David Ross Education Trust

David Ross Education Trust

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Malcolm Arnold Academy Teacher Conducts at Historic Virtual Opening Night of the Proms

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  • 24th Nov 2020 14:08

Malcolm Arnold Academy Teacher Conducts at Historic Virtual Opening Night of the Proms

This year has forced all industries to adapt to an altered world, but the music industry in particular has undergone significant change. Concert halls sat unused for months, many worried that the pleasure of live music would be lost entirely. As musicians can begin to gather, it remains socially distanced and without the presence of a live audience.

Yet, despite continuous challenge and change, one local music teacher and professional music conductor Nicholas Chalmers has experienced first-hand that while the format of live performances temporarily changed, they continue to hold great meaning and importance to many of us.

Nicholas Chalmers teaches A level music at Malcolm Arnold Academy, part of the David Ross Education Trust, and has been the artistic director of Nevill Holt Opera since 2013. His students have appeared in several productions, including La Bohème, Carmen, Tosca and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Nevill Holt. Nicholas has also worked on education projects, leading singing sessions, and drama workshops serving the community.

On Friday, August 28, Nicholas made his BBC Proms conducting debut, directing the BBC Singers in Sleep by Eric Whitacre. It also marked the opening night of the BBC Proms 2020 and was broadcast live on BBC TV and Radio. This year’s Proms was the first in history to take place without a live audience, but despite the unusual virtual format, Nicholas’ piece was received with pleasure.


The Times wrote: “Eric Whitacres choral piece Sleep...was lusciously delivered from the stalls by the socially-distanced BBC Singers under Nicholas Chalmers.” 

In the coming weeks, Nicholas looks forward to finally welcoming audiences back to the award-winning theatre at Nevill Holt for the Winter Weekend of opera, talks and concerts. He will conduct Leonard Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti with the Manchester Camerata and some fantastic young singers. Nicholas also returns to more work with the BBC Singers in a Christmas Concert broadcast Live on Radio 3 on December 10th from Temple Church, London. 


Reflecting on the changed landscape of music, Nicholas said:

“There is nothing quite like experiencing live music, and unfortunately that has been difficult to pull off in the current climate. However, I have seen the industry rally against challenges and create solutions that ensure these experiences are not lost for good. Conducting an elite choral group socially-distanced in an empty Royal Albert Hall on the first night of the Proms this year was incredibly moving, especially knowing that many of our friends and family were tuning in across the UK to hear a live concert and willing us on to perform at our best. While watching it on television and radio cannot truly replace the usual event, it offered us a chance to remember what it feels like to listen to live music and ensures the resilience of the arts.

I am delighted to be giving more concerts with the BBC Singers for concerts in December and early next year, and Nevill Holt Opera will host a Winter Celebration of events on Saturday 19th December in our award-winning theatre. NHO looks forward to continuing our education work with DRET students in the new year”.