The Department of Music is delighted to share news of student success stories for the academic year 2019-20, adding to the illustrious list of graduates from the distinguished University Music programme at the University. 

Undergraduate voice students, Molly O’Toole and Henry Saywell have gained places in Genesis Sixteen, The Sixteen’s prestigious training programme that nurtures the next generation of talented young voices. Following a rigorous six-month audition period, they have been chosen to form part of the 22-strong choir, which represents the finest young singers drawn from across the United Kingdom. Molly, who holds a Birmingham choral scholarship, will graduate this summer with a degree in History, whilst Henry returns to Birmingham to complete his final year in the Department of Music later this year. 

Music student Molly O'Toole in performance

Molly O’Toole performing in The Dragon of Wantley at the Barber Institute

There is also success for Manuel Nickert who has recently completed his MA Music in Choral Conducting. Manuel takes up a post at the Staats- und Domchor Berlin, the boys choir of the Universität der Künste Berlin, and will act as assistant to the Music Director in bringing creative new approaches to singing and rehearsing during the time of pandemic in Germany. Similarly, Augustina Kapoti – a graduate of the programme in 2018 – has been appointed as assistant to George Vass at the St Albans Choral Society. 

Students and conductor stand together in a posed shot

L-R: Harry Hextall, Elizabeth Leather, Bob Chilcott, Hester Wright, Manuel Nickert

Further afield, Blake Clark – graduate of 2015 – has been nominated as a National Finalist for The American Prize in Conducting (Community Division). The American Prize is a series of national competitions designed to recognize and reward the best in the performing arts in the United States – in schools and churches, and at community and professional levels. Blake is currently the Music Director of Baltimore Choral Arts in Maryland.

Choirs and choral training is an integral part of University Music in Birmingham, and offer unrivalled opportunities for young singers and conductors at any university in the UK. For more information, or if you would like to find out more about choirs at University of Birmingham, please contact Gavin Allsop (

Find out what Birmingham singers have been missing about choir during the pandemic.