Wells Cathedral School’s Year 8 pupil, Belinda Gifford-Guy, is a specialist singer on the school’s celebrated vocal programme. She was recently announced as the 2023 BBC Young Chorister of the Year (Junior category), a prestigious competition organised by Songs of Praise and BBC Radio 2. The judges praised Belinda not only for her wonderful singing, but also for her particular ability to tell a story through her performance. We caught up with her….

How old were you when you discovered your talent for singing?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t sing. There was always music being played and songs being sung, and so I would join in! When I was about five, I joined a children’s choir, in Dorchester Abbey in Oxfordshire, and the choir director told my mum I had a good voice. It all started from there!

Do you come from a musical family?

Yes, I do. Both my parents studied music at university and my mum is a professional singer. She was my first singing teacher.

Who is your favourite singer?

I have two, and I’ve been lucky enough to meet them both recently. Dame Felicity Lott has been my singing idol for years. I love her singing in French and also her Opera roles, such as in Magic Flute. I also really admire Katherine Jenkins because she has an amazing voice and is very kind and elegant.

How did it feel when you were announced the Young Chorister of the Year?

I had watched or listened to Young Chorister since I was small and always wanted to take part. As I moved up through the competition, I hardly dared think I might win, especially as I had made friends with the other choristers who were all brilliant singers. When they announced my name, I was in complete shock! I was so overcome I didn’t know what to say! It was a dream come true and the most magical feeling ever.

What performances and competitions do you have planned for 2024?

I always like to have something to work for! The BBC have said there will be more opportunities to sing with Natalie, the Senior Winner. Apart from that, I’m performing Rutter’s Requiem in July in Surrey, with the Gordon Singers. I’m also taking part in several concerts in school as well as the Taunton Young Singer competition and the Mid-Somerset Festival in Bath.

Do you hope to pursue a musical career? And if so, what would be your dream job?

I would absolutely love to be an opera singer. My dream job would be performing the role of Pamina in Mozart’s Magic Flute at Covent Garden.