Ulster Youth Choir was established in 1999 to provide the   best of Northern Ireland’s young singers aged 15-24 with the opportunity to sing together to the highest possible standards receiving training from some of the best choral and vocal practitioners from throughout the UK and Ireland and is now regarded as one of Northern Ireland’s leading artistic and educational organisations.

Since then, UYC has expanded its activity establishing the UYC Training Choir and offering training opportunities for schools, teachers and extended vocal training for existing members.

What we do

Ulster Youth Choir is now established as one of the leading artistic and educational bodies operating in Northern Ireland. Since humble beginnings in 1999, the breadth of UYC’s work has grown.

Each Year UYC:

Runs a series of school and University workshops with the two-fold purpose of UYC recruiting members and for school and university choirs to have a positive, engaging and rewarding singing session with a professional conductor in a non-competitive setting;

Holds province wide auditions, attracting almost 200 singers each year competing for approximately 100 places;

Runs two summer residential courses wherein all members take part in a rigorous daily routine of physical and vocal warm-ups, sectional and tutti rehearsals, musicianship workshops, individual singing lessons and master classes;

Performs an average of 3 own-promotion concerts throughout Northern Ireland and seeks opportunities to perform outside the province and further afield;

Accepts invitations to perform with other organisations such as the Ulster Orchestra at BBC Proms in the Park (2004/2006), and Ulster Youth Orchestra in Belfast City Council’s Hallowe’en celebrations (2005).  UYC has also performed by invitation on two occasions at the Belfast Festival at Queen’s – in 2006 with the Stephen Petronio Dance Company (New York) in a collaborative work with music by Rufus Wainwright and in 2007 in the opening concert with The Chieftains, The Ulster Orchestra and The Field Marshal Montgomery Pipe Band.

In 2013 members of UYC recorded along with the Gabrieli Consort and Players. Their recording of the Britten War Requiem won BBC’s choral recording of the year. In 2014 UYC joined the BBC Youth Prom Choir for a performance at the Royal Albert Hall.

Records CDs – currently has produced 2 CDs, the first with the Ulster Orchestra in 2001 with Poulenc Gloria and Haydn Te Deum, and the second recorded a capella and with piano accompaniment over 2 years entitled The singing will never be done.

Provides conducting training to teachers in schools through master-classes with Ulster Youth Choir during the summer course.

Through an Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery Grant, UYC has developed its training programme to incorporate a conductor apprenticeship scheme for aspiring young conductors and the Ulster Youth Chamber Choir for up to 25 of UYC’s leading singers.

If you would like further information on any of the above activities, please get in touch with the UYC office.

History

In 1998 the then British Federation of Young Choirs made an approach to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to establish the Northern Ireland equivalent National Youth Choir: Since 1996 there had been a National Youth Choir of Scotland, a National Youth Choir of Great Britain since the 1970’s and National Youth Choirs in both Wales and Ireland.

With a three-year funding plan in place through Arts Council of Northern Ireland, National Lottery Fund, and the vision to bring the choral provision for youth to the same status as their instrumental counterparts, the Ulster Youth Orchestra, the Ulster Youth Choir was established with a view to running an annual summer residential course and concert tour for Northern Ireland’s best young singers.

Since its humble beginnings under its founding Artistic Director and Conductor, Christopher Bell, UYC established an annual summer course and subsequent concerts throughout Northern Ireland and further afield.

To date, UYC has performed within Northern Ireland in Belfast, Londonderry, Armagh, Newry Coleraine, Bangor, Lisburn, Craigavon and Omagh as well as beyond Ulster in Dublin, London, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Paris.

Repertoire has focussed heavily on contemporary choral music from around the world, with UYC performing music by John Tavener (UK), Paul Crabtree (UK), James MacMillan (Scotland), Jonathan Dove (UK), Ian Wilson (Northern Ireland), Conor O’Reilly (Ireland), Colin Mawby (UK), Bob Chilcott (UK), Paul Patterson (UK), Juri-Ruut Kangur (Estonia), Orlando Gough (UK), John Rutter (UK), Francis Grier UK), Tarik O’Regan (UK), Eric Whitacre (USA), Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen (Denmark), Gyorgy Orban (Hungary).

In addition, UYC has mastered some of the better known choral repertoire such as FauréRequiem, Haydn Te Deum, Poulenc Gloria & Litanies à la vierge noir, Mendelssohn Four Sacred Part-songs, Handel Zadok the priest and Vaughan-Williams Benedicite.

If you would like further information on any of the above activities, please get in touch with the UYC office.