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emerging voices

Harry's cambiata journey. PODCAST

What is an emerging voice?      PODCAST

Sea Fever cover.jpeg

Emerging Voices is a choral leaflet series published by Oxford University Press to engage young male singers with changing voices in choral music. These pages document the full story. This page is mainly about early beginnings with the Boys Keep Singing Project. Go to Populating the Parts for more recent material and how to use the series. The aim is to keep the series fully up to date with developments in understanding of the young adolescent voice and how the series is used by youth choirs and schools in the UK and around the world.  The original inspiration was the Cambiata Press, established by the late Don Collins to realise the cambiata principle of Irvin Cooper.  The last few years have seen Emerging Voices come of age and develop its own distinctive style, different from Cambiata Press material but still faithful to Cooper's original tenet The music must be made to fit the voice, not the voice the music.  On this page you will find not only the history of the series but detailed guidance on the kinds of voice it is intended for and how to make music fit those voices.


If you are a teacher or conductor and want to know more about how to  make the music fit the voices, go now to Populating the Parts.  This page continues with the history of the series.

The story began in the late 2000s when I was called in by ABCD's North West region who were concerned about the loss of boys at ages eleven and twelve from their North West Honour Choir. This highly successful children's choir, directed by Bob Chilcott, was a case for Boys Keep Singing if ever there was one.  The boys were not keeping singing!  The solution was a lecture on the boys changing voice, illustrated (as always) by some live boys and witnessed by several ABCD members who also happened to be parents of some of the boys concerned and music teachers.  Out of this grew ABCD's Cambiata North West choir which has boasted as many as 160 members over the years.  In the early days, there was hardly any repertoire available for the voice parts outlined in my lecture, so the conductors wrote their own arrangements. 

Meet the composers 

Andy Brooke Series co-editor

One of those first conductors was the talented Andy Brooke who was to become the series co-editor.  Andy has written several of the arrangements, including one of the most popular, Billy Joel's Piano Man -an inspiration if ever there was one. Andy's vigilance, criticism and analysis has been and continues to be invaluable.  Hear his version of the early days in this ten minute video.

Ian Crawford

Ian is currently Head of Music at the King's School Macclesfield and the third person to become conductor of ABCD's Cambiata North West. He is a prolific and imaginative writer for cambiata voices and his output includes the daring setting of Schubert's Erlkonig.  In this film he is seen working with some of his boys from King's.

Russell Pascoe

Oliver Tarney

Oliver Tarney is Head of Academic Music and Composition at Winchester College and a much sought after composer with an increasing number of notable works to his credit.   He knows exactly how to get the best sound out of boys with changing voices. In this film, he is seen working with his cambiata choir at Winchester.

Russell Pascoe is a Cornish composer and a Bard of the Cornish Gorsedd. He was the founding conductor of the Cornwall Youth Chamber Choir. He has been repetiteur and chorus master for Duchy Opera and currently conducts City of Truro Male Choir. In 2000 he was nominated as one of Classic FM's Music Teachers of the Year.  He is seen here working with Angela Renshaw and the Truro Cambiata Choir.

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