Ashill Harmony Community Choir;
For members of Ashill Harmony community choir, it is about so much more than just singing, writes Rachel Buller
Since Ashill Harmony Community Choir started two years ago, it has brought people together, given them the confidence to sing their hearts out and boosted village spirit. It now has more than 30 members of all ages and, after a number of public performances, this month sees them face their toughest challenge yet.
“Like so many other people, I very much see Gareth Malone as my inspiration,” says founder Heather Dack. “I really love the idea of getting a community together, helping people get to know one another and giving them confidence to try something new. It is so much more than just a choir. Many of our members hadn’t sung since school so the first performance was very nerve-wracking for them, but the euphoria when it finished was amazing.”
Heather, who runs two school choirs and is a music teacher at Northgate High School in Dereham, had long dreamed of starting a choir, but it was a chance meeting which inspired her to start a community choir.
“I decided to do a choral directors’ course in London and there were 30 or so people from all over the country there. It turned out that one of those fellow students was a lady from Ashill. She ran a church choir in Watton, so of course we got talking and it made me think not only about setting up my own choir, but also about how little we often know people within our own community. I called a meeting, advertising it in the village magazine, and 13 people turned up. I couldn’t believe it. Like many, I work outside of the village so didn’t know many people. It has been fantastic to make friends, I run into them walking their dogs with their earphones on, listening to their backing tracks and learning words,” she says.
The choir has performed at various events in the area and this month, the singers will take centre stage at a special First World War commemorative concert.
“My husband’s grandfather, Sam Dack, fought at the Somme, and before he died, an audio recording was made of him talking about his experiences in the war. They are moving, funny and fascinating. As part of the concert, we will also be playing excerpts of those recordings, which will be very special.”
“I really love the idea of getting a community together, helping people get to know one another and giving them confidence to try something new. It is so much more than just a choir”
Ashill Harmony Community Choir conductor Heather Dack