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Musical & Amicable Society - then...

The original Musical and Amicable Society was founded in 1762 by James Kempson, an enthusiastic impresario, who directed the choir at St Bartholomew’s Chapel, Birmingham. Together with fellow musicians from St Philip’s Church (now Birmingham Cathedral), Kempson and his singers would meet at ‘Cooke’s in the Cherry Orchard’, a local tavern situated in Cherry Street. Here they gathered on a regular basis “for practice and recreation”. Taken from The Old Taverns of Birmigham: A Series of Familiar Sketches by Eliezer Edwards, 1879. “For some years after the opening of St. Philip’s Church, the choir was in the habit of metting in the large room at Cooke’s for practice. Amoungst them was a young man named James Kempson, a musical enthusiast, and a performer of no mean order. After Bartholomew’s Chapel was opened, which was in 1749, Kempson took the lead in the choir there, and afterwards the two choirs met at Cooke’s for joint practice, a custom which was continued for some years. In 1762, the numbers of musicians meeting there weekley was very large, and in that year they resolved to form themselves into a society or club. It was settled that it should be called the “Musical and Amicable Society,” and under its rules subscriptions were collected for forming a fund for assisting members who might, in case of illness or otherwise, require aid. It met at Cooke’s, at short intervals, for practice and recreation.” In its eighteenth-century incarnation the Musical and Amicable Society issued a printed code of rules for its members, embellished by an elaborate frontispiece, bearing the following motto – which today’s Society heartily endorses!

“To our Musical Club Here’s long Life and Prosperity


May it flourish with us, and so on to posterity

May Concord and Harmony always abound


And Divisions here only in our Music be found.

May the Catch and the Glass go about and about


And another succeed to the Bottle that’s out.”

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