EXCLUSIVE: By Imogen Calderwood
T’IS the season to be jolly… but apparently not for two Costa del Sol expat choirs locked in a turf war that makes a mockery of the Christmas ‘peace and goodwill’ message.
Now the discord has reached a crescendo after an old photograph in a local newspaper heralded an unheavenly host of non-festive feeling.
The photo – taken over two years ago – shows more than 30 smiling members of the Coraxalia choir, dressed in black with yellow carnations pinned to their chests.
But in May 2013, shortly after the photo was taken, a bitter row of sharp retorts and flat denials resulted in the breakup of the choir into two rival groups.
Around a third of members shredded their song sheets and made their exits, leaving in one corner of the Axarquia region, the base of Coraxalia, which changed its name to Coral Coraxalia; and in the other, Bel Canto.
And that should have been the end of the overture.
However, it was not to be when that old photo resurfaced again recently in the Sur in English, advertising an upcoming event with the ‘new Coral Coraxalia’.
All hell broke loose, dredging up the past discord, reminiscent of a TV soap.
A writ was soon issued, with Margaret Riordan, of Coral Coraxalia claiming threats were made and bemoaning a distinct lack of Christmas spirit.
“The core – the crème de la crème of the choir – remained, while the troublesome members went off to start their own rival choirs,” Riordan told the Olive Press.
“We hoped that was the end of it… but now the troublemakers are now threatening all sorts if the photo appears again.
“We should have completely changed our name and avoided this confusion.
“It’s just a case of grumpy old women who don’t know how to fill their time except by causing mischief.”
However the alleged ‘troublemakers’, some of whom have asked not to be named due to their own fear of legal issues and ‘stress’, deny making threats.
“We wrote a letter to the musical director of the choir, written by our lawyer, which included all the relevant laws,” insisted a British member of Bel Canto.
Describing itself as the Axarquia’s ‘newest and fastest-growing choir’, the member added: “The photo was a complete misrepresentation, making out they are a massive choir when in reality most members have gone, leaving 20 at most.”
Nine members of Bel Canto signed the letter, in which the choir’s lawyer states that ‘the utilisation of photos without the permission of the people in it’ is illegal.
“They had been told before to stop using it after splashing it over various publications and on their website,” added another former member, Canadian soprano Louise Soucy.
“I used to enjoy the choir, but when all the fighting kicked off I jumped ship.
“We thought we had moved on from all the bad feelings, but this photo has dragged it up again.”
The letter adds that if the image is used again, Bel Canto will take legal action.
“We left because we couldn’t stand the politics and now we want them to put the matter to rest,” explained the members.
“It wasn’t a threat, it was just stop using it or else…”