About Us

Blackdown Community Choir consists of an enthusiastic group of singers many who have been meeting since 2002, for fun and some performance.  The choir draws people from Wellington and the surrounding area including the Blackdown Hills, Taunton, the Quantocks, Milverton, mid and East Devon.

The choir is very popular with a membership of 50-70 members, and is now at full capacity; but is open to new members if spaces become available. You can join whatever your age, from 16 upwards, and we attempt to ensure all venues are accessible. We meet to sing!

Where and When?

Meets most Thursday evenings during term times at St John’s Church, Wellington, Somerset 7.30 – 9.15 pm.


The choir sings rousing songs in glorious unaccompanied harmony, for the sheer joy of singing! All kinds of songs from around the world are sung, as well as traditional songs from these shores – from folk to French, American to African, Georgian to gospel, pop to pavanes. The atmosphere is deliberately informal – people feel welcome and unpressurised.

Each session starts with a warm-up which includes non-strenuous physical and vocal activities and breathing activities, and then moves on to rounds & short songs. Longer or more complex songs are introduced gradually, building up the harmony parts until everyone is confident.


Blackdown ChoirThe choir was started in 2002 by Gabrielle Newman-Turner who initially ran it as an evening class – Successful Singing – at Court Fields School in Wellington. The choir was then run as an independent choir under Gabbi’s leadership until her retirement in summer 2010.



Caroline Rigby

Caroline Rigby then took on the role of musical director. Under her leadership the choir moved to our current rehearsal rooms, adopted a committee structure to run the administrative side and developed a website. The choir size stabilised to around fifty to sixty members who learnt a wide range of songs types from around the world under her leadership. Caroline retired in July 2017.



Musical Director

our Musical Leader

Our current musical director  is Claire Stronach.

I am Somerset born and bred, so it is very special for me to be leading the wonderful Blackdown Community Choir in the town where I went to school and first discovered my love of singing.

At school I was classically trained, studying voice and violin and later continued my training in New York with a tutor from the Metropolitan Opera.  Following a degree in Performing Arts I then went on to work in theatre for many years.

I have loved singing all of my life, but it was only when I trained as a Natural Voice practitioner that I felt I had found my musical ‘home’, and I am passionate about this approach.

For me, the Natural Voice is about welcoming all, celebrating the unique voice you were born with and the utter joy of singing together in a fun, relaxed and non-judgmental environment.

This coming term I have some wonderful songs from near and far that I am sure we will have great fun learning; including a fabulous Romani song to get our teeth into!

‘If you can talk you can sing!’
No auditions!

Yes, anyone can join if we have space: this means all are welcome whatever your background as long as you are over 16.


Xmas ConcertAs well as singing for fun each week there is a chance for everyone to take part in informal concerts, usually for family and friends at the end of term, to raise funds for Charities such as Water Aid, St Margaret’s Hospice and Brain Tumour Trust.  The choir has also taken part in other events such as at the Wellington Street Fair, Carols Under the Stars and Dunster by Candlelight. We  may take part in regional community choir events such as Sing4Water. We have enjoyed exchange weekends with choirs in Bradford on Avon, and more recently in Brecon.  Joining these events is optional but the more the merrier. They are great fun! However, as a Community Choir, we meet to sing rather than perform.

Join Us

Why not come along to a taster session and gain confidence using your natural singing voice? See the information on the Join page (FAQs)