Adrian Pitts, artistic director and principal conductor of Tonbridge-based West Kent Youth Voices tells Eileen Leahy why being part of a choir is so good for students’ social and performance skills…
West Kent Youth Voices (WKYV) choir started in September 2019 as a platform for young singers in West Kent Schools aged from 14 to 19 years.
The group was founded by Adrian Pitts, former music director at Tonbridge Grammar School. He also founded the award-winning Tonbridge Grammar School Motet Choir who were gold medallists in the European Choir Games and made frequent TV appearances.
“I wanted young people to have the experience of performing great music in great venues who may not be able to do this at school,” explains Adrian who is the group’s artistic director and principal conductor.
And despite having a bit of rocky ride at the beginning due to launching just before the Covid pandemic hit, Adrian says that WKYG group numbers are continuing to rise thanks mainly to the friendly auditions that are held every Wednesday at The Judd School in Tonbridge.
“It’s a short, friendly audition but nothing too scary,” Adrian assures us. “We just want to hear pupils sing as we can often help them develop other skills.
“If a student’s audition is successful and they are able to join West Kent Youth Voices, they will be able to participate in a year-round performance programme alongside professional musicians, with the opportunity to be part of local and national concerts.”
It’s well known that being part of a choir not only gives you the opportunity to meet others and forge new friendships, it can also help improve your mental and physical health thanks to the natural endorphins – or feel good factor – that singing releases. It’s also a lot of fun!
“My co-conductor Rachel Reilly is a local head of music with a passion for choral singing of all types. Her experience in the National Youth Choir brings a rich experience and repertoire for all to enjoy,” continues Adrian.
“At the start of every term we have an all-comers open rehearsal where you can try us out, and sing as much or as little as you like!” he says.
“Currently we have members from Bennett Memorial, The Judd, Tonbridge Grammar School, Walthamstow Hall and Weald of Kent, but singers from any West Kent schools are very welcome!”
Adrian adds that WKYV have a busy schedule with a series of concerts happening over the next three months.
“We are working with the St Cecilia Wind Symphony for The Armed Man at Tonbridge School Chapel before three exciting Christmas concerts – the first in Canterbury Cathedral with the world famous Gabrieli Consort Roar project under international maestro Paul McCreesh.
“The winter term ends with Christmas concerts with the Kent Police Band in Yalding and the Tonbridge Philharmonic in Tonbridge.”
The choir meets every Wednesday at The Judd School Tonbridge from 4:30 to 5:45pm. For further details, contact the group by email on email@example.com