Singers on a roll as chorus marks 25-year anniversary

Rolling Hills Men's Barbershop Chorus are based in Edinburgh and were formed 25 years ago. The choir now has 50 members and is still growing.
Rolling Hills Men's Barbershop Chorus are based in Edinburgh and were formed 25 years ago. The choir now has 50 members and is still growing.
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THEY were inspired to create a men’s group after seeing how much their wives enjoyed singing in the Capital’s women-only Forth Valley Chorus.

Now more than two decades later the Rolling Hills Chorus is gearing up for a very special milestone – its 25th anniversary.

Originally launched with around 16 members in 1992, the chorus settled in Edinburgh after spending its first few years in the Borders region.

The group’s members now meet once a week at St Kentigern’s Church in Clermiston and the chorus is doing so well its membership now sits at about 50 singers.

However, this Saturday they will swap St Kentigern’s for Easter Road as the chorus gets together for a special event to mark its silver anniversary.

They will celebrate 25 years with a cabaret style evening event featuring a workshop from the award-winning quartet, The Finest Hour.

Among those attending will be 62-year-old Walter Dods, a retired local government administrator and one of the chorus’ longest serving singers.

Mr Dods said he got involved with the group by chance after a friend asked him along to one of their sessions and 23 years later he still enjoys it as much as ever.

He said: “Everybody is quite excited. We are presenting badges to people – we’ve got five years, ten, 15, 20 and 25 and we have invited our former chairman along as well.

“There’s something special about barbershop singing, being able to create these harmonies. It’s become a bit of an obsession for myself. I’m a member of four different choruses.”

Mr Dods said the chorus alternated each year between laying on a Fringe show and competing in the British Association of Barbershop Singers championships.

“The thing with barbershop is for a long time it’s been a well-hidden secret,” he said. “We try at least once a year to have a learn to sing course.

“It may be guys who haven’t sung for a long time or they might be singing in church choirs and they want to do something else which is a bit more challenging.”

Chorus chairman Ian Mclean, who joined the Rolling Hills four years ago when he retired, said it had been “fascinating” to delve into the group’s history ahead of the 25th-year festivities.

He said: “I’ve enjoyed looking back at the history and seeing people at the stage we are at, but 20 years ago and getting the same enjoyment from it.

“The enjoyment is really just coming together and being helped to sound nice. Most of us are ordinary singers, but when we come together we can make a beautiful sound and that’s a pleasure.

“My biggest regret is that I didn’t do this years ago when I was working.”

Mr Mclean, 66, said it is never too late to get involved, adding the chorus was always looking for new members.

“It would be great to get younger members,” he said. “We have got a quartet of young men in their ‘30s and they are very good.

“They have busy careers, but manage to come along and sing.”

More information on this weekend’s event can be found on Facebook.