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Choir Performs at Caldicot Methodist Church

 

 

 Photos by Colleen Gauntlett.  Left click on images to enlarge

 

Programme

 

From research by accompanist Stephen Berry of the choir archives, maintained by chorister Ron Palmer, it was determined that the first ever major concert by the fledgling choir took place 50 years ago in the Methodist Church in Caldicot.  While we do not know the items sung on that occasion the choir provided this Saturday a varied programme, supported by local harpist John Thomas, in what was a wonderful night to remember

To commemorate this significant anniversary, the choir was thrilled to sing again in the church, almost to the day on October 11th in a concert at the Methodist Church to support the Prospects UK Charity.  This deserving charity supports over 3000 people in the UK with learning difficulties to enable them to thrive and grow independently in the community. The concert was attended by the Prospect U.K’s. National Director of Mission, Pete Winmill who travelled with his wife Christine from his home in Berkshire via a function in Coventry to be with us.  The concert raised over £400 for the charity on the night.  To quote Peter ‘What an amazing experience.  We have had a fabulous evening.  Thank you for arranging it and supporting our charity”.  Says it all really.

The varied mixed and popular programme is displayed above and over 50 choristers thrilled the audience with their performance.

The choir’s concert was ably supported by local harpist John Thomas who delighted us all with his sense of humour (what shall I play next?) and his wide range of music from the Beatles Yellow Submarine and All My Loving, traditional Irish, Lark in the clear air, I Dream of Jeanie by Stephen Foster and What a Wonderful World, Stranger on the Shore and two South American dances Habanera Rosa and Merengue Rojo and completing the first half with traditional welsh music, Bugeilio’r gwenith Gwyn, Myfanwy and Ar hyd y nos (All through the night).

Opening his second half  performance John showed his versatility by opening with Snow Patrol’s Chasin’ Cars and then through a wide range of Welsh, Irish and Scottish music including Pant Corlan y Wyn, The Dowie Dens of Yarrow, Irish Brian Borou’s March and finishing with the Welsh tunes Anodd Ymadael and Ffarwel y Telynor..

The choir was conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley Ann James and accompanists were Stephen Berry and John Nicholson.  The compere on the night was the church minister, Rev. Preben Andersen who did a splendid job despite having to apply a Danish accent to Welsh song and place names.  I doubt if many of us could cope with Danish, Preben.

See and hear us sing the Lord’s Prayer click on the link You tube which will also lead you on to other choir video clips.

 

Choir Returns to Roxbourne, Harrow

 

 

 

On a cool but sunny October 4th Autumnal afternoon the choir made its way over the Severn Bridge and along the M4, past majestic Windsor Castle before turning off to drive through the maze of suburban streets that make up the London Borough of Harrow.  The Choir was delighted to accept the invitation to return, following last year’s visit, of former Caldicot lad, Lyndon North, the Vicar of St. Andrews Church, Roxburgh to support his appeal for St Luke’s Hospice, Kenton.

We sang here a year ago, almost to the day on October 5th last year and we were reminded once again of the wonderful setting of this modern church with its superb acoustics.  Many thanks to the church supporter for providing sumptuous refreshments, pastries, tea and coffee on our arrival.  It’s very mush appreciated after a long journey

Led by our Musical team of Siân Hatton and Shirley Ann James and accompanied by John Nicholson and Stephen Berry, the programme opened to a full church of about 200 with ‘Rachie’ , a rousing Welsh Hymn guaranteed to gain the immediate interest of any audience. Following on with the contrasting ‘May You Always Have a Song’ and ‘On the Street Where you Live’ from the musical My Fair Lady, and ‘American Trilogy’ made famous by Elvis Presley. The enthralled audience was then treated to a refined, classical performance by local talented soloist William Davies with excerpts from Handel’s Messiah including ‘Thy rebuke hath broken my heart’ and ‘He was cut out of the land of the living’.

The programme continued with Elvis’ hit ‘Always on my mind’ and the haunting Welsh Melody ‘Dafydd y Garreg Wen, conducted by Shirley Ann James who also conducted the next  number, romantic ‘Let it be me’.  The first half performance continued with the reassuring hymn ‘He’ and concluded with ‘O Gymru’ with once again, Tom Hole singing the solo part.

Opening the second half with the classic Welsh hymn, ‘Llanfair’ and the spiritual ‘Ride the Chariot’, in which the soloists were Siân Hatton and David Gould,  the programme continued with the romantic appeal from the Don Bluth/Stephen Spielberg cartoon An American Tail, ‘Somewhere Out there’ and the equally romantic Elvis hit ‘Can’t help falling in love with you’.  With the audience now sitting firmly upright in anticipation, the choir with Stephen Berry on the church organ held the audience in raptures with ‘When I survey the Wondrous’ cross’ to the tune of Morte Criste.

William returned to the stage once more to delight the audience by singing ‘Sleep’ by Ivor Gurney and ‘Chanson triste’ by Henri Duparc.  His wonderful voice and chosen pieces complemented the choir’s performance perfectly.

The final part of the programme included the song first made famous by Josh Grogan and now a firm favourite of many choirs ‘You Raise Me Up’, contrasted then with Welsh Hymn ‘Llef’, ‘Eli Jenkins’ Prayer’ (also known as the Sunset poem) from Dylan Thomas’s radio play ‘Under Milk Wood’ sung to Troyte’s chant and finalising the concert with the foot tapping ‘Rhythm of Life’ which brought the audience to its feet with a  standing ovation as the final accolade..

For the choir, it was a pleasure and delight to sing to such an enthusiastic, welcoming, full house audience in a splendid setting with superb acoustics.  We are assured by Rev. Lyndon North that we will be invited back at the earliest opportunity.

The choir then boarded the bus to the Windsock RAFA club Harrow, to which we were invited once again to partake of refreshments and entertain regulars with another ‘afterglow’.

Tired but thrilled with the quality of the performance and the reception of the audience, the choir made the long return journey by bus along the M4 to Chepstow, Caldicot and Newport.

 

Choir returns to Faringdon

 

On a misty day the Caldicot Male Voice Choir  meandered its way through the the rolling pastures of the English countryside for the third time in five years to the ancient 12th century All Saint’s Church in Faringdon, Oxfordshire.  On the 20th September , in aid of the Rotary Club of Faringdon and District, the choir presented an eclectic mix of eighteen choral pieces from its varied and extensive repertoire.  New pieces, fresh from the Gala Concert included ‘On the Street Where You Live’, ‘Ride the Chariot’ (soloists David Gould and Siân Hatton) and ‘Nirvana’ while old favourites, ‘American Trilogy’, ‘African Trilogy’ (soloist Jason Dawe) , Bizet’s ‘Pearl Fisher’s Duet’ , ‘You Raise Me Up’, ‘Can’t help falling in love’ were all included and not forgetting a few in Welsh including ‘Rachie’ and ‘O Iesu Mawr’.

 

Between performances the choir and audience were treated to the delightful and talented voice of local soloist Louise Woodgate who took us through ‘Song to the Moon’ by Dvorak, ‘Can’t help lovin’ dat man o’ mine’ from Showboat to be followed in Part Two by Caccini’s ‘Ave Maria’ and contrastingly a traditional Irish air ‘She moved through the fair’.  The choir’s performances throughout the evening were conducted by Musical Director Siân Hatton and accompanied by Stephen Berry and John Nicholson.

 

The choir completed its programme with Eli Jenkins prayer from Under Milk Wood, Jean Valjean’s plea from Les Misérables to ‘Bring Him Home’, ‘Always on my mind’ made famous by Elvis Presley and finally astounding the audience with the rousing Wesleyan hymn, a favourite of all Male Voice Choirs, ‘When I Survey the Wond’rous Cross’ to the tune Morte Criste.

 

Following the concert, the choir and supporters made their way down the tricky path from the church, across the picturesque town square to the Bell Inn for well deserved refreshment.

 

 

 

 

Gala Concert a Resounding Success

 

Photos by Colleen Gauntlett (Left click on images to enlarge)

 

 

What an incredible night at Caldicot Leisure Centre on Saturday 6th September! The Choir sang its heart out perfectly, the Mabe Ladies Choir conjoined in wonderful harmony with Caldicot’s performance perfectly and Rebecca John from the BBC’s Wales Today programme compèred the evening with delightful charm, precision and engaged the audience with her perfect professionalism.  All three combined to produce a night that the capacity audience of about 500 will remember for a  very long time.

The Choir toured Cornwall last year and shared the stage at Truro with the Mabe and was delighted that this fabulous choir accepted our invitation to sing with us again at the Gala Concert a year later.

The quality of the superlative performances was even more remarkable since the Caldicot Choir boasted nineteen new members singing in their first Gala Concert and the Mabe Ladies Choir had made the long and tiring 200 mile journey from beautiful Cornwall to be with us.  Those familiar with the practice needed to learn each piece in a choir will appreciate Caldicot’s magnificent achievement in producing such a quality performance with so many newcomers.

The programme had a wide ranging appeal, and two new pieces were premièred by Caldicot; ‘Nirvana’ (not the band) arranged by Stephen Berry and ‘On the Street Where You Live’.  Show casing twelve items in all, from the spiritual ‘Ride the Chariot’ featuring soloists Siân Hattton and David Gould, through two Welsh hymns; ‘Llef” and ‘Rachie’ , followed by haunting ‘Dafydd y Garreg Wen’ (not sung since about 1985) to foot tapping ‘The Rhythm of Life’ and the soft, melodic  hymn ‘He’, the Choir and its musical team of Siân Hattton, Shirley Anne James, John Nicholson and Stephen Berry produced a wide range of male voice choral music to suit all tastes in a performance that can only enhance the standing of Caldicot Male Voice Choir as one of the leading choirs in Wales.

In a contrasting choral style which wonderfully complemented Caldicot’s, the award winning Mabe Ladies Choir led by the ebullient ‘Mrs Crescendo’, Amanda Ward and accompanied by the talented Rico Gerber, also produced a mix of style, from opening with ‘Bright Morning Stars’ to finalising with the humorous Groucho Marx song ‘Lydia, the tattooed lady’.  In between we were treated to the beautiful  Korean song, ‘Ahrirang’ with accompanying percussion, ‘In Praise of Cornwall’ (which matched ‘O Gymru’ sung by the men, praising Wales; soloist Tom Hole to finalise their performance) and the technically demanding and fast moving ‘J’entends le Moulin – I hear the Windmill.  Following the interval the Mabe’s programme included ‘One Voice’, ‘Here comes the Sun’, ‘The Wayfaring Stranger’ and also ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight’ by Elton John, from the Disney cartoon, The Lion King.  This latter piece is also a firm favourite in Caldicot’s repertoire.

Sadly, the concert had to end and it closed with both National anthems.  Everyone in the audience was thrilled that the Mabe Ladies Choir paid Wales a fabulous tribute by learning ‘Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ to sing along with us.  Further, knowing that Caldicot Choir’s chosen charity for this year is Prostate Cymru, the ladies were pleased to present a cheque for £160 as a result of their own fund raising efforts. Thank you so much. Diolch yn fawr!

Both choirs, Rebecca John and our supporters made their way along the banner lined route to the Choir Hall (it’s only 75 metres) for a traditional, but no less enjoyable ‘Afterglow’ where, suitably fuelled, everyone enthusiastically joined in a celebratory party for which Caldicot Male Voice Choir is rightly famous.  Sadly the Mabe Ladies had to go at 11-00 pm but we are sure that they had a wonderful and memorable visit to Wales.  Thank you once again for joining us in a special evening.

Many, many thanks and well done to all (too many to mention by name) who contributed to such a wonderful evening, from those who set up the hall, to bar staff, Leisure Centre staff and the ladies of the choir who as always support their menfolk in their singing.  With such amazing support, dedicated choristers and a talented musical team, we are positive that following this Gala concert, the choir will climb to even greater choral heights.

 

 

Choir Visited by Belarus Children

 

 

 

 

Photos by Colleen.  Left click on images to enlarge

 

Last year the Choir’s quest was to raise over £6000 to help bring children who are victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1988. Many suffer from illnesses related to the ongoing levels of radiation which devastated this area and has left a terrible legacy to all who live there for many years to come.

 

Thanks to local charity, the Victims of Chernobyl Trust based in Caldicot, many children over 26 years have benefited by being given much needed respite for a month in this area.  The choir was delighted to help last year to enable another six children to visit us, which they did, accompanied by their interpreter, Hannah last night on 10th July.

 

Conducted by Shirley Ann James and accompanied by Stephen Berry, the choir sang a wide variety of pieces to entertain the children and our other visitors.  They particularly enjoyed our rendition of Delilah to which some of the children sang  the words in Belarussian.  The choir gave a mixed blend of Welsh and English favourites enjoyed by everyone.

 

Coincidentally, it was baritone chorister Lyn Gauntlett’s birthday and he brought along a cake, baked and decorated by his wife Colleen which, in the decoration told the story of how he got stuck in a compost bin a few years ago!  This was eagerly devoured by the children and choristers alike.  Prior to cutting the cake, the children sang Happy Birthday in Belarussian while helping to blow out the candles and presenting him with a good luck corn ring.  Just for good measure the choir also sang Happy Birthday in English!

 

Again the choir members showed their amazing generosity by contributing to a raffle which raised £111 for the children to go on a special trip during their month long visit.

 

Presentations of gifts and souvenirs were made to the children and Hannah, who in return presented the Choir with a hand made corn doll which is now proudly displayed above the hall doorway.

 

All the Choir wish the children a wonderful happy stay in this beautiful area of Wales and we know that their visit will live long in their memories and we look forward to many more visits from the children of Belarus

Choir Entertains Crowds at National Cycling Event

Photos by Colleen Gauntlett  Left Click on images to enlarge

 

The Choir has taken on a sporty theme this year and following its recent participation at the opening T20/20 Bash at the Swalec stadium, we were delighted to be the only Male Voice Choir to entertain the crowds at the British National Road Race Cycling Championships at Abergavenny on June 29th.  On a sunny Sunday in which the rain thankfully held off, the choir were entertained by several events including local children and ‘odd’ bicycle designs around Bailey Park.  Following on from local heavy metal/Rock bands, Gunpowder Plot, Black Rat Effect and Florence Black and leading on from Pro Tempura, an Abergavenny trio, we took the stage at 3-30pm to immediately precede the start of the Road Race.

Leading off from our new Choir gazebo, erected between the local Radio Sunshine bus and the tented stage, with Shirley Ann James conducting and John Nicholson as accompanist we climbed the steps onto the stage to enthral and entertain the waiting crowds at Bailey Park with rousing Welsh hymns Rachie and O Iesu Mawr.  Included in our repertoire were Fields of Athenry, Elvis hits You Were Always on my Mind and American Trilogy, Tom Jones’ Delilah and finally Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau in which the watching crowds enthusiastically joined in (Welsh ones anyway).

Disappointing that Sir Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish didn’t make an appearance but nevertheless congratulations to Peter Kennaugh, beating Sky team mate Ben Swift to take the Men’s National Road Race Title and to Laura Trott for earlier winning the women’s equivalent.

At the end of a long day, many members of the choir made their way to the nearby Bailey Arms to imbibe in light refreshments and another bit of a sing song to the locals before making their way home to Caldicot.

Our next sporting event is at David Broome’s Equestrian Event Centre in Crick on 28th July.  You’re not allowed to jump the fences, lads.

Choristers Carouse at Catbrook Memorial Hall

Photos by Colleen Gauntlett.  Left click on images to enlarge

 

In its history, the Choir has sung at many large and splendid venues including Wembley Stadium with Pavarotti, Carreras and Domingo and The Royal Albert Hall in London, many times at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff. the Crystal Cathedral in Orange County, California and on board two cruise ships, but few venues give us greater pleasure than to travel up the steep, sun speckled forest of the Wye Valley to sing for our friends in Catbrook.  On 7th June the choir made it way through the narrow lanes and up the slopes overlooking the valley, to the wooden framed Catbrook Memorial Hall, a former World War 1 US military hospital transported from London to the Wye Valley in 1924.  The hall also houses the Trellech Parish’s two war memorials.

 

The choir has made the trip to Catbrook several times to raise fund for the upkeep of the hall, but this time we are delighted to learn that half the proceeds of the evening will be donated to the Choir’s appeal to raise money for Prostate Cymru.

 

Conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley Ann James and accompanied by John Nicholson and Stephen Berry, the choir squeezed up to the front to sing in a hot and humid atmosphere to about eighty local villagers who gave us, as usual an enthusiastic welcome and  encouragement as we went through our programme with a mix from the theatrical Bring Him Home and Can You Hear the People Sing from Les Miserables, Welsh Hymns Llanfair and Laudamus, popular mixes of O Gymru with soloist Tommy Hole and African Trilogy with soloist Jason Dawe and spiritual Ride the Chariot including soloists David Gould and Siân Hatton among many others.

 

Between choir performances, accompanied by Stephen Berry, delightfully and hilariously, Siân presented the audience with a comical reading, in a northern accent, of comedy poet Marriott Edgar’s two part monologue of  The Lion and Albert written for comedian Stanley Holloway which relates how young Albert Ramsbottom on a visit to Blackpool, got swallowed by a lion called Wallace in the zoo.  The story has a happy ending.

 

The villagers of Catbrook have always provided a feast of refreshments for the choir and this year was no exception with four tables sagging under the weight of copious amounts of sandwiches, rolls, pies, sausages and food of all kinds (including healthy options), enthusiastically consumed by hungry choristers and audience alike.  Not only that but everyone gratefully partook of liquid refreshment on a warm and sultry June evening while the choir continued to sing informally for another ninety minutes from its ‘afterglow’ repertoire including Comrades in Arms, Delilah, Aus de Traube, Marina, Annie’s Song and many more much to the enjoyment of everyone in the hall.

 

The Choir would like to extend its thanks to the villagers of Catbrook for once again inviting us to this lovely part of the world to sing for you and we can tell that you thoroughly enjoyed the evening as much as we did.

Choir Helps Annalese’s Campaign to Find Cure for Crippling Disease

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

 

As part of its ongoing charity fund raising efforts, the Choir was more than delighted to offer an Open Evening to a brave, little 4 year old girl from Caldicot.  Annalese Gosling is suffering from the rare, cruel and currently incurable disease known as FOP (Fibrodysplasia Ossifans Progressiva).  This means that her body is creating a second skeleton which will finally encase her and cripple her for the rest of her life.

The Choir has an open door policy at any practice night but every so often we publicise this and invite a local charity, with their supporters and other members of the public to come along, free of charge to listen to us practice and sing a few popular numbers.  So far we have helped the Seren Appeal raise well over £500 to help the neo-natal unit at the Royal Gwent Hospital, The Victims of Chernobyl Children’s Trust again raised over £500 on a Open Evening; another contributed about £160 to Prostate Cymru as part of our on-going campaign for this charity and finally last night’s event helped raise over an amazing £600 for Annalese’s appeal to help the Friends of Oliver find a cure for this dreadful disease.

About 64 choristers came to practice last night to support Annalese together with Musical Director Siân Hatton, Assistant Musical Director Shirley Ann James and Accompanists John Nicholson and Stephen Berry.  It’s worth recording the songs sung on the evening as a demonstration of the Choir’s versatility in its repertoire. The choir opened with its new piece Nirvana to demostrate how a complex piece of four part harmony is put together and when the four parts do harmonise it’s an amazing sound.  The audience was then treated to an eclectic mix of classical Welsh Hymns, Llanfair and Laudamus,  Elvis Presley’s Maybe I didn’t Love You, Can you Hear the People Sing and Bring HIm Home from Les Miserables, Can you Feel the Love Tonight from Elton John’s The Lion King in which Siân Hatton’s amazing soprano voice was the solo part; You Raise me up, made famous by West Life and many others through to spiritual Ride the Chariot in which the soloists were David Gould and Siân Hatton.  The evening would not have been complete without a rendering of Tom Jones’ Delilah!  Arguably the third Welsh National anthem!

About 50 supporters turned up and we would have liked to have seen a few more but nevertheless, Annalese endeared herself so much that many were moved to tears (they won’t admit it though) and it is worth mentioning that local Caldicot Builder and bass chorister, Ron Powell made a singular contribution of £200.  Well done Ron, for your generous gift to help this brave little girl’s appeal.

If you would like to contribute more to Annalese’s appeal please visit her Giving website by clicking on the link Annalese.  Doing this will also qualify your donation for Gift Aid adding another 25% to the donation if you are a tax payer.

The Choir is always willing to consider helping a deserving local or National charity by giving a concert, usually free of charge (except transport costs) and if you would like us to help you in this way, please contact us through this website and we will do all we can to help.  Over the years the choir has raised many hundreds of thousands of pounds for deserving causes.

Choir Opens NatWest Blast t20 at Swalec Stadium

The Choir this year seems to have adopted a plethora of varied Sporting Themes this Summer.  Not only will we be singing at the British Cycling Championships in Abergavenny on June 29th and at David Broome’s Event Centre in Cricklands, Caldicot on 28th July before a Show Jumping Event, but last Friday we were privileged to sing to the incoming crowds at the Cricket International Test venue, the Swalec Stadium in Cardiff for the Glamorgan vs Sussex Sharks NatWest Blast t20 opening match.

We believe this is the first time ever that a Welsh Male Voice Choir has opened the t20 season at any cricket ground in the country and together with West Indies t20 and one-day International captain Darren Sammy also making his debut for Glamorgan, it was an evening to remember.

Conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley Ann James and accompanied by Stephen Berry, the choir entertained the crowds while the toss was being made (Glamorgan won it by the way and elected to bowl). The choir elected to open with Stout Hearted Men, Welsh favourites Laudamus and Rachie, followed by Fields of Athenry, we were video’d at the time and everyone could see us on the big screen.  We couldn’t see it, unfortunately because we were facing the cameras.

Following hearty applause, we then made our way to the stands to watch the first half when Glamorgan bowled out Sussex for 179 in their allotted 20 overs.

Going below the Cathedral Road Stand we sang to the surprised but appreciative crowds as they queued for their liquid refreshments and toilets with a mixed blend including songs made famous by Elvis; Always on My Mind and the Everly Brothers, Let it be me.  Again, Stout Hearted Men and a few more rousing Welsh hymns stopped the meandering crowd in its tracks (or maybe by this time a long queue had formed at the bar) but we know they enjoyed O Gymru with Tommy Hole singing the solo part, judging by the applause.  We were then treated to welcome, complimentary drinks at the members club bar.

The Choir then crossed the road from the Swalec stadium to fulfil our obligation at the nearby Y Mochyn Du (The Black Pig) public house where sang a non-stop afterglow of about two hours to a responsive, appreciative and supportive audience.

In the background we could hear roars from the stadium across the road as Glamorgan provided an  enthralling victory with the last ball of the twenty overs when debutant Darren Sammy hit the winning runs.

So an exciting night both for us, the supporters of Glamorgan Cricket Club and the players themselves and we hope we helped to inspire Glamorgan to their illustrious victory and wish them well in the remaining matches.

 

 

Photos by Lyn.  Left click on images to enlarge.

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