On Course: Emma Murton on the ABCD convention

Each August, the budding student conductor of the Chamber Choir in the following academic year goes on the Young Conductor’s Course with the Association of British Choral Directors summer school. This year, it was the turn of second-year Scholar, harpist and singer Emma Murton; here’s her story…

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The ABCD choral conducting convention was a fantastic experience for me as a budding conductor. There were several highlights for me, including a session and performance by ”The White Rosette” and learning new tricks to the trade from Amy Bebbington – the leader of the young conductor’s course.

After settling in on the Friday into the amazing Leeds Metropolitan campus I met the other young conductors, all fantastic people I am keeping in contact with. With our free ABCD bags we pillaged all the stalls of their free samples of music and CD’s till they were bulging with new pieces and exciting new composers to explore for this year (and probably many years to come!). We then enjoyed a traditional and truly scrumptious Yorkshire meal with a round of the famous “Sheffield carols”, leaving our bellies full and voices cracked. It was then that I realised my voice was going to be running marathons this weekend!

The next morning we all arose bright and early to enjoy the warm-up session with Rhiannon Gayle, the founder of “Rock up and Sing” – a group which encourages people who have had bad experience with singing in the past to change their negative views on singing and enjoy it again. Her energetic and original warm-up’s will definitely feature in this year’s Chamber Choir warm ups, I can’t wait to use them! In the evening we all travelled to the Gala performance in Leeds town hall. It was an amazing building, full of impressive Victorian architecture and some unique musical history – from its commission and première performance of Belshazzar’s Feast to performances from Elgar and Rachmaninoff. The performance included the fantastic Swedish acapella group “Vocado” who were dressed in bright yellow trousers and bow-ties, a look I am trying to convince Dan to try for concerts this term! [Could be interesting:f or the group, or just me ? Dan.]

Throughout the weekend I experienced a huge variety of conducting and singing, with the highlight being the hugely talented group of young conductors and our workshops with Amy Bebbington. Each of us conducted completely different, enabling us to all gain new ways and techniques on choral leadership. Amy Bebbington lessons will stay with me this whole year as will the confidence the entire course gave me. It was a truly fantastic opportunity which I will treasure and use as the year progresses – watch out choir, we have some fun and hard work ahead!

Emma Murton

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