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The UK Choir Festival is coming near to you! Here’s why it’s the next big thing

  • You may have heard of it, you may have not. Either way, the UK Choir Festival is here to stay. And it’s coming to Exmouth, Monmouth & St Albans! Aimed to support, train and bring all different types of choirs together, the UK Choir Festival is a hub of musical development. Back for its third year running, here’s how it all came about and why it’s the next big thing for choirs.


    The man behind it all

    Producer and founder of the UK Choir Festival, musical director and choir director of 5 choirs (any more titles and he’ll need a bigger name badge) – Russell Scott is a pretty busy, multi-talented man.

    Having sung in choirs throughout his life as both an amateur and professional, Russell’s a bit of an expert regarding all things choir. Specialising in musical theatre and having performed too-many-to-mention works with the London Philharmonic Choir, his choral achievements are beyond impressive, if not a little intimidating.

    But amongst all his success, he’s as grounded and as level-headed as you can get. The man you see on stage is the man you see in person, whose confidence and passion for music-making has led him to create ‘one of the most awe-inspiring choir festivals in the world’ (American Express Essentials). And after speaking to him, it’s clear the event is only getting stronger.


    How the UK Choir Festival came about

    The phrase ‘those who can’t do, teach’ doesn’t apply to Russell. Rather, ‘those who can do, teach just as well’. As a performer, vocal coach, director and producer, he’s experienced the industry from every angle – so why wouldn’t he start his own choir festival?

    We spoke to Russell at the York event in May, held at St Olave’s School, where he tells us how the UK Choir Festival came about.

    ‘Having worked with lots of choirs, I wanted to create something; a festival to bring choirs together to learn from the best workshop leaders,’ said Russell.

    ‘I wanted people to be taught by the best, to learn, to develop, to perform with the best, get critiqued by the best, in the hope that they’ll come away feeling enthused and excited, and love learning as much as they love singing.’

    Designed for all choirs of all abilities – local community choirs, a cappella, gospel, barbershop, school and university choirs – the festival is all about learning and making great music.

    Russell continued: ‘[I wanted people] to get better all the time because the better we get, the more we enjoy what we’re doing and the more passionate we become. I suppose my vision was all about having an annual event, somewhere people could go every year, to congregate together to do this.’


    It’s about learning, not competing

    There’s no competition or exclusivity with the UK Choir Festival. Instead there’s a very palpable, supportive feel to it, where the workshop leaders aren’t judging you, they’re developing you. And the other choirs aren’t looking down on you, they’re learning with you.

    Whilst we live in a world where competition is a way of life, it’s a refreshing change to leave all that tension at the door and walk into a room full of singers who simply want to learn. As the day moves forward, everyone loosens up, mingles with other choirs and breaks into impromptu performances. It becomes a creative, supportive environment where you can make mistakes, pick up new techniques and bond as a choir.


    Taking the nation by storm

    Having launched in 2016 in St Albans, the festival has somewhat laid its roots down in the historic city, boomeranging back to it each year:

    ‘It all started in St Albans, so it’s always great to go back there each year; it brings the whole thing full circle again,’ said Russell.

    A hit from the beginning, the festival was making a name for itself in more and more cities, with Russell and his team taking the UK choral scene by storm. And whilst the set-up of the festival remains the same, the workshops and workshop leaders vary for every event, delivering something new and exciting each time.

    In 2019, the festival has already taken place in Chichester, Manchester and York, with Exmouth, as well as Monmouth and St Albans, coming in September and October. And it’s showing no signs of slowing down.

    ‘We’ve had some amazing events this year so far with Manchester and Chichester both sell-out events and this is the first year we’ve been in York, so it’s very exciting to be in the North East of England and to work with so many choirs that are coming from all over to be here this weekend.’

    And they really have come from all over.

    ‘In York this weekend we’ve had a children’s choir from India – which is amazing – and my vision has always been to get to as many choirs as possible; to give people the opportunities to learn and perform with these great workshop leaders and to perform with each other.’


    What the future holds

    As well as India, choirs have come as far as Iceland and America – which begs the question, could this go global?

    ‘I would love to perhaps see this going overseas at some point and giving opportunities to even more choirs outside of the UK,’ said Russell. ‘But it’s always going to have that UK feel about it because we have such a great choral tradition in this country and that’s what’s really important about the festival.’


    There’s still time to book your place!

    Check out the following dates for the remaining events:

    Exmouth – Saturday 28th September 2019

    St Albans – Saturday 19th - Sunday 20th October 2019

    Monmouth – Saturday 26th - Sunday 27th October 2019

    Book now!


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