How it all began…………
I have always loved music and sing all the time (much to my children’s horror when they were younger) and wanted to learn more about classical music, particularly as one of my young grandsons is a gifted pianist. In June 2010 I formed a music group as a sub group of Beaminster Women’s Institute where, at the time, I was Vice President. That Group met regularly to listen to and discuss all types of music. It quickly became apparent that the members of that group also wanted to sing and so in March 2011 I began to look into the possibility of forming another small group with friends who just wanted to sing for the joy of singing. After chatting with others a few of us decided to form a steering group to look into the possibility of forming, maybe, a small choir who would meet regularly for fun.
Jean Beswarick, Carol Dixon, Elaine Hendrickson, Jeanette Lowe and myself (Maggie Warnett) became that steering group and in the next few months we began the process of trying to get funding and to organise ourselves into a Community Choir unrelated to the WI of which we were, at the time, all members.
Elaine designed T shirts and purchased them together with a banner, she also suggested that we call the choir Raucous Chorus – as WI members we had been accused of singing Jerusalem too raucously and upsetting the local councillors who met in the other room of the building we were using. Carol started seeking funding for our start up costs, Jean looked into the constitution and together we formed a business plan. We decided we needed a professional Musical Director and Jenny Broom was recommended to us. We interviewed Jenny and immediately thought she would be perfect as she seemed to think along the same lines as we did. We wanted the choir to be open to anyone, there to be no auditions, no need to read music and no need to sign up or come to every meeting. We just wanted to sing together with like minded people for the joy of it.
Sadly, after contributing a lot of technical advice, Jean decided to step down from the committee, and over the years both Carol and Elaine have stepped back while Jeanette has moved to a different area. Over the years, several people have contributed to the small team which organises the choir.
Our debut night was September 7th 2011 and as we set up the hall and put out a few chairs we guessed that, maybe, we might have around 30-40 interested people turn up. That night, to our amazement, 69 people arrived and we had the most wonderful evening singing our hearts out. Jenny was all we had hoped for, calm, patient and full of fun.
Raucous Chorus was born and is here to stay.
The learning process began – now we are about to celebrate our 10 year anniversary. We have a membership of over 300 and regularly have around 60 -80 people attend our weekly meetings.
The thing we all love most about this choir is that it has become so much more than just the chance to sing. Friendships have been made, people who have been unwell or, in fact, are recovering from serious illness are finding it a huge support and we still miss Jamie, our youngest member, who has grown up and moved on to adulthood.
Although we never planned to perform we have raised money for Weldmar, BAVLAP Dementia week and Macmillan and have entertained the town and our friends and families as part of The Beaminster Festival, at Christmas around the tree in The Square and at various tea parties and carol sessions put on for our families.
Maggie, September 2021
PS Although one of our watchwords is ‘informality’, we are set up in a fairly conventional way with a committee, a (brief!) annual general meeting, and a constitution (or set of ‘rules’) which can be found here.