On Sunday 3rd November, the BBC broadcasted the Young Chorister of the Year 2023 Finals which saw Sheffield Girls’ school girl Natalie Fooks crowned this year’s Senior Winner.
The awards, held by BBC One’s Songs of Praise and Radio 2, and presented by Aled Jones and Revd. Kate Bottley, showcase the very best in young choral talent across the country, with singers performing sacred music of any genre during the competition. In the auspicious surroundings of the beautiful Manchester Monastery, and in front of TV cameras, a panel of judges and a live audience, ten young singers took to the stage for the junior (10-13) and senior (14-17) semi-finals, with a final three performers selected in both categories for the Finals.
After a challenging but exciting semi-final, during which Natalie sang All Things Bright and Beautiful (by John Rutter), it was her moving rendition of The Virgin’s Slumber Song (by Max Reger) in the Final which saw her hit the high notes and the top spot, as the Young Chorister of the Year.
The youngest in her category, at just 14 years old, it’s an incredible achievement for the Sheffield school girl, who is currently in Year 10 at Sheffield High School for Girls, GDST, where she has singing lessons with Dr Vivien Pike. She filmed her audition video in the summer and was away at theatre camp when her Mum called with the news she had been shortlisted. She has had little chance to reflect on her win since coming straight back to school and has been looking forward to sharing the broadcast of the Final with her family and friends.
Natalie’s musical talents extend beyond her singing voice and she sets music as her subject of choice at school and her hobby of choice at home. She plays the piano, guitar, violin and drums. She is also an enthusiastic songwriter.
“We’re all incredibly proud of you Natalie and can’t wait to see what you do next.” — Nina Gunson, Head of Sheffield Girls’
Nina Gunson, Head of Sheffield Girls’ reflected on Natalie’s fantastic achievement: “Since Natalie joined us in the Senior School we have recognised her as a prodigious musical talent. What is also so special about Natalie is her personality and character, and the kind, collaborative and joyful way she approaches everyday life at School. I’m sure this shone through for all the judges and contributed to her eventual success. We’re all incredibly proud of you Natalie and can’t wait to see what you do next.”
With constructive feedback from the judges, a mentoring session with Aled Jones and an interview with the Radio 2’s Good Morning Sunday presenter Reverend Kate Bottley, Natalie now looks forward to the next steps in her classical music career.
Where to watch Young Chorister of the Year
Young Chorister of the Year on Songs of Praise is available now on BBC iPlayer and BBC Sounds and interviews with the winners will be broadcast on Radio 2’s Good Morning Sunday on 10th December.
About Sheffield Girls’ and the Girls’ Day School Trust
Sheffield Girls’ is a member of the Girls’ Day School School Trust (GDST) and is an independent school for approximately 750 girls between the ages of 4 and 18.
The GDST is the leading network of all girls’ schools in the UK, with 23 independent schools and two academies, nearly 4,000 staff, and 20,000 students between the ages of two and 18. A charity that owns and runs a network of 23 independent schools and two academies in England and Wales, it reinvests all its income in its schools.Find out more about GDST