ONE hundred and forty years ago, a notice appeared in Leven inviting anyone interested in the “practice of vocal music, particularly music of a higher class” to come along to a meeting.
The notice marked the beginning Leven Amateur Musical Association’s (LAMA) 140-year musical journey. Since the group’s debut performance in 1873 of ‘The Creation’ members have been bringing music to Levenmouth, from the newest Broadway hits to the best-loved classics.
In its early years LAMA performed oratorios, choral and Gilbert and Sullivan works but in 1923, the group put on its first musical, ‘Country Girl’, and it has been doing musicals ever since.
As the oldest musical company in Scotland and one of the three oldest in the UK, LAMA has a lot of history to live up to.
But the dedicated group of performers have managed to keep pulling in audiences decade after decade.
One of the group’s longest serving members, Mrs Fay Milne, said: “We are always evolving because music is evolving. We perform the music of the time and try to do a mix of old and new.”
Fay joined the group in 1957, after a work colleague encouraged her to give it a try. Since her first performance in the chorus of Oklahoma, she has been involved with every show since and even met her husband, Robert, the current longest serving member of the group, during rehearsals.
She explained LAMA’s long running appeal, saying: “It’s a place where you can get away from the problems of work and everyday life. You meet people from all different walks of life. Everyone helps each other and it’s been like that since I started.”
One of the group’s newer members, Lindsay Rowan, said she thought Lama’s sense of community had kept the group going strong throughout the years.
She added: There’s a real sense of unity, Everyone mucks in.”
In previous shows LAMA has gone to great lengths to bring stories alive for the audience; a recent performance of Titanic even included a tilting ship on set to recreate that sinking sensation.
But despite the group’s long history, members have fixed their sights firmly on the future, as they rehearse to mark their 140th year in style.
For this momentous year the group has chosen a constant crowd pleaser, the Broadway hit ‘Hello Dolly!’, which will open in March.
After well over a century of performing, you’ll find no shortage of energy or enthusiasm among the many members who act, sing, dance, build sets, provide lighting and make the tea to ensure the show goes on. As Fay said: “Every year after the show we think that was really good. And then we start preparing for the next one.”
•Hello Dolly will run from March 12-17 at 7.15pm in The Centre, Leven. Tickets are on sale now.