Graham Noakes talks to Joanna Tomlinson about her vision for FYC, the connection between the choirs and welcoming Matthew Rickard our new accompanist.
Q: When did you first hear about FYC?
JT: A colleague forwarded me the job spec for vocal coach back in 2013. I was new to the area then and didn’t know about FYC, but listening to the choir on YouTube really bowled me over.
Q: How would you describe your FYC experience to-date?
JT: What struck me from day one, and continues to impress me, is the quality of performance that FYC consistently delivers. David has always had high expectations of each cohort of young singers and they achieve because he passionately believes that they can.
Q: Looking ahead, what are the key issues for you as musical director?
JT: Recruitment will remain a challenge as FYC responds to the pressures of a changing educational and social environment. Operationally I think we will become more streamlined, and forward planning will become even more important, as we look to build on our outstanding musical heritage.
Evolution rather than revolution will be key to staying relevant to tomorrow’s young singers and their parents. The good news for me in looking to achieve this is that FYC has an exceptional team of professional musicians, backed by a strongly supportive management team and enthusiastic parents.
Q: How do you see the choirs working more closely together?
JT: In September, the move to Wednesday as the common rehearsal day will be critical in creating a more flexible environment in which both the choirs and the musical team can work together and learn from each other. The opportunity for parents of all choirs to meet regularly will also help here, and greater visibility across all the choirs on a regular basis also has the potential to further increase both the professionalism and aspirations of younger choir members.
Q: How will your experience help in achieving this vision?
JT: As a trained singer and performer in some of the UK’s top choirs, I understand the importance of developing sound vocal technique from an early age and how to achieve this.
Having founded my own choir in London and worked with youth choirs in the UK and abroad, I also have direct experience of the importance of good leadership and management skills in driving change in a controlled and effective way.
And finally, although Julia Freeman has proved time and again that she is - without any exaggeration - one of the world’s great choral accompanists, I am very fortunate that Matthew Rickard has agreed to join us. I have worked with Matthew for many years and have no doubt that he will bring his own unique brand of sensitivity, energy and passion to this critical role.