On Saint Cecilia’s Day 2018, and to cap its year-long ‘Women in Song’ project, National Youth Choirs Of Great Britain (NYCGB) has announced a commitment to ensuring that its repertoire programming is balanced with regard to composers’ and arrangers’ gender. The organisation has also published a list of music by female composers and arrangers to inspire other choirs.
The pledge follows a year in which NYCGB programmed and performed music by 44 female composers and arrangers at its own concerts, including NYCGB commissions by Janet Wheeler, Errollyn Wallen and Kerry Andrew, and in which a 2017 NYCGB commission, Roxanna Panufnik’s Unending Love, was nominated for a BASCA British Composer Award. The National Youth Choir also sang at the premiere of Anna Meredith and 59 Productions’ Five Telegrams at the opening night of the 2018 BBC Proms.
‘Programming music from as diverse a range of styles as possible’
The pledge commits NYCGB to ongoing equality, diversity and inclusivity of repertoire choices and programming, and invites other choirs to take up the challenge:
NYCGB has always championed the changing trends in choral music and, as a national youth music organisation, embraces the challenges of programming music from as diverse a range of styles as possible. As our choirs look towards the future and embrace the issues of equality, diversity and inclusivity, and as a continuation of our legacy in 2018 to celebrate the place of women in choral music, we are proud to make a pledge to programme all our repertoire choices with respect to gender balance and equality wherever possible. We also challenge choirs nationwide to redouble their efforts in regularly programming more music by women so that together we can begin to narrow the gender gap within choral music.
Supporting the challenge, the organisation has released a new repertoire resource listing 150 works by female composers and arrangers suitable for youth and community choirs, curated by NYCGB Deputy Music Director, Esther Jones.
‘The start of significant change within the classical music industry’
‘2018 has seen an increase in the amount of music by women in concert programmes nationwide, driven by action from within the musical community and also by wider activities like the Vote100 celebrations. However, we don’t want this to be just a flash in the pan.
‘This should be the start of significant change within the classical music industry. We hope that our list of choral music by female composers and arrangers will inspire others to programme and commission more music by women, and that NYCGB’s ongoing commitment to reduce the gender gap will encourage many young women to become the composers and choral leaders of the future.’
Header photo: The combined National Youth Choirs of Great Britain at the Royal Albert Hall, April 2016 © Belinda Lawley