Unsung hero

In typically modest fashion, Arthur Turner prefers to talk more about the youth choir he established over eight years ago for local children than about himself.

Arthur explains how the choir began: “In July 2003, 35 young people wrote asking me to set up a youth choir. They knew me from another choir I had left and wanted to continue with the style of music and fun we had experienced together. I was so excited at the possibilities of this community choir, without the musical limits placed on some school or church choirs.”

So, with the help of some very enthusiastic parents, the choir started straightaway, with the members choosing the name, IN ACCORD, and registering as a charity.

As well as sharing a love of singing, the choir’s aims include raising money for other charitable causes, which they do at all their concerts.

The choir has a wider age range than most youth choirs, spreading across primary and secondary school years (ages eight to 17).

The music it performs has to be suitable for all ages and it is important to have experienced voices in the full IN ACCORD choir. Therefore, to keep the older ones challenged and interested, those in year 10 and above stay longer at rehearsals, learning to read music and sing unaccompanied.

This older group is called In A Cappella. This smaller group forms strong friendships and performs some very complex arrangements to a high standard. They have even won a local music festival against older groups including a sixth-­form college music department choir.

The choir has its own committee that chooses which charity to raise money for: “We like to know what our money is spent on, so we tend to go for small organisations, usually local or involving children. One of the members of the choir knew of Horsell’s connection with an orphans’ education trust in Malawi through St Mary’s church and Phil Whittick. We have received such excellent feedback from the Mangochi School that the choir have regularly decided to support them again,” says Arthur. “So far, we have raised over £4,000, buying tables and chairs for a complete classroom and finishing a pipeline for fresh water. Earlier this year, we raised £625 for them, which pays for a teacher for three months.”

From the outset, it was important to Arthur that everyone in the choir should take an individual part in the concerts, whether by singing a solo, playing an instrument, or reading an introduction. “I have seen how confidence levels grow in young people who haven’t had the encouragement previously,” he enthuses.

Up to ten schools can be represented in the choir and firm friendships are made through the weekly meetings and the extra events organised. “We always go on a day trip to sing at a Christmas market, usually in Bruges, as is the case this year, and we have twice been on week-­long concert tours, to Paris and the Black Forest, which choir members have said were their best holidays ever!” says Arthur.

Arthur has lived in Horsell since his marriage to Kay in 2003 and, of course, IN ACCORD sang at their wedding. He has lived in the area for most of his adult life, and has been involved with choirs in Woking for almost 25 years.

When asked what he is most proud of, he answers straight away: “I’m most proud of the choir. I am so impressed with their ability to learn so much music and perform it all from memory, and have so much fun on the way. I am such an optimist and love seeing young people committed to something so worthwhile and to their friends.”

The choir is always welcoming new members and Arthur invites anyone interested to come for a rehearsal to see if they would like to join. Contact Arthur Turner on: 01483 772487 or email inaccord@btinternet.com for more details. The next concert is Truly Christmas, which will take place at Christ Church on December 3 at 7.30pm, again raising money for Mangochi School.

Linda Banks

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