Today, Monday 17 May, most of Scotland moves to Level 2 restrictions enabling up to 30 people to meet outside to sing! Singing face to face has not been possible since March 2020 which is when the choir last met and performed together.

With 2021 marking the National Youth Choir of Scotland’s 25th anniversary it has been a big blow to not share in meeting to make music or performing the planned celebratory concerts across Scotland.

This morning at 6 am 29 singers and conductor Christopher Bell gathered on Calton Hill to be the first to sing in Scotland this year. Their rehearsal of Let All the World in Every Corner Sing by Vaughan Williams and Why We Sing by Greg Gilpin surprised and delighted dog walkers and early birds as the sun rose over Edinburgh.

Founded in 1996 by Christopher Bell as a single choir of young singers aged 16 – 24, it has expanded to become 7 National Choirs, a network 15 Regional Choirs across the country and an extensive creative learning programme. You can read more about NYCOS here.

From today members of NYCOS National Choirs, NYCOS itself and National Boys Choir and National Girls Choir will hold rehearsals in outdoor locations in areas which are level 2 or lower including at Holmhill in Dunblane, Falcon Bowling Club in Edinburgh and other spots across the country. Hopefully, before long that can also include Hidden Garden at Tramway and other locations in Glasgow.

Christopher Bell, founder and Artistic Director of NYCOS said: “NYCOS is the organisation dedicated to encouraging singing for young people the length and breadth of Scotland. It has been incredibly hard to not be able to truly nurture the talent that exists here in Scotland over these past 14 months and to see the effect that not being able to meet and sing has had on our wonderful singers/musical family. Being part of NYCOS and being able to sing with their peers from across the country is an incredibly important part of their young lives, with all the health, development and wellbeing benefits that singing brings.

“It is a huge relief and delight to be back together making music here this morning on Calton Hill and we look forward to popping up across Scotland in outdoor locations for rehearsals with the various regional choirs in Aberdeen, Highland, Dumfries, Glasgow and here in Edinburgh. Hopefully, those passing by will get a wonderful surprise!”

Mollie Quigley, who took part in the 6am Calton Hill rehearsal said: “We are all excited to be back singing altogether again. A lot of us have sung together for 10 years and it is good to hear everyone finally back together again. On Zoom it doesn’t feel like you’re singing together, it feels isolated. This morning has been wonderful hearing everyone together again.”

Marcus Wylie said: “It has been great seeing everyone together again this morning. On zoom, you cannot hear the harmonies and it is not the same as being together with your friends. This morning has been amazing and I’m looking forward to lots more singing now this year.”

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