The HeartEdge Manchester Choral Scholarships 2022-23 are a programme of stimulating and educative choral training, working across churches in the Diocese of Manchester with the music team from St Martin-in-the-Fields, London. The scheme is aimed at choral singers wishing to embark on a professional career in singing. The Choral Scholarships provide an opportunity for nine singers to enjoy an intensive, focused period of development alongside others of a similar standard and interests whilst building on a tradition of musical excellence in churches in the city centre and beyond.
The Choral Scholarships are part of a collaborative project between the Diocese of Manchester and the St Martin-in-the-Fields HeartEdge Network, supported by the Church of England Strategic Development Fund. The wider project involves a number of initiatives aimed at growing church, community, culture and social outreach in churches across Manchester. Music is at the heart of this through the development of a new church music programme involving choral education, community choirs and children’s music-making activity.
The Choral Scholarship programme is led by Andrew Earis, Director of Music at St Martin-in-the-Fields, Olivia Tait, St Martin’s Choral Conducting Fellow, alongside a range of guest directors and expert choral workshop leaders.
HeartEdge Manchester Choral Scholarships 2022-23
The application process for the 2022/23 Choral Scholar cohort is now closed. However, please get in touch if you would like to be contacted when the next application process opens, or for deputising auditions and opportunities.
Meet the HeartEdge Manchester Choral Scholars 2022-23!
Verona-India Braich – Soprano
Verona-India is from the West Midlands and is of Indian and Jamaican heritage. She currently trains at the RoyalNorthern College of Music. At the age of 10, Verona-India was awarded a choral scholarship at Lichfield Cathedral, serving as a chorister for five years. Prior to music college, Verona-India joined the Royal JuniorBirmingham Conservatoire, where she studied Vocals while also playing the Violin and Piano. In the same year, she joined the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. Alongside her musical interests, Verona-India plays a variety of sports, including athletics and fitness training and currently captains the RNCM Netball team.
Katie Lyons – Soprano
A native of Belfast, Katie graduated in July 2022 with a BMus degree from Queen’s University, where she was the recipient of the May Turtle Scholarship and a Flax Trust Music Bursary. She was a member of Belfast Cathedral Choir from 2018-2022 and completed Sestina Music’s Next Generation Programme 2021/22, where she was a member of the chorus for their staged production of the Messiah. In September, she will begin a PGCE in secondary music at Manchester Metropolitan University and the RNCM.
Kwankaew Ruangtrakool – Soprano
Kwankaew is a soprano from Thailand, currently in her 2nd year as a music student at the University of Manchester and has the ambitions to be a choral conductor and a professional singer. She recently was selected to join the EuroChoir 2022 session in Switzerland, organised by the European Choral Association. While in Manchester, she joined multiple vocal ensembles, including Holy Name Church Choir and Ad Solem, the university chamber choir. In the past, Kwankaew was a member of the Thai Youth Choir in 2018, performing in several concerts and won 2 gold medals from World Choir Games in Tshwane, Africa.
Lydia Wonham – Soprano
Lydia is a light soprano who trained at the RNCM under the guidance of Sandra Dugdale, graduating with first-class honours in 2019. She is a founding member of The Apex Singers, a CASA award-winning A Cappella ensemble, with whom she has recorded two albums. In addition to performing, she enjoys leading musical workshops and has recently joined the Voces8 Foundation’s team of educators. Lydia has loved exploring Britain’s choral music scene since moving from Paris in 2015 and particularly enjoyed the Genesis Sixteen and VOCES8 Scholarships she completed in 2022.
Priscilla Fong – Alto
Priscilla Fong is a Singaporean Mezzo-Soprano currently studying for an MMus at the Royal Northern College of Music under the tutelage of Eiddwen Harrhy. Her postgraduate degree is generously supported by National Arts Council Arts Scholarship. She completed her undergraduate degree at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music.
Toluwani Idowu – Alto
Toluwani sang with the National Youth Choir of Scotland before placing second in the Rotary Young Musician Competition in Scotland. She now sings with Choirs such as Ad Solem, Somnium Chamber Choir and the Marie Consort and is about to enter her second year of study.
Alex Kirkland – Tenor
Alex is a second-year BMus Vocal Studies student at the Royal Northern College of Music, studying with Hilary Summers. He was a chorister at Lincoln Cathedral and a choral scholar at Sheffield Cathedral. He is now a regular deputy tenor lay clerk in Manchester Cathedral Choir, and last academic year, he sang in the annual performances of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ and Bach’s ‘St John Passion’, singing a solo aria in each concert. Furthermore, Alex is a member of the National Youth Chamber Choir of Great Britain, with which he has recently sung in two BBC Proms concerts; Mozart’s Requiem in 2021 and Brahms’ German Requiem in 2022, both broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.
Jacob Parker – Tenor
Jacob is in his second year studying at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) with Quentin Hayes. Originally from Bristol, he has been an avid choral singer since the age of 7, when he became a Chorister at St Mary Redcliffe Church and then at Bristol Cathedral. Jacob was Head of Consort and a Choral Student at Bristol Cathedral during his time in sixth form. He sang in the Chamber Choir at Bristol Cathedral Choir School and Cantilena, B&NES County Senior Choir. Jacob was a member of the RNCM Chamber Choir last year and is looking forward to singing in the Chorus in Die Fledermaus this term. Jacob has ambitions to sing as a tenor in professional choirs.
James Connolly – Bass
James is a 23-year-old Baritone entering his final year as an Undergraduate at the Royal Northern College of Music, studying with Matthew Best. During his time at the Conservatoire, he has been awarded First Prize in the ‘Elsie Thurston,’ ‘James Martin Oncken’ and ‘Alexander Young’ song competitions.
James offers a vast array of experience singing with sacred music ensembles. Prior to moving to Manchester, he sang as Choral Scholar with Norwich Cathedral Choir. He is currently a Choral Scholar with Salford Cathedral.
James is excited for the opportunity to sing in numerous locations across Manchester provided by the HeartEdge Scholarship.
Sam Weakley – Bass
Sam Weakley is a baritone from Cumbria in his third year at RNCM. He has been a member of many vocal ensembles such as the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, its highly selective Chamber Choir, RNCM Chamber Choir and the Cumbrian-based Wordsworth Singers. Following his time at RNCM, Sam is keen to pursue a professional singing career.
HeartEdge Manchester Choral Scholars 2021-22
Soprano – Isabelle Palmer, Molly O’Toole, Helen Southernwood
Also – Florence Price, Phoebe Watts
Tenor – Andrew Morton, Joseph Taylor
Bass – Adam Jarman, Harry Mobbs