Choir Welcomes Australian Visitors

Caldicot Male Voice Choir has a long tradition of opening its doors to visitors from around the Globe and as such were delighted to welcome Susan Crewe and her son Haydn to practice last night (22nd February).  Sue sings in a choir in Australia and thought that it would be a wonderful opportunity to visit first hand a Male Voice Choir while in Wales. We are as always, happy to oblige anyone who wishes to visit us on practice nights at our choir hall.  They can be assured of a warm welcome.

Sue is from Echuca, a small town on the banks of the Murray River in the state of Victoria and Haydn hails from Port Macquarie on the mid-northern coast of New South Wales about 240 miles north of Sydney.

Sue and Haydn are paying a short visit to Sue’s Sister in law, Annette Crewe who lived for about 20 years in Magor but now lives in Greenmeadow, Cwmbran.  Annette sadly lost her brother a short while ago and in remembrance the choir sang the traditional hymn Gwahoddiad which means ‘Invitation’.  Several choristers were happy to give up their time during the break in practice to chat to and welcome our visitors and ensure they would leave with fond memories of us to take home.

The choir were busy practising for the forthcoming March 3rd St David’s Day concert under the instruction of Shirley Anne James and Accompanists Stephen Berry and John NIcholson.  The practice included Rachie, A Miner’s Song, The Lord’s Prayer, Alexander’s Ragtime Band and many others; all of which were hugely appreciated by Sue, Haydn and Annette who remarked that it was a wonderful experience and will be remembered for a long time to come.

Our visitors were thrilled that Secretary Jeff Williams presented each with a CD recording ‘One Moment in Time’ and PRO Lyn Gauntlett, who lives a short distance from Annette will present her with a DVD of last year’s Annual concert and other memorabilia as mementos of their visit.

Choir Remembers Passed Choristers

 

 

Caldicot Male Voice Choir was honoured and privileged to attend the funeral of well loved and devoted chorister John Wyson at Caldicot Catholic Church on Friday 2nd February.  Following the service the choir was proud to sing Welsh hymns Gwahoddiad and Llef, conducted by Shirley Anne James and accompanied by choir and crematorium organist Stephen Berry at Langstone Crematorium. Like so many others, the choir and its singing filled a huge part of John’s life.

Many well deserved tributes have been paid to John in the past few weeks since his sudden death on January 10th but perhaps his passing gives an opportunity to reflect on all those great choristers, former members of the choir who have sadly died in the past year.  Many believe, wrongly that being part of a Male Voice Choir is an ‘old man’s game’ and for many this may be true.  But we must not forget that many of these ‘old men’ were once young and members of the choir while in their twenties, thirties and forties, many years ago.  They have provided experience, skill, talent but above all loyalty to the traditions of Welsh Male Voice choral singing for many, many years. We must also not forget those choristers, not mentioned here but still remembered who have also devoted a large part of their lives to the Choir over its proud 54 year history.

Sadly, in the past year alone the choir has mourned the passing of recently retired choristers Allen Worwood and Aldwyn Caswell together with serving choristers Doug Taylor, Theo Roberts, Malcolm Reed, Roy Jones, Roland Bennett and most recently John Wyson.  Together they have served the choir for over 250 years, a few devoting 40 years or more of their lives to the choir.  for which the Choir and the Caldicot Community will be forever grateful. While not only enjoying a wonderful hobby, all our choristers through concerts and other activities, have also raised many hundreds of thousands of pounds for deserving causes and charities and without doubt made a huge contribution to the social and cultural life of Gwent.

While paying tribute and honours to the past choristers, the tradition of male voice singing is alive and well in Caldicot with the recruitment in the past few years of well over thirty new choristers, most of whom are relative youngsters of less than forty with a few in their early twenties thus disproving the myth that singing in a choir is an ‘old man’s game’.  We are sure that many of our current members, numbering over 80 will continue to give long and devoted commitment to our choir and ensure that it continues to be among the leading choirs in Wales.

If you would like to learn more of Caldicot Male Voice Choir or would be interested in joining us, please visit the web site at www.caldicotmalevoicechoir.co.uk

6 Nations Rugby back at the Choir Hall. Giant Screen Event

 

6 Nations Rugby will soon be upon us and the Choir Hall in Mill Lane will once again be the venue for showing all of the matches on a giant 3 metre screen with fabulous sound. Doors open one hour before the first kick off on all weekend days. The first match is Wales v Scotland at the Principality Stadium. Kick off 2-15 pm.

Don’t just sit alone watching the games on your little 32 inch tellies (maybe 43 inch), drinking a warm can of lager while the wife puts the cleaner on or nags you to go shopping, get away and watch the matches live with your mates at the Choir Hall. It’s a great atmosphere, reasonably priced drinks from a fully stocked, licensed bar, lighting effects, flags and bunting to put on a great show. Bring your wife or girl friend along as well, many do and they have a great time.

Short of going to the matches at the Principality stadium or elsewhere, this is the next best thing.

The poster says it all, entry is free, refreshments will be available as well and maybe the choir members will sing the National anthem.

All profits go to help Caldicot Male Voice Choir continue to give concerts to help local and national charities, so by coming along you will be helping out good causes as well.

If you would like to sponsor a match for £20, please contact us. It would be greatly appreciated and your name would be added to the poster and other advertising on future listings.

Choir opens 2018 with Catbrook concert

Photo by Colleen Gauntlett

Caldicot Male Voice Choir has sung in many prestigious events and venues including many International Sports Stadia, The Royal Albert Hall, huge Cathedrals and Churches and Concert Halls throughout this country, the US, Canada and across Europe, not to mention the National Eisteddfod stage, but few of these compare to the wonderful welcome and enthusiasm for our singing given by the villagers of Catbrook, high up and hidden in the dense forests of the Wye Valley.  Venues such as these remind us of the humble roots of the great tradition that is Welsh male voice singing.

Once again we wound our way through the long and winding forest roads (again in the dark and rain) to arrive at the small Catbrook Memorial Hall to once again entertain the small group of about sixty who always greet us with a warm and encouraging welcome, not to mention the copious amounts of food so generously donated and appreciated.

Conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied by Stephen Berry and John Nicholson, the programme not only included traditional songs such as Rachie, Begeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn as well as Somewhere Out There, The Rhythm of Life, the spiritual Ride the Chariot and Anfonaf Angel but also included contrasting performances of ‘The Lady is a Tramp’ and ‘Shenandoah’ showing the versatility of our Choir’s singing repertoire. Solo performances were also made by Siân Hatton who sang ‘Wishing you were here again’ from the Phantom of the Opera and top tenor Peter Hanks who included ‘Down by the Salley Gardens’ with words by W B Yeats and the unofficial anthem of Lincolnshire, ‘The Lincolnshire Poacher’ with the audience joining in the chorus.

The concert was followed by a fabulous traditional ‘Afterglow’ in which choristers and the audience are entertained by a wide mix of unaccompanied choir singing.

Once again, the choir left to the plaintive strains of ‘On the bus, on the bus’ with the only regret that it will be another eighteen months before we return.

New Chorister, Ron joins the ranks as a 2nd Tenor

A few days ago we received an e-mail via the web site from Ron Ashton who is currently living in Marshfield, Gloucestershire but will soon be moving to Caldicot.  Ron asked for information on the choir and indicated that he might like to join us.  Ron told us that he had previously sung in St Peter’s, Filton plus St George Singers Community Choirs.

Always keen to welcome new members, he was invited to visit us and we are delighted that he did so on Monday 15th January.  He was so keen that after listening to us until the interval, he had a brief chat to Lyn and John who arranged for him to have his first voice test with Siân in the back room  He emerged to the announcement that he was proclaimed as a 2nd tenor and took his place next to Russell in the third row.

Following the latest reported sad news it is always a delight to bring some good news to the choir and we wish Ron a long and happy association with us.  We are sure he will enjoy himself and become a valuable member of our Choir.

Why not follow Ron’s example and get in touch with us?  It’s really very simple

 

Another serving chorister sadly passes away

John Wyson RIP

 

Once again, as so often in the recent past, the entire Choir was devastated to learn of the sudden death of another serving chorister, this time long standing Bass chorister, John Wyson on 10th January.

Only last November I posted on the News page how ‘Johnny’ shared his 85th birthday with fellow chorister and best friend, baritone Tommy Hole never thinking that I would be writing of this sad news today.  Johnny had been suffering poor health for a few years but this did not stop him from coming to just about every practice and concert until his death.  He was a regular and staunch supporter of the ’10 o’clock team’ that meets to set up or clear the hall before and after events.  I was privileged to sit by him at practice for the past year and we would often joke that we shouldn’t try to copy each other, since I’m in the baritone section.

Johnny was born in Malta and survived the dreadful bombing of that heroic island before coming to this country as a youngster to eventually work as a fireman on the then Great Western Railway.and British Rail.  He formed a close relationship with fellow ex railwaymen and bass choristers, the late Roy Jones and Wyn Goodwin when he joined the choir in the 1990’s. However his thoughts and longings always harped back to his beloved birthplace where so many of his family still live.

Although diminutive in size, hidden so often by choristers in front of him in photos, he had a huge heart and there is no doubt that he was a devoted member of the choir and it soon became a major part, like so many others, of his life in Caldicot; so much so that in 2014 he encouraged his new neighbour from Bristol, Chris Nolan to join us as yet another bass.  Together with his wife Kirstie, they too have become stalwarts of the choir and firm friends of Johnny.

Not  only had Johnny toured extensively with the choir, including the recent trip to Edinburgh and Stirling, he was a keen golfer and a strong supporter and active member of the ‘Birdie Boys’ and went on every trip arranged by them.

Johnny was also devoted to his family, especially his grandchildren of whom he was extremely proud and I’m sure that his death, following other recent tragedies in the family, came as a terrible shock to them all.   As a tribute the choir sang ‘Gwahoddiad’ (Invitation) at practice on January 11th and our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all his friends and family. We have lost a true friend, a lovely man and great chorister and we will all miss him.

 

Lyn Gauntlett

Glad I can still do this, Bill Nash.

 

Happy New Year to all our Choir Web site fans fans.

I am so glad that for the past five consecutive years I have reported that on January 9th it was Bill Nash’s birthday.  This time it was his 95th!

Still a stalwart of the choir for about 46 to 47 years he turns up at most practices to take his place in the front row bass section and long may this continue.

Made an honorary vice president a couple of years ago Bill still surprises us with his expert knowledge of our music and is never shy from commenting and advising when necessary.

I hope on behalf of the Choir that you had a splendid birthday and that you continue to have many more.

The photo shows Bill in his bow tie (just in case you confuse him with Karl Gregory in the polo shirt) at the afterglow following the Gala concert in September 2017.

Choir sings at Cherry Tree Nursing Home

Last night, 21st December the choir was pleased, as part of its Christmas programme to visit the Cherry Tree Nursing Home in Caldicot to entertain the residents and staff with a range of Christmas Carols from its programme. Conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley-Anne James and accompanied by Stephen Berry the choir invited the audience to join in with the singing of favourites such as O Come all ye faithful, Christmas Time again is here, Hark the Herald Angels Sing and God Rest You Merry Gentlemen.
 
The Choir also sang Joy to the World, A Christmas Medley of four well known songs including Jingle Bells, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Sleigh Bells Ringing and A Child is a King. The widely appreciated evening was finalised with Big Crosby’s ‘I’m Dreamin’ of a White Christmas’ before the Choir were treated to refreshments of traditional mince pies and a welcome glass of warming sherry.
 
Following the concert the choir walked around to retired chorister Colin Jones’ home to sing a few carols for him. Colin is unable to get out of the house much due to ill health and after serving in the choir continually for over 50 years he misses it very much. He showed his appreciation by a massive thumbs up and every chorister present shook his hand, even the new members who didn’t know him personally.
 
Afterwards the choristers entertained the patrons of the Haywain public house which is a favourite watering hole of many of the choir.
 
Photographs by Colleen Gauntlett.  Left click on images to enlarge

Choristers consume Colleen’s Christmas Cake

 

The final choir practice before Christmas last night saw Colleen Gauntlett come into the Choir hall with her present for all the choir in the form of a home made, decorated, giant sponge cake. This was, as is usual with all the cakes she makes, eagerly devoured by the choristers on the night (including those with diabetes – naughty).

Colleen has often, in the past 5 years brought in a cake to celebrate special occasions like Christmas, St David’s Day or her husband’s (my) birthday. Her most famous cakes were the five fruit cakes made for the 50th Anniversary which modelled many of the choristers and the Choir badge in 3 dimensions. Her cakes are always appreciated by the choristers, many of whom take a piece home for their wives, although I understand some wives didn’t get piece.

The photo shows Chris Richards, John Nicholson, Colleen Gauntlett, Chris Nolan , Stephen Berry and David Hennesey  waiting for their slice.  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone.

Choristers sing at Ancient White Hart Inn

Photo by Colleen Gauntlett

Described in the poem ‘Usk’ by T.S. Eliot, the 15th century, family run White Hart Village Inn in Llangybi once owned by Henry VIII and part of his dowry to Jane Seymour, has in its long history echoed to the sound of the chants of Cistercian Monks and to the tramp of Cromwellian army boots. Nothing however has compared to the sounds of Caldicot Male Voice Choir when it turned up to entertain the patrons and diners with its Christmas carolling on December 15th.

Standing with their backs to an ancient 15th century fireplace, complete with a Priest hole the choir, accompanied and directed by Stephen Berry, entertained with a collection of songs and Carols recently performed at its concerts with local Caldicot schools. The programme included ‘Christmas Time Again is Here’ sung to the rousing hymn tune ‘Llanfair’, the Christmas hit ‘Silver Bells’ sung by so many including Bing Crosby, Matt Monroe and Perry Como, the ancient carol, ‘God Rest You Merry Gentlemen’, the Russian drinking and dance song ‘Casatschok’, a Christmas medley which included ‘Have yourself a Merry little Christmas, ‘A Child is a King’, ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘Joy to the World’, ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Shepherds Watch and Wise Men Wonder’ sung to the familiar tune ‘Scarlet Ribbons’.

This was followed by a range of community carol singing, enthusiastically joined in by regular patrons and visitors alike, with none more so than the proprieter’s young son, 8 year old Zaki. The singing included seasonal favourites ‘O Come all ye faithful’, ‘Once in Royal David’s City’, ‘The First Nowell’, ‘Good King Wenceslas’ and ‘Silent Night’ in which Zaki delightfully and confidently sang the first verse.

During the break in performances the choir was treated to a fabulous feast of festive refreshments including mulled wine provided by the proprietor, Khaled Shalapy. Many thanks for inviting us and looking after us so well.

The evening was rounded off until the arrival of the bus with a session of ‘Afterglow’ singing thoroughly enjoyed by all of the late night diners and village regulars.

 

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