Lewis singers join the choir for latest release

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The National Youth Choir of Scotland (NYCoS) Girls Choir is releasing a new CD with its patron, international mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill, and pianist Philip Moore, featuring the first ever recording of Michael Head’s (1900-76) song-cycle Snowbirds.

As well as music by Head, Only a Singing Bird includes works by Gary Carpenter, Ken Johnston and Stephen Deazley, with the music’s rich emotion and drama being brought to life by NYCoS National Girls Choir’s effortless singing.

This is the ensemble’s third album on the Signum Classics label conducted by Christopher Bell and was released today (January 8th) coinciding with the 20th anniversary of NYCoS itself.

This newest release also features singers from Lewis with the voices of Caitlin MacKenzie from Vatisker and Elizabeth MacKenzie from Eoropie joining the other NYCoS members.

The National Girls Choir was formed in 2007 for singers aged 12-16 years. Membership is granted by annual audition and is open to girls who are born, resident or studying in Scotland.

The choir meet annually at Easter for a six-day residential course working on high quality vocal coaching, musicianship training and full choir rehearsals with highly qualified staff who are experts in their fields.

Talking about the new release mezzo-soprano Karen Cargill said: “This is a beautiful collection of songs. I have very fond memories of performing some of Head’s pieces at singing competitions when I was younger, and this gave me a chance to revisit them whilst being involved with the incredible voices of the National Girls Choir. They are fantastic ambassadors for singing in Scotland.”

The central song-cycle, Snowbirds, demonstrates Head’s passion and proficiency for sensitive and effective word setting.

It comprises seven songs based on the 1919 publication of the same name by Brahmin poet Sri Ananda Acharya. Alongside this are the composer’s most popular works, The Ships of Arcady and The Little Road to Bethlehem.