We decided to make a big fuss in 2011 for our fifteenth anniversary. One commentator noted that people didn’t usually make a fuss of the 15th Anniversary year – we are so glad we did, as it allowed us to focus on a number of new things and do some rather spectacular projects.


NYCoS managed to spread its activities right across half the year, with a tour in April to Sage Gateshead and London singing Judith Weir We are Shadows with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and doing our own concerts at the Sage and in St John’s Smith Square. A small group joined the world famous Kronos Quartet in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall in May, and then it was headlong into the extremely intense residential course in July. But out of that intensity came two of NYCoS most outstanding concerts ever. Duruflé Requiem at the Edinburgh International Festival in August certainly had the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the press, and the conductor Robin Ticciati talking. Walton Belshazzar’s Feast and Lauridsen Mid Winter Songs are probably still resonating round the Usher Hall in Edinburgh – and will not leave the minds of RSNO players, our singers and the audience who were there that night.  And, ever nipping at the heels of the older singers, the NYCoS Training Choir under Michael Kibblewhite impressed the toughest audience they will ever meet – the current members of NYCoS and 50 Alumni as well as doing its own concerts in Falkirk and Glasgow.


The National Boys Choir and the National Girls Choir courses ran consecutively at Loretto School, Musselburgh in April and followed the end of course concerts with a variety of different engagements. NBC Changed Voices joined the Belfast Philharmonic Youth Choir for a concert in Stirling and NGC performed at the Lammermuir Festival. Ten NGC members joined the Edinburgh Festival Chorus for the opening concert. All throughout the autumn NYCoS staff focused on increasing the uptake for NBC and its Junior Corps with extensive workshops across Scotland. Another possible national choir raised its head in the shape of Coisir nam Balach, a Gaelic Boys Choir. We ran a weekend residential activity in August as a pilot, which the twenty participating boys enjoyed. It provided us with a lot of food for thought, but perhaps emphasised to us that our efforts would be better directed by introducing some Gaelic repertoire to our mainstream choirs rather than making it the entire focus of a NYCoS choir.


In the NYCoS Area Choirs there were some rather different developments. Focusing once again on boys’ voices, we decided to try and set up boys only choirs. We would change the area choir model somewhat, recruiting from later years as well as Primary Three, and only run the choir for the autumn and spring terms. And so we welcomed Perth Boys Choir (Director Paul Rosie) and East Dunbartonshire Boys Choir (joint Directors Andrew McTaggart and Donald Feist) to the list making a rather neat 15 Area Choirs in our 15th Anniversary year. Uptake was small for the first year, but we plan a big campaign for the second year, and will hope to see additional interest in 2012.  For the 15th anniversary, the oldest members of nine of our Area Choirs gathered in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall to perform Seven Planets and a Cosmic Rock with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera and Billy Boyd narrating. The sight of 650 singers filling the stage was truly impressive, as was the magnificent sound they made!


Choir Director wise it was goodbye to Fiona McIntosh after ten years with the  Dundee choir, Christine Badger from the Renfrewshire choir and James Young from Midlothian choir. Julie Morrice joined Midlothian, Shona Morgan was drawn to her hometown of Dundee from the Angus choir, and Jen Nicolson replaced her in Angus, and Linda Gibson became Director of the Renfrewshire choir. It has to settle down now… surely…


The Mini Music Makers network of activities for parents with babies/toddlers continues to delight. Venues come and go depending on attendance and staff availability, with up to 20 centres and 40 classes organised in blocks. NYCoS Educational programmes continue to be a very important part of our work. YMI work continues pretty much as last year, as does our extensive running of training courses for both external and internal staff. We were delighted to welcome László Nemes as NYCoS Patron, and hope to capitalise on his extensive experience in our Education work in the future.


Where much patient work came to fruition was in the development of accredited modules in Kodály Musicianship and Methodology in partnership with the newly named Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (formerly RSAMD) and the recognition of our Go for Gold programme of musicianship training by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM). To have our training endorsed by such high level institutions is a great honour, and can only help in the quest to develop the training of singers and teachers in the future.


Within the Glasgow office Finance Manager Tony Smith departed to travel the world for a year and get married: he was replaced, after a very professional search process (by our corporate partners PRG) by Stuart Dick as Director of Finance and Administration. We welcomed a former member of NYCoS, Eilidh Cochrane, as our first ever intern, and after a few months we were so sure we might lose her, we quickly created a job to make sure she would not go!  On the NYCoS Board, after 15 seasons, Raymond Williamson stepped down as Chairman to be replaced by Jim Coyle.


In the publishing department we added 3-4-5 note songs to the catalogue of Publications by NYCoS and an SATB version of I Landed with Seven Men. We also made a connection with one of the largest online retailers musicroom.com to stock our publications.


Footnote: As a result of the 15th anniversary year’s activities NYCoS was nominated for a Royal Philharmonic Society award in the Ensembles category in May 2012. One never knows who puts your case forward, but you are then invited to submit materials for consideration, and we were delighted to be nominated. The award ceremony is on May 8th 2012…

Glasgow City Council