A Chichester choir is launching an innovative choral scholarship scheme – all part of a mission to dispel the myth that classical music is stuffy and dull.
Jake Barlow, who took over as director of music with the St Richard Singers last autumn, said: “I want to increase engagement, especially with the younger members of the community. There is a feeling that a lot of choirs are just older members. I want to have the younger singers coming through as well and to give them the experience of singing the big standards of the choral repertoire. It is very much something that young people should have the chance to do.
“Musical theatre is very popular and so is pop, but classical music is less so. There was a report saying that we have to ditch the word classical from classical music, but I don’t agree with that at all. We have got to show that classical music can be very engaging when it is done well. There is an idea that it is stuffy, but when it is done well, it can be very exciting.
“Chichester offers a lot of great classical music, but we need to be committed to serve a younger audience and also to encourage the younger performers.”
Jake came up with the idea of offering choral scholarships through the choir – and was delighted at the speed with which the idea was welcomed, developed and put in place. The idea is to offer up to eight scholarships each choir season (running from September to July).
“The scholarships will help with the cost of singing with the choir, which can be a major barrier for young people.” Jake said ideally he was looking for two sopranos, two altos, two tenors and two basses. The scholarships are designed to give younger singers a platform to develop their choral singing technique and learn new repertoire, as well as building sight-reading, teamwork and musical leadership skills in an active musical environment, all while receiving mentoring and support. The scholarships are open to singers aged 18-27 from any social or ethnic background, and who live within a 30-mile radius of Chichester.
“Scholars are asked to be sympathetic to the choir’s aims, to commit to all rehearsals and concerts of the choir season (there are four concerts in the 2018-2019 season) and to bring a positive attitude to the choir, both musically, and as part of the choir as a whole.”
In return the scholars will receive the following benefits:
A waiver of all subscription fees for the choir season
All necessary sheet music (and associated learning resources) provided free of charge
Where appropriate, the choir and director of music will offer the opportunity for solo/small consort singing
Assistance with transport to St Richard Singers events and concerts outside Chichester, where applicable
Mentoring and educational support and advice they may require, including (but not limited to) providing positive, supportive references or personal recommendations;
Monthly singing lessons/vocal coaching sessions with Jake Barlow
Anyone interested should write to the singers’ chairman Kirsten Scott, who can also provide any further information required, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You should outline your experience and reasons for interest in the choral scholarships in addition to confirming you eligibility. Successful applicants will be asked to attend an audition/interview.
For other stories by Phil, see: https://www.chichester.co.uk/author/Phil.Hewitt2