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We spoke to one of our YSP alumni, Ruth Hoare, about her experience on the programme and why she would recommend it to aspiring young singers.

Can you tell us a little more about yourself?

Hello! My name is Ruth and I sang soprano during my two years on the SCO Young Singers' Programme in 2018/19 and 2019/20. These seasons were also my last two years of my undergraduate degree at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland over in Glasgow and I’ve stayed singing with the choir since then. I’ll be leaving Scotland in the summer to start my Master of Music in Cardiff come September. I originally grew up in North Wales, have been singing for as long as I can remember, and first met Greg Batsleer when we were both students at the Junior RNCM in Manchester.

Can you tell us how you found the process of applying and auditioning for the YSP?

I found the process was surprisingly relaxed. The sight-reading aspect of auditions is always something I fear and something I really struggle with. We were given a piece of choral music and the rest of the parts were played in by the audition accompanist, which helped ground everything in the right key and provide a constant anchor when mistakes inevitably occurred. My favourite part of the audition – if one can call it that! – was the conversation with Greg and the other panelists at the end. I felt they were really invested in hearing where I was at, what I wanted from the experience, should I be offered a place, and generally getting to know me as a person. They were all so friendly and it really did feel like they wanted you to succeed, when so often auditions can feel like a bid to ‘catch you out’. Although I was a conservatoire student, none of the others on the programme in both years were and I strongly encourage people to give auditioning a go – it’s about your learning and what you can offer that is particular to you. If any of us were perfect, there would never be a point in the training and opportunities provided.

Ruth Hoare, Young Singers' Programme alumna

Can you share any concert or masterclass highlights from your time on the YSP?

I think my personal highlight would have to be James MacMillan’s ‘Seven Last Words from the Cross’, simply because it was such a surreal experience to be mentioned by name on BBC Radio 3. I also have particularly fond memories of our a capella Christmas concert in Greyfriars Kirk in December 2019. We sang the Vesperal portion of Rachmaninov’s All Night Vigil, amongst other things, and it really felt like the fruit of so much hard graft as a group to sing it as we did. There is something so magically ethereal to Greyfriars Kirk, beneath the stars of a cold winter’s night and the ambience of the church that night made it feel as if the number of us singing, few though we were, was as great as the stars in the sky. I think that speaks so much of the desire of the members of the SCO Chorus to make music with one another through one another. There really is something so special to our a capella sound and it has been a great privilege to sing with them for all the concerts of the past few years.

Would you recommend the Young Singers' Programme to aspiring singers and why?

Most definitely! The people are wonderful. You will be challenged but only in a way to promote musical growth. The repertoire is varied and always interesting, with choral standards always being given a fresh vigour and flair. The opportunities to sing with the orchestra are not to be diminished. And if nothing else, you’ll become part of an organisation that values your musicmaking, and musicmaking of the highest standard. There will always be someone somewhere in the SCO who can answer your questions or provide meaningful, specific advice, whatever your musical aspirations may be.

You will be challenged but only in a way to promote musical growth. The repertoire is varied and always interesting, with choral standards always being given a fresh vigour and flair.

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