About Us—History

The Beginning

Peterborough Young Singers was founded in February 1994 by Fergus Black, arts development director for the city. It was known as Peterborough Children's Choir and was intended for children aged 8—13. Rehearsals took place on Saturday mornings in the John Clare Theatre, at the Central Library.The first meeting in February 1994 saw more than 70 people turning up, with 32 children signing up to join the new group. The first concert was held two months later on 19 March for the parents, and the first public concert on 25th June to mark National Music Day. In three years time the choir had grown so successful and the children who were now teenagers didn't want to leave, so another choir, Synergy Youth Choir, was set up and another director came on board.

Our international links

There were also visits from children's choirs from abroad: The Ramenskoye Russian Children's Choir visited in February 1995; in 1996 the choir hosted the Peterborough County Children's Choir from Ontario in Canada; the St. Peter's Boy Choir from Charlotte, North Carolina sang with us in 1999; and in July 2003 the choir hosted the Calgary Children's Choir from Canada in a joint concert at Stamford Arts Centre. The Texas Hill Country Choir from the USA enjoyed some UK hospitality during the summer of 2007 when they toured the UK, singing with us at Peterborough Cathedral during the Peterborough Festival.

Our national links

The early years were quite busy; joint concerts with children's choirs throughout the area were conducted, and the choir also had works specifically written for them. The Chelmsford Star Children's Choir and Peterborough Children's Choir had two joint concerts—one in each cathedral in 1994 and 1995. This joint concert in July 1995 opened the Peterborough Cathedral Festival. In 1999, the choir was invited to sing at the opening dinner and Civic Reception for the National Association of Choirs. In 2000 the choirs recorded part of the Millennium Voices CD of choirs in Cambridgeshire.

Our local links

The choir has been at the forefront of several grand openings in the area. The choir sang in a gala concert to celebrate the opening of the Cresset Centre in 1995. In May 1995 the choir participated in the 50th anniversary celebrations of VE Day in an outdoor concert on the Embankment. The choir made several recordings for local radio broadcasts—the first one in December 1994—barely nine months after its inception! We pride ourselves in our civic participation; the choir performs at least one charity concert annually with all profits going to the charity. We have had concerts in aid of Sue Ryder Care, NSPCC, Cats Protection, Leprosy Mission, CLIMB, the Alzheimer's Society and the local soup kitchen.

Our other activities

In December 1994 the new choir sang the world premiere of a new Community Opera in front of the mayor and other community dignitaries. The Opera, "In Search of Angels", was specially written by Jonathan Dove and performed for the public in March. In October 1995, Brundibar, Children's Opera, was performed by the children in collaboration with Bretton Woods Community Theatre. 1997 was a busy year: Blue Magic, performed in Peterborough Cathedral with City of London Sinfonia and local groups, was an education project about water directed by Sean Gregory. Also in 1997, the choir was invited to sing parts of Carmina Burana with the Cambridgeshire Chorale in Peterborough Cathedral. In December 1998 the choir participated in a recording of "Songs of Praise" in Peterborough Cathedral. They helped create a new music theatre work in 2000 entitled Creation, by Richard Harris, performed with the National Youth Music Theatre in the Cathedrals of Chelmsford and Peterborough.

Peterborough Children's Choir and Peterborough Youth Choir celebrated their 10th anniversary in 2004 with a gala dinner concert at Peterborough Town Hall where old favourites and new works were sung. In 2005 the two choirs became known as Peterborough Young Singers.