National Choirs

National Youth Choir of Scotland

Ages: 16 - 25

An outstanding choir for young people, recognised with the Ensemble award from the Royal Philharmonic Society.

Comprising of the most promising young singers from across the country, membership for the National Youth Choir of Scotland is granted by audition to those born, resident or studying in Scotland, or of Scottish descent. Led by world-renowned conductor Christopher Bell, the basis of the choir’s activities stem from a week-long residential course in Edinburgh. During the residential course the repertoire for the year ahead is learnt and choir members receive vocal tuition and singing lessons.

The choir has performed major choral works at events all over the UK, the highlights of which include the Edinburgh International Festival, BBC Proms, XX Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony, BBC Passchendaele Centenary Broadcast and the Grant Park and Grand Teton Music Festivals in the USA. The choir has also toured to Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Slovakia, Sweden and the USA. The choir’s return to in-person singing following an extended period of COVID restrictions was broadcast live on BBC Breakfast and BBC Radio Scotland and made headlines across the UK.

Donald Runnicles, OBE

“One of the best choral ensembles in the world”
The Herald

“they are, beyond debate, the best choir in Scotland”

Want to join the National Youth Choir of Scotland?

Our choirs help young singers reach their full musical potential.


The Choir is made up of two sections:

NYCOS Training Choir
Gives enthusiastic singers the experience and vocal coaching required for progression.

NYCOS Training Choir

National Youth Choir
Gives experienced choral singers prestigious performance opportunities.


Members of the National Youth Choir of Scotland are amongst the most promising young singers in the UK and admission to the Choir is by audition. Preparation is key; it’s never too early to start practising. After hearing you, Christopher Bell will decide whether you are ready for membership of the National Youth Choir of Scotland or NYCOS Training Choir.

What to sing at the audition

You will be invited to come to an audition where you will be asked to sing a song you have prepared, sing at sight and sing some scales to establish your range. Whilst ability to sing at sight is desirable, you should not be deterred from applying if your sight-singing is currently weak. Your singing teacher or class teacher should advise you on your choice of song. For more information, see the Audition Guidelines.

Audition Locations

Depending on numbers, auditions may be held in Aberdeen, Dumfries, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness. The opportunity to audition for NYCOS Training Choir by video link may be available to island dwellers.

Residential Course

The activities for the year all stem from the week-long residential course where the repertoire is learned. The seven days are full of intense musical activity, vocal coaching, individual singing lessons and full choir rehearsals mixed with recreation time and informal concerts. Members receive individual singing lessons from top-flight professional singers and teaching to the highest standards.

Concerts & Engagements

The course finishes with a concert for NYCOS Training Choir at Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh. Members of each choir will have the chance to take part in exciting additional engagements, full details of which will be advised prior to your audition. Members will be expected to take part in both the residential course and additional engagements.

Costs & Financial Assistance

Members pay 5 instalments of £110 for National Youth Choir of Scotland or 5 instalments of £100 for NYCOS Training Choir. Costs are inclusive of membership, full-board accommodation, provision of music, additional engagements and all activities throughout the residential course.

Don’t be put off by the cost as financial assistance of up to 100% is available for both fees and travel.

Members of our national choirs are amongst the most promising young singers in the UK and admission to our choirs is by an annual audition.

Applications for NYCOS National Choirs open in late summer. Register your interest by completing the form below and we’ll let you know when applications are open.

If you are enthusiastic about singing, enjoy it and are prepared to work hard to sing to your full potential, we would like to hear from you.

No. Members must be available for all parts of the commitment. The team trains together and performs together – if members of the team disappear it affects our performance.

All parts of the residential course are important. At the beginning you are learning new music and settling into the course structure, and if you miss the beginning you will lose a lot, perhaps never catching up.

We prefer members to come to the course and stay for the duration, unless there is a pre-agreed extenuating circumstance. For example, in the past people have had a hospital appointment which if missed could not be re-organised for months. Each case is different so is considered individually.

The school has full sports facilities and a swimming pool. There is also a formal dinner at the end of the week for choir members to dress up and dance the night away.

The National Youth Choir of Scotland is directed by Christopher Bell. Ruth Townsend, Course Director, leads a team of qualified and experienced house staff. NYCOS has Child Protection Guidelines to ensure the wellbeing of choir members.

Those who will be aged 16 – 25 at the time of the residential course born, resident/studying in Scotland, or of Scottish descent.

This is a national choir. In order to perform at the highest possible standard it needs to recruit the best singers available each year. To keep your place in the choir you need to work at maintaining and improving your vocal and musicianship skills.


January 2020


Apply by 4 December 2021 to be guaranteed an audition.


4 – 10 July 2022


Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh, 294 Colinton Road, Edinburgh EH13 0PU

Get Directions