Tuned in for a musical career

A YOUNG songbird from Cloughcor is on course for a wonderful career as a classical singer.

Thursday, 14th March 2013, 11:00 am
Laura McNutt, is the only junior girl from Northern Ireland to have successfully auditioned to become a member of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. INLS1113-127KM
Laura McNutt, is the only junior girl from Northern Ireland to have successfully auditioned to become a member of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. INLS1113-127KM

Laura McNutt, who is just 12 years old, already has her Grade 7 in singing under her belt - that is roughly equivalent to an A Level for those of us without a note in our heads - and has the voice of an angel.

The daughter of Angela and Gregory McNutt, of Loughnease Avenue, Laura is currently in Year 9 at Thornhill College, and holds the distinction of being the only junior girl from Northern Ireland to have successfully auditioned to become a member of the National youth Choir of Great Britain. The talented young star has also made it through to the third round of The Armagh City Hotel ‘Search For a Star’ Competition - this is the first competition she has really applied, and, fingers crossed, is doing well so far.

As a singer Laura has been stretching herself vocally from a very young age, and began taking lessons formally four years ago.

Prior to that she held the distinction of being a regular winner at the Feis in Strabane.

“Laura won a gold medal every year from nursery to P7 in the Strabane Feis,” said her proud mum.

“She went through to the Sr Ursula Cup Competition in P6, and came second; that was four years ago, and it was at the final that a member of the audience come to me and told me that I should have her voice trained,” she said.

And that is what happened - following Laura’s win at the Feis, while she was still only in Primary 6, her mother, Angela, rang the Western Education and Library Board and put the wheels in motion to have her daughter formally trained. Angela was put in touch with Marcella Robinson-Wright, in Castlederg.

“Marcella was really impressed by Laura and put her through two Grades a year instead of the usual one, and that is why, at the age of just 12, Laura has got her Grade 7,” said Angela.

She continued: “Laura is a member of City of Derry Youth Choir and is the only one from this area to be a member of that choir as well. Her confidence grew singing with them and because of that we researched on the Internet about the National Choir, and were advised by Marcella to apply for Laura to be part of it. That was in October last year. We emailed a track of Laura singing and they were impressed enough that they gave her a bursary to go over to audition at the Birminham Conservatoire in Birmingham University’s music department. She sang Pie Jesu by Andrew Lloyd Webber.”

A nail-biting wait followed.

“We did not find out until January that Laura had made it into the choir. She is the only child in Northern Ireland in that Choir,” said Angela.

The next ‘big’ event on the horizon for Laura happens from April 1 to 7, when she is going to a residential in Oxfordshire to study, and she will receive extensive classical training while away.

A few days after she gets home, on April 14, Laura will be off again to sing in the Albert Hall, London, for the 30th anniversary of the National Choir. She will sing Monteverdi’s ‘Vespers’.

Asked what the McNutt family thought of Laura’s achievements, Angela said: “It is great. Definitely it is a brilliant opportunity for her.”

Certainly Laura’s five siblings are delighted for her - as are her doting grandparents; Bernadette Devine from Burndennett and Deirdre and Michael McNutt from Ardmore in the Waterside.

One thing is for sure, the north west is well on its way to producing yet another big name in music.