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Choir presents Awards to four Choristers at the Gala

Photographs by Colleen Gauntlett.  Left click on images to enlarge.
Caldicot Male Voice Choir is proud of the dedication, long service and achievements of its choristers over many years and is pleased to mark and reward these services with periodic presentations. At the end of its Gala concert on September 9th the Choir was pleased to present top tenor Anthony Howells and second tenor Roger Francis with certificates and special lapel badges to mark their remarkable achievement of 25 years of continuous service with the Choir.
 
Also presented on the same night were awards of Lifetime Achievement and Honorary vice presidency to two choristers who have over several years made significant contributions to the aims and values of the Choir, namely retired chorister John Ashcroft who was a long serving PRO and committee member of the choir and Peter Heslop, the longest serving chairman of the choir of over 14 years until 2009 and is still vice chairman of the choir.
 
The certificates and awards were presented jointly by Siân Hatton, Musical Director of the choir and Jessica Morden MP, a valued and long standing supporter.

Long serving Chorister presented with Civic Award

 

 

Another post shows four choristers being presented with the Choir’s long service and lifetime achievement awards at the end of the Gala concert. There are also a number of unsung heroes who do tremendous work and show outstanding commitment to the choir who often go unrecognised outside the choir circle.

It is with great pleasure that one of these, David Kirton has been presented with a Caldicot Citizenship award in recognition of his huge contribution and efforts to assist Caldicot Male Voice Choir. David has not only been the voluntary licencee of the choir bar but in his 26 years membership of the choir he has also provided outstanding service in addition as hall manager and transport manager. Without David’s involvement and time spent the Choir and its hall would be hard pressed to function.

David has also been recognised for giving up his spare time to drive voluntarily for Monmouthshire County Council’s Grass Roots bus service on several days of the week, a service much appreciated by many of the vulnerable and elderly people he helps.

Well done, David. This award is richly deserved and may I on behalf of the Choir also thank you for all your achievements.

The photograph shows David being presented with his award by Caldicot Mayor Phillip Stevens and Deputy Mayor Oliver Edwards. Oliver is also a bottom bass chorister in the Choir and recently toured with us to Scotland.

Sad loss of leading top tenor, Malcolm Reed

 

It is with great sadness that we pass on the news that leading top tenor Malcolm Reed passed away on Monday 11th September at 1 pm.

Malcolm had been an ever present and excellent top tenor in the front row for nigh on forty years.  He was devoted to the choir and despite his long illness, never complaining, he was until his admission to hospital recently, a stalwart, leading chorister at the end of the front row of tenors both at practice and concerts.

Unmistakable at the front with his shock of white hair (immaculately groomed) and beaming smile, he had a wonderful sense of humour and fun and although small in stature and modest in nature he had a huge, proud heart, a caring and friendly personality and he will be greatly missed. Immensely loyal and proud to be a member of Caldicot Male Voice Choir he embodied the full spirit of what it means to be a chorister and we shall always be grateful for his huge contribution and long service to help make this a great choir.

Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends at this very sad time but rest assured that Malcolm will be remembered for a long time to come as one of Caldicot Male Voice Choir’s great choristers. Rest in Peace, dear friend.

 

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.

Another Second Tenor joins the ranks

Earlier this week I reported that we had recruited an unprecedented two second tenors, Ken Nurden and Ron Atkins within the same week.  No one ever expected that when Rob Lane, a local resident, walked in with friend, second tenor, chorister Alyn Dawe to listen to us that he too decided to make the short journey in the break to the back room to have his voice assessed by MD Siân Hatton.  Much to everyone’s surprise he emerged, smiling to the announcement that he too was a second tenor!

Despite having to do a first half part practice of  ‘Y Tangnefeddwyr’, a difficult song to learn in Welsh, none were put off and all three stayed the course and are looking forward to next Thursday’s rehearsals.

Welcome all to the choir and we’re sure that you’ll have a long and happy time with us.

I said that finding second tenors was like finding hen’s teeth, I’m off around the local chicken coups to find some. Wish me luck.

Choir ranks swell with two new second tenors

On Monday September 4th 2017 the choir welcomed Ken Nurden to the Choir Hall who came along to listen to us.  Ken has been a frequent visitor to the Choir but on this visit he plucked up the courage and went into the back room, nervously like so many dozens of others to do his first voice test.  He came out smiling when Musical Director Siân announced that Ken is a second tenor!

On the following Thursday 7th September we had another visitor to the hall.  No stranger this since his son Sam is a baritone in the choir, Ron Atkins finally decided to join the choir.  Like Ken, recently before him he, with some trepidation went into the back room to do his first voice test and emerged to the announcement that he too is a second tenor.  You may often find Ron on Facebook where he is frequently filmed singing his own compositions while in the cab of his HGV (parked up). This is the second current father and son partnership in the choir, the other being top tenor Anthony Howells and his son baritone Craig Howells.

On a similar note we are probably the only Male Voice Choir to have four brothers simultaneously singing with us, Mark, John, Nigel and Nick Antell.  The latter three are all top tenors while Mark is a baritone.

Both Ken and Ron are very welcome additions to our choir since the second tenors have suffered recently in numbers due to chorister retirements and finding second tenors is like finding hen’s teeth. We are sure that both will enjoy a long and happy membership of our choir.

Choir sings at Roley Bennett’s Memorial Service

 

The Choir was saddened but proud and privileged to be part of the Memorial Service to tenor chorister Roley Bennett at the small, local St Stephen and St Tathan Church in Caerwent on Monday 4th September following his sudden death on August 7th reported earlier.

Following a summary of 68 year old Roley’s life, spent largely in the Caerwent and Llanmartin area and tributes by Rev. John Walters including references to his wife Hazel and much loved extended family, his career both as a carpenter and shepherd, his hobbies of piano accordian playing in the JJR trio, his love of cars and mechanics and of course his membership of Caldicot Male Voice Choir, the moving service progressed with a solo rendition of Finlandia by his daughter in law and a first reading from Wisdom of Solomon 3 1 -9.

Over forty choristers, conducted throughout by Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied by John Nicholson and Stephen Berry, made their first contribution with Gwahoddiad (Invitation) a traditional hymn sung by choirs at many funerals. A second reading by Rev. Waters of Revelation to St John 21, 1 -7 was followed with the communal singing of The Lord is My Shepherd (Crimond).

Moving and sad poetic memories were made by members of Roley’s family before the Choir sang one of Roley’s favourites, Eli Jenkins Prayer (Troyte’s chant) before more memories and tributes were made by family members before Prayers were offered by Rev. Waters..

Prior to the Congregation singing the well know hymn ‘Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer’ the choir movingly sang Malotte’s version of the Lord’s Prayer and following the Blessing and final prayers, closed the service with Verdi’s Slave song of the Nabucco, ‘Speed Your Journey’.

Fittingly to reflect Roley’s sense of fun and love of music the Recessional Music, played by Stephen Berry on the church organ was the well known Queen song ‘We are the Champions’.

The Choir’s thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to wife Hazel, Roley’s extended family and to all who loved such a gentle giant.  With his passing a light has gone out in many lives but endearing, treasured memories will live long in all who were privileged to know him. Rest in Peace, Roley.

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 Cycle Club Repeats Taff Trail Challenge

 

Organised by chorister Anthony Griffiths, the 2017 edition of the Caldicot Male Voice Choir’s Charity Cycle ride, was to take on the challenging 55 mile Taff Trail, from the highlands of Brecon to the bustling city of Cardiff on 22nd July.  In all, 16 riders travelled to Brecon and took to the trail initially following the canal and then past Talybont reservoir and on to Merthyr Tydfil. They started in bright sunshine which within an hour turned into heavy, cold showers along the edge of the River Taff and through Pontypridd. It wasn’t until the group reached the city limits that they had some sun on their back. The intrepid cyclists endured it all; falls, punctures, rain, steep hills, fabulous scenery, fast descents and getting lost on more than one occasion, they were nearly on the train to Barry Island at Abercynon! But they made it to Cardiff Bay more or less intact.

The ride was in aid of Caldicot Male Voice Choir’s selected charity for this year; the Severn View Open Doors challenge to build a sensory garden to help those suffering dementia and related illnesses in the Chepstow area. The ride would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the help of the support team; David Kirton who drove the bus with his wing-man David Currie; Sharon Davies for taking the trailer with the bikes to Brecon; Jayne Stallard and Rob Stallard’s sister, Gaynor for driving the support car; and Chris Duffy for meeting us at Cardiff to bring the bikes back.

The riders returned to the the Caldicot Choir Hall for an evening’s entertainment by the JJ Duo of John Nicholson and Jason Dawe and including well deserved refreshments provided by even more supporters.

 

Choir Presents Terry Plummer with Award

Photograph by Colleen Gauntlett

The Choir travelled to Wimbourne St Giles, Dorset on 15th July to give a concert at the Flower Festival in the beautiful Georgian church.

At the break in proceedings the Choir was delighted to award recently retired bass chorister Terry Plummer with a Lifetime Achievement Award and the designation of Honorary Vice President.  The citation reads ‘In Grateful Recognition and Long Service to the Traditions and Values of Welsh Male Voice Choirs’ and is given only to those choristers who have made a significant contribution to the Choir over a long period.

Terry is a modest gentleman who is well loved by all our choristers. He was totally over-awed by the presentation of this fully deserved award by Musical Director, Siân Hatton in front of not only the concert audience and the choir but also in the presence of four thrilled members of his family. Terry is quoted as saying ‘I am totally overcome by this award, it is totally unexpected and I would like to thank you all.  I’m not sure I deserve it’. Yes you do. Terry has been a loyal and talented member of the bass section for about forty years before ill health made him make the reluctant decision to retire from the choir. Not only attending almost every practice and concert over this long period he has also been supportive throughout of new members in helping them meet the challenges of being in a large male choir.

Terry has been instrumental in obtaining several concerts for the choir over many years, has been a keen participant not only of these and choir tours but also of the many social events arranged by the choir.  To rapturous applause Terry gladly accepted Siân’s invitation to join in with the last item of the concert ‘O Gymru’ where he took up his once familiar position in the back row of the Bass section.  Thank you, Terry for all you have done for this Choir over many years. We look forward to seeing you at our practices and concerts.

 

 

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