LYC Blog #3: Collaboration – what’s the point?
LYC Artistic Director Rachel Staunton considers the benefits of working with other organisations
Published March 2022
Here at LYC HQ we get lots of kind invitations to collaborate with visiting groups or provide choirs for external events. As we segue out of the pandemic it can be a juggle to balance our internal concert diary with external events and opportunities, especially with a backlog of postponed events arriving like buses in March 2022!
We want the young people in our eight choirs to have a rich and varied musical diet with lots of chances to make life-long memories. We believe in the power of choral singing to raise aspirations for young people, and performing together in different places and for a variety of occasions makes being in LYC special. We recently had the chance to collaborate with Vox Anima London who were bringing a wonderful choir from Texas to London, the Wylie East High School Choir, and here are just a few of the reasons why collaborating was so worthwhile.
LYC and Wylie East High School Choir rehearse at Cadogan Hall, March 2022
The Wylie East High School choir are led by visionary leaders who believe in supporting their young people to achieve high standards. Their choir is inclusive of a wide variety of students and they are ambitious about what choral music can bring to young lives. I was confident that our values really aligned well before we even sang a note together. The team at Vox Anima London were super well organised and hyper aware of the needs of young people and importantly, our priorities with regards to safeguarding and child licensing. We were all keen to make a positive, inclusive and sociable space for the collaboration. Working with different leaders and musicians from around the world is a privilege and there is always so much you can learn from others!
Both choirs are passionate about using singing for social change and are keen to raise our voices about subjects that matter to us. We therefore decided to perform Everyday Wonders: The Girl from Aleppo by Cecilia McDowall together. This 24-minute work depicts the incredible story of Nujeen Mustafa, a Kurdish Syrian refugee and activist with cerebral palsy. She gained attention after travelling 3,500 miles by wheelchair fleeing conflict in the Syrian Civil War before arriving in Germany.
During the rehearsal process the content of the music became more real to us as war broke out in Ukraine. The conductors involved were sensitive in how we approached this topic, knowing that some members of our choirs are from the very countries at war, or have fled other conflicts from around the world. Many of our young people are understandably finding it all difficult to comprehend. One of the beautiful outcomes was that this repertoire enabled us to have helpful facilitated discussions about the current crisis and gave our young people the space to share their thoughts and feelings together. We found that the power of music really could speak into this situation.
There is something really special about young people who live 4,000 miles apart from each other coming together with a shared love of music. This led to new friendships and conversations about life on different continents. It was so amazing to be meeting new friends in real life after this long season online! Whilst our American friends have now returned home, many of the members from the different choirs will be keeping in touch thanks to amazing modern technology, which is a cool legacy out of a collaboration.
There were many more benefits, such as the chance for the choirs to see and hear each other perform, to encounter new repertoire, to create shared memories and to make our LYC debut in The Cadogan Hall! I do hope this will be one of many future collaborations with choirs from all over the world who share our hope that choral music can change lives.
- LYC Artistic Director
- Years with LYC: Since the start!
- Favourite pre-concert food: Veggie sushi (as who wants a conductor smelling of fish?!)