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History of The Arun Sounds
The chorus began very simply when June Bryant, who was to become our first Musical Director, was asked in 1981 if she was interested in starting a Barbershop Chorus. An advertisement was placed in the local paper in May, inviting any ladies who liked to sing to attend an evening at the Regis Centre, (as it then was), in Bognor Regis and Crawley chorus were invited to perform. Excited by the wonderful sound, many came back the following week, which then became the first official meeting of those interested in joining.
Over the months songs were learnt, a committee formed, new friendships flourished and the chorus took part in their first show in the November. The following year the chorus and husbands were invited to Italy where they not only demonstrated their new-found harmonies but were also treated to a beautiful performance by the local choir in Selva, a little village in the Dolomites. Travelling by coach continued the bonding between members as they journeyed through France, Belgium and Austria, staying overnight on the Rhine – a trip long remembered by those early members.
The chorus then joined LABBS and since then have competed in virtually all the National Conventions, travelling the length and breadth of the country to various universities and conference centres.
Membership over the years has fluctuated naturally, starting at around 30, rising to almost 40, declining at one point to 13 and for the last few years has held steady at around 20, thus making the chorus one of the smaller ones competing at Convention. The variation in membership has not prevented success as the chorus has now won the Small Chorus Trophy no fewer than six times.
Madeleine Branson took over as Musical Director in 1997, twice winning the Small Chorus Trophy and achieving the best score to date by getting into the ‘Top 10’ in 2001. The chorus was also delighted to win the Ladies Championship in Ireland during an enjoyable weekend in Cork. Quartet work benefits the chorus too as each member has to be solid in their part with no one else to rely on for notes! Many quartets have been formed over the years, representing the chorus at convention with some nail-biting performances – we’re very proud of them.
Time has also been given to taking part in Harmony College, education days, training by various barbershop coaches, fundraising events and socials with other choruses – so you can see that Barbershop singing is not just a wonderful musical hobby that gives us pleasure in its creation, but something that we can give and share with others and has become a way of life for the chorus members.