The Gabrieli Roar scheme, which gives youth choirs from around the UK a chance to work with professional singers and orchestras, is back for 2016. The project was initially set up in 2010 by the Gabrieli Consort & Players and its artistic director, Paul McCreesh.
Originally founded as the Gabrieli Young Singers Scheme, before changing to Gabrieli Roar in 2015, the project has helped raise the profile of many of the country’s youth choirs.
In 2011, for instance, McCreesh's and the Gabrieli Consort's BBC Proms performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah included a massed choir with 200 young singers drawn from the ranks of the Taplow Youth Choir, Ulster Youth Chamber Choir, North East Youth Choir and Chetham’s Chamber Choir.
Two years later, the conductor's recording of Britten’s War Requiem also included singers from the scheme, alongside the Wrocław Philharmonic Choir. A favourite of critics, the recording won the choral category in the 2014 BBC Music Magazine Awards.
As Gabrieli Roar’s artistic director, McCreesh is passionate about breaking down barriers between professional and amateur music-making, a divide he sees as ‘largely artificial’. ‘The higher one sets the bar, the higher young people will jump,’ he says.
The new season of Gabrieli Roar is expanded to include year-round training for participating choirs. On 16 February, five youth choirs (with over 150 young singers) are performing with the Gabrieli Consort and Players at Southwark Cathedral. The programme includes Elgar's Give unto the Lord and Wesley's Blessed be the God and Father as well as works by Howells, Byrd and many others.
McCreesh is keen to give the next generation of singers an opportunity to experience great choral works. ‘Not everyone in the world wants to sing Elijah – that’s fine, but it breaks my heart that there are young people out there who do want to experience something like this and are not given the opportunity.’
Even the ticketing reflects this view. The forthcoming Southwark Cathedral concert offers free tickets to the under-16s.
For more information on the scheme visit: www.gabrieli.com