Music: Georgia-Mae Ellis and the National Youth Choir
Upper Sixth pupil and Bloomsbury House member Georgia-Mae Ellis writes about her 5 years of singing with the National Young Training Choirs at venues including the Royal Albert Hall and about her newest opportunity - auditioning for the main National Young Choir of Great Britain!
I first auditioned for the National Young Choir in my First Year at Bede's, and was accepted straight away. You have to be 18 before you join the main National Youth Choir, but there are lots of smaller Training and Junior choirs, and so back then I was part of the Junior Girls (South).
My first concert was in Coventry Cathedral, which was incredible. We performed a huge range of things, from classical English 'stuff' to African music and circle songs. It was a real stretch!
Leading up to the performances, members of the choirs take part in very intensive courses, and the experiences technically challenge me every time. Back when I first started, it was a huge step up from the School Choir!
In all honesty, I felt a bit thrown in at the deep end, not knowing anybody and staying away from home for the first time, but over the five years I've made friends from London, Kent and Hampshire who I know I will stay in touch with long into the future.
Most recently, I stepped up into the National Youth Training Choir, which is mixed in terms of sexes, and that has been amazing.
It's really nice finding people who want to do the same thing as you for their career. For me, that means Opera Singing. I'm now in the Upper Sixth, pursuing courses at the Guildhall and Trinity, which is both exciting and scary.
The experiences I have had lately though have made me want it even more. I have now performed at the Albert Hall twice for example. The first time was during the Easter Holidays of 2012, and back then I hadn't even been to the Albert Hall as an audience member. I'll never forget my first view of the venue - I was looking out into it from the stage!
That performance was called 'World Song' and included 300 of us singing South American, modern American, some British and Indian music. It was incredible.
I then took part in the NYC summer course, where we performed in Bath Abbey. That was my favourite performance so far, which was of Water Night by Eric Whitaker and Take Him Earth For Cherishing by Howells.
Next came my second appearance at the Albert Hall, which was as part of the National Youth Choir's 30th anniversary celebrations. All the choirs came together to perform the Monteverdi Vespers, which is a big, three-hour baroque epic. There was some great competition between us all!
Lastly, and most recently, during this summer just passed we performed in Rochester Cathedral, which is England's second oldest cathedral, founded in 604AD. On that course, as part of the alto section, I was made Section Leader. That was really special.
We performed loads of things during those concerts, including a British folk song-cycle. Because it is Benjamin Britten's 100th birthday this year, we also performed four of his songs.
The four Britten songs were then recorded in another performance at the Tunbridge School Chapel, and the album will be out soon. That was an intensive experience! It's amazing to know that my voice will be one of those on that CD.
Then, last weekend, I received a letter inviting me to audition for the main National Youth Choir. It is a huge honour just to be asked, so I'm over the moon.
That audition takes place in November which, if it goes well, could lead to world tours, performing at the Proms and more recording.
It's a truly amazing opportunity. I can't wait.