Big honour for gifted Ripon Grammar School music student

A gifted Ripon Grammar School musician has won a coveted place at the highly competitive Junior Royal Northern College of Music after a challenging day-long audition.

James Kitchingman, from Burton Leonard, almost missed out after only finding out about the prestigious course in Manchester – a joint study of piano and voice – more than three months after the closing date for applications.

The 16-year-old, who has been playing the piano and singing since he was five, said: “They tested me quite a lot throughout the day, I had to sing and join in ensemble work. And there was no clear indication of whether I would get in or not.

“But I got such a good feel of the environment and the people and the very high standards of musicianship, I just knew immediately I definitely wanted to go there. When I got the letter offering me the place I was delighted.”

He is now looking forward to working with internationally acclaimed musicians every week to help him develop his musical potential.

“I feel very privileged and I am really excited about it,” he said.

James, who has achieved his Grade 8 in both treble voice and piano and more recently Grade 6 in tenor voice, enjoys singing in various choirs including the York Chapter House Youth Choir and Ripon Grammar Chamber Choir.

He has also performed with the National Youth Choir and Opera North Youth Choir and was a chorister at Ripon Cathedral, where he performed many solos, for seven years. As well as playing the trumpet in school brass ensembles and Jazz Trio, he frequently accompanies other students and groups on the piano.

“I was brought up with music,” said James. “It wasn’t my choice to start but I have really embraced it and music is a central part of my life now.”