Falkirk choir still in good voice at 90

The Caledonia Choir celebrate a successful concert in Erskine Church in 1949
The Caledonia Choir celebrate a successful concert in Erskine Church in 1949

Falkirk Caledonia Choir marked 90 years of ‘hitting the right note’ with a 
spectacular concert to celebrate its birthday in the town hall last night (Wednesday).

They welcomed guest tenor Jamie MacDougall to the party and, in recognition of 2014 being the Year of Homecoming, his repertoire included a medley of Harry Lauder songs which involved the choir - and an enthusiastic audience too!

The rest of the programme followed the choir’s traditional and well-loved format of songs ranging from Sacred to musicals, folk and pop, opera and Scottish favourites.

During the interval the crowd was able to enjoy a trip down memory lane and view a selection of photographs and programmes from the choir’s varied and successful activities over the last nine decades.

Local music teacher William Gellatly formed what was to become Falkirk Caledonia Choir in December 1924. For two years before that he had been conducting a girls-only choir but then asked if they would want to involve their fathers, brothers - and boyfriends - in a mixed choir. An inaugural meeting was held and Falkirk Select Choir was born.

Mr Gellatly guided his group to success at various music festivals and they were also involved in radio broadcasts during the 1930s. After he died in 1938, the choir continued with an interim conductor before James Fyfe, a member of the tenor section, took charge.

After the Second World War the choir travelled to the BBC in Glasgow to broadcast and record for the Overseas Service. In Falkirk it sponsored concerts and solo recitals and brought the famous Glasgow Orpheus Choir to the town more than once.

The choir became Falkirk Choral Society in 1945 and the Caledonia Choir in 1954 when it was invited to take part in “Hail Caledonia” which showcased Scottish music and dance as part of the Edinburgh International Festival.