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.
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.’
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 images to enlarge.
Those of you who go to Caldicot Leisure Centre in Mill Lane cannot fail to see Caldicot Male Voice Choir’s Choir Hall with it’s bright red badge above the entrance. This magnificent hall was opened in 1996 through funds raised by the choristers and grants at that time. To celebrate the opening, three local choirs, Risca, Cwmbran and Blaenavon were invited to Caldicot to perform in a special inaugural Gala concert. The start of the tradition of annual Gala concerts.
Caldicot was thrilled that 22 years years later, Risca Male Choir accepted the invitation to return to perform in Caldicot Male Voice Choir’s 22nd Gala concert on September 8th at the Leisure Centre where the capacity audience of over 400 was presented with one of the best Gala performances for many years. Introduced by the professional performance throughout of compère and host Dean Powell Caldicot, conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied by Stephen Berry and John Nicholson and including about 15 who were at the inaugural Gala, opened proceedings with resounding ‘Men of Harlech’ to be followed by varying styles of ‘Mansions of the Lord’, haunting ‘Tangnefeddwyr’, ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ by Malotte, spiritual ‘Ride the Chariot’ and the premiere performance by Caldicot of ‘The Prayer’, a beautiful song much of which is sung in Italian.
Risca followed, conducted by new Musical Director Tomos Gwyn and accompanied by Alison Thomas with a range of song styles including vigorous ‘Gloria’, the beautiful Rudyard Kipling inspired ‘Seal Lullaby’, spiritual ‘Goin’ up a Yonder’ to be followed by tributes to the First World War dead, the poem ‘In Flander’s Fields’ and the poem by Robert Binyon ‘For the Fallen’ with the words ‘They shall not grow old…..’, Risca choir included about ten members who were part of the first Gala Concert.
Taking to the stage after the interval, Risca presented us with contrasting styles of the famous ‘O Danny Boy’, rhythmic ‘Gonna Rise Up Singing’, ‘Hiraeth’ expressing the virtues of the particularly Welsh emotion of longing. Included was the soft, Welsh lullaby ‘Si Hei Lwli ‘Mabi’, Anfonaf Angel and patriotic ‘O Gymru’, extolling the virtues of Wales.
Showing off the range of songs sung by Welsh male choirs, Caldicot presented a varied second half programme of ‘African Prayer’ based on the South African National Anthem, Nkosi Sikelel’I Africa but sung in both Xhosa and Welsh, a now firm favourite the memorable words of ‘A Miner’s Song’, a foot tapping copy of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s ‘Sixteen Tons’, the tragic love story of Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn and finally the most famous of all Welsh hymns, ‘Cwm Rhondda’.
Both Choirs combined on stage for about 100 voices to sing the famous all time favourite hymn, ‘When I Survey the Wond’rous Cross’ sung to the tune ‘Morte Criste’ as a finale. Amazing!
There is no doubt that the audience, including special guests Jessica Morden MP, Peter Clarke, chairman of Monmouthshire County Council and councillors Alan Davies, David Evans, Tony Easson, Jim Higginson representing Caldicot wards, Rev. Preben Andersen of Caldicot Methodist Church, Dr Haydn James, musical director of the Welsh Rugby Union and Wales and British Lions Rugby legend Gerald Davies in his capacity as Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Monmouthshire, was absolutely thrilled with the evening of tremendous Male Voice Choir singing by two of Wales’ leading choirs. A night to remember!
Many thanks to all who helped in the creation and organisation of such a wonderful concert.
Photo by Colleen Gauntlett
In 1996 work was completed on building the brand new, purpose built, magnificent Choir Hall in Caldicot. Owned and funded by Caldicot Male Voice Choir with help from local authorities and the National Lottery grants, the building’s completion was marked by holding a Gala Concert to which Risca, Blaenavon and Cwmbran Male Choirs were invited to join Caldicot in a feast of wonderful Welsh male choral singing. Since then a Gala concert to which another choir or musical group is invited has been held each year to remember this auspicious occasion .
In the past, Blaenavon and Cwmbran Male Choirs have returned to the Choir Hall and now, after a gap of 22 years Caldicot Male Voice Choir is thrilled and delighted to invite Risca Male Choir once again to its Gala concert. Risca is arguably one of the leading choirs in Wales and together with Caldicot, fresh from its acclaimed appearances recently at the Royal Albert Hall and Buckingham Palace are sure to give a give a fantastic evening’s entertainment.
We are also pleased to welcome back for the fourth time the talented, humorous, witty and extremely choir knowledgeable, Dean Powell to host the concert.
The concert is at Caldicot Leisure Centre in Mill Lane Caldicot on Saturday September 8th and doors open at 6-30 pm. Tickets are £10 each from Alan Pearce on 01291 422005 in advance, from the Leisure Centre, from any chorister or at the door on the night.
Caldicot Male Voice Choir is always keen to welcome potential new members so if are interested in starting a new hobby, learn new skills and make new friends then please take a look at our web site www.caldicotmalevoicechoir.co.uk or visit the choir hall on any Monday or Thursday night from 7 pm.
Following on from its recent appearances at The Royal Albert Hall and Buckingham Palace in May, Caldicot Male Voice Choir is making a welcome return to The Leisure Centre in Caldicot on September 8th at 7-00 pm for its Gala concert with guest choir, Risca Male Choir. Also making a welcome return is our compere for the evening, Dean Powell. The poster says it all so make a note in your diaries and be there for a great evening of musical and comedy entertainment. Where else can you get to see and hear two of Wales’ leading choirs on the same stage?
Photo by Colleen Gauntlett
Following its recent performances at the Royal Albert Hall and Buckingham Palace in May and more recently in July at Bristol, Caldicot Male Voice Choir gladly returned to home soil to sing at the local Methodist Church in Caldicot to raise funds for the organisation ‘Count Everyone In’ which supports, through the Methodist Church, adults with learning difficulties. The concert was attended by the organisations founders Pete and Christine Winmill from Newbury and was introduced by minister, Rev. Preben Andersen, a keen and enthusiastic supporter of the Choir..
Conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied on piano by John Nicholson Caldicot choir’s concert consisted of many of the pieces sung in Bristol to entertain a welcoming home audience. The Methodist Church always gives us a warm and appreciative welcome. As well as Welsh favourites, Rachie, Anfonaf Angel, and Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn, the choir delighted the audience with Shenandoah, With a Voice of Singing, Somewhere Out There, Eli Jenkins’ Prayer and You Raise Me Up, made famous by Westlife and many others in the first part of the concert.
The choir was supported by father and daughter partnership, Gareth and Catrin Edwards. Catrin delighted us with clarinet arrangements of In ‘Dream’ and ‘Into the West’ composed by Shore from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Calon Lân and Cwm Rhondda while Gareth accompanied his daughter on the church organ. Later Catrin delighted us further with clarinet arrangements of Wiegenlid (Brahms), Nocturne (Chopin), Ascot Gavotte from My Fair Lady (Lerner and Loewe) and finally The Lord’s My Shepherd (Townsend) while her father Gareth accompanied on piano. Catrin celebrated her 15th birthday recently and has been learning the difficult clarinet instrument since she was five years old. A pupil of the Welsh medium school Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw in Pontypool she has taken time out from her GCSE exams to play for us at the concert.
Caldicot Male Voice Choir continued its programme in the second part with more Welsh favourites such as Cwm Rhondda,and Gwahoddiad and included A Miner’s Song, Ride the Chariot, the German drinking song Aus der Traube and the Tennessee Ernie Ford hit Sixteen Tons. The concert finalised with the well known him ‘When I Survey the Wond’rous Cross to the tune Morte Criste in which Oliver Edwards although attending in his role as Mayor of Caldicot, is also a 2nd bass chorister of the choir and was invited to join the choir by Musical Director Siân Hatton.
Rev. Andersen was pleased to later inform us that the concert raised £264 in voluntary contributions for ‘Count Everyone In’.
On a blistering July 10th evening Caldicot Male Voice Choir made the short journey over the bridge to the magnificent Bristol’s Staple Hill Methodist Church to join the 35 strong touring Marvin United Methodist Church Chancel Choir from Tyler, Texas, USA. This choir which included young members of the Bella Voce choir from the same town are touring the south of England over six days. Before appearing with us they had earlier sung a lunchtime recital at the oldest Methodist Building in the world at the New Room, Bristol. The tour included concerts at Hampton Court Palace, Worcester College, Oxford and finalising at Southwark Cathedral.
Conducted by Musical Director James Broussard, the Texas Choir assembled up the steps behind the altar to give a stunning opening performance of a mix of American Spiritual music in
various styles including Shaker arrangements and all sung amazingly without accompaniment. Their pieces included several thrilling and amazing bass, tenor and soprano soloists from among its number. This was followed later in the evening, following Caldicot’s two performances by an equally amazing performance.
Caldicot Male Voice Choir, conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied by John Nicholson on piano, performed either side of the interval by singing a range of items from its repertoire including Welsh favourites Rachie, Robat Arwel’s arrangement of Anfonaf Angel, Cwm Rhondda, the love story of Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn, Gwahoddiad and the resounding Yr Tangnefeddwyr , the poem by Waldo Williams recalling the wartime bombing of Swansea. Caldicot delighted the Americans, who had never heard a Welsh Male Voice Choir before, by including Shenandoah, Somewhere Out There from the Spielberg cartoon American Tail and the spiritual Ride the Chariot. Caldicot’s versatile programme also included A Miner’s Song, composed by Dan and Laura Curtis and the rousing pair Comrades in Arms and Men of Harlech. The concert concluded with the choir and audience singing Mae Hen Wlad fy Nhadau from the Gallery.
Caldicot Choir were delighted by the many expressions of praise heaped on them by the American Choir who later joined us at the Staple Hill Oak pub for a taste of British hospitality. This was the third occasion where we have joined with a touring American Choir in recent years. The previous were at St Peter’s Church Cardiff in 2016 (Tapestry Choir, California) and 2017 (San Jose Symphonic, California) and it looks forward to greeting many more in the future.
The concert was held to raise funds for The St Peter’s Hospice in Bristol and it raised well over £1000 for the charity.