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Castle Cary Choir – a brief history


  • Castle Cary Choir was formed in 1965 after a group of worshippers at Castle Cary Methodist Church met up to sing at a harvest supper. They enjoyed it so much that on 21st October 1965 Castle Cary choir was born. Their aim was to entertain and raise money for good causes.

  • The first conductor was Castle Cary baker David Vaux with accompanist Mark Jones.

  • Beryl Vaux and Beth Ashman are the only surviving members of the original choir. Beth only retired in 2013 and retains the title of longest singing member of Castle Cary Choir and was also choir secretary for many years.

  • In September 1976 Ivor Chainey took over as Musical Director and throughout Ivor’s leadership the choir would go on “Singing for Pleasure” days visiting Churches and Cathedrals. They would just wander around, find a special place and spontaneously burst into song! The choir sang in the Bishops Palace and the Gardens of Wells Cathedral. The choir were pioneers of flash mobs which according to Wikipedia were created in Manhattan in 2006!!! 

  • Margaret Somerset was our accompanist on the piano for over 35 years and a talented musician. She was always there for us, for our rehearsals, concerts and many visits to France and is remembered with affection by everyone who knew her.

  • The choir also has strong links with Castle Cary and Ansford Twinning Association and Easter 1985 was the first visit to Rémalard in France. The links with Rémalard are very strong with regular exchange visits. The highlight of singing in France was performing in La Chapelle Montligeon in Easter 2002, one of our many successful visits. 

  • In 1985 the Choir recorded “Celebrations” - its first commercial tape.

  • Each year under Ivor’s directorship the choir sang in competitions including the Mid Somerset Festival, Bath between 1976 and 1987, Trowbridge and West Wilts Festival and the Somerset Arts Festival in 1988 winning many prestigious awards.

  • In 1986 we celebrated the 21st Anniversary of the choir and performed in Sherborne Abbey with the Sherborne Town Band.

  • In October 1991 we sang with the Band of the Welsh Guards at the Guards Chapel, Wellington Barracks and released the cassette tape “Kortall”.

  • In 1995 we performed a concert with visitors from Zambia.

  • In 1999 as part of the French exchange we performed in a concert at Stourhead and a supposedly casual concert in Sherborne Abbey, only to arrive to a full Abbey. A big surprise but the concert was a great success!

  • Dorothy Hann stood in for Ivor when he was ill and then became our musical director in 2000 until November 2009, having sung with us as a soloist at many of our concerts. Dorothy suggested a coffee break on our Monday night rehearsals, which turned out to be a great success enabling us to get to know each other.

  • In 2005 we held our 40th Anniversary concert in Caryford.

  • Martin Emslie took over as musical director in 2010 working with Emma Clarke as accompanist. Martin has introduced many new songs to us and in April 2013 the choir sang at the World Premiere of Omega & Alpha in Wells Cathedral to great acclaim. We then sang an extended version at a charity concert at Haynes Motor Museum in 2014 - challenging but very rewarding!

  • In 2015 it was our 50th Anniversary Celebration at Sherborne Abbey when we sang to a packed Abbey and were accompanied by fine musicians and our good friend Jonathan Ansell who we last sang with at Wells Cathedral. It was a wonderful night enjoyed by all!

  • Many musicians have supported us through our 50 years giving their time, usually free of charge, and special mention must be made of Ken Sherring, Adelaide Brown, John and Desney Candor and Mark Tromans.

  • The choir has sung at hundreds of concerts and raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity. We hope the choir has fulfilled the original goals of the founders of the choir and we look forward to many more enjoyable and successful years.

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