A Bedford School boy has won BBC Young Chorister of the Year after wowing the judges at yesterday’s final at Gorton Monastery in Manchester.
Alexander Olleson appeared on BBC One last night (Sunday), impressing the expert judges, including composer John Rutter, former Chorister of the Year winner, Laura Wright and Carl Jackson.
And after he was presented with the award, Alexander performed with Aled Jones and Katherine Jenkins.
14-year-old Alexander joined Bedford School in September on a music scholarship, but has been singing in his local parish church choir since the age of six.
He later moved to be a chorister at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, where he sang with the world-renowned choir for five years. He now sings in the Chapel Choir at Bedford School.
Ahead of Sunday, all finalists took part in a masterclass with singers Aled Jones and Katherine Jenkins.
“Having the masterclass was really fun,” said Alexander. “[Aled] reacted to my singing really well and gave me a couple of tips about engaging with the audience and not putting my hands in my pockets.”
Following Alexander’s final performance, the judges were unanimous in their praise.
Aled Jones said, “He’s the choirboy I wish I’d been. Those glorious top notes send shivers down your spine.”
Laura Wright said she was very impressed and noticed that Alexander had improved even since last week’s semi-final.
“Beautifully handled as a lullaby; you’ve got me,” said Carl Jackson. “A voice for 2020; angelic but you’re a human being as well.”
Alexander said his years of singing experience gave him the confidence to put in a good performance.
He said that although he loves soloing in the choir, it is the team spirit and camaraderie of singing together that he really enjoys.
“Singing as a soloist is something I have done for years as a chorister but when you are in a choir you feel as if you are singing as one body,” he said.
“You also have that team spirit, if one of you has a howler and hits a wrong note, the rest of the team can correct it.
“I think that’s what really makes the music so special, because you are all acting as one.”
Jonathan Sanders, Bedford School’s Director of Music, who leads the Chapel Choir where Alexander sings as one of 35 boys from eight different year groups, said: “I was delighted to hear that Alexander had won the competition.
“Alexander is at a transitional moment in his education, having enjoyed the amazing opportunity of having been a cathedral chorister, and is now embarking on his senior schooling.
“Winning the competition will give him some amazing opportunities to work with professional musicians, both singers and instrumentalists, which will provide him good insights into the world of professional music-making, even in these unprecedented COVID times.”