Category Archives: 2016

Christmas Celebrations with the Choir

Christmas is a joyous time at Caldicot Male Voice Choir. The yuletide festivities begin at the end of November when the dust is blown off the choristers’ Christmas carol music and the seasonal songs are sounded out once again. The traditional Christmas School Concert is staged at the Choir Hall with an invited local primary school. The proceeds from the ever popular event are donated to the Parent Teachers Association of the appointed school.

On Thursday, 8th December, the immaculately attired and professionally presented pupils of Dewstow Primary School, Caldicot; constituted the invited children’s choir of evening’s ensemble. They combined effortlessly with the male voice choir in a joint celebration of Christmas. The children were superbly conducted by Miss Amy Lawrence, whose own grandfather (Don Lawrence) had been a longstanding chorister in Caldicot Male Voice Choir. The concert concluded with a combined choirs rendition of ‘Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer’, as the children’s choir replete with pupils from Key Stage 2 and some as young as six years old; harmonised sweetly with the male choir, whose oldest member on stage was 93 year old Bill Nash!

One week later, on Friday, 16th December; the choir hosted older members of the community, as the Caldicot Senior Citizens Club held their Christmas Lunch at the Choir Hall.

The choir concluded its Christmas activities as it closed 2016 with a visit to the Cherry Tree Nursing Home in Caldicot; where an evening of Christmas cheer was enjoyed with the more senior members of the community followed by a traditional community carol singing at the Haywain pub, enjoyed by all.

 

We wish everyone a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year and we are looking forward to an exciting programme of activities and concerts in 2017.

Written by Jeff Williams

Christmas Cake for Carolling Choristers

Christmas celebrations started a little early for the Choir when Colleen Gauntlett, wife of our PRO, Lyn came to the choir hall and resumed a tradition she started a few years ago.   Colleen presented a self baked Christmas cake for consumption by the choristers at half time at practice on Monday 21st November.  Many of you will remember the cakes she made for the 50th Anniversary celebrations.

The early presentation was because both are away on holiday during December.  Layers of chocolate sponge filled with butter cream and coated with icing and decorated in a Christmas wintry theme, the cake was consumed within minutes by the appreciative choir who all expressed their appreciation, many lining up for seconds.  We’re all looking forward to your next cake, Colleen.  The photographs show Colleen cutting the cake while baritones Tommy Hole, Leon Jones and Tony Griffiths look on in anticipation.

 

 

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November 5th Wedding. Kelly gets her Guy

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Photo by Lyn Gauntlett.  Left click on image to enlarge

 

The choir loves to sing at weddings when it can and one of its favourite venues is the local St Mary the Virgin church in Caldicot.

On a chilly but sunny November 5th some fifty choristers were delighted to sing at the wedding of Kristian David Chown to Kelly Mary Sheppard.  Kristian is the grandson of once long serving baritone chorister David Chown who sadly passed away about six years ago.

Conducted by Shirley Anne James and accompanied by Stephen Berry the choir entertained the congregation by opening with the Welsh hymn Rachie and followed up by singing  wedding favourites You Raise Me up, Somewhere Out There and On the Street where you Live while waiting for the bride to come in and finalising with the Elvis hit, Can’t help falling in Love and the modern Welsh song Yfory while the newlyweds signed the register.

The Choir joined in enthusiastically with hymns Bread of Heaven (Cwm Rhondda) and Lord of the Dance sung during the ceremony while Father Dennis Richards officiated.

The Choir would like to wish Kristian and Kelly a long, healthy and happy life together and convey its congratulations to you both.

Another new top tenor joins us

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It seems like every time we open our doors for practice a newcomer walks in and wants to join in.  This time it was the turn of Nathan Smith, a 22 year old from the Spytty area of Newport.   A few weeks ago we were joined by a new member, bass Oliver Edwards and he has been so impressed by what we do that he brought his friend Nathan along last night.

 

Nathan said he loves singing and at half time went into the back room for his first voice test with Musical Director Siân Hatton and emerged a few minutes later to take his place among the top tenors.   The first voice test is just an assessment of where an individual’s voice would best fit in the choir and is not difficult.  Nathan is the eleventh new chorister to join us since the Annual Concert in April and although regrettably new recruit Chris Loy cannot continue with us due to work commitments, our numbers still remain a remarkable ninety choristers.  It is particularly pleasing that we have been able to attract several new young members in their twenties and thirties recently.

 

The recruitment of so many new choristers in the past few years (42 since April 2016) is a remarkable achievement and presents the choir with many new challenges and opportunities which we are looking forward to in the months and years ahead.

Choir travels to Harbury for Charity Concert

 

Photos by Colleen Gauntlett.  Left click on an image to enlarge.

 

On Saturday 15th October over 50 members of Caldicot Male Voice Choir travelled up the modern M50 and M5 motorways before following in the footsteps of the ancient Romans along the Fosse Way to the picturesque All Saint’s Church in the village of Harbury, near Leamington Spa. This was the choir’s third visit to the church and our concert this time was to raise funds for the church’s Memorial Garden of Remembrance project and also to help the Harbury e-wheels scheme.  This worthwhile endeavour uses the villages E-car Club members cars to transport those with physical or financial reasons who have little or no other transport options at no cost.  The scheme works with local agencies such as Food Banks, Children’s Centres, Surgeries and Social Services.

Conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied throughout by John Nicholson on piano, the choir presented the enthusiastic audience of about 200 to a wide mix of genres and styles from our repertoire, including oppening with the well known Welsh hymns Rachie, Aberystwyth and the English favourite of John Wesley, Morte Criste (When I Survey the Wond’rous Cross).  The programme also included music from the film and theatre worlds including The Lady is a Tramp, The Impossible Dream, The Rhythm of Life, On the Street Where You Live and Somewhere Out There. The pace changed from the love song made famous by Bette Midler, The Rose to the Elvis Presley version of An American Trilogy and Barbra Streisand’s The Way we Were.  Mindful that the 14th October was the 103rd anniversary of the Senghenydd Mining disaster in which 440 Welsh Miners were tragically killed and also close to the 50th Anniversary on 21st October of the Aberfan disaster, the choir movingly sang A Miner’s Song written by Dan and Laura Curtis, appreciated by everyone present.

The concert was delightfully enhanced by the support of local 16 year old Lucy Bishop who only took up playing the harp less than 2 years ago after seeing the Nutcracker Suite ballet. Still at school, studying for A levels, Lucy has been accepted into the Junior Royal School of Music.  Her first half performance on a full sized Italian concert harp, expertly played at a level well above her age and experience included Clement: Sonatina – Allegro, Andante and Vivace and the Skye Boat Song.  No less wonderfully played, the second half included Pachelbel’s – Canon in D, Yiruma – River flows in you, featured on the album ‘First Love’ and an Ed Sheeran and Snow Patrol member Johnny McDaid composition – Photograph.  The Choir and audience responded to Lucy’s performance with several rounds of rapturous applause throughout and at the end of the concert.

The concert, organised by chorister Terry Plummer’s daughter Julie Linforth who lives in the village, closed with Ride the Chariot with soloists Siân Hatton and David Gould followed by the modern Welsh song, extolling the virtues of living in Wales, O Gymru with soloist Tommy Hole.

We all look forward to re-visiting Harbury in the not too distant future, not least following the warm welcome and reception we have always received in this wonderful venue.

Ffion Edwards receives award from Welsh Association of Male Choirs

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On October 6th Caldicot Male Voice Choir was thrilled to be visited by prize winning soprano Ffion Edwards who was presented with a £1000 award and a crystal glass plaque as winner of the Geraint Morris Memorial Award by the chairman of the Welsh Association of Male Choirs, Ellis Davies and Association representatives, vice-chairman Richard Howells and former chairman Lyndon Birch while proud parents Allyson and Mike looked on.  Ffion, as part of the award has also been invited to sing at the next Festival of Massed Choirs at the Royal Albert Hall in 2018.  The Choir is proud and pleased to have sponsored Ffion’s entry to the competition.

The Geraint Morris Memorial Award is a competition organised by the Welsh Association of Male Choirs for young soloists, accompanists and conductors.  It has been in existence since 2006.  The Competition was named in memory of Geraint Morris, a long standing member of the Executive Committee and a past Chairman.  Geraint was one of the members who was involved in the setting up of the competition.

Ffion is a 21 year old from nearby Magor who attended the Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw in Pontypool. She is now living in Cardiff and entering her third year of study for a B. Mus. honours degree at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.  She won the recently held competition on September 3rd at Neath to follow her second place at the National Eisteddfod  in the Lieder solo 19 to 25 year old category in August.

Following the presentation and much to the delight of an appreciative choir Ffion, accompanied by the choir’s musical director Siân Hatton wonderfully demonstrated her immense talent by singing  ‘Yr Alarch’ (The Swan) written by Ellis Jones.  The choir is sure that Ffion has a bright and promising future as a soprano operatic singer.  We all wish her well and look forward to her performance with us at the Royal Albert Hall.

UNPRECEDENTED RECRUITMENT OF NEW CHORISTERS

In a remarkable few weeks the choir has recruited an unprecedented FIVE new choristers since the beginning of September and we also welcome the return of a top tenor to our ranks.  This increase brings the recruitment of new members since the Annual Concert to TEN, nearly two a month!  Last Monday, two of these,  baritones Chris Richards and Darren Lloyd who both joined in June, passed their second voice tests to be welcomed as full members of the choir.  Congratulations to you both.

 

First of the recent newcomers to walk through the door was Canadian Andy Friedman (he now lives in Caldicot) who saw our poster advertising the Gala Concert and intrigued, popped into the Choir Hall to see what went on.  So amazed was he by his welcome and the sound he heard that he asked a few questions and did his first voice test.  He was classed by Siân to be a potential top tenor but after a little while Andy decided that he was more suited to the 2nd tenors.  Good choice Andy.

 

Andy was followed by Mark Antell who after a long period of persuasion joins his three brothers, John, Nigel and Nick who were already in the choir.  Although the three brothers are top tenors, Mark’s voice range is that of a baritone.  The brothers are suggesting he undergoes a DNA test but from his similarity in looks we don’t think this is necessary.  We believe that we are the only male voice choir in Wales to have four brothers simultaneously as choristers in the choir.

 

Then in walked Bob Hillier from Newport who is the brother of choristers Mark Stocker’s partner Denise and John MacCarthur’s wife, Kath.  Bob joins the ranks of the top tenors.  A couple of weeks ago in walked Peter Fagan who went through his voice test in the back room and emerged too swell the ranks of the bottom basses .We were delighted that secretary Jeff Williams persuaded fellow town councillor Oliver (Ollie) Edwards to come and listen. He immediately went into the back room and like so many before him, went up and down the scales to be classified as a bottom base.

 

Finally choristers were delighted that after an absence of about three years, top tenor Kevin Bajjada walked through the door to rejoin the choir.  Welcome back Kevin, good to see you again.

 

These new recruits and the return of Kevin have now raised the number of choristers to an almost all time high of NINETY and it is certainly the highest number for nearly 30 years.

 

Since the start of 2013 the choir has recruited a total of 41 choristers of whom 37 are still with us.  In that time although a few have moved out of the area, retired or sadly passed away, the choir has grown from about 60 members to 90.  In times of reported declines in male voice choir numbers, this choir can be proud of its achievement of encouraging and retaining new members but needs the support of all its choristers to keep this going.  At this rate we’ll reach a hundred members by our next Annual Concert.  Let’s hope so.

 

Recently joined chorister Stuart Parry put the following on Facebook this week and I quote:

 

‘There’s something about being in a choir. I’m sure most of us remember being part of something, be it a rugby or football team or the same workplace or even an army regiment.  We all worked as part of a team relying on each other and in turn being relied upon ourselves.  This choir seems to bring that feeling back, the work ethic, the pride in doing a job well, the pure enjoyment of making a lovely sound together and for a lot of us, the social life that goes with it all. It’s a great thing to focus upon and enjoy every minute of it too!’

 

You’ve hit the nail on the head, well said Stuart!

 

Prize Winning Soprano to Visit the Choir Hall

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On October 6th the Choir will be visited by prize winning soprano Ffion Edwards who will be presented with a £1000 award as winner of the Geraint Morris Memorial Award by the chairman of the Welsh Association of Male Choirs, Ellis Davies.  Hopefully, health permitting, WAMC secretary Layton Watkins will also be there.

 

The Geraint Morris Memorial Award is a competition organised by the Welsh Association of Male Choirs for young soloists, accompanists and conductors.  It has been in existence since 2006.  The Competition was named in memory of Geraint Morris, a long standing member of the Executive Committee and a past Chairman.  Geraint was one of the members who was involved in the setting up of the competition.  Since 2015 it has been the policy of the Association that the winners of this competition will take part in the next Festival of Massed Choirs at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

 

Ffion is a 20 year old from Magor who attended the Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw in Pontypool, is now living in Cardiff and is studying for a B. Mus. honours degree at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.  She won the recently held competition on September 3rd at Neath to follow her second place at the National Eisteddfod  in the Lieder solo 19 to 25 year old category in August.

 

We are all looking forward to the evening and hopefully Ffion will sing for us and will enjoy listening to us as well, as we hope Ellis and Layton will too.

Birdie Boys Score again at the St Pierre

Photos by Lyn Gauntlett.  Left Click to enlarge

 

 

This Autumn’s rain seems to follow all the events organised by Caldicot Male Voice Choir recently and the Birdie Boys St Pierre Challenge was no exception on the drizzly morning of September 10th.

This annual event is organised by the choir’s associated Golf Society, The Birdie Boys to raise funds for the choir’s nominated charity.  Following on from raising about £30,000 in the past four years for local and national charities, the nominated charity for this year is the Motor Neurone Disease Association’s South East Wales Branch and the Choir is organising events throughout the year to raise funds to purchase essential equipment and services locally.

Fortunately the rain eased off just as the first of 36 golfers in 9 teams teed off on the St Pierre Championship course to begin the challenge.   Teams were drawn from Caldicot Male Voice Choir Members, the Birdie boys resplendent in their distinctive canary yellow polo shirts, Perfect Pet Services, Manor Parc, The Castle Inn, G.W. Jones and Co., Caldicot Metal Decorating and the Tinmen. Half way round this challenging course refreshments in the form of water and chocolate were handed out by Carys and Caitlin Jones, wife and daughter of sponsor Andrew Jones to the by now tiring but grateful golfers.

The eventual winners were Manor Parc who were presented with a trophy shield by club captain Alyn Dawe at an after event dinner of fish and chips laid on by the Marriott St Pierre resort.  The Choir is grateful to all those who sponsored holes for this event, in particular The St Pierre Resort, Likes Landrovers and JAGA transport without whose generous donations, the event would not have been possible.

Many thanks are also extended to organisers Tony Griffiths, Leon Jones and Grahame Morton as well as administrators Jayne and Robert Stallard and Sharon Ward for their immense support of this event which is reported to have raised about £800 for the charity.

Gala Concert with Serenata Ladies

Photographs by Colleen Gauntlett.  Left click on images to enlarge

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The rainy season seems to follow Caldicot Male Voice Choir around these days but undaunted by the weather about 250 people, including MP for Newport East Jessica Morden and Monmouthshire County Council Chairman Jim Higginson, made their way to Caldicot Leisure Centre to make up the audience and enjoy the Choir’s Gala Concert.

Introduced by compere Dean Powell and conducted by Musical Directors Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied by Stephen Berry and John Nicholson, the 70 strong Caldicot Male Voice Choir opened its performance with the rousing Welsh Hymn, ‘Rachie’, a favourite of all audiences and followed with the contrasting romantic song made famous by Bette Midler ‘The Rose’.  The choir was proud to include two songs from its Eisteddfod entry, Psalm 23′ by Franz Schubert and ‘Bywyd y Bugail’, both technically demanding and entertaining.  The first part also included ‘The Impossible Dream’ from the musical ‘Man of La Mancha’.

We were delighted that the local Serenata Ladies Choir, based in Magor accepted our invitation to join us at the Gala and conducted by Musical Director Fiona Bryant and accompanied by Barbara Davies they presented a superb mix of music ranging from ‘Life in a Northern Town’ to Coldpay’s ‘Fix You’, ‘Bei mir bist du shoen’, and including two medleys, one from the musical ‘Beautiful’ which features the music of Carole King and the other from the songs of Abba.  To rapturous applause the ladies finished their enchanting performance with the lovely Welsh Hymn ‘Calon Lan’ sung beautifully without accompaniment.

The concert proceeded by Caldicot singing another mix of favourites including another Welsh hymn, ‘Llef’ and ‘A Miner’s Song’.  Caldicot is currently the only Male Voice choir to sing this song which was premiered at the Gala concert last year in front of the composers Dan and Laura Curtis.  Onward then to the lively spiritual ‘Ride the Chariot’ in which soprano Siân Hatton and baritone David Gould were soloists.  West Life’s ‘You Raise me up’ and the all time favourite ‘Morte Criste’ – When I Survey the Wond’rous Cross’ concluded a wonderful performance which truly showed off the choral skills of Caldicot Male Voice Choir.

The finale presented both choirs combining together in an unusual mix, conducted by Siân Hatton and accompanied by Stephen Berry on piano and John Nicholson on keyboard to perform firstly ‘Speed Your Journey’ from the opera Nabucco by Verdi and then finally with the song made famous by Elvis Presley, ‘American Trilogy’.  The experiment clearly worked as shown by a standing ovation for both choirs by a thrilled and enthusiastic audience who went home on a dark and dismal rainy night knowing that they had been given a fabulous evening’s entertainment by two very good choirs.

The whole evening was skilfully and eloquently directed by compere Dean Powell who has been hosting concerts throughout the world for many years as well as theatre and radio shows.  An accomplished presenter, Dean kept the audience not only accurately informed but humourously entertained with his timely interjections of anecdotes, stories and jokes.

Both choirs and many of the audience then dashed through the rain to continue the evening with more ‘afterglow’ entertainment and refreshments at the Choir hall nearby.  Many thanks to everyone who made this concert possible, including the very helpful staff of Caldicot Leisure Centre.

 

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