The Wedding of Camilla & Richard Broome (or how the other half live)

From ‘The Libretto’ – July 2011

What a day! it started off with the bus driver having road rage on the M5 when a car cut him up.

We then arrived at Broadwindsor in glorious sunshine. Judging by all the top hats and tails and elegant dresses and hats you would think we were at Royal Ascot.

The church was packed and we sang 2 songs which were well received by the guests. The sound in the church was brilliant and we should go back and do a concert there.

We then left the church and headed for the reception at the bride’s parents farm.

We got off the bus and John Jones directed the bus driver to park at the top of the field. We were then escorted past the tennis courts that were housed in a huge marquee and onto the lawn at the back of the house. We were offered Pimms and wines a few choristers asked for beer and were given them. The guests arrived and we gathered around the pool and sang about 8 songs. David Broome and his wife led the applause and were overjoyed with our performance.

Then back to the bus only to find the driver had it wedged on someone’s driveway. After 45 minutes we got the bus free only after he had demolished a Cotswold stone wall post, dug up the driveway and ripped up a couple of tree posts.

He managed to get us to the pub where we had free drinks courtesy of Mr & Mrs Broome and some food paid for by the choir.

Then we set off for home, but the driver forgot about the Bristol boys and was heading for the new bridge. We had to go and rejoin the M4 and then the M5 and head back the way we came. This added another 40 minutes to our journey.

Apart from the bus journey a good day was had by all and I am sure we will be asked to sing at Broadwindsor again.

Shirley Ann & Steve

From ‘The Libretto’ – July 2011

We do not know how lucky we are having the musical team that we have. While John & Siân were away on a well deserved holiday, Shirley Anne and Steve were left to hold the fort. With a wedding, a concert, a funeral and all the twice weekly practices, they did this without a moan or a hitch. We are so lucky to be able to carry on as normal when we have members of the musical team away (not many choirs can). Shirley Anne is only employed part-time and only has to do one practice a week, but her dedication and the drive for this choir to keep up it’s commitments, she juggled her work and home life so that she did not let us down. Steve also puts the choir first and we know he has a very full life outside the choir, plus arranging his daughter’s wedding, he still found the time to attend everything arranged. I for one salute Shirley Anne & Steve for all they do for the choir and I know that without them (and Siân & John) we would not be here. So lets show them how much they mean to us by attending as many practices as we can and also try and attend every concert we can. We should never go away with less than 65+ on stage.

LOVIN’ IT! (Singing in Welsh)

From ‘The Libretto’ – July 2011

LOVIN’  IT! Ramblings of a Chorister

I was watching the telly the other night and scanning through the Freeview programme guide for a film on channel 4, which I pressed only to discover that Channel 4 is in fact on Channel 8 and what I actually turned on was ‘Pobl y Cwm’ on S4C.  Brilliant, because although I dislike TV soaps, one of the things I love about the choir is singing in Welsh!  Bearing in mind that my singing in English is questionable, at least singing in Welsh gives me an opportunity to practice miming.  Maybe I look like one of my goldfish, but I hope I’m not like John Redwood singing the National Anthem!  Remember?

Now this really is shameful since claiming to be Welsh myself and remembering that my Nan was a Welsh speaker I really ought to make an effort to learn the basics of the language.   I used to be reasonable in French and German at school so how hard could it be?

So here we go.  I have a mate who’s self taught but fluent in Welsh so I ask him for a few tips. First of all he says that Welsh is easy because it’s phonetic, there is no K, no J and no X except for jam, Jones and Xmas ( classier Welsh people say Nadolig) but there are a few more letters in the alphabet, like RH, LL and that W and Y are sort of vowels.  I discovered that the order of words is totally different to English and that the verb comes first in most sentences and adjectives follow the noun, like in ty bach.  Oh oh!  This is going to be harder than I thought.  So we start with Rwy’n hoffi coffi – I like coffee. Actually I don’t like coffee much but it sounds good so I’ll go along with it.  Rwyt ti’n hoffi coffi – you like coffee, but only for close friends, relatives, children and pets do you use ti, otherwise use Rydych chi’n hoffi coffi.  Oh my God!  What if I use the wrong form to my Auntie Lil, will she be offended?  Probably not, she’s been dead for 10 years.  But what do I say to the cat?  She doesn’t like coffee anyway, so I don’t suppose it matters.  How close do friends have to become before you change from chi to ti?  Before or after you’ve slept with them?  Or just on shaking hands terms?

Anyway, I’m beginning to enjoy it, so I say to my friend “Why is it that Welsh for Wales is ‘Cymru’ but on the sign by the Severn Bridge it says ‘Croeso i Gymru’ with a G?”  “Ah, that’s what we call mutation”.  I immediately think of Mutant Ninja Turtles, but he says that nouns beginning with certain letters following a preposition like of, from, to, in etc., the beginning of the word changes, like C changes to G (cath to gath), P changes to B (pobl to bobl),  G is dropped altogether (gardd to ardd), B to F (bwced to fwced) and so on, but only for feminine words, not masculine.   What! Male and female words like in French and Italian?  I can understand bachgen (boy) is masculine and merched (girl) is feminine but how the ‘ell do you tell the sex of a table?  Bwrdd (table) is masculine but cadair (chair) is feminine.  Wonder what goes on in our dining room after the lights go out?  Do they breed and produce a sideboard?

But that’s only Soft Mutation, there are Aspirate and Nasal mutations as well (like fy Nhadau in the anthem which comes from Tad meaning father) where both masculine and feminine words change after pronouns. And the adjectives change to match as well!  OK, I’m beginning to lose it now. I wish I’d never asked.  But how hard can it be when there are 3 year olds west of Brecon who can speak fluent Welsh?  And apparently sheep dogs respond to Welsh commands!  So don’t shout ‘Stay’ to a collie in Llandovery if it’s got hold of your leg!

Anyway, with my new found knowledge, I go back to choir practice.  Shirley Ann gets onto the podium, adjusts her glasses and when we don’t shut up on the first request, or even the second, she frowns, looks over the top of her glasses and gives a loud shout of “Nawr te! Hisht!” that reminds me of my Nan telling me off when I was a lot younger – no change there then.   Know fear, lads.  Know fear.

“Right, we’ll do ‘Yfory’ to start.  Remember, tenors it’s Gweithio ”.  Pause  –  “No we won’t, we’ll do ‘May You Always Have a Song’ instead” just as some of us have got our copies out.  “And we’ll have a little stand”. LOVIN IT!  Not only do you get to sing in this choir, but you get free aerobic classes as well!  I really don’t understand why some of us groan.  Perhaps we’d prefer a lie down.  I’m glad we don’t have big stands!

We sing it while Shirley Ann helps us with the words and timing.  “ Da iawn!  That was really nice boys (have you taken a good look at us lately?) especially the tenors.  No, really. But you still have to do that last part again, it wasn’t quite right”.   Don’t we know it.  I don’t think Shirley Ann’s got anything against the baritones and basses, I think she says it to encourage the tenors. Anyway, typical teacher – you’ll keep on doing it again and again until you get it right!  “Some of you are still singing ‘song’ when you should be singing ‘love’!  You have to watch me!”  I do, I do, honest!  If we can’t get English ones right, what chance do we have with Welsh?

“Let’s do ‘O Gymru’ now.  Are you alright with the solo bit, Tommy? Ready, Steve.  And we’ll have another little stand. ”   OK, OK the first stand was fine but you’re beginning to wear us out now, not to mention the dizziness and vertigo.

We sing it with such passion, verve and gusto that for once Shirley Ann is stunned into silence.  Eventually she says again “Da iawn! Bendigedig !  That was wonderful boys, really good.  I love coming to this choir.  You’re such a tonic, you really are.  You don’t realise how good you are! Your diction is fabulous.”   At this point some of us are beginning to blush.   It’s not often we get a ’Bendigedig’ even if we don’t know what it means, but it must be good  (I don’t think she literally means we’re adorable or blessed, though).

“Now let’s do ‘Tydi a Roddaist’ shall we?   No, I meant ‘Ti y dy Ddoniau’.  They might sound the same to you, but believe me, they’re totally different”.  Well, that’s Shirley Ann for you, but what would we do without her?  Ryn ni’n dy garu di. What’s this – verbs mutate as well – caru to garu?   Then my mate says, “But Welsh is different in North Wales, it’s more literal and some words are different”.   Oh well!  Let’s get to grips with Myfanwy – is she a close friend or not?  Makes a change from Delilah!

Lyn (Baritone, maybe)


From ‘The Libretto’ – June 2011


To Tony Griffiths (Baritone) and Richard Evans (Bottom Bass) on passing the final voice test. Richard performed in his first concert on Friday 20th May at Bishton Church. Tony was unable to attend the concert but hopes to be on stage for the next one which is Faringdon on the 4th June. On behalf of all the choir and musical team we hope you enjoy the experience of singing on stage and welcome you both to the choir.

From ‘The Libretto’ – June 2011

The new website is up and running. Tony and Spike have done a great job getting the new website up and running. It is still in its early days, but the site still looks good. You can add comments to the page, view past history and read fragments of the Libretto. It gives all concert dates and will also have music tracks. You must type in the full address, if you do not you will be taken to the old web page or other sites that have info about the choir. I would just like to mention Frank Thomas. Frank was the person who first started the old website and was instrumental in getting all the info updated. Without his input the web page would never have been the success that it was. As we know, due to ill health, Frank has been unable to keep up with the website and the licence is due to expire. This was the reason the new site was started. I would like to pass on our thanks to Frank for all he has done and wish him all the best on his road to recovery.

Holly Holyoake

From ‘The Libretto’ – June 2011

Holly is a Welsh classical music singer from Duffryn, Newport, born 31 December 1988. A soprano, she has been likened to fellow Welsh performer Katherine Jenkins.

Caldicot Male Voice Choir and Holly have a long association going back to when, as a young girl, she sang at several concerts given by the choir.  That link has been maintained and Holly recently sang with the choir at the funeral of the late Roy Shuck.

Her career is following a similar path to Jenkins and she has performed before the Wales national rugby union matches at the Millenium Stadium. She considers American tenor Mario Lanza her inspiration. Holyoake’s debut album, ‘Wings’ was self-released in 2002 with the catalogue number HRH1, and recorded when she was 14. In 2004 Holyoake performed with Hayley Westernra in Cardiff. She came to prominence in August 2005 when, aged 17, she won a gold award in the Open category of the World Championships of Performing Arts in Hollywood. She was the only person representing the UK – competing against accomplished musicians from 40 countries across the world.

Barry Hammacott

From ‘The Libretto’ – June 2011

We received the sad news that ex-choir member Barry Hammacott passed away last Friday. Barry sang 2nd Tenor in the choir, but had to leave about 2 years ago due to health problems. Our deepest sympathy and condolences go to Barry’s family.

The late Roy Shuck

ROY SHUCK (1939 - 2011)

I received a phone call whilst in the Choir Hall from our President Richard Evans telling me that Roy Shuck had passed away on Thursday 26 May, in complete shock and lack of words it dawned on me the impact this would have on the Choir. Roy gave his life and complete dedication to his role as secretary, nothing too difficult to undertake and always willing to give advice and help, none more so than to myself, he was my right hand man. Our sincere condolences go to Ann and family.

Leon & Denise.
Chairman, Caldicot Male Voice Choir

From ‘The Libretto’ – June 2011

It was a great shock to us all when we heard of Roy’s passing away, more so because he was looking so fit and well. It has left a big hole in the fabric of the choir and he will be a big act to follow. Myself, Leon Jones, Steve Davies, Peter Heslop and Richard Evans went to pay our respects to Ann and her family on the Sunday following Roy’s death. Ann was glad to see us and it was not long before we all sat and talked about Roy and the choir.

We all know how much the choir meant to Roy and the time he dedicated to the choir, Ann said that she always felt the choir came first and she understood this as it was Roy’s passion. Whenever Roy took on a concert or made a decision regarding the choir, he did with the best intention of the choir. His heart and soul was the choir. We will in time realise just how much Roy did for the choir.

Since his death Ann informed us of the calls she has had from people outside the choir but connected with the choir. Holly Holyoake phoned to pass on her sympathy. Holly has sung many times with the choir and had great respect for Roy. Many calls from other choirs have been received and this shows the respect Roy had from other choirs. Roy will be deeply missed and our thoughts and prayers go to Ann and the family.

Mark Stocker

Funeral arrangements:

Wednesday 8th June 2011, St. Mary’s Church, Caldicot

Service at 11:45 hrs, Choir to meet in church 11:15 hrs

Crematorium, Croesyceiliog at  13:00 hrs, then back to Choir Hall after the service.


Wanted Bar Staff

From ‘The Libretto’ – May 2011

The choir is looking for any members of the choir who would like to be trained as bar staff.

At the moment we have 3 bar staff and we want to at least double that. This will give us more flexibility in the bar and also would keep queues down when we have the Annual and Gala concerts. So if you fancy pulling a few pints then please see Dave, Wyn or Roger.

Roy Davies

From ‘The Libretto’ – April 2011

The passing of Roy was a big shock as he looked so well at the Race Night. The funeral was held at St. Mary’s Chepstow, where there was standing room only. Approx 40 choristers sang at the funeral conducted by John Evans. Roy had requested ‘The Fields of Athenry’ and ‘Gwahoddiad’. Our thoughts and wishes go to Marilyn and the family.