Sounds great! Eeshan and Joel to sing with national choirs following audition success

Sounds great! Eeshan and Joel to sing with national choirs following audition success

Two QE boys have won prestigious places in national youth choirs after being nominated by the School.

Year 9’s Joel Swedensky has been offered a place with the National Youth Boys’ Choir, while Eeshan Banerjee, of Year 13, secured the opportunity to sing in the National Youth Training Choir.

Congratulating the pair formally with Headmaster Neil Enright last term, Director of Music Ruth Partington paid tribute to colleagues who had helped them and expressed the hope that their achievement would be a foretaste of even more singing successes to come.

“It is wonderful that these two boys have been offered places in national ensembles – both had to audition for these places, and it is very competitive, so they have done extremely well to get in.”

Joel and Eeshan were put forward for their auditions by QE singing teacher Rhys Bowden, an Old Elizabethan (1995–2003) and a professional operatic tenor.

“With such an excellent singing teacher and with the appointment of our new Assistant Director of Music, Mr James McEvoy-Stevenson, himself an ex-Oxbridge Choral Scholar, I hope that more boys will start to have voice lessons, and that our singing will go from strength to strength in the future,” Miss Partington said.

Both choirs are part of the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain organisation. The auditions took place online through Zoom.

The National Youth Training Choir is for boys and girls aged 15-18. Members receive the highest level of choral training, singing alongside some of the most gifted singers in the UK. They are introduced to repertoire from all periods, genres and cultures. The choir often collaborate with guest artists and, in non-Covid times, perform at leading venues.

Eeshan explained how his audition had gone. “There were two senior members of the choir, including the conductor, who listened to me perform and then got me to complete a few exercises to test my ability. I performed an Italian song called Dolente immagine di Fille mia and got special commendation for singing in Italian.

“I’m really excited to join the choir as the next step in my musical journey. I’m both looking forward to improving my singing and also having access to a massive range of opportunities.

“If it weren’t for Mr Bowden, who told me about the audition and pushed me to take part, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity, so I would like to especially thank him. I’ve been having singing lessons at QE for probably around five years, but he has been teaching for the past two years and really helped me to understand my voice and help me improve.”

Joel, who has been having singing lessons since the beginning of Year 8, also acknowledged Mr Bowden’s help. In his audition, he performed Where the Bee Sucks by the 18th-century British composer, Thomas Arne. “I feel like my singing has developed massively as a result of these lessons.”

Although a little nervous about the likely impact of Covid on the choir’s activities in the coming months, Joel said he has happy to be joining and hoped it would be fun.

In normal times, the choir, which is for boys with unbroken voices (trebles), offers opportunities to perform at venues such as the Royal Albert Hall and to train to the highest standards, with a wide range of music studied on residential courses.