If you don’t spend a lot of time around young people it’s easy to have your judgement clouded by the constant stream of negative stories in the media, but do you ever stop to think just how different it is to be ‘young’ in this current society?
For most young people a car is out of their reach due to escalating extortionate insurance costs, owning your own house is a dream you may never see fulfilled (always room at your parents?), university is the norm where you can rack up debts of over £40,000 to find, when you finally leave, that your dream job may not even exist, exam pressure from a very young age and a constant stream of images and words reminding you just how well everyone else is doing in life (or so they would have you believe).
But its not all negative. Schools now offer a wide range of opportunities to their pupils from guitar lessons to steel drums – musicians at my school (and no the world was not in black and white then!) aimed for the dizzy heights of a descant recorder or if you were an exceptional student you might even get to try a clarinet! Sports now include karate, extreme frisbee and dodgeball, there are knitting clubs, chess, school newspapers… Outside of school you can pay to learn and take part in almost anything you could think of, your friends are available almost 24 hours a day via social media, mobiles and gaming - the future is indeed limitless if you have the drive, opportunities and ambition.
Ollie Lambert is a prime example of a 21st century young man driven to succeed. Ambitious and creative, still studying at the Royal Northern College of Music, and only in his twenties, he is already an accomplished composer, arranger and vocalist, performing and having his work performed across the country. He doesn’t wait for someone to offer him an opportunity instead he goes out and actively seeks his own.
His latest project is an 8 piece a-capella vocal ensemble, ‘The Apex Singers’, who will be launched to the world this summer. Currently working together on a project called ‘Hiraeth’ -a Welsh word meaning ‘nostalgia’ – a deep longing for home – Ollie wants to take rarely heard folk songs from around the world and bring them to a brand new audience.
In this digital world there is much more to any role and, as musical director of a newly formed vocal group, Ollie is responsible for not only assembling the group, arranging the songs and directing the rehearsals, but also designing their website and establishing a social media presence. In order to achieve this Ollie needed photographs, but with a limited budget he needed to be ‘creative’ and this is where we enter the story.
Thanks to a mutual contact we found ourselves in Manchester on a cold, dark November evening meeting Ollie and the Apex Singers for the very first time.
Rehearsals take place inside the architecturally stunning building that is the RNCM, brimming with singers and musicians socialising, rehearsing, studying – it felt liked we’d walked into an episode of the Kids from Fame! (showing our age here once again…didn’t see many legwarmers though!).
Mostly new to the requirements of becoming social media stars, there was some initial apprehension about being the sole subject of numerous photographs – not everyone has the desire to be in the limelight and probably most people would choose to hide themselves at the back of any photo (or, if they’re really clever, choose to be the photographer and then you never have to appear on one!). Once the nerves and initial awkwardness were out the way, thanks to the support and guidance of group member Gabriel (who had very obviously done this before!) everyone began to relax and returned to the corridor photo booth (always use all available spaces!) multiple times.
As the night progressed, everyone had an idea for the next shot, which got more elaborate each time! It was apparent we were surrounded by a college full of fellow creatives as no one even glanced at the members of the group striking their best poses on staircases and doorways or draping themselves over balconies. Every available space was used in order to get that perfect series of photos to help the Apex Singers establish their online presence. Coupled with a series of individual headshots for each member and their musical director Ollie, we managed to take over 500 shots during the evening and were delighted with the results.
So, if you’re reading this, why not pay a visit to their website www.theapexsingers.com or follow them on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Meet sopranos Lydia and Sophie, altos Niamh and Ophelia, tenors Gabriel and Matt, and bass singers George and Elliot who all share a love of choral singing and folk music and together make up the Apex Singers. Read all about their future plans and sign up to their newsletter to stay informed.
Why not support the dreams of these talented young people at the very start of what will no doubt be a glittering career, follow their social media accounts (just search for The Apex Singers) and while you’re there you can have a look at our photos!
In the words of rapper Fort Minor:
"This is ten percent luck
Twenty percent skill
Fifteen percent concentrated power of will
Five percent pleasure
Fifty percent pain
And a hundred percent reason to remember the name"
Life and other