When I was 11 my parents saw a flyer in the Church Times for Choral Scholarships at Harrogate Ladies’ College (HLC) and attempted to suggest to me that I audition. To me then it seemed like climbing Everest, I was pretty inexperienced and shy but basically my mum made me, (thanks mum)!
Of course I had no need to be nervous choir master David Andrews got me through a very stubborn child through an audition and told me I was exactly what he was looking for and the rest, as they say, is history. I sang with the choir for 6 and a half years from 2005-2012 and became head chorister in my final year.
After a year in the schools junior choir, Gallery Choir I was asked to join the ‘big girls’ in the main school choir. It was an exciting day for me to join to end of what seemed an enormous row of skilled experienced singers. My memories of those early years are sparse but I do remember that the end of the row was the best place for mischief with a little time left over to actually learn some music. The occasional smile or nod from our row leader was such high praise that soon my young friends and I gained a lot of respect for the older choir members we could never imagine becoming.
In this way the choir always seemed to teach itself, the older girls were always supportive and could always be relied upon when the harmonies got tough. Being a working choir, expected to sing every day and perform on Sundays as well as prepare for external engagements was a highly pressured environment. But as I slowly got older I only ever wanted to work harder. In my later years I found myself having conversations with many old girls whose experiences were exactly the same. Somehow making music became something you served not that served you.
Team, or row, spirit was (and I’m sure still is) of high importance. Each row of the choir would playfully compete with each other and any choir master worth their stripes knew that a simple competition of ‘who can sing the loudest’ was always assured to bring up morale. My row eventually adopted a mascot Splodge, who joined us on many trips out of the Chapel
For me the best memories were not just made in rehearsals but in the bonding and socialising the girls find time for outside of chapel. The annual choir trip was always one, getting lost around York is another, but the sound that choir could make on a coach journey is unbeatable!
Being asked to lead the choir as head chorister is such a privilege for any girl. It gives someone the chance to give something back to a choir that has raised a love of music in them as well as being able to take a role in making decisions for the choir’s future.
I am incredibly grateful to a number of people associated with the HLC Chapel Choir because I believe if it wasn’t for the confidence and guidance I gained throughout my school years I would not have been able to attend music college where I am now slowly developing into a fully fledged classical singer.
A harsh truth of life is that it is impossible to keep up to date with all your friends who you have left. But for girls of the HLC Chapel they are always joined in the music that we have made together.