Four new 2nd tenors in as many months

Someone once said that second tenors are as rare as hen’s teeth but somehow in the past few months we have recruited no less than four.

First to join before Christmas was Ken Nurden whose movement into becoming a full member has been delayed due to surgery but nevertheless is committed to the choir.  He was followed soon after by Ron Lane from the Bristol area who has recently moved to Caldicot.  Ron has experience of singing in English mixed choirs and we’re sure he’ll find singing in a Welsh Male Voice Choir a challenging experience.  In the last two weeks of April Richard Coles walked through the door and inspired perhaps by his late father in law, 2nd tenor John Mattia he walked into the back room to warble the scales in front of Siân and emerged to the announcement that he is also second tenor.

A week later a friend of his, Jamie Stephens also walked in, took a deep breath before taking up the same challenge and within a few minutes walked out to the announcement that he too is a second tenor.

Welcome to all four of you and we wish you a long and happy association with the choir.  Your voices as second tenors are very welcome to keep the balance of sound and your joining us is very much appreciated.  If this keeps up we’ll have to get more chairs in the rows. Small price to pay.

Musical Director commemorates 30 years Service

 

At Caldicot Male Voice Choir’s practice on Thursday 12th April, the choristers were reminded by chairman John Nicholson, that since March 1988, it is just over thirty incredible years that Siân Hatton took up the baton, so to speak, of Musical Director of the Choir.  Many of the current choristers, several of whom have completed thirty years or more themselves, still fondly remember that day.  Some of our choristers weren’t even born.  To commemorate this achievement, devotion and loyalty, Sian and the Choir were presented with a decorated, lemon sponge cake weighing nearly 14 pounds made by chorister’s wife Colleen Gauntlett who also took the photos.

Utterly devoted to the Choir, Siân regularly, in all weathers with her husband, baritone David Gould makes the long 70 odd mile round trip from her home in Tredegar to Caldicot twice a week to lead the choir in rehearsal as well as attending many social events at the Choir Hall and elsewhere, not to mention innumerable concerts and fund raising events around the country in that time.  The Choir is also extremely fortunate to have in her team musicians of the calibre of Shirley Anne James, Assistant Musical Director and Stephen Berry and John NIcholson as accompanists.

Born into a very musical family in Tredegar, Gwent, Siân began her musical studies at the age of seven and by the time she left school had gained a distinction in Grade 8 singing and piano. She studied at the Royal Welsh College of  Music and Drama under Margaret Tann-Williams and Patrick Piggot. Her distinguished musical career has taken her all over Britain and abroad as a solo artiste.

In her thirty year leadership of the Choir, Siân has taken us to many venues in the U.K. and overseas including Germany, Holland, Canada, California and Austria.  She has led us on two P & O cruise ships to the Mediterranean and later to the Canary Islands, Portugal and Spain.  In 2013 she also led us on a tour to Cornwall and last year to the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh and Stirling.

Despite her accomplished musical background, Siân has chosen nursing as her full time career and works as a Nurse Practitioner in Primary Care.

As a conductor, soprano soloist, compère and highly talented musician, Siân is invaluable to our choir and has been the prime instrument to our success over the past 30 years as Musical Director.

 

Choirs mourns passing of legendary chorister

.

Caldicot Male Voice Choir was deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the death of long standing and legendary, second tenor, chorister Colin Jones on April 9th at the Royal Gwent Hospital. Colin had been suffering ill health for a few years and was admitted on April 8th but sadly passed away the next day. The Choir fittingly and poignantly paid tribute to Colin by singing Welsh hymn ‘Gwahoddiad’ conducted by Shirley Anne James at practice on Monday.
 
Colin moved from Tredegar to Caldicot in 1963, leaving his job at Ebbw Vale steelworks to work as a fitter and turner at the newly built, giant RTB Steelworks at Llanwern and joined the choir soon after it was founded in 1963. He remained a stalwart, loyal chorister for 53 years and was the first to be presented with a gold lapel badge and certificate for completing 50 years continuous service at the 50th Anniversary Concert in 2013 by Assembly Member John Griffiths AM and Musical Director Siân Hatton. Colin was heard to say that the hardest decision he ever had to make was to retire from the Choir in 2016 and he was presented with a well deserved Lifetime Achievement Award and conferred as an Honorary Vice-president on August 4th that same year.
 
Although Colin served many years on the committee, was chairman in 1973 – 1974 and spent several years as librarian, holding on tenaciously to musical copies unless you could prove beyond doubt that you didn’t have a particular piece, he is perhaps best known for his role as impromptu leader and ‘Beer Conductor’ of many afterglows, His party piece of balancing a full pint of beer on his head while the choir sang ‘Bobbin’ up and down like this’ is legendary from California to Wiesenthal and beyond. He handed these roles onto baritone David Gould (often referred to as Colin’s apprentice) and choristers Karl Gregory and Alyn Dawe. Colin was one of the team which initiated the building of the choir hall in 1996, the progress of which he captured on video; a DVD copy of which is in the trophy cabinet in the hall.
 
Colin toured extensively with the Choir to Canada, the USA, to Holland, Germany and Austria as well as two cruises and many tours and concerts throughout the UK. Even though small in stature Colin was a huge character in the choir and played several major roles both chorally and socially, A strong supporter of Caldicot Rugby Club as well as the choir, there is no doubt that together with his distinctive side whiskers, cheeky grin, imposing presence and strong opinions, never afraid to express them, he will be remembered as a truly great chorister and he will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

 

The Choir’s condolences go out to his widow Margaret, daughter Helen, son Andrew and to all his family at this sad time.

 

Busy weekend as choristers travel to Neath rehearsal for RAH

 

Photos by Lyn Gauntlett

 

Caldicot Male Voice Choir has had a very few busy days in not only attending practices, performing at its Annual Concert, but over forty of its choristers made their way to the Sports Centre in Neath to join about 600 other chorister from all over Wales for a final rehearsal prior to singing together at the Royal Albert Hall on May 19th.

Organised by the Association of Welsh Male Choirs, the massed choristers divided into their sections of basses, baritones, second tenors and top tenors to be put through their vocal paces by Musical Director Dr Alwyn Humphreys of some 19 pieces including Men of Harlech, Comrades in Arms, Cwm Rhondda, Rachie, Shenandoah and many others,

Caldicot Male Voice Choir premiered many of these songs at its Annual Concert on Saturday 7th April in what was a wonderful evening.

The Choir is now looking forward to a fabulous weekend in London, culminating in joining in, as the largest contingent of about 60, with another 800 or so like minded choristers for what will be an incredible evening of song at the Festival of Massed Welsh Male Voices at London’s Royal Albert Hall on May 19th.

Another Great Annual Concert for 2018

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

On Saturday April 7th 2018 Caldicot Male Voice Choir was delighted once again to perform at its Annual Concert for the residents of Caldicot at the local Leisure Centre.

Under the expert guidance of its musical director Siân Hatton, assistant director Shirley Anne James and the accompanist duo of Stephen Berry and John Nicholson, the Choir thrilled the audience with a wide ranging repertoire extending from the walls of Harlech Castle with rousing ‘Men of Harlech’ to the banks of the Missouri with the contrasting melodic ‘Shenandoah’, down to the coal mines of Kentucky with ‘Sixteen Tons’, the Deep South of the USA with the slave spiritual ‘Ride the Chariot’, then on to New Orleans with ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’; across the oceans to visit New Zealand’s Maoris with Pokarekare Ana with the words of Calon Lân and on to South Africa with ‘African Prayer’ an adaptation of the national anthem Nkosi Sikel’i Afrika sung in Xhosa and Welsh.

The journey carried on to the worlds of stage and screen with ‘The Rhythm of Life’ from the musical Sweet Charity and ‘Mansions of the Lord’ from the film ‘Band of Brothers. Wartime memories of the blitz of Swansea in 1941 were brought to mind with the words of Welsh poet Waldo Williams, ‘Y Tangnefeddwyr’ set to music by Eric Jones before raising the roof with ‘A Voice of Singing.   Included was a quick trip to Germany with the hearty drinking song ‘Aus der Traube in die Tonne’.  The choir took a much needed respite and looked heavenward with Malotte’s ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ before returning home to Wales while singing ‘Cwm Rhondda – Bread of Heaven,’ the rousing hymn ‘Rachie’ and the soft, tragic tale of Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn.

During breaks in its world wide journey of song, the choir was wonderfully supported by local prize winning soprano Ffion Edwards, recently returned from her Eisteddfod winning performances who, accompanied by Stephen Berry similarly led us through a wide range of songs from throughout the world.  Starting with ‘What good would the moon be’, to ‘Welsh ‘Mae Hiraeth yn y Mor’, the inclusion of Strauss’s ‘Schön sind doch kalt’ and ‘ Breit über mein Haupt’, the always popular Puccini’s ‘O mio Bambino caro’, to Cornwall’s ‘Poor Wandering One’ from The Pirates of Penzance and including her mother’s favourite ‘Yr Alarch’ – The Swan, also set to music by Eric Jones.  Ffion also sang this when presented with the Geraint Morris Memorial Award at the Choir Hall last October.  As a result of winning this award, Ffion has been invited to sing as guest soloist, along with Caldicot Male Voice Choir at the Royal Albert Hall on May 19th.

The performance finalised with a rendition of the Wesleyan Easter favourite ‘When I Survey the Wond’rous Cross’ to the tune ‘Morte Criste’ in which Ffion, accompanied by the Choir, delightfully sang the soloist third verse.

The whole evening’s journey, thrilling the audience around the world of music, was steered and directed smoothly and humorously on the night by, for the third time at one of our concerts, the immaculate and timely introductions of Dean Powell as host and compère.

The evening ended with presentations to the Musical team, Ffion and Dean with an extra acknowledgement and presentation to Siân Hatton in recognition to her thirty years continuous service as Musical Director to the Choir.  A magnificent achievement and well deserved.

Choir sings for Bloodwise Charity at Bethany Church, Cardiff

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

The Choir last sang at the Bethany Church in Rhiwbina, Cardiff in May 2012 and was delighted to return again on 24th March to perform to help raise fund for Bloodwise, the Blood Cancer Research Charity Cardiff Branch.

In a brightly lit church in front of a small but enthusiastic audience and conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied by the accompanist duo of Stephen Berry and John Nicholson, the choir of over 50 choristers presented a wonderfully varied programme of not only traditional rousing Welsh hymns and melodies Rachie, Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn, Anfonaf Angel and O Gymru, but also introduced additional pieces such as Sixteen Tons, Shenandoah and  Men of Harlech.  Blended into the programme were film themes from ‘We are Soldiers’ (Mansions of the Lord) and ‘An American Tail’ (Somewhere Out There), theatrical showtime hits such as The Rhythm of Life together with all-time favourites Stout Hearted Men, Cwm Rhondda, Eli Jenkins’ Prayer, Malotte’s The Lord’s Prayer and the spiritual Ride the Chariot.  An unusual rendition was Calon Lân sung to the Maori tune Pokarekare Ana arranged by Alwyn Humphries and fittingly for Easter the choir included ‘When I survey the Wond’rous Cross’ to the tune Morte Criste.

Included in the evening’s delights, between choir performances, were the wonderfully skilled saxophone performances of Catrin Roberts, a 14 year old pupil of Ysgol Gyfun Cymraeg Glantaf. Catrin is currently studying the saxophone with Naomi Bayley and last year was awarded third prize at the Urdd National Eisteddfod in the year 9 age group  Accompanied by her father, a former musical director of Cwmbach Male Choir on piano, Catrin faultlessly demonstrated her skill with her chosen instrument by playing an aria by Bozza, the second movement of a sonata by Paul Creston and finalising with the first movement of a sonata by Phil Woods.  We are sure Catrin will follow in the footsteps of her talented sisters Elen and Hannah, students at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

With a firm promise from organisers Tom and Gill Jones to bring us back again in the near future, the audience left having been thoroughly entertained by both the choir and soloist, Catrin.   The Choir then departed to take light refreshments at the nearby Deri Inn where until we arrived, the patrons appeared to be all aged under thirty.  Despite the high prices the choir contributed enthusiastically to a rousing ‘Afterglow’ to the surprise and delight of the customers and publican.

Choir Annual Concert Coming Up on April 7th

Not forgetting the giant screen showings of the 6 Nations at the Choir Hall this weekend and Super Saturday next week, I’d just like to remind you that our Annual Concert is coming up quickly on April 7th. Following on from last year’s fabulous concert we’re proud to invite local prize winning soprano Ffion Edwards as our guest artiste. As well as bringing you the superstars of Welsh singing Caldicot Male Voice Choir is also pleased to bring you the best of the young musical talent that lies within our County.
 
Sponsored by Caldicot Male Voice Choir talented soprano, Ffion was awarded the prestigious Geraint Morris Memorial Award by the Welsh Association of Male Choirs in 2016 to follow her second place in the 18th 25 year old category at the National Eisteddfod. Ffion has recently graduated with honours at the Royal Welsh College of Music and is waiting to start a Master’s degree at the Royal College of Music in London in September.
 
We’re again pleased to welcome back internationally renowned compere and host Dean Powell. Dean has hosted for us twice before and each time ensured proceedings went smoothly with his unique humour, knowledge and lively presentation. The choir is certainly looking forward to meeting up with him again.
 
Put the date in your diaries and make sure you get to the Leisure Centre in Caldicot on April 7th for a really great evening of Welsh singing, humour and culture.

Practice and Concert Cancelled

 

We’re really sorry and know how disappointed you must be but due to the severe weather conditions we have decided to cancel practice tonight and postpone the St David’s Day concert on Saturday.

Although we have practiced hard for this concert, we would not want any of you to be put in danger trying to travel to the choir hall tonight or on Saturday and hope you will understand our concerns.

Caldicot School has been closed for today and tomorrow so it is extremely unlikely that our guest artistes from the School would be able to come either.

If possible we will let you know of a rearranged date in due course. Any money paid for tickets will be refunded in the event of cancellation or will remain valid should we rearrange the date. We’ll let you know as soon as we can.

Please let anyone you know of this post including those who intended to come on Saturday.

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

WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien