Think of singing and you might think of Wales but how about thinking of Somerset. Why? Good question. Somerset Chamber Choir is one of the best known in the county and beyond. Based in the Taunton area the choir has quite a repertoire, ranging from modern music all the way back to hits of the medieval period. They perform two major concerts a year at Wells Cathedral and King’s College Chapel, Taunton but when they are not performing they do not put their feet up but practice, practice, practice.
The Somerset Chamber Choir’s ethos is “Singing is our passion – at the heart of that passion is our believe that life-long singing can transform lives.”
That, of course, is a way of saying that singing is good for your health but is it really?
Gareth Malone, well known for his brilliant choir creations including the Military Wives and many others from all ages and walks of life, revealed, “Yes, singing is definitely good for your health, especially if you have any lung problems. It helps with your breathing and it helps to exercise your inner organs, if you’ll pardon the expression. It is also great for the facial muscles and for general well-being so if you are feeling a bit low start singing and, better still, join a choir!”
That opinion is endorsed by Catherine Mowat, a member of the Natural Voice Practitioners’ Network and a community Sing from the Heart choir leader in Somerset at Taunton and Wells.
“Singing releases tensions, feeds the soul and opens the heart,” said Catherine. “Everyone should sing, it is such a rewarded experience. Learning and remembering the songs is good for the brain and there is always such a great, friendly atmosphere, a family feeling whenever the choir gets together for practice or performance. “
Sing from the heart includes a weekly community choir – the Wood Street Choir – in Taunton and a monthly workshop in Wells. Anyone can go along and join in, there are no auditions, just a friendly atmosphere with everyone making friends through music and singing. The repertoire is not restricted to the well-known choir favourites but includes traditional songs from around the world as well as pop classics.
The Avon and Somerset Constabulary Male Voice Choir has been singing together since 1974 and is made up of retired and active police officers. How do they get away with being a ‘male’ voice choir in today’s world. Simple, only male voices work in a male voice choir but to help make the music there are choir conductor and musical director Marysia Gorska-Saj and accompanists Alison Howell and Sheila Rice on hand to keep the boys in order.
The Blackdown Community Choir consists of an enthusiastic group of singers many who have been meeting since it all began in 2002. All are there for the fun of it and most enjoy the performance too. The choir attracts people from Wellington and the surrounding area including the Blackdown Hills, Taunton, the Quantocks, Milverton, mid and East Devon.
Wellington certainly seems to have been one of the most influential areas in music and singing for many years. Concerts have been held in Wellington since at least the mid-1800s. In December 1855, William Manley, the schoolmaster at the town’s National School, together with Henry Crowe, a cornet player who was also the manager of the local gas works, presented their first concert at Wellington Town Hall. William Manley’s concerts became an annual event and in 1871 he founded, and was the first conductor of, the Wellington Harmonic Society.
Later, in 1940, Andrew Brunton, a well-known and popular local tenor who had performed in many concerts in Somerset and beyond, revived the dormant Harmonic Society and renamed it the Wellington Choral Society which is where they are today and performing electrifying concerts.
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