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Gloucestershire Youth Choir (GYC)

Gloucestershire Youth Choir (GYC) represents the very best young singers in years 7-13 from across the county's 39 secondary schools.  By joining, you'll get the chance to take part in singing courses three times a year during weekends or school holidays, working with vocal tutors and visiting professional singers.  Each course has a fee of £40.  Busaries are available so please contact us on 01452 330300 for more information about applicable criteria.

Recommendations for membership are usually made by secondary school Heads of Music - contact yours if you're interested and then ask them, and your parents/guardian, to email lisa.mayo@gloucestershire.gov.uk



The Gloucestershire County Youth Choir is only five years old but has achieved so much already.  60 of our members join us this evening to perform in this concert and represent the choir.  Overall our members represent 95% of secondary schools in Gloucestershire, with our aim to have representatives from all of the secondary schools, so we are nearly there!  Students are recommended for membership by their school’s Head of Music, community choir leaders or singing tutors. 


The choir meets on a course basis at various times during the year where they work with lead professional singers who have recently included West End Performer, Craig Mather; National Youth Choir of Great Britain Tutor, Robbie Jacobs; Popular Artist, Fyfe Dangerfield; West End Performer and Leader of the West End Gospel Choir, Nathaniel Morrison; West End Performer, Andy Coxon; and most recently the wonderful composer and choir leader Alexander L'Estrange.  The choir is run by our team of expert teachers and professional performers Ben Sawyer, Catherine Perfect and Hannah Davey and managed by Lisa Mayo.  We aim to give the singers experiences of contrasting genres throughout the year (this year it has been a mixture of classical, jazz, gospel and musical theatre!) and provide them with high quality, large scale events to perform at. 


2016 / 17 was an incredible year for the choir, as they performed at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the Music for Youth Proms in November, which was a truly amazing experience.  They performed the premiere of Philip Harper’s ‘Shakespearean Triptych’ alongside singers from two of our neighbouring Hubs (Bath and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire) and a joint Wind Orchestra conducted by the composer himself, the leader of the world’s number one brass band, Cory Band.  What an honour!


GYC have also performed at the Cheltenham Town Hall and Tewkesbury Abbey and have recently performed at the National Festival for Music for Youth (the largest youth music festival in the country!) at the Birmingham Symphony Hall!  How exciting!


2017/2018 GYC Courses

Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th November 2017
10:00 - 16:00
St. Peter's High School, Stroud Road, Gloucester. GL4 0DD
GYC prepares for a L'Estrange Christmas!
The Gloucestershire Youth Choir will undertake a two day course in their first meeting of the academic year.  They'll be learning a variety of pieces in preparation for our Christmas Concert, which will be held on 10th December at Pittville Pump Rooms, Cheltenham.  The choir will be one of the first youth choirs to perform extracts from Alexander L'Estrange's new work 'Wassail' amongst other pieces.  Alexander is one of this country’s leading choral composers and arrangers and has written fantastic choral works such as ‘Zimbe!’ and ‘Ahoy!’.  We are so excited to announce that Alexander will be leading the workshop on the Saturday! We are delighted to be meeting this vibrant, talented man and he is thrilled to be working with our county’s young singers!  Alexander has also kindly offered to create a very special arrangement of one of his new Christmas works especially for us!  You can read more about Alexander by visiting his website www.alexanderlestrange.com


Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th February 2018
10:00 - 16:00
St. Peter's High School, Stroud Road, Gloucester. GL4 0DD
Fusion Festival!
The Gloucestershire Youth Choir will be exploring the world of fusion music (which is a common aspect involved with the set works and wider listening elements for GCSE and A Level Music courses).  When you take one style of music and mix it with another from maybe a different culture or merge with other modern techniques then the result can be so exciting!  From Bhangra to Beatboxing there are many exciting avenues to explore for singers so join us for this exciting two day course where we will be preparing for our performances at Music For Youth (Sunday 25th March 2018 at Cheltenham Town Hall) and Tewkesbury Abbey Rotary Concert (Saturday 17th March 2018).


Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th June 2018
10:00 - 16:00
St. Peter's High School, Stroud Road, Gloucester. GL4 0DD
GYC has the X Factor!
The Gloucestershire Youth Choir will be preparing for their concert at Stroud Subscription Rooms on Sunday 1st July 2018 where they will be performing a variety of pieces that span from works such as the Messiah through to songs from the musical Matilda! The mix of pop, musical theatre and classical will help to choir members to explore a number of styles whilst also becoming familiar with specific set works and wider listening works that will help them to gain a better understanding of the pieces through both performing and analysing the works they may need to know if taking GCSE and A Level Music courses, as well as having a great opportunity to try out different ensemble arrangements for singers who love to try a variety of styles.  



Ben Sawyer

Ben Sawyer has been involved with Gloucestershire County Youth Choir since the very beginning when he was chorus master for the 500 or so singers that travelled down to the Royal Albert Hall in November 2012. Since then he has worked with Catherine Perfect and Hannah Davey as part of the GYC team, but this is only a small part of what he does in his work as a choral conductor, singer and teacher. He was appointed director of the ‘Oriel Singers’ in February 2015, an award winning chamber choir based in Cheltenham. He is vocal tutor to the choristers of Tewkesbury Abbey Schola Cantorum and teaches singing at Dean Close School. His first pupil to gain a choral scholarship to King’s College, Cambridge started there in September. But that’s not all. In his spare time, Ben sings with another award winning group, ‘The Songmen’. They are a male voice a cappella group singing music from the 15th century all the way to pieces he has written and arranged for the group himself. All in all a rewarding and enjoyable way to make a living!

Catherine Perfect


(Photograph provided by Catherine Perfect)

Catherine started her music education as a scholar at the King’s School, Gloucester. She went on to be awarded choral scholarships at the Universities of London and Cambridge.  After several years teaching music in Birmingham and Wolverhampton, Catherine returned to her home county as Head of Music at St Peter’s RC High School, a position she has held for the last ten years.

Aside from juggling a hectic school schedule with two energetic children, Catherine performs regularly with the renowned Birmingham-based choir Ex Cathedra.  She is also active in its extensive education programme and was an original member of the innovative and award-winning Singing Medicine team which works in the long term wards of Birmingham Children’s Hospital.  

Most recently, Catherine was admitted as the first female lay-clerk in Gloucester Cathedral.

Hannah Davey


(Photograph provided by Hannah Davey)

Hannah grew up in Winchcombe and enjoyed singing and playing the cello in many Gloucestershire Music groups. After school she worked for a few years as a music administrator at Cheltenham Festivals before realising that what she really wanted to do is sing - all the time! She then moved to Birmingham to study at the Conservatoire where she sang in operas, chamber choirs and jazz ensembles as well as lots of solo song recitals.
Since she graduated, Hannah has been lucky enough to perform around the UK and Europe. She often sings with the Orchestra of St John's as well as choral societies and her jazz ensemble the Derek Paravicini Quartet. Hannah also regularly travels to schools for children with Autism and Special Educational Needs to sing and make music with them.
As well as performing, Hannah is passionate about teaching singing and has a wonderful group of students at Pates, Cheltenham College and privately. She believes that singing and making music with others is the most fun, exciting and rewarding thing you can do and she is very pleased to be involved with GYC!



Thoughts from one of our newest members:

"I was really proud to have been selected by my music teacher to represent Kingshill  School  in GYC. It was a great experience because we got to stretch out of our vocal comfort zones and try gospel music and ended up loving it! We were really lucky to be mentored by West End star Nathaniel Morrison who was truly inspirational and great fun to work with.
I met lots of people from different  schools and even made some new friends along the way. The concert that we took part in at Cheltenham Town Hall was fabulous. It felt amazing to be taking part in an event where there were so many talented young people. I can't wait until we all get together again."

Comments from one our existing members:

"Being in Gloucestershire County Youth Choir guarantees you exceptional performance opportunities- from the Cheltenham Town Hall, to the Royal Albert Hall- you'll always be performing with either a full orchestra or a piano, giving you invaluable experience for future performances. But what I love the most about the County Youth Choir is the teachers, who from the minute you step into the rehearsal room greet you with professionalism yet still managing to keep the feeling of inclusiveness- it really is a family atmosphere where everyone will feel welcome! I love how one minute we can be singing Rutter and the next minute singing a gospel cover of a pop song- you get the chance to experiment with your own voice and really gain an understanding of how to make it work for anything that is thrown at you."

Photographs (unless otherwise specified) by Steve Green & Malcolm Pollock, freelance photographers


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