Parish church choirs of boys and men within the Church of England are increasingly rare – fewer than a hundred survive – and here in Romsey we believe that this asset should be safeguarded. We also believe that it is right that girls are able contribute to choral music at the Abbey and support no less strongly the work of Romsey Abbey Girls’ Choir.
The Friends of Romsey Abbey Choirs (FORAC) engages families and friends in the life of both choirs and helps them to keep going. Romsey Abbey does not benefit from the relative financial security provided by a choral foundation, as enjoyed by many cathedral choirs.
FORAC’s support, both financial and social, makes possible a range of activities that would be otherwise beyond our means.
The greatest single event in the Abbey Choir’s calendar is the week every summer spent at a different cathedral. Singing services over a week to very high standards and staying together at a local boarding school or youth hostel moulds the choir as a strong team. Recent venues have included Exeter (2008) Peterborough (2007) and Norwich (2006). In 2009, it embarked on a short tour to Belgium. In August 2010, it completed perhaps its most ambitious tour yet, singing in Newcastle Cathedral, Hexham Abbey and Carlisle Cathedral. 2011 took it to Wells. The Girls’ Choir likewise intends to sing further afield in the near future.
Sending a child off on the tour is a significant financial commitment – some families have two or more children in the choirs at any one time – and so FORAC partially subsidises accommodation and excursion costs.
Fundraising throughout the year is thus more necessary than ever. Efforts get off to a flying start each year with the Epiphany Supper, a meal prepared and served by choir mums with military efficiency, which is followed by an choir entertainment. Cake sales, a Quiz Night and other activities also take place throughout the year.
FORAC events are organized by a hard-working committee. Its terms of reference are as follows:
- To strengthen links with the church by encouraging the recruitment of non-singing members and by supporting parish initiatives.
- To encourage social fellowship, by co-ordinating and organizing events, and by communicating through channels including Keynotes, Open Door and the Weekly Bulletin.
- To achieve greater general awareness of the choirs of Romsey Abbey, by publicizing their activities on the Internet, helping to organise singing visits to other locations, both within the diocese and further afield.
- To support the Directors of Music in all aspects of organization, by raising and managing funds in support of choral activities, and by providing a forum for discussion on related non-singing matters.
We keep Friends in touch with both choirs’ achievements and the personal successes of their members via a termly newsletter, eNotes. The current annual subscription to FORAC is £5.00.
We hope you will join us in safeguarding this valuable inheritance. Please contact us; we will be delighted to enrol you.