In 2007 John Stone, head of drama at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, founded the andante chamber choir. Now, 10 years later, the 32 strong choir is celebrating a decade of a-cappella singing.
“It is hard to believe that it’s 10 years since I gathered a small group of local singers together to create an a-cappella choir that would share my choral enthusiasms for masses, motets and madrigals, part and folk songs, choral versions of orchestral favourites and pop material, as well as new works,” said John.
“We how have a 32-voice choir, divided into eight sections, which gives 10 concerts/musical events a year.
“Collaborating with poet Arthur’s parsons over the years has personally proved richly rewarding, together with actor/reader Mike Young.
“Our venues have included the wonderful acoustics of St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, Brinkburn Priory and Dunfermline Abbey, St Asaph Cathedral in North Wales, churches in Newcastle and Haddington, and many more local venues such as the Chapter House at Dryburgh Abbey.
“But the real highlight is our development as a mature amateur arts organisation and the creation of a choir which is genuinely a group of friends able to support each other and many local and national charities.
“The willingness of members to give of their choral skills, time and money, as well as individual specialist skills, in pursuit of these aims is wonderful.”
Probably one of the most challenging projects for andante was when they became involved in a project led by Historic Scotland to bring to life an 800-year-old fragment of medieval music discovered among archives at Hawick’s Heritage Hub.
The collections of papers belonged to the Rutherford family of Knowesouth, near Jedburgh and became known as the Hawick Missal Fragment. The choir collaborated with Dr Matthew Cheung, lecturer of music at University College Oxford, and four contemporary composers who produced interpretations of the Fragment, which andante performed at the abbeys in Melrose, Kelso and Jedburgh.
“Since 2007 we have raised more than £20,000 for charity through 100-plus concerts,” explained John.
“We particularly love to sing for charities that members are involved in or care deeply about.”