The aim of the Hands Up for Trad Community Music awards is to showcase and celebrate the outstanding practice and great things going on in Scotland’s community music sector to the wider public and media.
Congratulations to Katy Lavinia Cooper who have been nominated in the Community Music Teacher of the Year category. Vote for Katy here. We asked Katy Lavinia Cooper the following questions.
Tell us more about yourself.
I’m a musician working as a singing leader/choral conductor, composer, arranger and tutor. I combine freelance work in a variety of community contexts with my role as Director of Chapel Music at the University of Glasgow.
I grew up in Bolton, near Manchester but I’ll have been living in Glasgow for 20 years this October.
My current ongoing community work includes a workplace choir at John Lewis/Waitrose, Scottish Opera’s weekly Community Choir and the Glad Cafe’s Kids’ Choir. I am also currently chorus master for the community chorus for Scottish Opera’s upcoming production of Pagliacci (performance July 2018).
I co-direct Glasgow Madrigirls, an upper-voice chamber choir which specialises in early, folk and traditional music, and also contemporary work for upper-voice choir, which we regularly commission. We also run workshops, most recently in singing and crafting (June 2017), and have an ongoing project focusing on writing new rounds which we make freely available on our website (madrigirls.org.uk).
I work as a choral conducting tutor for Sing for Pleasure, training vocal leaders from a wide variety of backgrounds on courses throughout the UK. I have also tutored for Scotland Sings, both on the Renewing the Tradition project and as a tutor in song leading.
With Muldoon’s Picnic (folk harmony group), I devise and deliver workshops including for Celtic Connections, various festivals and other events. We also run our own ‘Folk Carols in the Pub’ project each year which includes workshops in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
I recently completed a PhD focusing on historical vocal music from Scotland – and I love bringing this music to new audiences!
How long have you or your group organisation been involved in this work and tell us a wee bit about how it all started?
I’ve been working as a community musician for about 15 years. My real interest in leading singing, and community music began with my involvement with Bolton Youth Choir, and attending Sing for Pleasure courses – specifically their annual summer school where I met many inspirational singing leaders, singers and conductors, and was encouraged to develop my conducting and vocal leadership skills. I loved the way SfP had a communal repertoire of songs that everyone knew, and it really led me to my interest in folk song.
I co-founded Glasgow Madrigirls with Catriona Downie while we were at university and it was with them that I was able to apply what I’d learnt about leading singing, and explore repertoires that influence me today.
Joining Muldoon’s Picnic allowed me to really develop as a singer, and learn more about signing traditions from the UK and further afield.
What have you or your group/organisation got planned for the next 12 months?
I’m really looking forward to the culmination of many months of work by the Community Chorus, and creative team of Scottish Opera’s production of Pagliacci. Many of the chorus have never taken part in an opera before and it’s been a really fascinating process, learning the score and staging the performance, which take place at the end of July in Paisley.
During the summer I’m completing a commission for a community chorus piece for Aberdeen Performing Arts, and a set of pieces for a range of choirs at a university in England. I’ll also be tutoring at Sing for Pleasure’s summer school and preparing for Glasgow University Chapel Choir’s forthcoming tour to China (September 2018).
Between October and December I’ll be performing a lot with Chapel Choir, both in Glasgow at our regular Tuesday evening concert series and further afield, and this year there are also special events to mark the anniversary of the end of the First World War.
Christmas is always busy including carolling events, and Madrigirls’ annual Advent service (first Sunday in December).
What has been the highlight of your or your group/organisation’s experience to date?
It’s hard to think of one thing really! I just feel so lucky to work in this field. I meet such great people, and helping people to enjoy singing is such a privilege.
How does it feel to be nominated for this award?
I’m so grateful! And surprised! It really is a lovely thing to have been nominated. Thank you.
Read more about Katy Lavinia Cooper at their website
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