“Robert Clark was a Musselbugh man who, at the age of 16, in 1959, started a Concert Party for local kids and I was fortunate enough to be in the very first concert he put on in 1960 (aged 7). He ran it uninterrupted and constantly for 50 years and was honoured by his home town on April 2009 by being named Musselburgh Citizen of the Year. A presentation was to be made by Tom Farmer and the Community Council who run the event, asked if I, as Leader, would like to arrange a surprise for him and get together an improptu choir.
I managed to contact people from each decade of the Concert Party’s 50 years – from the 50’s to the present day kids – and totally unknown to Robert, we held a couple of secret rehearsals – and performed for him on the night. Everyone was really thrilled at the blend of voices in the choir and we had enjoyed the experience so much, it was decided we would meet on a monthly basis to socialise and sing.
Tragically, Robert died very suddenly and unexpectedly in October 2009. A reunion of the Concert Party had been planned for November 2009 – our 50th anniversary – and the committee decided to carry on with our plans – difficult though this was – but we all knew this is what he would have wished. Our impromptu choir of different generations sang at this evening and once again, were met with glowing praise for our efforts.
We formed a steering committee and decided to make our choir official – we were going to go public! In January 2010, the Clark Community Choir was born – with our Tagline being “Generations Singing Together.” Robert’s ethos was to take the Concert Party out into the community – to sheltered housing, nursing homes, hospitals, senior citizen clubs and not charge anyone a penny for doing this – neither our audiences NOR the members pay anything. We have adopted this same attitude – no-one pays anything – we are extremely fortunate as we had free rehearsal space within our local church – St Ninian’s at the time. However, the church closed last year and after an appeal, we were offered space – again for free at the Gothenburg Pub in Prestonpans. We are extremely grateful to them for this and in return, hold our social evenings in the pub and encourage all our friends to go there to eat and drink (they won East Lothian’s Pub Grub of the Year this year). They even make us tea and coffee on our rehearsal evenings!!
Since 2010, we have gone from strength to strength with a membership of 70. We opened up the choir to the general public by advertising in the local newspaper, Facebook etc and urge people to come along – there are no auditions, no pressure- just a guaranteed enjoyable couple of hours on a Sunday evening twice a month. We ask that you bring your families if they are interested – my own family has 3 generations in the choir – my Dad and his sister, me and my sister – and my daughter who is our Musical Director and a Musical Genius (not just my words!!).
Everyone is welcome – no matter what your ability is – we sing because we enjoy it – not because we are all wonderful singers and we believe we are unique in our concept of bringing Generations Together – all because of one very special man – Robert Clark who believed every child was talented and who nurtured and introduced thousands of children over 50 years to the joy of music and drama in all its forms. We strive to carry on his vision.
Anyone who is interested in joining us can find out when our rehearsals are by visiting our websitehttp://www.clakcommunitychoir.