Category Archives: 2013

Open Night for Children of Belarus

Chernobyl posterYou are probably already aware that our nominated charity for this our 50th Anniversary year is the ‘Victims of Chernobyl Children’s Fund’.  This is a local charity that aims not only to provide relief aid to the victims of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Belarus but also brings a number of affected children to Caldicot for a month’s respite in the summer.

 

The 1986 nuclear explosion in Chernobyl sent a cloud of radioactive dust  all over northern Europe but over 90% was deposited just across the Dniepr river into the populated marshes of Belarus.  Ironically the power station site is now judged to be safe to visit!  Later generations of thousands of innocent children in the region are suffering the effects of the radiation and for the past 25 years the charity has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds to help the victims and their families.  The charity recently contributed to raise support to help new born baby Marek to have an urgent heart switch operation.  This is unavailable in Belarus and the baby had to be flown to Germany for this life saving operation.  £30,000 was needed and thankfully mother Marina and baby Marek are doing well.  This operation is common and free in this country.

 

To help raise awareness and hopefully some much needed funds for this deserving local charity, the Choir is holding an OPEN EVENING on 4th April at 7-00pm at the Choir Hall in Mill Lane, Caldicot.  For directions, move onto the CONTACTS tab at the top of the page and click on FIND US on the drop down menu .  You will be very welcome.  We will run through some of the items to be sung at our Annual Concert on April 13th and show you how some of our amazing music is put together.  Entry is free but there will be a Bucket collection. A bar will be available during the interval and afterwards.

 

In addition the Choir’s Cycle Club (Côr Meibion Caldicot Cycle Club) is holding a sponsored Cycle Ride from Brecon to Caldicot in July (Belarus 1600) and we want to raise awareness of this as well and get more sponsors.  To date, we have over 50 riders who have pledged their support with the intention of raising at least £5000 to fund the visit of six children and their interpreter to Caldicot for a month and we hope you will support them.  Details are on our Cycle Club website.  Just click on the yellow diamond badge at the top right of this page.

 

We do hope you will come to our OPEN EVENING – and give us and the Victims of Chernobyl your support.

St Laurence Stroud Parish Church

St Laurence Stoud 2

 

On Saturday 2nd March the Choir is travelling to the historic Cotswold town of Stroud to sing at the restored St Laurence Church, the Parish church of the town.  Among the pieces to be sung are Laudamus, Innsbruck and the 23rd Psalm – all in Welsh.  That should surprise the locals, but we are a Welsh Male Voice Choir after all!  The concert starts at 7-00pm and is in aid of Stroud Lions International.

 

St Laurence Stroud

 

In medieval times, a church was built on this site as a chapel of ease to the mother church of St Mary’s, Bisley.

 

By the 14th century, Stroud had grown to the extent that it could have its own priest.

In the 19th century, it was felt that the church was not large enough for the congregations of the day and so in 1866 the whole church – with the exception of the tower and spire – was pulled down and the new building was consecrated and re-opened for worship in 1868.

Therefore what one sees on entering the church is essentially the Victorian structure.

On the wall in the south aisle are some pictures of the “old” church.

There are also some items that were saved from that church, mainly in the form of memorial tablets. They were placed on the west wall of the nave and in the ringing chamber in the tower. One of the tablets by the door into the tower commemorates the Fisher family, including Paul Hawkins Fisher who wrote, in the 19th century, a very full and informative history of Stroud entitled

 

 

Notes and Recollections of Stroud.

The most striking monument rescued from the old church is now in the south transept. It shows Thomas Stephens of Lypiatt in his lawyers robes. He was attorney general to both Henry and Charles Stuart. Charles later became King Charles II.

The church contains a number of features donated in memory of members of the Stanton family who were prominent citizens in a number of fields including cloth manufacture and politics, some representing Stroud in Parliament. The magnificent wooden screen between the nave and the choir was donated in 1912 by the Stanton family, and the cross above it was added in 1914 in memory of Father Arthur Stanton who served the very poor parish of St Alban’s in Holborn, London for 50 years.

Choral Kings at Catbrook


Press Release


Left click on images to enlarge.  Many Thanks to Martin Routh and Lyn for photos.

 

Through the picturesque, Wye Valley villages of Itton, Devauden and Trelleck, more than 50 choristers and the Musical Team made their way to Catbrook Memorial Hall, perched high on the wooded slopes above the River Wye.  As we travelled on the coach through pitch black, narrow, winding country lanes, choristers were heard flexing their vocal chords like seventy year old teenagers, with cries of ‘Where the’ ell are we; never been this way before;  are we there yet?  Pity it was dark and we couldn’t enjoy the views, but nevertheless we always get a wonderful welcome at this venue.

 

Supporting some 80 seated villagers and following introductions by Jeremy Creasy, the capacity filled hall  resounded to a stimulating, varied and entertaining programme of our favourites including the rousing Welsh hymn, Llanfair, (this always makes the audience sit up), the theme song of the animated Don Bluth 1986 film An American Tail, composed by James Horner, words by Barry Mann, Somewhere Out There, a Cole Porter medley including appropriately Another Opening, Another Show and the romantic Welsh melody, Lleucu Llwyd.  These were followed by the equally romantic theme from the Lion King, Can You Feel the Love Tonight beautifullysung by the Choir’s Musical Director Siân Hatton, accompanied by the Choir.  Continuing the romantic theme, close to Valentine’s Day, a favourite of the Choir. Yfory, tells of a Welshman’s longing to meet up once more with his loved one, Tomorrow.  Once sung, probably inapropriately, by the Choir in a Funeral Parlour in Bargoed, the choir included a song made famous by Westlife, You Raise Me Up. Interspersed into the programme were the melodic lullaby by Wilfred Shaw, ‘An Evening’s Pastoral’ first sung by the choir soon after its foundation in 1963, and the moving hymn, originally written by J Richards and sung to a special arrangement by Stephen Berry, ‘He’.  A change of mood was introduced by the foot tapping Alexander’s Rag time Band to close the first part of the performanceTribute must also be paid for their outstanding contributions to the evening; Assistant Musical Director, Shirley Anne James and our two talented accompanists, Stephen Berry and John Nicholson, without whom none of our concerts would be possible.

 

Following suitable refreshment and a chance to join up with old friends, the choir lifted the audience to its feet with it’s unique choral rendition of Queen’s Somebody to Love in which, backed by the choir, Siân once again demonstrated her versatility by emulating Freddie Mercury as the soloist.  The Choir’s varied repertoire was once again demonstrated by the inclusion of African Trilogy, which contains a song sung by African rail and road workers, Shosholoza, the spiritual We are Marching and the South African National Anthem ‘Nkosi Sikeleli, Afrika’ including soloist Jason Dawe.  The wish of all choirs, May You Always Have a Song was included and it is always a delight to include ‘O Gymru’ extolling the virtues of Wales, in which Tommy Hole nervelessly, sang the solo verse.

 

While this is a small venue in our concentrated 50th Anniversary programme, it remains a pleasure for us to entertain small, local communities in this way, especially when we get such a warm and enthusiastic welcome.  We believe that it brings the joys of Welsh Male Voice singing to an audience who may not otherwise have the opportunity to experience this uniquely wonderful aspect of Welsh culture.   The fact that such events help to raise funds to support village activities and local charities, brings added delight.  We have been made welcome at Catbrook many times in the past and we are sure to continue this traditional bi-annual concert.

 

Following, probably our longest ever ‘Afterglow’, in which the villagers enjoyed over 2 hours of unaccompanied, informal  choral singing,  the Choir left our friends, Catbrook and the Wye Valley, still echoing down its wooded slopes, to the Rock sounds of Find Me Somebody to Love.  Hope we didn’t cause any landslides onto the Tintern Road!


Press Release

Giovanni (John) Mattia

Giovanni at the Senedd March 1st 2012

 

The Choir was absolutely devastated to learn of the sudden and unexpected death of 77 year old chorister Giovanni Mattia at his home on Friday 8th February 2013.

Giovanni, known affectionately by everyone as John was born in the southernmost part of Italy and emigrated to this country as a young man.  Following the sad death of his wife Franca, a few years ago he joined our choir as a 2nd Tenor.  Although he was only a chorister for just over two years, he immediately infected all of us with his constant smile and enthusiasm.  Always in his choir polo shirt or fleece jacket, he attended just about every practice and concert in the short time he spent with us. His unbounded pleasure and immense pride on being part of our Choir were plain for all to see.  Our performances of Nessun Dorma were a particular joy to John as a reminder of his Italian roots and his shared love of singing.

Although small in stature, often hidden from view in the ranks of the choir on stage, John captivated us all with his huge smile and even bigger heart.   It is a privilege to have known him and he has left an immense gap in our midst.  The photograph above shows John on the steps of the Welsh Assembly Building (the Senedd) on March 1st 2012 prior to our concert inside.

Our sincere condolences and thoughts go out to his son John, daughter Sarah, sister Emilia and all his family at this very sad and tragic time.

John’s funeral will take place in St Paul’s Catholic Church, Longcroft Road, Caldicot on Monday 18th February at 2-00pm and internment will be at Caldicot Cemetery.

 

 

Swimming Club at the Choir Hall

Left click on images to enlarge

 

You may not be aware, but the Choir Hall is used for many events besides singing practices and concerts.  As one of the largest venues of its kind in the area, we try our best, when possible to accommodate functions for other clubs. charities and societies within the local community as well.  On Saturday 26th January the Hall was used for the Annual Prize giving ceremony of Caldicot Swimming Club.  An enthusiastic and long term supporter of the choir, Jessica Morden MP for Newport East was honoured to give out the awards to deserving members of the swimming club and her web-site comments can be read by left clicking on the image above.

 

 

If you would like to book the Hall for your event or function at very reasonable hourly rates, please click on the CHOIR HALL tab above for photos of various functions at the Hall or use the Booking form icon on the Home page.  A bar can be made available at extra charge.

Teenage Cancer Charity Visitors

Teenage Cancer Trust

 

The Choir was pleased to welcome Anne and David Hextable to Choir Practice on Monday evening.  Anne and David are representatives of The Teenage Charity Trust which is the only UK charity dedicated to improving the quality of life and increasing the chances of survival for young people between the ages of 13 and 24 who have cancer. It should surprise you to learn that on average six young people are diagnosed with cancer every day.

 

This charity relies entirely on donations and fund raising and Anne and David came along to enquire if we could perform at a concert in aid of their charity.  Their comments were that they really enjoyed listening to ‘such a wonderful choir’. We would of course, be delighted to have the opportunity to sing to help this charity later in the year.  Having cancer is the worst experience in the world.  Teenagers are supposed to be having fun with friends, enjoying life and looking forward to the future, but for many this is impossible.  Please visit their web-site by clicking on Teenage Cancer Trust for more information.

Two New Tenors!

Last week, introduced by baritone Allan Saye, Stefan Edwards came along to practice to have a listen to us and was so encouraged by us reading our new pieces from music sheets that he thought ‘it couldn’t be too hard, I might join’. This Monday he saw and heard us singing a range of familiar songs (to us) without sheet music and he thought ‘How can they do that?’ and nearly left. Thankfully he stuck around and with a little encouragement went into the back room with Siân (brave lad), sang a few ‘Oohs’ to accompaniment on the piano and was told ‘You’re a second tenor, Stefan’.

 

Not to be shown up, newcomer on the night, David Price (he only popped in from the pub with Spencer Dowse for a warm), was hustled into the back room before he could escape and like Stefan, only a little higher, belted out a few Ooohs and emerged, pale faced and with a glazed look in his eyes to be told he’s a top tenor!  How good is that!

 

Both took their assigned places among the ranks of the choir for the second part of practice and managed to survive unscathed to the end. The Choir is absolutely delighted to welcome you both and we all hope you will enjoy many years of singing with us.

 

Many thanks to Allan and Spencer for bringing along two new recruits.  Could we all follow their example as well and bring along some friends?

 

If you’re reading this and have thought about joining a Male Voice Choir, why not follow Stefan and Dave’s example, come to the Choir Hall on a Monday or Thursday evening, walk through the door and have a listen to us?  How easy is that? Bring a friend if you’re shy.  And it’s warm with the heating on!  Click on JOIN US to learn more.

Caldicot Concert Starts 50th Anniversary Year


Press Release

 

Photos by Colleen Gauntlett.  Left click on images to enlarge

 

What better way to start our 50th Anniversary Year than with a concert in our own home town of Caldicot! Almost 60 choristers travelled the short distance from the choir hall in pouring rain to sing to a full house at Caldicot Methodist Church in the town centre to help the church with its fund raising efforts.  There has been a Wesleyan presence in Caldicot since 1807 and the present church was built in 1898.  Following extensive renovations during the 1970′ s and 80’s, together with the completion of a two storey annexe in 1996, the building is now the most imposing feature of the town centre. If you would like to learn more about Caldicot Methodist Church, please click on Caldicot Methodist Church to take you to their website.

 

Introduced by long standing supporter, compère and Minister Rev. Preben Andersen and packed into an unfamiliar arrangement of 5 rows and all sporting their new 50th Anniversary ties, the Choir opened with the familiar Cole Porter Medley ‘Another opening, another show’ – and what a show we gave!  The choir sang a debut performance of ‘The Music’s Always There With You’, arranged by Stephen Berry and continued with favourites ranging from ‘An Evening’s Pastoral’ through two continents with American and African Trilogies (soloist Jason Dawe), back to Wales with romantic Lleucu Llwyd, inspiring hymns Llanfair and O Iesu Mawr, hopeful Yfory in which a young man is looking forward to returning to Wales to find his loved one, ‘Tomorrow’ and finally O Gymru (soloist Tommy Hole) extolling the virtues of living in Wales – the song doesn’t mention the rain though!

 

Accompanied throughout the evening by pianists John Nicholson and Stephen Berry (also as organist in American Trilogy and Morte Criste), the choir treated the audience to a mix of varying tempos and styles with the delightful, meaningful hymn ‘He‘, contrasted with the uplifting Easter hymn ‘When I Survey the Wond’rous Cross’ sung to the tune ‘Morte Criste’ and the theme song from Steven Spielberg’s presentation of the Don Bluth cartoon ‘An American Tail’, ‘Somewhere Out There’ and following up with foot tapping Alexander’s Ragtime Band – always a firm favourite.  The choir was conducted and songs introduced (precariously from a box) by Musical Director Siân Hatton, who also celebrates 25 years with the choir this year and, from the same lofty position,  Assistant Musical Director, Shirley Ann James.  Just as well we sang ‘You Raise Me Up’ and there are better ways to go up in the world, girls!

 

The concert was supported by two wonderful local artists.  Harpist John Thomas who regularly played at Caldicot Castle events, held the audience spellbound as he moved effortlessly through a 16th century Italian Dance, Bach’s prelude No.1, a medley of Welsh folk tunes, Dafydd y Garreg Wen, Pié Iesu, I don’t know how to love him, from Jesus Christ Superstar and many others.  Well known local soprano Joyce Rickards, another long time friend of the choir, stood in when the planned artist became indisposed, with two pieces; one of which was the nostalgic melody ‘My little homestead on the hill’ and the other  ‘Unwaith eto yng Nghymru annwyl – Once again to dear Wales’ both accompanied beautifully by John Thomas on the Welsh harp.

 

Rev. Andersen closed the evening following extended applause for all participants by praising the quality of the performances, especially the choir.  To quote ‘No wonder Wales is known as the ‘Land of Song’ and ‘the memory of this evening will live with me forever’.  The choir joined with Rev. Andersen to show appreciation for the hospitality and refreshments provided by church volunteers.  The audience and choir left the warmth of the church to face the elements but both continued to be warmed by the fact that they had experienced a truly wonderful evening of music and song.

 

The Choir is looking forward to continuing its Golden Anniversary with concerts at spectacular venues with a range of new and old songs.  The Annual Concert in April promises to be extra special this year at the Leisure Centre in Caldicot so please contact us for tickets.  It will be a sell-out! Do not be disappointed by leaving it too late.

 

Footnote:

 

We’ve recently developed a habit of going through the wrong door at concerts in churches.  This time we nearly joined the Weightwatchers club, but tea and biscuits weren’t on offer so we retreated before we were made to sign up.

 

Somebody asked ‘why are the first two rows empty?’  The simple answer is that if anyone sat there, they would only hear part of the front row or the piano. We wouldn”t want that, would we?

Bill Nash, 90 Years Young

 

Congratulations, Bill, on your 90th Birthday
Congratulations, Bill, on your 90th Birthday

 

All the members and friends of Caldicot Male Voice Choir joined together in his rare absence at practice on Monday to congratulate and wish long serving chorister Bill Nash a very happy 90th Birthday on Wednesday 9th January.  Born at a time of economic depression and general strikes, Bill hails from Llanharan, saw wartime service in the RAF and after singing in other South Wales choirs including Tonyrefail, joined us in 1970, the same year as relative youngsters Tommy Hole and Vince Lewis.  At that time many of the current choir were still in short trousers with alto and soprano voices – wonder who they are?  Now in the 2nd basses, Bill started his singing in choirs over 50 years ago as a tenor and has sung in every section of the choir in that time!

 

Bill continues to be a stalwart amongst us and although he has lived in Bristol for many years, is still a very active chorister and enjoys every minute.  He makes the twice weekly trip over the Severn Bridge to join us at most practices and appears at as many concerts as he can.  Always ready to reminisce, with a helpful comment or witicism from the front row, he brings an unbounded wealth of experience and knowledge which he is only too happy to pass on. If evidence is needed that singing can make you healthier and help you to live longer, then Bill is a perfect example.

 

We all trust that you had a very happy birthday, Bill and may you have many, many more.  Thank you for being the wonderful, dedicated chorister, proud Welshman and decent bloke that you are.

 

Llongyfarchiadau ac Penblwydd hapus iawn i chi

 

Footnote:

 

Bill turned up at an empty Choir Hall on Thursday, forgetting that we had a concert in the Methodist Church, but to a round of applause, accompanied by his wife, he skipped into practice on the following Monday sporting his silver, sparkling, celebratory 90th birthday hat.  Well done , Bill.  We all took the opportunity to congratulate him on his longevity and to sing ‘Happy Birthday’.    It wasn’t long before he chirped up  ‘Shouldn’t that note in bar 32 be a sharp, Siân?  I think some of us are a bit flat?’  He was right as always!

 

Baby boomer 2nd tenor Mike Thurman shares the same birthday but he’s a comparative toddler at only 65 on Wednesday.  Top tenor Jack Virgo is racing to catch up with Bill being only 88 years young.

New Year in with a Swing

Left click on images to enlarge

 

Those of you who couldn’t get here or couldn’t get a ticket, look at the photos and see what you missed!  Shame I can’t reproduce the sound on the site.

 

Following the success of the last time Barry Hammett’s Swingshift Band appeared at the Choir Hall in May, we were delighted and thrilled that Mark Stocker arranged for them to appear again, not only to welcome in 2013 but also to kick start the celebrations of the Choir’s 50th Anniversary!  What a way to start!  To a packed house of over 160, young and not so young, the Band opened with ‘Fly me to the moon’ and later invited us to ‘Wait till the Midnight Hour’.  The choir hall rocked, rolled and swung to a fantastic mix of music right through to the early hours with a mix of ‘Mambo Number 5’, Michael Bublé’s ‘Just haven’t met you yet’, ‘Have you met Miss Jones’, to Bill Hayley’s ‘Rock around the Clock’ and ‘See you later alligator’, ‘Crazy little thing called love’, and Georgie Fame’s ‘Yeah, yeah!’  There was something for everybody during their three headline performances.  Particularly special was their trademark Blues Brothers’ welcome to New York including fabulous audience participation.  Faithful to the sights and sounds of “Joliet” Jake and Elwood Blues, the band gave a riveting mix of soul blended with rock and jazz in true Blues Brothers styles of ‘Everybody needs somebody to Love” ‘Gimme Some o’ lovin’, ‘Shake it baby’, ‘Hold On’, ‘Minnie the Moocher’ ‘Jailhouse Rock, ‘Soul Man’ and ‘Papa’s gotta brand new bag’ among others.  No wonder this Band is arguably one of the finest function bands in the country.  If you want to learn more about the band then please click on http://www.swing-shift.co.uk/

 

After time for a few drinks, piles of sausage rolls, sarnies and Pringles and more chat while listening to music from the sixties (remember them, lads) and between the performances, the audience was treated to a selection of music chosen by our own chairman, Leon Jones, who is not considering a change of career as a result.  The raffle was expertly organised and conducted by Mark and volunteers with a large number of donated prizes.  Surprise, surprise, but no entry ticket had a number printed on the back, so the £500 prize went unclaimed.

 

The final session started with ‘Burn, baby burn’, ‘I don’t feel like dancing’ (most did), ‘Johnny be Good’ and finally climaxed with Amy Whitehouse’s ‘Valerie’ just before midnight.  During a short break in the band’s incredible performance and the reveler’s enthusiastic dancing, the New Year was welcomed in by a cascade of balloons set high in the ceiling and a chorus of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ sung with traditional fervour and swaying until the bar re-opened at 12-10am with complimentary drinks for all.  With continuous gyrotic dancing to ‘Signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours’, the Beegee’s ‘I should be dancing’, appropriately ‘Give me just a little more time ‘ as the bar closed at 12-30, ‘Burning love’ , ‘Play that funky Music’, ‘Ride Sally Ride’, ‘Down to New Orleans’ and with the echoes of Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York’ echoing in their ears, everyone left in the early hours of 2013 knowing (or perhaps not at the time) that they had truly enjoyed a night to remember.  The Band played for an exhausting two and a quarter hours and went through an incredible 34 different songs during the evening.

 

Without a doubt, this was the most enjoyable and entertaining New Year’s Eve at the Choir Hall for many years.  It was heartening to see a full house so thoroughly enjoying themselves and it sets the standard for the future.  Barry Hammett’s Swingshift Band will be a hard act to follow. The scene has been set – watch out for our other 50th Anniversary concerts and events!

 

Not only an appreciation of Barry Hammett’s Swingshift Band for an awesome evening’s entertainment, but once again, many, many thanks to the bar staff, Dave Kirton, Wyn Goodwin, Sian Hatton, Dave Gould, Phil and his wife and to all those unsung volunteers who turned up on Tuesday morning to clear up the debris and get the hall ready for practice on Thursday.  Tribute and thanks must also go to Kirsten and Steve of Inanda Events, Magor for giving up their time and efforts to decorate the hall so wonderfully for us.  The deluge of balloons at midnight ensured the New Year was brought in with several bangs!  Last but not least, most of all our applause and thanks must go to Mark for organising a truly fabulous night, well worth all the stress suffered, time and hard work that he put in.

 

More to follow as the information and feedback come in.  Keep posted.  I’m sorry if you didn’t get your photo taken, but if you weren’t there, I couldn’t take it.

 

 

Lyn