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History of MK Youth Choir

MK Youth Choir in 1999 with John Gibbons

MK Youth Choir was founded in 1997 by members of MK Chorale with a National Lottery funding. They originally shared both Musical Director, John Gibbons, and accompanist Rowena Taylor, with MK Chorale.  Most of the initial members were children or grandchildren of Chorale members. Since then, hundreds of children have sung with the choir and many have gone on to enjoy singing professionally or in significant amateur roles.

In 2001 David Kirby-Ashmore took over as MD, with accompanist Lydia Lake, followed by accompanist Mark Lindsell from 2003.  In 2010 Stuart Dunlop became MD for a short time while the choir sought a permanent MD, with Penny Miller as accompanist. Later that year Craig McLeish became MD. Penny and Craig have been with us ever since.

MKYC has collaborated with a number of adult choirs and singers such as MK Chorale, Cornerstone Chamber Choir, Polymnia, MK Community Choir, Leagrave Singers, Jacqui Dankworth and Charlie Wood and The Reluctants. 

We have also held concerts with other youth groups such as MK Music Centre (Youth brass, Proteus strings, String Orchestra, Intermediate Choir), Stantonbury Chamber choir, MK Youth Opera, HfMDK Jazz & Pop-Choir and VOComany from Germany.

Singing larger scale works has meant that the choir have performed with several orchestras including Chamber Orchestra of London, Stantonbury Music Centre Phoenix Orchestra, Wolverton Light Orchestra and Gilbert & Sullivan Society, MK City Orchestra, Ariella Strings and Olney Brass. 

The choir’s concerts have supported a number of charities in its 21 years including Phoenix Lodge, Salvation Army, Friends of Chernobyl’s Children, HOMSA, Willen Hospice, Headway MK, Emily’s Star and the MK Hospital.  It has made a number of locally produced CDs from 2005, including recordings of Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols and David Kirby-Ashmore’s English translation of songs from the film Les Choristes (2006) as well as some tracks on a CD Music for Solemn Occasions in 2016.  The choir participated in Songs of Praise at Christ the Cornerstone in 2011. 

MKYC took part in its first Youth Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall in 2017 and sang at the National Music for Youth Festival in Symphony Hall Birmingham in July 2018.  It has won awards in the Milton Keynes Festival of the Arts a number of times as well as at Bedford Music Festival.

Milton Keynes Youth Choir celebrated its 21'st Birthday in 2018 with a concert and party in July at Christ the Cornerstone - it's original home.


As a Youth Choir our membership fluctuates in numbers and mix. We are currently building up a well balanced Choir and a talented Chorale  who both achieved distinctions and first place in category at the MK Festival of the Arts 2019.

Recently MKYC has celebrated it's 25th birthday with a performance at the St. Mary & St. Giles Church in Stony Stratford in July 2022.

John Gibbons, the first conductor of MKYC, told us about founding the choir at our 21st birthday concert.

Highlights have included

Staged performance of Eloise 1999

Camping at Clifton Reynes 2001

First CD 2005

Les Choristes CD 2006

Singing at Brasserie Blanc 2007

Songs of Praise 2011

Performances with German Youth Choirs (HfMDK Jazz & Pop-Choir and VOCompany) 2015

Recording of contribution to Music for Solemn Occasions CD 2016

Supporting Jacqui Dankworth and Charlie Wood in Just You Just me tour (in MK) 2016

Youth Messiah (first time) 2017

National Music For Youth Festival 2018

21st Birthday Concert 2018

Some snapshots from the history of MKYC

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