The Celia Burgan Bursary for Singing Tuition

Yorkshire Bach Choir is delighted to be able to provide financial support to help promising members of the choir who, through their chosen course of study, are not eligible for University funded singing lessons.  Bursary awards began in 2009 when YBC were able to use funds generously provided for that purpose by the D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust and the R M Burton Charitable Trust. Since these funds were expended, from 2014, YBC has continued to award bursaries each year to students from the choir’s own funds. In acknowledgement of the generous financial support given to YBC over a number of years by the late Mrs Celia M Burgan, the trustees decided to name the award the YBC Celia Burgan Bursary. YBC normally awards two bursaries each year, each to the value of £225.

Although it is our intention to continue to offer these bursaries in the future, Yorkshire Bach Choir would be grateful for any individual offers of sponsorship, which can be acknowledged or remain anonymous, to enable this tradition to be maintained.

A condition of the award is that beneficiaries provide a resumé of their experience as a result of being able to afford expert vocal tuition. Some of these are reproduced below.

Sophie Collerton 2016

Sophie Collerton, bursary beneficiary

Although my undergraduate degree was in Mathematics, my passion for singing led to my involvement in Yorkshire Bach Choir, as well as the University and Chamber choir at The University of York. In spite of the heavy workload of a mathematics degree, I undertook singing lessons with Yvonne Seymour, who completely transformed my voice and allowed me to develop into a dependable member of YBC. Through the generosity of the YBC Celia Burgan Bursary, I was able to continue with these singing lessons into the final year of my undergraduate degree, at a time when I did not have the financial means to cover the cost myself. With the costs of my lessons covered, I chose to take an elective module in Early Lieder where I achieved a First in my assessed recital. Additionally, I had my first outings as a soloist in YBC and the Chamber Choir during the 2016/17 season. Finally, I was accepted onto the Postgraduate course in Music at the University, to study Performance Practice under Peter Seymour. I am certain that none of my achievements over the last academic year would have been possible without the hard work of my teacher Yvonne Seymour, and the generosity of the YBC Celia Burgan Bursary. I’m extremely grateful to the YBC Trustees for enabling these wonderful opportunities, and I look forward to continuing my musical career as a postgraduate.

Richard Bracknell 2015

Richard Bracknell, bursary beneficiary

The tuition I received courtesy of the Celia Burgan Bursary has helped me make significant progress in choral singing. Edd Ingham’s technical and interpretative insights not only supported my development as a choral scholar at St Wilfrid’s Church, but ultimately led to my appointment as a choral scholar at Bradford Cathedral. In particular, I was grateful for the opportunity to study with a teacher whose voice type was similar to my own, and for the highly specific and targeted support Edd could offer me as a consequence. Despite an unsuccessful audition for the Genesis Sixteen programme, the process of preparing the required repertoire equipped me with a greater understanding of my own voice and a heightened interpretative sensibility. This award has undoubtedly aided me as a member of YBC, where I now feel on equal footing with those around me; my first outing as a soloist in a YBC concert (in the Howells Requiem) is testament to the growth the Bursary has enabled me to achieve.

Maddy Power 2014

Maddy Power, bursary beneficiary

I benefited immensely from the vocal lessons funded by the Yorkshire Bach Choir Tuition Bursary. Regular lessons helped me to improve my vocal technique and language skills, boosted my confidence and allowed me to play a greater role in the Yorkshire Bach Choir. I am very grateful for the opportunity.

Katarzyna Slawski 2014

Katarzyna Slawski, bursary beneficiary

For my undergraduate studies, I chose the path of Accounting; however my passion for music meant that I was involved in many choirs within the University and York, including the Yorkshire Bach Choir. Before coming to university, I never received any private singing tuition, other than the training I got singing as a chorister at Leeds cathedral for many years. I was encouraged to take singing lessons to deepen my knowledge but to also expand my technique, repertoire and to grow as a soloist. In my third year of my studies I chose to do an elective module in Performance, and through the generosity of the Yorkshire Bach Choir Tuition Bursary I could fund my music lessons in order to prepare for my recital. Taking this module led me to then do an MA in Performance Practice, which is a year the I will never forget. As I continue to work with Yorkshire Bach Choir, I am grateful to the trustees for choosing me for this wonderful award which has given me the  opportunity to achieve my aspirations.

Saul Jones 2014

Saul Jones, bursary beneficiary

During my time singing with YBC I was fortunate enough to be supported in training and developing as an individual singer, as well as part of the ensemble, through the generous bursary scheme set up to support non-music students in having individual singing lessons. I worked closely with Ed Ingham, a tenor with YBC, who helped me develop and extend out of my usual comfort zone as a bass. Having the bursary support the lessons, rather than having an exam or concert to prepare for, meant I enjoyed a great deal of freedom of choice of what music we explored, ranging from bi-polyphonic chant to Byrd's mass for three voices with another member of the choir. This style of highly responsive and soloistic close consort singing was not something I had been able to explore in rehearsals with larger groups, and it really encouraged me to join smaller groups and tackle solo material. I have since moved to Cambridge to continue my studies, and recently enjoyed performing, in concert, solo parts from Messiah which I first covered in my lessons with Ed. I am sure I will continue to use what I learnt during my time with YBC, and am hugely grateful for the opportunities that they go out of their way to provide for non-music students.

Sarah Holland 2013

Sarah Holland, bursary beneficiary

I would like to convey my sincere thanks to the D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust and the R M Burton Charitable Trust for the bursary with which I was awarded by the Yorkshire Bach Choir. Studying as a mature student is financially difficult and so being given access to regular lessons was greatly appreciated. As a result of being granted this award, I have been exposed to invaluable training and experience. Thanks to this and the regular performance opportunities within the choir, I believe I have improved as a performer, and also as an interpreter of music overall. Speaking now as a current member of the Yorkshire Bach Choir, I can also see the positive effect these bursaries have on the choir as a whole as our individual members grow as solo and ensemble performers.

Jonathan Hanley 2013

Jonathan Handley, bursary beneficiary

As an historian, the funding with which the Yorkshire Bach Choir is able to provide me has made it possible to pursue another great passion of mine whilst at university. My singing lessons have not only prepared me for 'step-out' solo work for the professional quality of concerts which the choir performs, but also expanded my repertoire, increased my knowledge of historically informed performance and singing technique as well as enabling me to appear as a soloist for other choirs around the country. Furthermore, it helped me to secure a post as the tenor choral scholar at York Minster for my final year. The contribution has been infinitely beneficial for me and I thank the choir and trusts warmly for their support.

Fabienne Brooksbank 2009

Fabienne Brooksbank, bursary beneficiary

To have the support of such funding is invaluable, as doing an MA is not only costly but timely, especially as a part-time student. I am grateful to Yorkshire Bach Choir and its sponsors the D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust for the generous bursary of £450 which I have used to pay for singing lessons at the University of York. The lessons have been invaluable in helping me develop an understanding of performance styles, as well as advancing my singing technique. My self confidence as a performer has increased and I have performed several solo roles with the choir.

To enquire about sponsorship or making a donation or bequest please contact the Chairman by emailing