Cupar Choral Society

There have been choirs performing in and around Cupar since the 1800s. One – the Cupar Choral Society – is coming up to its 55th anniversary this year, and we caught up with choir member, Sue Cookson, to discover more …

In March 1865, Cupar Amateur Musical Society was formed. Their purpose was to invite all vocalists into one group to deliver “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.

The conditions of membership? Sue explains: “Ordinary member’s subscription was 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 associate privileges. There was a reduction in the fee for any member of an associate’s family who wished to join.

And there was a type of sponsorship too: the editor of the Fifeshire Journal reported: “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.” Membership was not set by enthusiasm and the ability to pay. New members had to be certified as eligible by at least three ordinary members, and 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“. Quite a tall order!

In 1967, the Cupar Choral Society as we know it today was constituted. This September, it will celebrate its 55th anniversary as a thriving local choir with members from Cupar and the surrounding area. Sue says: “We meet on Monday evenings from September to April in St Johns Church hall, and perform a Christmas concert in December and a spring concert in April.

That concert – where they performed Schubert’s Mass in G and Durufle’s Requiem – has just taken place. The choir now takes a well-earned break – returning to rehearsals on the 5th September in preparation for their Christmas concert. Sue adds: “The repertoire is predominantly classical. Everyone is welcome, the ability to read music is helpful but there are no auditions. We are a sociable and friendly group and always welcome new members!” Their main aim is to perform choral works to a high standard, but to achieve this through rehearsals which are fun, enjoyable and supportive of all involved.

The Society has an enthusiastic musical director, Michael Segaud, who “inspires us to do our best!

Michael has been musical director of the Cupar Choral Society since 2017. He was educated at Strathallan School in Perthshire and won a scholarship to study at the Royal Northern College of Music, where he completed both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in performance. He has conducted a number of choral societies as well as performing with the Halle orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and the Manchester Philharmonic Choir. He currently teaches strings at Ardvreck School in Crieff, and is completing a teacher-training course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Michael is supported by Kate Doig, the Society’s rehearsal accompanist. A native of Cupar, Kate was educated at Bell Baxter High School and RSAMD (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) and on qualifying she took up a teaching post at her former school. After a family break, she worked as a peripatetic music teacher in primary schools in Fife and Dundee, during which time she was always involved in music in the wider community including being a founder of Cupar Junior Opera.  She took on the positions of musical director and accompanist with Cupar Amateur Musical Society. She is much sought-after as accompanist for many local organisations. Currently Kate is, as well as our accompanist, organist at Ceres Parish Church.

As with all who feature on our Blog, we asked the question of what would you recommend to someone visiting Cupar for the first time – or for the first time in a long time: “A visit to some of the specialist shops such as Fisher & Donaldson and Luvians as well as to enjoy time at Caulders Garden Centre that also has a very good cafe!” We’re singing from the same hymn sheet on that one!


Need more?

The Choral Society is a mixed voice choir. They rehearse on Monday evenings (7.30 till 9.30) at St John’s Church Hall, in order to perform two concerts a year. New members are welcome to join within the first three weeks of either concert period. If you would like to join, please contact their Secretary, Sheila, on 01334 656976 or email via this link.

More information can be found on their Facebook pageYou can also visit their website.


Get involved …

The Society is one of more than 85 community groups that exist in Cupar covering so many pastimes and activities. Arts, charities, churches, culture & tourism, dance, education & training, the environment, health & wellbeing, music, photography, sports and leisure. There is something for everyone – and you can find links and contact information to all of them through CuparNow’s Community Directory. Just click on the image below …

Thanks for reading!