Scotland’s desperately seeking singers

The country’s oldest choir, the Glasgow Choral Union, has changed its name to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s Chorus. But it still can’t attract enough singers.

Here’s the latest shout out:

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra’s Chorus is inviting applicants to join the nation’s historic vocal ensemble.

The RSNO Chorus performs in around six different programmes in up to twenty concerts across Scotland with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra each year. In addition to its commitment to the Orchestra, the RSNO Chorus performs independently and has been invited to perform with orchestras in many different parts of the world, establishing an international status for the choir. The RSNO Chorus has toured in Copenhagen, Hong Kong, Israel, Germany, Belfast, Australia, Trondheim and most recently, Amsterdam.

RSNO Chorus Director Gregory Batsleer: “There is no feeling quite like singing in a chorus and at this standard the effort and commitment is substantial but the rewards are without measure. The RSNO Chorus is a historic organisation with a proud legacy, and it is my distinct pleasure to be in a position to guide the ensemble to greater artistic heights. There has never been a better time to join, so we’re keen to hear from those of you who have the temperament, expertise and willingness to be a part of Scotland’s musical history.”

Currently, the RSNO Chorus has around 120 members. As an amateur chorus, the members receive no payment for their services, but the level of performance and the speed at which they are required to learn repertoire means that the ability of singers is high.

Forthcoming performances for the RSNO Chorus include Verdi’s Requiem in December, Handel’s Messiah in January, a new work by Irish composer Gerald Barry in May, and performing live accompaniment to the screening of the Oscar-winning 1984 film Amadeus, also in May 2017.

For more information on the RSNO Chorus and details on how to apply to become a member, contact RSNO Chorus Manager Christine.Walker@rsno.org.uk or visit www.rsno.org.uk/chorus.

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    • From Alice E. Dennis: This is a crisis with just about every choir in Scotland and its getting worse all the time. The shortage of men in particular is acute with the some men singing in several choirs to keep them going. In my opinion this is due to the long term lack of classical music in the state schools finally feeding through.
      There is a huge lack of good choral singing in schools – its just about gone frankly (certainly where I live) with the rock choir being the norm now – and young boys just don’t sing up here.
      There is a chronic underestimation of young people’s ability to learn to love classical music/singing and thousands of talented youngsters are being missed. Personally, I have done my best for years to help but it’s getting increasingly difficult as more and more kids tell me they ‘don’t like singing’. A love of singing has to be developed at primary level before these opinions form and continued at secondary level with a challenging and exciting choral programme. THEN the choral Societies will fill up again….

  • From Alice E. Dennis:
    This is a crisis with just about every choir in Scotland and its getting worse all the time. The shortage of men in particular is acute with the some men singing in several choirs to keep them going. In my opinion this is due to the long term lack of classical music in the state schools finally feeding through.
    There is a huge lack of good choral singing in schools – its just about gone frankly (certainly where I live) with the rock choir being the norm now – and young boys just don’t sing up here.
    There is a chronic underestimation of young people’s ability to learn to love classical music/singing and thousands of talented youngsters are being missed. Personally, I have done my best for years to help but it’s getting increasingly difficult as more and more kids tell me they ‘don’t like singing’. A love of singing has to be developed at primary level before these opinions form and continued at secondary level with a challenging and exciting choral programme. THEN the choral Societies will fill up again….

    • Alice correctly identifies the problem which exists in all schools. Having retired from teaching recently it was quite obvious that there was little or no purposeful singing done in primary schools. I know there are other very significant demands now upon primary school staff but the opportunities must take place early for there to be any lasting and positive effect.
      All I saw was some pretty feeble material, very low level stuff, and ineffective vocal understanding – mostly insipid backing tracks or piano bashing three chord accompaniments.
      There’s a lot of useful material out there but it seems that a quick result with something easy is the preferred option.
      I’m certainly not taking primary staff to task here, heaven knows they have a huge workload. However, it is too late by the time they move to a secondary, what seeds have been sown, if any, fail to sprout. I always thought it odd that I couldn’t enthuse 11 year olds to sing well but had a good deal of success with a 15-18 year old barbershop choir, this was in a boys school by the way.
      The demise of church and chapel singing has followed a similar downward trend.

  • It’s a worry… but when did any of us approach our political representatives about it? I have, it surprises them, they’re not used to it

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