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Musings of a Conductor’s Apprentice by Gregory Moor

I have never considered myself to be a singer, but have always enjoyed performing and being involved in music in any way I can. My first instrument is the flute, which I took to grade 8, but I’ve always felt it to be a solo instrument so I then moved to the trumpet. I took this as far as grade 3 and officially stopped lessons as a result of family circumstances, but I loved how loud the trumpet was compared to the flute. It was also my way in to the local concert bands and ignited my passion for community. I studied music at university and there I picked up the French horn. I was always eager to be involved in bands and orchestras, so when the opportunity came to start conducting I couldn’t wait! I became conductor of the Leeds University Union Music Society (LUUMS) Concert Band and studied conducting under the guidance of Eduardo Portal.

After graduating, conducting opportunities came few and far between, so when I saw the advert to conduct Leeds Vocal Movement I got an application in as soon as I could. Looking into them, they appeared to have a great community built around singing in a relaxed environment which really appealed to me. I found out after the audition that I wasn’t going to be leading the choir and that was fine by me, I’ve never considered myself to be a singer after all. Months later, I got a call asking if I wanted to try a new role for LVM as apprentice conductor.

When I first arrived, the role was very much in its infancy. There were ideas for how the role would look, but as I was to be the first to fill the role I got to find out what worked and similarly what didn’t. Since I’d never had much experience with singing, I wasn’t particularly comfortable warming up voices, so I was very glad to have more of a back seat and learn techniques from Caitlin in more of a participatory manner. The Kodaly method Caitlin uses to warm LVM up is perfect as it encourages the singers to learn the fundamentals of music theory practically. The effects of this were really noticeable when taking sectionals since it took much less time to learn new pieces towards the end of the year.

It has been a wonderful experience working with LVM and I feel I’ve really learnt a lot about rehearsing singers and a choir efficiently and effectively, and I’m glad to have learnt this in such an encouraging environment too! I got to conduct a few performances in the last concert, but I would say the most enjoyable and most rewarding part of the role was seeing the choir grow musically – it’s really encouraging as a conductor to see the musicians grow in confidence and musicianship together. It’s really helped my musicianship personally, and most importantly I now consider myself to be a singer. I am sad to be leaving this position, but strongly believe the choir is going from strength to strength.

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Vacancy – Apprentice Conductor

*THIS IS NOW A PAID POSITION*

Looking for conducting experience with a established and expanding local choir? Look no further – Leeds Vocal Movement is recruiting!

We are currently accepting applications for a new Apprentice Conductor. This is now a paid position for a budding conductor, to join us from September 2018 to July 2019.

We are looking for a well-organised musician with a keen focus on improving their conducting skills and willingness to commit to the development of the choir. LVM’s mission is to improve musical education and create community through choral singing, and we need an Apprentice Conductor who can internalise and apply those values in the role.

The candidate must be a final year university student or within three years of graduating.

This is our second year offering the position; our first Apprentice Conductor, Gregory Moor, joined LVM in January, and he has been a great asset to the choir. He debuted at our Summer Concert in June, and has enjoyed his time with us:

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to be the apprentice conductor for

Leeds Vocal Movement. It’s a welcoming community and very supportive

of each other, and I’m glad to have been a part of making the choir

what it is today!”

You can find out more about him on our ‘About Us’ page. 

To apply for the position, please download our application pack.

The deadline for applications is 12 noon on Tuesday 21st August 2018. 

Interviews will be held on Thursday 30th August 2018. 

If you have any questions about about the choir or the position, please contact Caitlin (Musical Director) or Rosa (Choir Manager) via email: leedsvocalmovement@gmail.com

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Caitlin Mayall: How I got into choral conducting and what LVM means to me!

I wasn’t always into choral music – I grew up loving jazz and spent a lot of time listening to Ella Fitzgerald in our family kitchen. I also started composing when I was 12, because I didn’t like practising scales on the piano and I used to turn them into different motifs and write lyrics to them. My mum encouraged me to join Stockport Youth Orchestra, where I messed around a lot because I didn’t like the screechy sound I made on the violin – but I met a friend there who convinced me to audition for the Hallé Youth Choir in Manchester which was where it all started.

Going to the Hallé was like getting an overdose injection of the musical bug. We were regular performers at the Bridgewater Hall and sang everything from Poulenc’s stunning ‘Gloria’ to Elgar part-songs to Mahler’s 2nd symphony. I remember sight-reading Bruckner’s ‘Locus Iste’ at Ampleforth College surrounded by friends, breaking into Lambert’s ‘The Rio Grande’ at regular intervals on a tour bus to Italy and marching through the streets of York singing a swingle singers arrangement of ‘I’ll Be There For You’ at the top of our lungs. Jamie Burton was our wonderfully eccentric and hugely inspiring director, who taught us to read music using Solfege sign language and who intrigued us with his knowledge of the composers whose works we were performing.

It’s because of this exposure to so much gorgeous, life-changing music as a teenager that now as an adult I feel determined to bring the same experiences to others. I found myself volunteering to direct LUUMS Chorus whilst at Leeds University and now I devote my time to teaching Kodály music in schools and leading children’s and youth choirs. As my personal experiences of music have been of high quality but also highly social, I believe choirs should be joyful and create community – whether they are amateur or semi-professional, young or old, sacred or secular – because that’s what lasts. Leeds Vocal Movement does just that, and it’s becoming part of a choral music revolution in our up-and-coming city which I want to help fuel.

Music, and the friends I’ve made through music, has been there for me in some form throughout the best and darkest moments of my life. There is a big difference though between experiencing music by listening to CD or going to a concert and actually being the music itself. It is far superior to share music with others and we can create much more variety as singers in a choir than alone. On that note, if you want to be part of a vibrant musical community which sings for pleasure and experiences a range of music from all genres, styles and periods, come along and sing with us on a Wednesday evening!

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Meet our new Musical Director

caitlin_mayall_MD_LVM_2We proud to introduce our new Musical Director, Caitlin Mayall. Caitlin comes to us with years of experience, and is excited to be joining us to push our choir forward into the future!

Caitlin has directed Leeds University Chorus, Darlington Youth Choir and the Leeds University Ensemble Choir Project among others and her teaching style is perfect for an unauditioned choir of mixed musical background and ability.  You can find out more about Caitlin on her website.

Caitlin joins us for the new term on Wednesday 13th September 2017.  If you’ve always wanted to sing in a choir, head to our joining page to register your interest and we’ll get back to you very soon!