1996 - 2000

July 1996 saw the first residential course for NYCoS at Glenalmond School in Perthshire. As it was a new venture no-one - members and staff alike - really knew what could be achieved. In those first days the pattern for the NYCoS summer residential course was established and although it has been developed and improved since then, it remains largely what was tried that very first year. The course was a mixture of sectional rehearsals, full choir rehearsals and individual singing lessons with recreation periods in the afternoon. Only two singing teachers were employed to cover all voice types. The programme was Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzes and Orff Carmina Burana. Concerts were given in Perth and Aberdeen at the end of the July course, and again in August in Edinburgh and Glasgow as part of the National Association of Youth Orchestras Festival (NAYO). In July the accompaniment had been pianos and percussion. In August the Southampton University Orchestra was pressed into service. The initial response was warm and encouraging, and the National Youth Choir of Scotland was born. In the Autumn, 24 of the singers were invited to form the NYCoS Chamber Choir which participated in a choral evensong in St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh and a morning service in the Hallglen Centre of Falkirk Old and St Modan's Parish Church.

In 1997 the pattern of events was very much the same as the previous year. A residential course in July at Glenalmond School with concerts attached and a repeat appearance in August as part of the NAYO Festival of Youth Orchestras. In 1997 the programme was Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle. There were a number of innovations this year. Four singing teachers were employed, one for each voice type. NYCoS was joined during the residential course by a Training Choir directed by Gordon Jack. During the residential course NYCoS recorded two services for BBC World Service and BBC Radio 3. This was also the year that the informal concerts were born; an opportunity for members of the choir to sing to each other after the day's work was done. Concerts were given in Perth and Aberdeen at the end of the July course, and once again in Edinburgh and Glasgow as part of the NAYO Festival. The NYCoS Chamber Choir was invited to present the choral finale at the opening of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in the Edinburgh International Conference Centre in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen. In addition, the Chamber Choir recorded a programme of Christmas carols for broadcast on Christmas Day on BBC Radio 3.

1998 was a definitive year in the development of NYCoS. A number of big projects were undertaken almost simultaneously. The residential course at Glenalmond contained the usual elements, including the second year of the Training Choir. NYCoS prepared McEwen Six Songs for Female Voices, Fauré Requiem, Gardner Burns Sequence and Leighton Hymn to Matter. Concerts were given in Aberdeen in July with piano, but in August NYCoS hired the Royal Scottish National Orchestra to accompany the concert in the City Halls, Glasgow. The following morning and afternoon were set aside to make our first recording, a memorable day for all those involved because a massive power cut disrupted the afternoon session and prevented the recording being completed. NYCoS had to reconvene the following December to re-record the final piece and in early 1999 the first NYCoS CD was released.

Alongside all of this activity, a significant development was taking place in Edinburgh and West Lothian. Seeking to have an impact on singing at all levels in Scotland, NYCoS formed its first Children's Choirs, recruiting 80 children aged 7 and 8 in both centres.

Staff were found and instructed in Kodály's techniques of musicianship training, and weekly rehearsals were a timetable of musicianship classes in small groups alongside singing sessions for all members together. This was a big step to take, and treated as a pilot project to see how each choir would develop.

1999 began with the realisation that NYCoS was growing beyond the wildest dreams of all those involved, and certainly beyond the capacity of one administrator to cope with in the confines of his own home. The Edinburgh Children's Choir and the West Lothian Children's Choir continued to expand and thrive, and during the residential course, NYCoS and its Training Choir enjoyed Duruflé Requiem with concerts in Aberdeen and Stirling at the end, and Paisley and Edinburgh in September. Nothing was ever standing still. Each year saw yet more activity. A comprehensive website had been set up and has expanded ever since. NYCoS' first publication appeared in 1999 - a book called Singing Games and Rhymes for Early Years. Once again we were trying to have a greater impact on another level, publishing a book to encourage singing in Nursery, P1 and P2 Our initial print run of 500 sold out within two months and has been reprinted many times.

During 2000, the Children's Choirs in Edinburgh and West Lothian were joined by others in Falkirk, Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee and Stirling and a Children's Choir Administrator was appointed. NYCoS realised it simply could not function selling CDs, books, puppets and organising all that we had become from Bob Tait's house. We were most fortunate to secure office accommodation in the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, and appointed an Office Administrator.

And did NYCoS and its Training Choir have a quiet year? Not likely. The largest ever Training Choir had a new Director, David Lawrence, excelling themselves in a very tricky programme, and NYCoS gave spectacular performances of Lauridsen Lux Aeterna in Stirling, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Belfast and Dublin. The two sold out Edinburgh performances in St Mary's Cathedral were part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and were accompanied by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.



Glasgow City Council