Friday, 31 March 2023, 11:07
When Rachael Saunders isn't directing Quadrophonics - an acapella choir based in the Axarquía - she is working on her farm or preparing cookery workshops.
And that is just what she does in Spain; during summer, the multitalented mother-of-two heads back to the UK, where she is involved in organising summer music festivals including Bestival and Womad, among others.
With a desire to explore the world, at 21 Rachael headed to Spain where she taught English for a few years. While in Spain she met her now husband and the couple decided to try life in London.
However, it was when they had their first baby that the couple decided that they wanted to raise their family in Spain and they came back, this time with a young child.
That was in 2001 and since then they have lived in the Axarquía on their farm, Casa Montes Negros. They grow organic produce and keep chickens, but "no large animals, just the obligatory pack of dogs and various cats that we've acquired along the way," Rachael laughs.
The family she says are all bilingual. "My husband is Spanish. We have a foot in both cultures. In fact I am more Spanish than English in terms of the length of time spent here."
Rachael has always championed organic farming methods and it was when she was approached by an association promoting women in sustainable tourism that the cookery workshops really took off in 2011.
"I didn't think anyone would come up to the farm to go for a cookery workshop, but we had loads of people. Cooking and farming go together." While they don't grow their produce to sell it, Rachael does use what she grows in the workshops.
Another of Rachael's passions is singing and it was when she moved back to Spain in 2001 that she rediscovered her passion for the hobby that she had enjoyed at school.
"A friend said, 'there's a new choir starting, why don't we go?'" So Rachael went along. "Actually I had forgotten how much I love it. It's my meditation. My family knows that choir day is sacrosanct," she highlights.
Rachael has certainly made up for lost time and since 2016 has been the musical director of the Quadrophonics, who rehearse at the church room in Puente don Manuel on Monday evenings.
Rachael and her friend Carmel went one day to a Barbershop workshop in Almuñécar and they were impressed. She admits that the two friends were "frustrated by the community choir with people not practising between rehearsals" and the pair offered the opportunity to join the new choir.
When Carmel returned to the UK in 2016, Rachael took over as musical director "mainly because nobody else offered to do it," she laughs.
Ages range from mid 40s to late 70s and everything in between and they sing "everything from 1940s barbershop to contemporary hits". The choir is currently recruiting and also planning to organise a charity concert.
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