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, with members aged 18 to 25 and typically enrolled in music further education or at the start of junior singing careers.

The core octet of the group comprises NYCGB Fellowship holders in receipt of a dedicated professional programme.

The concert is presented by Whitehaven’s Rosehill Theatre in association with the Rotary Club of Workington and supported by Allerdale Borough Council and locally based county councillors Alan Barry, Joe Holliday, Carni McCarron-Holmes, Marjorie Rae and Celia Tibble.

Conducted by Greg Hallam, the programme of contemporary and traditional pieces will include Eric Whitacre’s Lux Aurumque, Kate Rusby’s Underneath the Stars, Hubert Parry’s Songs of Farewell, Imogen Heap’s Hide and Seek, Love Endureth by 2018 Last Night of the Proms composer Roxanna Panufnik, and more.

Choirs administrator Elizabeth Curwen, who is originally from Kendal, joined the NYCGB girls’ choir at the age of 11 in the year it was formed. She was a member for years, attending every course as well as completing two tours, and now works full-time in the office in Durham.

She said: “I am thrilled to help organise this wonderful event in Cumbria. NYCGB has been a huge part of my life and I hope that seeing the National Youth Chamber Choir perform may be an inspiration to other young singers and encourage young people from the area to audition.”

One such person who was inspired to get involved is Helen Southernwood. She grew up in the Eden Valley and started singing at 11, encouraged by her school Ullswater Community College and music organisation BlueJam Arts. She loved choral singing the most and was accepted into the National Youth Training Choir in 2015, moving up to the main choir in 2018. She has been a member of the National Youth Chamber Choir for about four months.

Helen said: “One of the things I love about the National Youth Choir, especially in the main choir, is the number of opportunities I have been offered, such as regular concerts outside of the residential courses, and other opportunities to develop as a musician, such as a conducting workshop at the Royal Academy of Music.

“The National Youth Choir also recognises that these choirs should be accessible to all and has an established bursary scheme that I have relied on throughout my time in the organisation.

“Being a young musician in Cumbria is hard because of the rural nature of the county. To reach a range of musical activities I had to rely on my parents to take me to Kendal, Cockermouth and Rosehill Theatre often within the same week!

“Accessing professional performances of classical music could also be difficult so I am very happy to be performing in the county with the chamber choir and hope to inspire many more young Cumbrian musicians and singers to be involved.”

As part of the choir’s visit to West Cumbria they will also perform for schools on 11 March at Rosehill Theatre.

John Head, community chairman for the Rotary Club of Workington, said: “Rotary is pleased to support any opportunity to assist in bringing a choir of such quality to the area, particularly as pupils from several schools will have the chance to attend a music workshop at Rosehill Theatre the day after the concert.”

Sun, Sea, Sky, Stars at St John’s Church, Workington, on 10 March begins at 6pm and tickets can be booked at rosehilltheatre.co.uk or by calling 01946 692422. Subject to availability they can also be bought at St John’s Church on the evening.

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