Inner Voices: Inner-city kids come together to form first-class choir

GregJohnson May 3, 2012 0

In less than six months, a group of school children have gone from being complete strangers to performing together at some of the country’s top venues.

Inner Voices, the name given to the newly-formed choir, is a collection of musically-gifted singers from inner-city London, all of whom have enjoyed remarkable success in the last few months.

The choir, which is made up of 43 teenagers from 11 inner-city schools, recently opened the Mayor of London’s St George’s Day Festival on Trafalgar Square.

To the surprise of some onlookers, perhaps, the group delivered an entertaining 20-minute set, which included an acapella version of Aloe Blacc’s I Need a Dollar.

What made the group’s performance even more impressive, though, is that they barely even knew each other six months earlier, but have quickly developed into a first-class choir.

The group were brought together by two teachers: Edward Watkins, the director of music at the new West London Free School, and Ralph Allwood, the director of music at Eton College.

“I’ve always wanted to create something for the children I teach that would be as good for them as the choir at Eton was for me,” Mr Watkins explained to the Independent.

“The choir was where I made my first meaningful friendships, found my social identity. I saw a possibility for Ralph to do in the state sector what he’d done for pupils at Eton. I see no reason why we shouldn’t have a choir that is as good as those at Eton.”

As one of the leading private schools in the country, Eton has a distinct advantage over state schools in forming musical groups and staging big events.

But the private sector has thrown its support behind Inner Voices, which has some members who had never even sung in front of an audience until the last few months.

The overarching ambition is to create an excellent choir under the tutelage of Mr Allwood, who is an honorary associate of the Royal Academy of Music.

In turn, children from some of the most impoverished areas of the capital will be able to enjoy a life-changing experience.