Photographs by Colleen Gauntlett. Left click on images to enlarge
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.