Our Story

BYC is a remarkable organisation that was established in 2009 by Mat Wright and Keith Norton.

BYC is a remarkable organisation that was established in 2009 by Mat Wright and Keith Norton. It is a registered charity run by volunteers that seeks to provide outstanding opportunities for young people who live in Barnsley and has developed a reputation for excellence. The choir is ranked 5th in the World Rankings in its category and has won 8 first prizes in some of the biggest international competitions in the world. Barnsley Youth Choir was presented with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service (MBE) in January 2018. The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK and this was in recognition to the outstanding support and dedication shown by the volunteers.

BYC is first and foremost a community choir serving an area of deprivation where 1 in 4 children live in poverty. The choir is highly inclusive and our 6 sections consists of over 400 singers. The choir contains BYC Junior Choir (4-7 years), BYC Children’s Central (7-12 years), BYC Children’s Choir East (7-12 years), BYC Children’s Choir West (7-12 years), BYC Intermediate Choir (10-16 years) and BYC Senior Choir (14-24 years). The choir has released 2 albums, performed on TV and Radio and has raised significant amounts of money for local charities including £10,000 for Barnsley Hospice after releasing a charity single.

The choir also has a newly formed Alumni section and close links with sister organisations Little Singers (0-4 years) founded by Eleanor Wright and Barnsley Singers (24 years+) founded by Mat Wright and Luke Mather. BYC is not publicly funded and relies on the support of the local and wider community to operate and maintain viability.

The use of the Kodaly system, through a close association with choirs from the Kodaly School in Kecskemet and Laszlo Duranyik, has been significant in developing young people with little prior experience or formal training. The choir has had the opportunity to work with some of the world’s finest conductors and choirs in this country and abroad, and has appeared in outstanding international venues. The choir is unusual in that it maintains a wide and diverse repertoire including Popular, Gospel, Spiritual, Folk and more Classical genres, and audiences appreciate the variety of music performed in concerts.

The choir has developed close associations with the Aurin and Miraculum Choirs from Hungary, Tuks Camerata from South Africa and choirs from the Adolf Fredriks School in Sweden. It has also performed with outstanding choirs from this country including Farnham Youth Choir and the National Youth Choir of Great Britain Fellowship. It has worked with soloists such as Lesley Garrett OBE, international folk star Kate Rusby and Paul Phoenix (Kings Singers) and has been conducted by and received training from some of the world’s best choral leaders including Dr. Michael Barrett (RSA), Laszlo Duranyik (HUN), Tony Margeta (SWE), Romans Vanags (LAT), Thomas Caplin (NOR), Johan Rooze (NED), Fred Sjoberg (SWE), Prof. Ralf Eisenbeiss (GER), David Slater (AUS), Joanna Tomlinson (GB), Dr. Amy Bebbington (GB) and Steven Roberts (GB).

BYC prides itself on providing exceptional experiences for young people and engenders a sense of aspiration. Being a member helps young people to develop skills and qualities that will support them throughout their lives. We seek to inspire and change lives through music and provide life changing opportunities for those involved.

International Reputation

Dr. Michael Barrett

Director of Choral Studies at University of Pretoria.
Conductor of Tuks Camerata, International Adjudicator, Clinician and Composer.

"Working with BYC and conductor Mat Wright reminded me of the importance of choral music in all our lives. This choir has the ability to make us feel. They sing with such passion, honesty and above all integrity. It is evident that they love to perform and in so doing, captivate their audience, taking them on an extraordinary journey. These kids have purpose in their lives, created by an organisation that truly cares. There should be more BYC's in the world - because the world would be in a good place"

Professor Thomas Caplin

Conductor of Nordic Blue and Defrost Youth Choir. Author of 'The Learning Conductor'.
International Adjudicator, Clinician and Composer.

“I have had the pleasure of both working with Barnsley Youth Choir and also adjudicating them in World Choir Games in Riga, 2014.  To experience them singing with such sincere happiness and joy is a true inspiration to everyone, and it touches all hearts. It really makes me happy to see that there are spirited souls like Mat and his team, tirelessly making it possible for young singers to build core values like respect, solidarity and tolerance - such important work for society.”

Aleksandr Ryzhinskiy

Conductor of Gnesin Ensemble 'Altro Coro', Academy of Music, Moscow.International Adjudicator and Clinician.

“Barnsley Youth Choir is one of the most wonderful choirs that I have ever heard! They have energy, artistry and delightful young voices. Above all they have a very professional sound. They have large numbers of remarkable soloists who are vocally talented and have a natural feel on the stage. The main base of this choir is Mathew Wright's talent - the conductor and the man who has created this great choir”

Tony Margeta

Conductor of Adolf Fredriks Music School, Adolf Fredriks Boys Choir and La Cappella International Adjudicator and Clinician.

“Barnsley Youth Choir is an amazing group of dedicated and musically talented young people, singing their hearts out in every performance. Since the first time I heard them in the European Choir Games in Magdeburg 2015 I've had the choir as a role model for my own youth choirs at Adolf Fredriks Music School in Stockholm, Sweden. We've had several fantastic and inspiring exchanges with our choirs and my choir is so inspired of working with BYC. I also learn a lot every time from Mathew Wright, who is a humble, very talented and inspiring conductor.”

MP Dan Jarvis MBE

Member of Parliament for Barnsley Central Major of the Sheffield City Region and Honorary Patron of BYC

“They are wonderful ambassadors for our town. It gives our young people a fantastic opportunity to showcase their talents. I’ve been inspired and impressed by the standards that they have reached”

Professor Dr. Ralf Eisenbeiss

Senior Artistic Director of INTERKULTUR.
Founder and Director of the World Choir Games.
International Adjudicator, Conductor and Lecturer. GERMANY

“I have seldom seen singers that are so dedicated, infectious and heartfelt. All performances in the European Choir Games by Barnsley Youth Choir received standing ovations where it remarkably became Champion, won the Grand Prix Prize and also became the darling of the public. I must speak in high terms of the conductor and Artistic

Laszlo Duranyik

Teacher at the Kodaly School, Kecskement. Director of Miraculum and Aurin Choirs. International Adjudicator and Clinician. Advisor to Barnsley Youth Choir.

“Barnsley Youth Choir is changing the lives of people in Barnsley. Every year they develop more and they are becoming a big attraction. I am very proud of the success that they have had”

 Darren Henley OBE

Chief Executive, Arts Council,

“The talent, commitment and achievements of Barnsley Youth Choir are hugely impressive, and I enjoyed a wonderful evening of uplifting performances”