Upbeat: Catch them young

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The Independent Culture
TEN years old last weekend, the British Federation of Young Choirs celebrated with one of its mammoth Singing Days. Upwards of 750 singers from all over the country packed into De Montfort Hall, Leicester, to roar forth in a shamelessly triumphal repertoire of coronation anthems and odes by Handel and Elgar, conducted by Sir David Willcocks. Behind the pomp lies a tireless activism. It was the BFYC that came up a couple of years ago with figures to confirm everybody's worst fears about the decline of singing in schools, discovering among other things that 85 per cent of 4,000 primary and secondary schools replying to a questionnaire had no singing in their curriculum.

Profile-raising is one of its tasks, but the organisation of vivid come- and-sing events remains at the core - 'a celebration of the fact that young people want to sing,' says the BFYC's secretary Andrew Fairbairn, 'and of the many teachers who do give so much time and energy to encouraging young people to sing.' More singing days are in hand next season for Dundee, Durham and Liverpool.