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Choir Sings at Monmouth Gymanfa Ganu

Shirley Anne, all smiles.
The boys I love are up in the gallery

For the third consecutive year, Caldicot Male Voice Choir’s Assistant Musical Director Shirley Anne James, was invited to conduct the Annual Gymanfa Ganu at the beautiful Monmouth Methodist Church as part of the Monmouth Festival on Thursday 1st August. Shirley Anne has been conducting Gymanfaoedd Canu and singing festivals since her early twenties, beginning in towns and villages near her home town of Llandovery, leading to conducting Gymanfaoedd Canu at Marcross in the Vale of Glamorgan for several years.

This year was different however in that about 50 choristers of Caldicot Male Voice Choir travelled to Monmouth to support Shirley Anne and the event which attracted about 150 participants to the Church.

Conducted by Shirley Anne James and accompanied by Church organist, David Morgan and singing from the balcony (standing room only), the choir enthusiastically joined in with the mix of well known Welsh and English hymns such as Cwm Rhondda, Rachie, Ellers, Jesus, good above all other, Rhosymedre, Gwahoddiad and several more. The choir played a further part by delighting the audience with its own version of Calon Lân, conducted by Musical Director Siân Hatton and accompanied by arranger Stephen Berry.

This was a wonderful evening of communal singing, enjoyed by all who took part and the Choir certainly hopes to participate again next year.

Photographs by Colleen Gauntlett

Choir Sings for King of the Zulu Nation

The Choir in front of the Barracks
Flanked by Band of the Royal Regiment of Wales and The Zulu Bodyguard

Caldicot Male Voice Choir has a long connection with Royalty having sung before Queen Elizabeth II, The Duchess of York and recently the Prince of Wales.  However, perhaps its most unusual connection to date was to be privileged to be invited to sing before King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, King of the Zulu Nation at a Military Pageant at Brecon Barracks on Sunday 21st July.

The King and entourage of Princes, Princesses and his Zulu bodyguard were visiting Brecon over four days to commemorate the 140 year Anniversary of the Zulu War, the battles of Isandlwana and Rorkes Drift the subject of the 1964 film Zulu starring Michael Caine and Stanley Baker.  Following a pageant and re-enactment of the Battle of Isandlwana where over 1400 British troops were killed, Caldicot Male Voice Choir was invited to sing the three National Anthems, N’Kosi Sikele Afrika, Hen Wlad fy Nhadau and God Save the Queen as part of the Beating Retreat Ceremony at the end of the day.

King Goodwill watches us sing the National Anthems

Flanked by the King’s Bodyguard of 30 Zulu warriors in battle uniform, leopard skins and lions tails and accompanied by the Band of the Royal Welsh Regiment and Corps of Drums conducted by Major Dennis Burton, the Choir delighted the King with their performance before marching from the Parade Ground to rapturous applause from an appreciative audience.

This was a unique occasion in which Caldicot Male Voice Choir was proud and honoured to participate.

Fabulous Concert in Aid of Sepsis UK Trust

Caldicot Male Voice Choir is proud of its heritage of raising funds for charity and good causes and Saturday 6th July at Caldicot Choir Hall saw a new dimension in its efforts to raise funds for its adopted charity, The Sepsis UK Trust (Wales) this year. The event raised about £1800 for the charity which aims to increase awareness of this killer disease. It claims the lives of about 55,000 a year in the UK

A musical evening was provided by not only the choir but performing alongside us were talented soprano Kayleigh Hallworth, accompanied by Stephen Berry, who sang a mix of songs from West End musicals and shows as well as Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ and Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Songbird’ to delight the audience. Accompanied by Stephen Berry and John Nicholson and conducted by Sian Hatton, the choir played its part by singing ten items including ever popular ‘A Miner’s Song”What Would I do Without my Music?’, ‘California Dreamin”, the premiere of Paul McCartney’s ‘Yesterday’ and finalising with a return to Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.

Compere Stephen Dance eloquently kept the proceeding flowing with introductions and well researched information, while Terence Canning, Director of the Sepsis UK Trust (Wales) gave a moving presentation of the effects that Sepsis has had on his own and others. A video of Jayne’s Story was also shown.

The evening was also augmented by the choir’s musical director Sian Hatton’s piano recital of Bach’s Prelude in C Major and Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’. Sian Hatton and her husband David Gould had the audience in stitches of laughter by presenting a humorous version of ‘The Green Eye of the Yellow God’ with actions.

Finally the evening would not have been complete without the support of Merthyr based band ‘Wall Street’ who with their mix of dance and smooth music from the sixties to the present day kept the packed audience dancing to the late hours.

All the artistes gave their services freely to aid the charity and all are thanked for their support by the choir and The Sepsis UK Trust.

Choir enjoys June Krakow Tour

About 40 choristers from Caldicot Male Voice Choir, the music team of Sian Hatton, Shirley Anne James, Stephen Berry and John Nicholson and another 40 supporters left the choir hall to undertake a five day tour of the wonderful Polish city, Krakow on June 6th 2019.

On the first day, during glorious weather the choir enjoyed a short tour of the famous Wawel castle and Market Square followed in the evening by a performance in the magnificent Bazylika Mariacka (St Mary’s Basilica) situated in the famous market square as a guest choir of the International Cracovia Cantons Choral festival alongside choirs from the USA, the Czech Republic, England and Lithuania. During this performance the choir premiered its version of ‘Benedictus’ alongside ‘Cwm Rhondda’ and ‘Deus Salutis’.

The third day saw the choir follow in the steps of Copernicus, Chopin, Mendeleyev, Pope John Paul II and US President Bill Clinton among many others. The choir descended over 380 steps and walked 3 km to the depths of the World heritage site of the Wieliczka salt mines where the choir was privileged to sing ‘Rachie’ and ‘Deus Salutis’ in the incredible cathedral like cavern of St Kinga’s Chapel.

The fourth day saw the choir perform ‘A Miner’s Song’ as one of only five choirs to be invited to sing at the Festival’s Gala concert in the packed Philharmonic Hall to be followed by an hour long concert at the ‘Twelve Apostles’ church of St Peter and St Paul to a capacity audience. Musical Director Sian Hatton delighted the assembly by opening the concert with a solo performance of the Polish National Anthem.

Many of the group took the opportunity on the penultimate day to visit the nearby Auschwitz and Birchenau Nazi concentration and death camps where over 1.1. million people were murdered; a sombre, harrowing and moving experience, never to be forgotten.

The final day, before an evening flight home, many took the opportunity to visit the beautiful town of Zakopane overlooked by the magnificent and imposing Tatra mountains.

The Choir arrived home in the early hours of June 12th, exhausted but knowing that they had enjoyed a wonderful tour in a beautiful city.

Choir Visited by Icelandic Choir

Joint Choirs sing Calm is the Sea before the Afterglow

Sunday evening 28th April saw fabulous entertainment at the packed Caldicot Choir Hall when Caldicot Male Voice Choir paid host to visiting Choir ‘Karlakor Eyjafjardar’ from northern Iceland. The Icelanders had already performed at St John’s Church in Cardiff, visited Swansea and the Gower coast and watched Cardiff Blues play the Ospreys at the Principality Stadium before coming to Caldicot. Many thanks to David James of the Cardiff Arms Park Male Choir for his part in suggesting the visit.


Conducted by Gudlauger Viktorson, the Icelanders gave a rousing performance of non-traditional music based on vivacity and fast tempo mixed with modern Icelandic songs, Blues adaptations and even a small dance routine, much to the amusement of the audience. Like Caldicot, they also included their version of Sixteen Tons originally recorded by Tennessee Ernie Ford.

Caldicot Male Voice Choir, conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied by John Nicholson complemented the evening with a wonderful performance of traditional Welsh songs; ‘Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn’ and ‘Anfonaf Angel’, Cwm Rhondda, spiritual ‘Ride the Chariot’, ‘Sixteen Tons’ and ever popular, ‘A Miner’s Song’.

Following a superb buffet and exchanged gifts and presentations, the evening was rounded off by both Choirs combining on stage to sing alternate verses in English and Icelandic of the haunting ‘Calm is the Sea’. Incredibly, this was a superb performance without any prior rehearsal.

Finally finishing with impromptu afterglow singing, the Icelanders travelled back to Cardiff with the sound of ‘Hen Wlad fy Nhadau’ in their ears and memories of Caldicot and its Male Voice Choir that are sure to linger for many years.

Wonderful 2019 Annual Concert

Photograph by Colleen Gauntlett

Once again a wonderful concert was presented by Caldicot Male Voice Choir on Saturday evening 6th April at Caldicot Leisure Centre. Many thanks to all who came and supported us including special invited guests and vice presidents.


Soloist Rhydian Jenkins was superb with a fabulous demonstration of controlled singing expertly accompanied by Jeanette Massocchi. Dean Powell as compere was his usual professional, witty self and it’s always a pleasure to have him compere our concerts.


The choir’s performance was exemplary and many thanks to the music team of Sian Hatton, Shirley-Anne James, Stephen Berry and John Nicholson for their leadership and hard work.


The Choir included a wide range of songs from its repertoire including opener Men of Harlech, followed by The Prayer, part sung in Italian, ever favourite A Miner’s Song and the first welsh number ‘Llef’. Further pieces in Welsh were ‘Gwahoddiad’, a new version of Calon Lan arranged by Stephen Berry, ‘Y Tangnefeddwyr’, ‘Anfonaf Angel and’ finalising with ‘O Gymru’ arranged by Dr Haydn James who was in the audience. The choir was joined by Rhydian who sang the solo part in this item.
The Choir also premiered at the Annual Concert, Simon and Garfunkels ‘Bridge Over Trouble Water’, again arranged by Stephen Berry and foot tapping ‘Amen’ -This Little Light.


A presentation in the form of framed Certificate and gold lapel badge was made to David Gould for completing a remarkable 50 years continuous service to the choir (only the third chorister in the choir’s history to achieve this) and Mervyn Roberts honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award Certificate for his close to forty years of dedicated and outstanding service to the choir. Congratulations to both.

The Choir crosses the County’s northern border to sing at Ewyas Harold

Caldicot Male Voice Choir travelled just over Monmouthshire’s northern border into Herefordshire to visit the Memorial Hall at picturesque Ewyas Harold at the head of the Golden Valley and in the lee of the Black Mountains to sing to a packed house of about 200. The concert was arranged to raise funds for St Michael’s Hospice in Hereford and it is understood that about £2000 was raised on the night.

Compered by Tom Williams and supported by guest artistes, fourteen year old soloist Amber Powell and guitarist/vocalist Kirsty Thomas the choir performed on stage to a wide range from its repertoire conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied by Stephen Berry and John Nicholson.

The Choir opened with the rousing hymn tune Rachie to be followed by a selection including the spiritual Ride the Chariot with soloists David Gould and Siân Hatton, the sadly tragic folk song Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn and inspiring African Prayer’ ‘Nkosi Sikeleli Afrika’ partly sung in Welsh.

Guest artiste, fourteen year old Amber Powell delightfully sang two pieces from her musical studies ”To Sylvia’ and ‘Where ‘ere you Walk’. Following with the theme tune from ‘The Sound of Music’ Amber left the stage to appreciative, well deserved, generous applause.

The choir continued by including two premiere arrangements of ‘Calôn Lan’ and the Simon and Garfunkel hit, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ by Stephen Berry as well as a ‘Miner’s Song’, ‘On the Street Where You Live’ from the musical My Fair Lady and ‘Stout Hearted Men’ originally from the 1940 film ‘New Moon’ and sung by Nelson Eddy.

Talented guitarist and vocalist Kirsty Thomas, who started learning the guitar at 13 years of age, provided a contrasting and entertaining performance of ‘Hallelujah’, ‘Old No. 7’ referring to a famous brand of Kentucky Whiskey and completing with ‘A Coat of Many Colours’ made famous by Dolly Parton.

The Choir returned to the stage to finalise with its versions of ‘With a Voice of Singing’, ‘Anfonaf Angel’, the partriotic ‘O Gymru’ and the well known favourite hymn ‘When I Survey the Wond’rous Cross’ sung to the tune Morte Criste.

The concert ended with the singing of both anthems ‘God Save the Queen’ and ‘Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ and rapturous, standing ovation applause for all artistes from an enthusiastic and appreciative audience.

Choir entertains residents of Cherry Tree Nursing Home

Photo by Colleen Gauntlett
On Thursday 20th  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 Shirley-Anne James and accompanied by John Nicholson the choir invited the audience to join in with the singing of favourites such as O Come all ye faithful, Silent Night and Hark the Herald Angels Sing’.
 
The Choir also sang God rest you Merry Gentlemen, Silver Bells, Shepherds watched and Wise Men Wonder to the tune of Scarlet Ribbons and 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 tea, traditional mince pies and cakes.
 
Afterwards the choristers entertained the patrons of the Haywain public house which is a favourite watering hole of many of the choir with a wide range of Christmas Carols enthusiastically joined by many of the patrons..

Choir invites Dewstow Infant School to the Choir Hall

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.

 

Vice Presidents’ Cheese and Wine party is a great success

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.’

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