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Choir opens 2018 with Catbrook concert

Photo by Colleen Gauntlett

Caldicot Male Voice Choir has sung in many prestigious events and venues including many International Sports Stadia, The Royal Albert Hall, huge Cathedrals and Churches and Concert Halls throughout this country, the US, Canada and across Europe, not to mention the National Eisteddfod stage, but few of these compare to the wonderful welcome and enthusiasm for our singing given by the villagers of Catbrook, high up and hidden in the dense forests of the Wye Valley.  Venues such as these remind us of the humble roots of the great tradition that is Welsh male voice singing.

Once again we wound our way through the long and winding forest roads (again in the dark and rain) to arrive at the small Catbrook Memorial Hall to once again entertain the small group of about sixty who always greet us with a warm and encouraging welcome, not to mention the copious amounts of food so generously donated and appreciated.

Conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied by Stephen Berry and John Nicholson, the programme not only included traditional songs such as Rachie, Begeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn as well as Somewhere Out There, The Rhythm of Life, the spiritual Ride the Chariot and Anfonaf Angel but also included contrasting performances of ‘The Lady is a Tramp’ and ‘Shenandoah’ showing the versatility of our Choir’s singing repertoire. Solo performances were also made by Siân Hatton who sang ‘Wishing you were here again’ from the Phantom of the Opera and top tenor Peter Hanks who included ‘Down by the Salley Gardens’ with words by W B Yeats and the unofficial anthem of Lincolnshire, ‘The Lincolnshire Poacher’ with the audience joining in the chorus.

The concert was followed by a fabulous traditional ‘Afterglow’ in which choristers and the audience are entertained by a wide mix of unaccompanied choir singing.

Once again, the choir left to the plaintive strains of ‘On the bus, on the bus’ with the only regret that it will be another eighteen months before we return.

Choir sings at Cherry Tree Nursing Home

Last night, 21st December the choir was pleased, as part of its Christmas programme to visit the Cherry Tree Nursing Home in Caldicot to entertain the residents and staff with a range of Christmas Carols from its programme. Conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley-Anne James and accompanied by Stephen Berry the choir invited the audience to join in with the singing of favourites such as O Come all ye faithful, Christmas Time again is here, Hark the Herald Angels Sing and God Rest You Merry Gentlemen.
 
The Choir also sang Joy to the World, A Christmas Medley of four well known songs including Jingle Bells, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Sleigh Bells Ringing and A Child is a King. The widely appreciated evening was finalised with Big Crosby’s ‘I’m Dreamin’ of a White Christmas’ before the Choir were treated to refreshments of traditional mince pies and a welcome glass of warming sherry.
 
Following the concert the choir walked around to retired chorister Colin Jones’ home to sing a few carols for him. Colin is unable to get out of the house much due to ill health and after serving in the choir continually for over 50 years he misses it very much. He showed his appreciation by a massive thumbs up and every chorister present shook his hand, even the new members who didn’t know him personally.
 
Afterwards the choristers entertained the patrons of the Haywain public house which is a favourite watering hole of many of the choir.
 
Photographs by Colleen Gauntlett.  Left click on images to enlarge

Choristers sing at Ancient White Hart Inn

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 15th.

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 concerts with local Caldicot schools. 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’ 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, with none more so than the proprieter’s young son, 8 year old Zaki. 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 including mulled wine provided by the proprietor, Khaled Shalapy. 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.

 

Choir Sings for Lady Golfers at St Pierre

 

 

Photos by Colleen Gauntlett

 

The Choir gave up its normal practice night to travel just down the road from its Choir Hall in Caldicot to the Marriott Resort, St Pierre Golf Club where it happily sang a collection of songs to the Ladies section of the St. Pierre Golf Club at their Annual Dinner on November 23rd.

Conducted by Musical Director Siân Hatton and accompanied by John Nicholson, the Choir’s selection included popular Welsh favourites; ‘Cwm Rhondda (Bread of Heaven)’, ‘Rachie’ and ‘Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn’. The entertainment for the ladies over their teas and coffees also included the Choir’s versions of ‘The Impossible Dream’ from the musical Man of La Mancha, American folk song. ‘Shenandoah’ and the German drinking song ‘Aus der Traube in die Tonne’.  The Choir finalised its programme with the greatly appreciated Welsh modern song ‘O Gymru’ in which Siân Hatton took the solo part.

The Choir, to be joined by many of the Ladies, retired to the neighbouring bar for appreciated refreshments and a follow up of ‘Afterglow’ singing led by chorister David Gould.  The only regret expressed by the ladies was that time did not permit a longer performance but all agreed that it was wonderful contribution to a fabulous evening.

Choir returns to All Saint’s Church in Long Ashton Bristol

Photographs by Colleen Gauntlett.  Left click on images to enlarge

 

Unlike our last visit to Long Ashton in a torrential downpour, the evening was a cold but dry Friday night on November 10th as the Choir of about 60 members once again made its way over the Severn Bridge and on to All Saints Church at Long Ashton, Bristol to support the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal and Church Restoration funds.  Every time we visit this Church it is always to a full house and again this time we were not disappointed.

Conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley-Anne James, accompanied by John Nicholson and Stephen Berry,  the choir presented a full programme of a wide range of music from Welsh favourites, ‘Rachie’,’ Cwm Rhondda’, ‘Anfonaf Angel’ and ‘Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn’ to fitting ‘Mansions of the Lord’ from the film ‘We are Soldiers’, ‘He’, ‘A Miner’s Song’, ‘Mansions of the Lord’ and ‘There is No Death’.  The Choir was pleased to present ‘Ride the Chariot’ with soloists Siân Hatton and David Gould.  Included also were the epic ‘Comrades in Arms’, ”When I survey the wond’rous cross’ to the tune Morte Criste, ‘With a Voice of Singing,’ ‘Shenandoah,’ and finalising with ‘O Gymru’, extolling the virtues of Wales with soloist Tom Hole.

The Choir were once again joined in the concert by about 50 of the talented young children of the local Downs School who presented a wide range of musical styles from a Brass ensemble playing ‘Bob the Builder’ and ‘Batman’. a clarinet solo of an Adagio by Albinoni, to delightful Choral pieces including ‘Nearer my God to Thee’ and a wonderful arrangement of When you Believe’.  Further items included a saxophone duet of ‘It Don’t Mean a thing, a trumpet solo of Pavane-Faure and a Guitar Solo of Andantino by Carulli.  Further choral items included ‘In Dreams’ and a foot tapping ‘Happy’ by Pharell Williams. Their items were conducted by Mark Weaver and choir director Marysia Gorska-Saj and accompanied once again by Susan Gregory.

Not to make a break from tradition, following the concert the Choir and supporters made their way through the rain to the Bowling Club at Long Ashton for a welcome warm reception, refreshments and again, a hearty afterglow to the delight of the patrons.

Unique Gala Concert Shared with Neighbouring Choir

The Two Choirs prepare to sing together for the first time ever.

Photo by Colleen Gauntlett

 

The audience at the Leisure Centre in Caldicot was witness to a unique event on Saturday 9th September when for the first time ever, despite being only four miles apart, Caldicot Male Voice and Chepstow Male Voice Choirs joined to give a magnificent Gala performance which showed off male voice choir singing at its finest.

With introductions by internationally renowned host and compere Dean Powell, the concert was opened by sixty Caldicot choristers with an arrangement of Cwm Rhondda (Bread of Heaven), followed by a mixed repertoire of ‘Anfonaf Angel’ (Guardian Angel), ‘Mansions of the Lord’ from the film ‘We are Soldiers’, the spiritual ‘Ride the Chariot’ conducted by Shirley Anne James and featuring soloists Siân Hatton and David Gould and rounding off with ‘A Voice of Singing’, a fast piece that shows off magnificent harmonies and moving cadences.

Chepstow, conducted by MD Richard Fry and accompanied by Kirsten Watson, wonderfully presented a different style of male voice singing with a mix of popular songs ranging from ‘Diolch I’r Ior’ (Thanks to the Lord) a powerful Welsh hymn, to the prayer by Valjean from Les Misérables ‘Bring Him Home’.  The first half programme also included the delightfully sung ‘This is the Moment’ from the musical Jeckyll and Hyde, ‘When I fall In Love’ a hit for Doris Day and finally ‘Memory’ from the musical Cats and made famous by Welsh singer Elaine Page.

At breaks in the proceeding the audience were wonderfully entertained by the jokes, anecdotes and information of presenter Dean Powell who as member of Treorchy Male Voice Choir is very familiar with the presentations of Male Voice Choir concerts.  This was the second time that Dean has hosted Caldicot’s Gala concert and hopefully it won’t be the last.

Part Two saw Chepstow return to the stage and again gave a superlative performance including the well known and rousing hymn ‘Deus Salutis (Llef)’, the theme song from the TV series The Vicar of Dibley, ‘The Twenty Third Psalm’ (if you hum it, it will stay with you all day), ‘Comrades in Arms’ and on to the fasting moving, foot tapping spiritual ‘Amen’ – This Little Light of Mine.  Chepstow certainly lit up the Gala with their bright light of wonderful singing,

Caldicot, led by MD Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied by Stephen Berry and John Nicholson also presented a wide mix of pieces varying from a German drinking song ‘Aus der Traube in die Tonne’, to a wonderfully precise performance of ‘Shenandoah’, the now iconic ‘A Miner’s Song’, a firm favourite, the romantic but sad ‘Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn’ (Watching the White Wheat) and finalising with the Queen classic ‘Somebody to Love’ with soloist Siân Hatton. Although not sung by the choir for a few years, Caldicot is the only Male Voice Choir in the country to sing this arrangement by accompanist John Nicholson.

The concert ended with a wonderful finale of both choirs joining together on stage to sing the classic Male Voice hymn ‘Gwahoddiad’ (Invitation) conducted by Richard Fry and finally that great Easter hymn, ‘Morte Criste’ by Isaac Watts, ‘When I Survey the Wond’rous Cross conducted by Siân Hatton.

Following ‘Hen Wlad fy Nhadau’ the audience left in no doubt that Male Voice singing is alive and well in the furthest South East corner of Wales and may it long continue.

Following the concert, Chepstow were invited to the Choir Hall for ample refreshments and further entertainment of incredible Afterglow singing.

Many thanks to all those who helped to make this concert a wonderful success, from staff at the Leisure Centre, the music teams of both choirs, bar staff, those who set up and cleaned the choir hall and to the audience for their wonderful participation and enthusiasm.

Choir thrills audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe

Salvation Army Church,, Edinburgh
Allan Park South Church, Stirling

On the recent August Bank holiday about forty choristers, the musical team of Siân Hatton, Shirley- Anne James, Stephen Berry and John Nicholson and some thirty supporters of Caldicot Male Voice Choir took to the high and low roads to Scotland and all arrived together in Edinburgh for their short tour of the city and Stirling.

After a ten hour journey on Thursday 24th August the choir arrived at its hotel on the outskirts of Edinburgh and straightaway entertained a party of Brazilian visitors who were totally enthralled by the sound of a Welsh Male Voice Choir singing a selection of Welsh hymns and other songs in full volume.

The following day was without a concert and many of the party chose to visit the sights and sounds of Edinburgh Fringe festival and take in the multitude of tourist attractions in the City including The Royal Yacht Britannia. Princes Street and the Royal Mile.  The choir got together in the afternoon at the Standing Order pub in George Street to treat the diners and drinkers to a surprise round of impromptu singing before returning to the hotel.

Saturday saw the choir take to the roads again to travel to Stirling, home of the famous castle, city walls and statue to the memory of William Wallace.  After a morning’s sightseeing and lunch the choir assembled at the Allan Park South Church to give a concert to raise funds for the Church.  The audience was thrilled and surprised when the choir opened with Flower of Scotland and proceeded not only to treat the audience to a range of songs including Cwm Rhondda, The Lady is a Tramp, A Miner’s Song, Rachie, The Lord’s Prayer, Shenandoah and many others but were also delighted by the solo performances of tenor chorister Peter Hanks and musical director and soprano Siân Hatton. The choir departed to rapturous applause and standing ovation to make its way to the City Wall pub to again give the local residents a real taste of off the cuff male voice singing enjoyed by everyone including a few Welsh visitors to the town.

The highlight of the tour was to perform at the close of the Fringe at the Salvation Army Church in Edinburgh to a packed house of about 200.  The choir made its entrance to the sound of the Salvation Army brass band playing Men of Harlech to rapturous applause and again excited the audience with its opening of Flower of Scotland.  Included in the Choir’s performance of 15 songs were the favourites sung at Stirling including many sung in Welsh; Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn, Anfonaf Angel, Gwahoddiad, Rachie as well as popular Somewhere Out there, Let it be me, Mansions of the Lord, the delightful hymn He and somewhat incongruously Aus der Traube a German traditional drinking song.

The Choir and audience were also treated to items played by the Salvation Army Brass Band in two interludes and joined in with enthusiastic community singing with brass band accompaniment.  The Choir again received a standing ovation and rapturous applause with a demand to come back to Scotland to sing for them again.  Departing to the strains of ‘Ar Yyd y Nos’ played by the band, the choir made its way across the cobbled streets of Edinburgh to say farewell to the City at the Fringe Courtyard where it once again entertained the huge crowds waiting to see the Fringe performances.

Although short, this was a well received, successful tour where the choir proved itself to be worth ambassadors of Wales and Welsh Male Voice singing to audiences from around the World who had never experienced the like before

 

Choir Performs Amid the Flowers at Wimbourne St Giles.

 

 

Photographs by Colleen Gauntlett

On July 15th 2017, some sixty members of Caldicot Male Voice Choir travelled through the quiet country lanes and rolling hillsides of Wiltshire and Dorset to finally arrive in an area of outstanding beauty at the picturesque village of Wimbourne St GIles, home of the Earls of Shaftesbury.  Every year the St Giles Church Council bedecks the church in a wonderful display of flower arrangements and sculptures.  This year’s theme was ‘Country Ways’ and the choir positioned itself against the magnificent wooden screen of the 18th century Georgian church surrounded by over thirty magnificent floral displays.

The Choir, conducted by Siân Hatton and accompanied by Stephen Berry and John Nicholson performed a wide mix of favourites including Welsh hymns Rachie, Cwm Rhondda, Laudamus, Eli Jenkins’ Prayer and Malotte’s The Lord’s Prayer through to fast moving The Lady is a Tramp, With a Voice of Singing and Ride the Chariot.  These pieces contrasted with the Welsh songs ‘Anfonaf Angel’ the traditional, tragic, Welsh folk song, ‘Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn’, ‘The Impossible Dream’ featured in The Man of La Mancha and ‘Mansions of the Lord’ from the film ‘We are Soldiers’.  The choir also delighted the audience with its premier performance of ‘Shenandoah’. In a long, varied programme, Siân Hatton delighted the audience with a rendition of the humorous Marriott Edgar poem ‘Albert and the Lion’ accompanied on piano by Stephen Berry.

The programme included a performance from a four piece brass ensemble made up from young pupils of the local Queen Elizabeth School who delighted the audience with an exploration of musical styles beginning with ‘Fly me to the Moon’ included Baroque, Handel’s ‘Hornpipe’ from Water Music, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake right through to ‘Sir Duke’ by Stevie Wonder and ‘La Cucaracha’, finalising with the Glenn Miller classic ‘In the Mood’..  The foursome form part of the thirty odd strong School orchestra who perform over thirty concerts a year.

Following rapturous applause from the audience and words of appreciation and a request to visit again from the Rector, the reverend David Paskins the choir left to board the coach to nearby Cranborne and the Sheaf of Arrows for well deserved refreshment.

 

All Stars and Spangled Banners as Caldicot Choir sings with American Choir

 

 

Photos by Colleen Gauntlett

This time last year Caldicot Male Voice Choir travelled in the rain to the magnificent St Peter’s RC Church in Cardiff to share the stage with the touring American Tapestry Choir and this year it was delighted to repeat the experience on July 6th, this time in glorious sunshine, with Californian choir, the San Jose Symphonic Choir conducted by Leroy Krumm and accompanied by Mark Bruce.  The concert, arranged by UK Travel Designers Ltd. was held in aid of the Severn View Open Doors project which supports sufferers of dementia in the Chepstow area and over £500 was donated by the choirs and audience. The Choir is aiming to raise sufficient funds to provide a number of outbuildings for the charity’s sensory garden.

The 50 strong San Jose Choir opened the concert with a disciplined walk through to the stage with trumpet accompaniment of ‘Now I Walk in Beauty’ written by Gregg Smith and followed their first half with classical pieces from around the world including Rachmaninofff’s ‘Borgorodiste Devo’, ‘Shine on this Shining Night’, and a delightful harmonised version of ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’.  The Welsh audience were thrilled that the choir superbly performed ‘Ar hyd y nos’ in Welsh to round off their first performance.

Caldicot Male Voice Choir of over 60 voices conducted by Shirley-Anne James and accompanied by Stephen Berry included a series of songs from its extensive repertoire either side of the interval, opening with well known hymn ‘Cwm Rhondda’ followed by items as varied as folk song ‘Bugeilio’r Gwentith Gwyn’, the hymn of forgiveness ‘He’,  ‘Anfonal Angel’, ‘The Lord’s Prayer’, ‘Troyte’s Chant’, ‘Laudamus’, ‘With a Voice of SInging’ and finalising with the famous Wesleyan hymn ‘Morte Criste’ much appreciated by the Americans and audience alike.

The San Jose choir’s second performance was less classical and included Bernstein’s ‘Somewhere’, ‘Keep your Lamps Aglow’, William Smith’s ‘Ride the Chariot’ (also included in Caldicot’s repertoire), ‘Hear me Redeemer’ and of course Burt Bacharach’s ‘Do You know the way to San Jose’.  Finishing with a tremendous version of ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’ with trumpet and piccolo accompaniment as well as piano, the choir received a long standing ovation from an appreciative audience.

Finally the two choirs assembled on stage to sing together the two National Anthems, ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ conducted by Leroy Krumm followed by ‘Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ conducted by Shirley-Anne James which again led to another standing ovation in recognition of superb performances from two wonderful choirs.

Many of the American choristers had never heard a Welsh Male Voice Choir before and all were thrilled to have shared this fabulous choral experience and will return to the USA with a desire to return to Wales again.

Following its visit to Cardiff, the San Jose Choir continues its tour of the UK with concerts in Harrogate and York before returning to California.

 

 

Choir to Sing with San Jose Symphonic Choir

 

On Thursday 6th July, Caldicot Male Voice will suspend its usual practice and instead will be appearing alongside the prestigious touring Californian choir, the San Jose Symphonic Choir at St Peter’s Church, St. Peter’s Street, Cardiff at 7-30pm.

Founded in 1924 the San Jose Symphonic of over 100 voices has toured extensively in its history throughout Europe, Australia and across America and Caldicot Male Voice is thrilled to be performing alongside them. The Symphonic Choir will be conducted by Leroy G Kromm, its renowned musical director since 1985 and will be accompanied by Mark Bruce.

Caldicot Male Voice Choir will perform not only a traditional mix of traditional Welsh choral music but also more modern pieces and is conducted by Sian Hatton, musical director since 1988 and Shirley Anne James.  The choir will be accompanied by Stephen Berry and John Nicholson.

Last year Caldicot choir performed, to great acclaim at the same venue with the 100 strong American Tapestry choir and this year’s concert should be at least as fabulous as it was then.

Entry is free but any donations will be made to the Choir’s nominated charity for 2017, the Severn View Open Doors project which provides support for sufferers of Dementia in the Chepstow area.

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