In the run up to Valentine's Day, we asked five couples who sing together in the choir about their shared love of music and the role it has played in their relationships.
Cynthia's musical journey with Richard Prince
Cynthia credits her interest in classical music to the 30-year association with husband Richard, who has run a number of choirs in and around Royston, including the Royston Choral Society itself.
Their musical tastes are quite different - Cynthia came relatively late to classical music having previously been into pop and folk. A growing appreciation of choral music inspired Cynthia to 'have a go' with the Royston Choral Society, but she still very much regards herself a novice. "I'm learning, I'm not a singer. I do a lot of mouthing, but I enjoy coming and I'm getting better as the years go by."
That both Cynthia and Richard sing in the same choir gives them a shared experience that provides a topic of conversation. Any reluctance to attend a rehearsal on Cynthia's part only arises when she finds the music difficult. But she praises other singers for their support "Andrew [the choir's Musical Director] doesn't make you feel as though you're no good. And the people around me know I'm not really a great singer and they help me. If I'm not too confident it doesn't seem to matter here."
I'm interested to know if having such a musical husband helps Cynthia practice between rehearsals? "No" she says emphatically "I may occasionally sit down with the piano, but only when Richard isn't there, because he'll point out the wrong notes. But that's OK."
Cyril and Sylvia Harris - always keen to come
Cyril and Sylvia, from Litlington near Royston, have sung in the choir together for over 18 years. Their shared love of singing dates back to the church choir.
Our tastes in music differ says Cyril "Sylvia's more into classical music than I am. I was very involved with folk music at one time, I sang in a group and played a 5-string banjo (since passed on to my son)."
"Unless one of us is ill, we never need to encourage each other to attend rehearsals - we enjoy singing so much and it's good for you - we're always keen to come."
Ann and Nick Keep - a shared interest in music
Ann and Nick have been singing in the choir for 25 years; both were interested in music when they first met. "Nick used to play a lot of trumpet in his youth" notes Ann. And musical differences are resolved amicably "We listen to each other's music and express our opinions freely." And the advantages of singing in the same choir? "It means we're in the same place together. And one partner can encourage the other if one of us is reluctant to come to a rehearsal. It's also useful for practicing together at home."
Peter and Linda Harris - we love singing together
Peter and Linda have been singing together in the choir for "not far off 10 years". Peter was interested in music first, singing 30, 40s close harmony. "Then Linda joined" he notes "but she had always been interested in that kind of music." They have a similar taste in music "I've got her interested in jazz now - our musical interests have harmonised over the years." says Peter with a smile.
"Singing in the same choir has advantages - shared travel and being out on the same evening avoids diary clashes, and the sheer joy of doing things together." Except when illness dictates otherwise, both Peter and Linda are equally keen about attending rehearsals - they don't need encouragement. "We do everything together" says Linda.
"We love singing - and it's very good for you - and we love Royston because it's such a friendly group - and we've got a lot of other singing groups to compare with. The first night we came we were made to feel very welcome."
Lindsay and Melanie Dawson-Dew - growing together
In common with all couples interviewed for this short series, music seems to have played no part in bringing Lindsay and Melanie together, but they do admit to a 'crossover' in their musical tastes. "We've also grown to like things together which is lovely" adds Melanie.
Lindsay and Melanie's advice to other couples thinking of singing in the choir is simple and direct: "Just do it, come along, you'll enjoy it." Both partners agree it's the great sense of achievement that attracts them. Melanie in particular enjoys "Being pushed to do things I would never dream of singing and to be introduced to music I've never even heard of."
Lindsay sums up his appreciation of the Royston Choral Society "Good company, good singing; we sometimes surprise ourselves with the level we achieve."
Choral couples: Linda and Peter Harris, Nick and Ann Keep, Sylvia and Cyril Harris, Lindsay Dew and Melanie Dawson-Dew