A harmonious symphony of voices unfolded at Eton last week, as the College opened its doors to 18 members of the National Association of the Teachers of Singing (NATS).

The day, hosted by Head of Singing Nicky-Jane Kemp and visiting music teacher Janet Shell, saw a talk delivered by Eton’s own Director of Music Tim Johnson on the training and development of male voices between the ages 13 and 18.

The American visitors were shown around the Museum of Eton Life and College Library, where Eton’s Matthew O’Donovan delivered an introductory talk to accompany a special showcasing of the Eton Choirbook – one of the only few collections of Latin liturgical music to survive the Reformation.

Nicky-Jane Kemp said: “Our guests were delighted to hear about the special training received in singing by boys at Eton and were greatly moved by the treasures they were given access to in the Library and the illuminating personal tour of the College Chapel given by Sir Tom Oakshott.”

A recital was later held for the guests in Upper School, where Eton boy singers from each year group demonstrated their versatility and talent in a range of musical styles. This was accompanied by Head of Piano Gareth Owen.

From the haunting melodies of Caccini’s Amarilllo Mia Bella – performed by Paddy A. – to the electrifying energy of Merrit F.’s The Gypsy in Me from Anything Goes, the boys offered a diverse musical landscape that resonated deeply. 

Singer-songwriter Nicholas P. performed a touching piano song of his own called Train Outside, while George H. impressed the guests with his rendition of Bach’s Quia fecit mihi magna. Harry A. also brought out a crowd favourite with Bernstein’s Something’s Coming. 

The concert culminated in a powerful group performance of Benedictus from Mass in B Minor. Tenor Sam C. stunned the audience with his vocal and artistic maturity, and Andreas K. and Joseph B provided a beautiful accompaniment on the flute and cello.  

The singing teachers bid farewell after an observation of a choir rehearsal in College Chapel before heading into Windsor. Their 12-day transatlantic pedagogy trip also included an international conference with AOTOS (UK) in London and visits to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Purcell School, Tring and Cambridge University.

Founded in Ohio in 1944, NATS is the largest professional association of teachers of singing in the world. They work across studios, schools, and universities to support budding vocalists through teaching, performance, scholarship and research.