Did you know that one of the world’s best youth choirs is the Farnham Youth Choir – and that this year the choir is celebrating its 40th birthday?

Over the last four decades, children and teenagers have been inspired to come together to sing at the highest level, initially by Farnham Youth Choir founder David Victor-Smith MBE and now under the direction of Patrick Barrett. The choir has won numerous awards and performed in many of the world’s most prestigious venues.

The celebratory year kicked off with open rehearsals on September 6 and 13, when children and teenagers from school Years 2 to 9 were invited to come along and see what the choir was all about.

If they enjoyed themselves, children in school Years 2 to 4 could immediately join the training choir, and older children could audition for either the junior choir or the senior choir, in which a limited number of places are available.

The choir has a bursary scheme and is keen to include children from all backgrounds.

Celebrations will get fully underway at Farnham Youth Choir’s autumn concert at St Andrew’s Church in Farnham on Saturday, October 14 from 7.30pm to 9pm. Tickets are available from the choir’s website fyc.org.uk

Various Christmas performances will follow, and in March 2024 the choir members will be inviting alumni to join them at a gala concert in London.

The year will culminate in the senior choir jetting off to Auckland in New Zealand to compete in the Interkultur World Choir Games.

Melanie Hancox, co-chair of the Farnham Youth Choir’s trustees, said: “We’re so excited to be sharing our anniversary celebrations with our local community. Farnham Youth Choir has such deep roots in the town and we want to include as many people as possible in our celebrations.”

Farnham Youth Choir’s artistic director Patrick Barrett said: “Our anniversary year is going to be busy, but we’re very happy to have so many brilliant performance opportunities to offer our young people. It’s a great time to join one of our choirs.”

Farnham Youth Choir won its first national competition in 1989 at the National Festival of Music for Youth, then enjoyed international success in 1994 with victory at the Smetana Festival at Litomysil in the Czech Republic.

Other highlights have included twice winning first prize in the Sainsbury Youth Choir of the Year contest, winning competitions in Riva del Garda, Jersey and Montreux, and winning the European Youth Choral Festival in Belgium.

For details about joining visit fyc.org.uk/joinus