Voice Factory Education Projects

Voice Factory is the name of the City of Birmingham Choir’s education and outreach programme. Encouraging and promoting choral singing, it has given opportunities for both adult and young singers to develop their skills.

City of Birmingham Choir

Voice Factory: Saints and Angels

The City of Birmingham Choir performed a rather unusual piece by Benjamin Britten at a concert on Saturday 13th May, 2023.  The Company of Heaven was commissioned to be performed on BBC radio in 1937 and features almost as much spoken poetry as music.

Alongside the Britten piece, there were two pieces by British female composers, Cecilia McDowall and Susan Spain-Dunk.  The final work in the programme was the Magnificat by Gerald Finzi.

We created an online class activity for students in Years 10-13 about the rhythm and colour of words in poetry and how they help to paint pictures in the mind, as well as looking at similar aspects of music.  The activity will investigate the links between composers and poets.

The activity is freely available to secondary schools and colleges who sign up to receive access.

School /college staff were encouraged to promote the concert in May to their students.  The current Birmingham Young Poet Laureate, Iona Mandal, will be reciting some of the poetry in the concert and also contributing to the schools’ package.

PLEASE COMPLETE THE City of Birmingham Choir Saints and Angels info and sign-up form AND EMAIL IT TO:  education@citychoir.org.uk

Future projects

We aim to have a different project each year for the next few years and beyond, if possible. If you would like more details about any of the projects, past, present or future please get in touch through the CONTACT page. Select the option ‘Education projects’ as your area of enquiry.

Our Track Record…

You can see that we have been enterprising and innovative over a number of years.  This has involved much hard work from our dedicated members, who are all volunteers, and the support of many funders – to whom we are very grateful.


To pay for these schemes and to continue them in the future, we have to raise the funds needed.  We are grateful to the various charitable trusts, corporate partners and individual donors for providing support for the Voice Factory programme. If you think you could help us with this important work – or you know of someone else who might – please contact us, selecting “Supporting the Choir”.


Centenary Education Projects

The choir’s Centenary, 1921-2021, has provided the ideal opportunity to launch a new series of education projects. The main aim is to give the children and young people of Birmingham the opportunity to experience the wonders of choral music and the joys of performance. We also hope to help ensure the long-term sustainability of our choir and choral singing in general.

Messiah – the Inside View (Autumn 2021)

Our first project linked firmly with the Centenary. On November 28th 2021, the choir presented Messiah – The Inside View at Birmingham Town Hall. This was 100 years exactly since the choir’s first concert took place in the same building. The performance demonstrated how Handel’s Messiah had been written and how all the different elements came together. It was specifically designed to attract young people and an audience who would not usually attend such a concert.
During the weeks leading up to the performance, Adrian Lucas, our conductor, worked with pupils from two Birmingham schools, preparing them for what they would see and hear. This proved very successful as the pupils and family members thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It was a great introduction to classical choral music. The performance was filmed so it can be used as an educational resource.

Voice Factory Commonwealth (Spring 2022)

Our second centenary project was very different and linked to the Commonwealth Games taking place this year in Birmingham. This time, we had three partner primary schools who each hosted a musician teaching them music from a Commonwealth country – African drumming, Bhangra dancing and Gospel singing. The choir learnt to sing some Gospel music. Everybody came together on the last Saturday in March to perform their item to each other and an audience of parents and friends.
The Sharing Session finished with a joint performance of Rain Queen, written by John Barber in 2015 when he was a member of the choir.

Voice Factory – Young people

In this programme, which has seen a variety of successful ventures including workshops, subsidised tuition and performances in Symphony Hall and Town Hall, the Choir seeks to encourage music making with young people and to help provide singers for the choirs of the future.

In November 2019, we welcomed the Lichfield Cathedral Young Voices and Young Phoenix Singers, Leek, to take part in our performance of Freedom! The Power of Song.

Voice Factory VII trained young singers to participate in our Zimbe! – Come sing the songs of Africa! concert in June 2015. We worked with several partners to deliver this wonderful concert project, which was generously supported by Phoenix Group.

Voice Factory I – VI

A series of day workshops led by City Choir members and professional vocal coaches inspired young people from primary schools in the region to enjoy singing, to have some further singing lessons, and to take part in concerts with the City of Birmingham Choir.
We provided performance opportunities for local school children via Birmingham Music Service, which formed and trained a special Birmingham Music Service Chorale, which performed as part of our Carmina Burana concert in May 2011, and at Christmas Treats in December 2012.  We worked with Bournville Young Singers, an independent choir covering an age range of 5 to 18+. The BYS were involved in the hugely successful Equinox project, which took place in March 2012.

Youth Orchestras

Rehearsing with BSSO and Michael Seal

In May 2017, we performed Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast in a second superb collaboration with the Birmingham Schools’ Symphony Orchestra with Michael Seal conducting.

In May 2011, we performed Carmina Burana in an acclaimed collaboration with the BSSO with Michael Seal conducting.

In October 2010, we performed Verdi’s Requiem with the English Schools’ Orchestra in Symphony Hall.

These events provide great opportunities for school students to perform in Symphony Hall with a full-sized chorus and are also a rewarding experience for the choir to work with talented young musicians.

We are planning another orchestral venture for the next couple of years.

Voice Factory – Choir members

Vocal Coaching

In Phase II, we have held a series of all day workshops for the choir, approximately twice a year, where some excellent vocal and choral development work takes place and a good social time is had by all.

In Phase I, all Choir members took time out from rehearsals for professional coaching sessions in small groups.  This aimed at raising individual singing standards and improving the Choir’s ensemble performance.

New and Young members

We aim to encourage greater access to the Choir by providing new applicants with the means to improve their vocal skills as they join. The scheme offers financial support towards the cost of singing lessons for a limited number of new members in each year. Also all Choir members in the age range 16 – 25 are offered a series of free singing lessons.

Choral Conducting

As a means of benefiting some of the many Choir members, and others, who have interests in wider choral activities, we have run Choral Conducting workshops led by our own conductor, Adrian Lucas.


To pay for these schemes and to continue them in the future, we have to raise the funds needed.  We are grateful to the various charitable trusts, corporate partners and individual donors for providing support for the Voice Factory programme. If you think you could help us with this important work – or you know of someone else who might – please contact us, selecting “Supporting the Choir”.

Archive ‘Voice Factory’ leaflet: Voice_Factory_leaflet


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