Genesis Sixteen vocal programme gets off to flying start
The Sixteen’s new training programme for young singers aged 18-23, Genesis Sixteen, held its first of four courses – to be spread over a year – at the end of August.
A result of the long partnership between Harry Christophers’ renowned ensemble and UK charity the Genesis Foundation, Genesis Sixteen claims to be the first fully-funded programme for young singers that provides vocal training specific to future professional work in consorts and choirs, with participants receiving a full bursary covering all travel, accommodation and board costs.
‘One of the traditional paths into the professional choral singing world is through Oxbridge choral scholarships and I am conscious that we might be missing out on talented young singers who do not wish to go down the music conservatoire route,’ said Christophers on the thinking behind setting up the scheme.
Students from the first course, which took place from 29 August to 4 September at the National Opera Studio, London, were full of praise for the initiative. David Maguire, of Glasgow High School, who describes himself as ‘the youngest and only non-English member of Genesis Sixteen’ who ‘started music relatively late’, was worried that others on the course ‘would have been raised in the renowned English choral tradition, already familiar with much of the repertoire’ – but was pleased to find lots of ‘friendly faces’.
‘The week passed in no time at all,’ Maguire continues, ‘from rehearsing Byrd, Tippett, Handel and Britten with Harry and Eamonn [Dougan, assistant conductor] to working in small consort groups on madrigals, delicate motets and anthems. The level of singing and musicianship of my fellow course members was a constant source of amazement, yet still Harry and Eamonn found ways to push us. By the end of the course everything we had worked on was improved.’
‘I feel that the cloud of mystery surrounding a choral career has been lifted somewhat,’ adds Rose Martin of King’s College London. ‘The opportunity to get both musical and practical advice from such eminent, knowledgeable people has increased our confidence, and shown us that our dreams of professional ensemble singing is, with hard work and commitment, within reach.’
The next instalment of the course will take place from 18-20 November at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. The deadline for the next round of participants – for the 2012-2013 course – will be February 2012. Keep an eye on the websites below for details.