History

The story began in March 1865 when Cupar Amateur Musical Society was formed and when one considers that the American Civil War ended in the same month, some idea of the longevity of the "Choral" is placed in perspective.
The stated purpose of this Association was to invite all the vocalists in the town into one Association whose object was "the cultivation of glees, quartets and classical music". The inclusion of the latter gave a new dimension to choral repertoire, beyond the singing of occasional anthems.

Rehearsals were held in the upper room of the Corn Exchange before the building of the first storey, as it is today.

The conditions of membership are an interesting facet of how interest in the new Association might be stimulated. Ordinary members subscription was set at ten shillings and sixpence: those who could afford it were invited to become Associate members paying one guinea which would enable them to attend all the meetings and entitle them to the usual associate privileges. In addition there was a reduction in the fee for any member of an associate's family who wished to join. The editor of the Fifeshire Journal stated that, "there are many in Cupar, a score at least, who, if they cannot sing themselves can pay to keep others singing and go out and hear them," - an early form of sponsorship. Membership, however, was not confined only to enthusiasm and the ability to pay, e.g. any new members had to certified as eligible by at least three ordinary members. Musical qualifications were even more stringent. What was demanded was, "a complete knowledge of music, correctness in time and intonation, and some degree of practice in singing both solo and concerted music". Such a tall order as this leads one to speculate on the standard of resident and visiting teachers of music and of precentors in church choirs - unaided at this time by organs in churches. Without and tradition in choral singing apart from glees and madrigals, and psalmody in the churches generally criticised as undisciplined - although improving - the strict requirements for membership seem to be very much in the tradition of Victorian aspiration.
Extracted from Choral Singing in Cupar and District by Robert Smith

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