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.