Photos by Colleen Gauntlett
To open its busy festive season. Caldicot Male Voice Choir invited the children of Dewstow Infants School to join in some festive fun and carol singing at the choir hall on December 11th. The small choir of about twenty girls and one boy entertained the choir and the audience with three festive songs; ‘Midnight’, a swinging, foot tapping ‘Christmas calypso’ and and a body swinging ‘Gospel rap’ which brought a huge round of applause. Full credit to the school choir because under the tuition and guidance of their teacher, Kerry McDonald they had only three weeks in which to practice
The children were amazed, delighted and thrilled when Santa Claus paid a surprise visit to hear them singing and later join the choir in the bass section.
Conducted by Shirley Anne James and accompanied by Stephen Berry and John Nicholson the choir presented a wide range of Christmas songs including Silver Bells, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, White Christmas, a Christmas Medley including Jingle Bells which had the children singing along, a calypso version of Mary’s Boy Child bringing back memories of UB40 and finalising with the humorous parody of The Carol Singers describing how a group of carollers being arrested by P.C. Bob Bates for raucous, dreadful carol singing.
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 14th.
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 concert with a local Caldicot school. 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’, a calypso version of ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ 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, 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 provided by the proprietor, Khaled Shalaby. 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.
Photos by Colleen Gauntlett. Left click on an image to enlarge
A change to normal practice last night (Monday 19th November) when Caldicot Male Voice Choir invited its vice president supporters to a cheese and wine party at the Choir Hall. They were treated to a short video and slideshow presentation of the choir’s activities over the past few years followed by a concert including a selection of Christmas songs conducted by Sian Hatton, Shirley Anne James and accompanied by chairman John Nicholson (who arranged the evening) and Stephen Berry.
The vice-presidents are non-singing active supporters of the choir who apart from an annual financial contribution support the choir’s activities throughout the year and often provide valuable advice and expertise. The evening was arranged in appreciation of their continuing support and encouragement.
During the evening, much to his surprise and delight, long-standing but now retired chorister Larry Lynch was, accompanied by extended applause from everyone at the hall, presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award and was conferred as an Honorary Vice President in recognition not only of his long service as a dedicated chorister but for his invaluable contribution over nearly forty years. Larry was not only a past committee member but toured on several occasions to America, Europe, throughout the UK and on two cruise ships. The award was jointly presented by President Richard Evans, chairman John Nicholson and Musical Director Sian Hatton. To quote Larry, ‘I never in the world expected this. This is a totally unexpected surprise award and the certificate will take pride of place alongside my 25-year long service award.’
A great Quiz night at Caldicot Choir Hall on 16th November organised by Jayne and Robert Stallard. Lots of questions to stump the 80 odd participants with music and general knowledge questions from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. Not to mention the Baby Quiz to identify choristers from their baby photos set up by Darren Lloyd and Tony Griffiths.
£230 was raised for the choir including the raffle and Paul Carlson’s team won the £30 prize. We’re also grateful to an unknown lady all the way from Cornwall who bought the quiz questions for £15. Many thanks. This is now turning into an Annual event to raise funds for Caldicot Male Voice Choir to help it continue to carry out its concert performances and charity appeals. Many thanks to all who turned up to support it as well as the bar staff of David Kirton, Chris Nolan and Paul Thomas and to the choristers who helped set up the hall and clean up afterwards.
Photographs were taken by Colleen Gauntlett.
Based on an initiative and idea in 2014 by Jayne Stallard, wife of Rogiet Community Council Chairman, Rob Stallard the building of an exquisite and poignant new War Memorial was completed at the Recreational Field in Rogiet in October 2018 to replace the previous wooden memorial which was seriously deteriorating. With an assembly of many of the local residents, a short Act of Remembrance and Dedication service was conducted by the Rev. Glyndwr Hackett in which Caldicot Male Voice Choir, conducted by Shirley Anne James and accompanied by John Nicholson was proud to sing ‘Mansions of the Lord’ from the film ‘We Were Soldiers’. The service included the playing of ‘The Last Post’, a reading by local schoolgirl Teya Andrews and concluded with a singing of the immortal hymn, ‘O God, our help in ages past’ accompanied by Choir accompanist Stephen Berry.
Consisting of two memorial benches, sandstone planters and the central plinth, the small memorial garden was designed by Rogiet Primary pupil Teya Andrews and consists of a stone plinth topped with a tiled mosaic made by Felicity Ball bearing the words ‘They once Saved Us, so let’s remember them! One more salute!’.
Following the service, welcome, warming refreshments were provided for everyone at the Rogiet Village Hall where a display of all the Rogiet Primary school pupil designs for the memorial were displayed around the walls.
While Caldicot Male Voice Choir raises thousands of pounds for local and National charities, it is also proud of individual members who undertake challenges to help charities under their own initiative. On 22nd October one of our youngest choristers, 25-year-old baritone chorister, Craig Howells and his friend Darren O’Sullivan began a four-day walk, starting at Hay on Wye to follow the River Wye to Caldicot. The walk of over 80 miles, taking four days, was undertaken to raise funds for and awareness of the National Autistic Society.
Sponsored by his brother Alyn and father Tony (who is also a chorister in the choir as was his late grandfather Owen), Caldicot Football club, Likes Land Rover, Tata Steel, Caldicot Male Voice Choir and the Castle Inn and many others, they started at Hay on Wye and spending nights in Hereford, where they were sheltered by Hereford Rowing Club and on to Ross on Wye where the White Hart provided free accommodation and breakfast, on to Monmouth, camping out in their tent for the final night and finishing at the Castle Inn in Caldicot who gave a massive welcome home and support.
Craig and Darren have so far raised over 1500 pounds for the National Autistic Society with money still rolling in. If you would like to donate, go to Craig and Darren’s Just Giving page.
Photo by Colleen Gauntlett
CALDICOT CHOIR SURPRISE CHORISTER ANDY AT HIS BIRTHDAY BASH.
Being in a choir is not just about singing together, it’s about having friends around you to share special times. When you join a choir you become part of a family and just about two years ago Caldicot resident but Canadian born, Andy Friedman walked through the door of the Choir Hall in Mill Lane and after listening to Caldicot Male Voice Choir for a few minutes decided to join their ranks as a second tenor. In Andy’s words ‘one of the best decisions of my life’.
At the request of his wife Carla, Caldicot Male Voice Choir was delighted to surprise Andy by taking part in the celebrations of his 70th birthday dinner at the stunning venue of Thornbury castle on Saturday 27th October, On facing the refrains of ‘Happy Birthday to You’ and surrounded by his family and friends, Andy was overwhelmed by this surprise but it didn’t stop him stepping into the front row of the second tenors to enthusiastically join in.
The choir entertained the audience with favourites including ‘Rachie’, Shenandoah’, ‘Sixteen tons’ and also premiered a performance of a new arrangement of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Bridge over Troubled Water’ by choir accompanist Stephen Berry. Finalising with ‘Cwm Rhondda’ the choir retired to the bar for welcome refreshment with Andy’s compliments. The choir was conducted by musical directors Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied by Stephen Berry and John Nicholson.
Photographs by Colleen Gauntlett. Left click on images to enlarge.
Last visited on 2nd March 2013, Caldicot Male Voice Choir returned this time on a drizzly, cold October 6th day, to the magnificent St Laurence Church in Stroud. Over 40 choristers, the music team of musical director Siân Hatton, assistant musical director Shirley Anne James and accompanists Stephen Berry and John Nicholson took part in a concert, shared by The Brass Band of the Gloucestershire Constabulary to raise funds for the Longfield Hospice in Gloucestershire. This occasion also celebrated the 150 year anniversary of the Church and coincidentally the 30th anniversary of the Longfield Hospice.
The Constabulary Band opened proceedings by giving a superb rousing performance during their 45 minute presentation. Opening with the piece ‘Children of the Regiment, the band showed its versatility by playing arrangements of the peaceful ‘Celtic Impression’ which included a euphonium solo, to the rousing themes from the films ‘Back to the Future’ and ‘The Gladiator’, to memories of wartime music medleys and a Caribbean Variation of a tune highlighting the three percussionists in the band. The performance ended with an encore rendering of ‘Manhattan Skyline’.
As the Constabulary Band left the church, the choir entered the stage to grasp the audiences’ attention with ‘Men of Harlech’ before the more sedate ‘Shenandoah’ and uplifting ‘Ride the Chariot’ with soloists David Gould and Siân Hatton. A change of mood followed with ‘On the Street Where You Live’ from the musical My Fair Lady. Welsh numbers appreciated by the audience included ‘Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn’ and ‘Anfonaf Angel’ before the choir showed its language versatility by offering up ‘The Prayer’ partly in Italian and English made famous as a duet by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion. ‘African Prayer’ as a version of the South African National Anthem was sung partly in Xhosa and partly in Welsh to be followed by the song made famous by Tennessee Ernie Ford ‘Sixteen Tons’. A concert could not finish without the choir singing ‘Cwm Rhondda’, the most famous of Welsh Hymn tunes. Asked to perform an encore the choir obliged with the rousing, enthusiastic ‘Rachie’ which has one of the most famous of all Welsh choir ‘Amens’ to bring on rapturous applause from the appreciative audience.
Following the concert the choir made its way to the Imperial Hotel in Stroud to be made most welcome by Hotel manager Lacksham Gallage who, not expecting us and not knowing what to think when invaded by 40 odd singing Welshmen and their supporters, threw open the doors and provided us with refreshments and crisps for the rest of the evening. It must be said that the Afterglow singing, controlled by David Gould was the best for a long time and several new pieces were included to the delight of the clientele which included a party from West Wales. A bucket collection instigated by Mark Stocker raised 128 pounds to go towards Cancer Research since we learned that one of the diners was about to take part in a 2 mile raft race the next day in support of the charity. Well done all for making it a great evening.
Photos by Colleen Gauntlett Left click on the images to enlarge.
We all know that singing in a choir has major health benefits but to add to this several choirs. including Caldicot Male Voice Choir have formed cycling clubs to improve their fitness levels. Caldicot was therefore delighted to accept Oxford Welsh Male Choir’s cyclists and choristers invitation to join them as they took a break from their charity ride from Oxford to South Wales as they rested up on Friday 28th September at the Beaufort Hotel in Chepstow. As part of their 90 year anniversary celebrations, the Oxford cycle ride and concert tour was in aid of the British Heart Foundation. Oxford and Caldicot Male Voice Choirs were also joined by members of Chepstow Male Choir for the get together.
Conducted by Musical Directors Helen Swift of Oxford and Siân Hatton of Caldicot and baritone chorister of Caldicot, David Gould the group of about 50 choristers and supporters were treated to an enthusiastic mixture of songs including ‘Rachie’, ‘Let it be me’ to ‘My Grandfather’s clock’ and ‘Stout Hearted Men’ as a medley of ‘afterglow’ singing thoroughly enjoyed by all.
Following on, Oxford travelled to Penarth on Saturday 29th September to meet up for a joint concert with Risca Male Choir. The city of Oxford has a long standing association with Risca in that the city supported a march by 1000 miners from Newport to Oxford in 1928 as part of fund raising efforts in the city to aid the stricken South Wales coalfield population. Later in 1929 the city adopted Risca as its main recipient of its relief efforts. The city also found work for several hundred men and boys of the South Wales coalfield during this turbulent time.