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Choir Remembers Passed Choristers

 

 

Caldicot Male Voice Choir was honoured and privileged to attend the funeral of well loved and devoted chorister John Wyson at Caldicot Catholic Church on Friday 2nd February.  Following the service the choir was proud to sing Welsh hymns Gwahoddiad and Llef, conducted by Shirley Anne James and accompanied by choir and crematorium organist Stephen Berry at Langstone Crematorium. Like so many others, the choir and its singing filled a huge part of John’s life.

Many well deserved tributes have been paid to John in the past few weeks since his sudden death on January 10th but perhaps his passing gives an opportunity to reflect on all those great choristers, former members of the choir who have sadly died in the past year.  Many believe, wrongly that being part of a Male Voice Choir is an ‘old man’s game’ and for many this may be true.  But we must not forget that many of these ‘old men’ were once young and members of the choir while in their twenties, thirties and forties, many years ago.  They have provided experience, skill, talent but above all loyalty to the traditions of Welsh Male Voice choral singing for many, many years. We must also not forget those choristers, not mentioned here but still remembered who have also devoted a large part of their lives to the Choir over its proud 54 year history.

Sadly, in the past year alone the choir has mourned the passing of recently retired choristers Allen Worwood and Aldwyn Caswell together with serving choristers Doug Taylor, Theo Roberts, Malcolm Reed, Roy Jones, Roland Bennett and most recently John Wyson.  Together they have served the choir for over 250 years, a few devoting 40 years or more of their lives to the choir.  for which the Choir and the Caldicot Community will be forever grateful. While not only enjoying a wonderful hobby, all our choristers through concerts and other activities, have also raised many hundreds of thousands of pounds for deserving causes and charities and without doubt made a huge contribution to the social and cultural life of Gwent.

While paying tribute and honours to the past choristers, the tradition of male voice singing is alive and well in Caldicot with the recruitment in the past few years of well over thirty new choristers, most of whom are relative youngsters of less than forty with a few in their early twenties thus disproving the myth that singing in a choir is an ‘old man’s game’.  We are sure that many of our current members, numbering over 80 will continue to give long and devoted commitment to our choir and ensure that it continues to be among the leading choirs in Wales.

If you would like to learn more of Caldicot Male Voice Choir or would be interested in joining us, please visit the web site at www.caldicotmalevoicechoir.co.uk

6 Nations Rugby back at the Choir Hall. Giant Screen Event

 

6 Nations Rugby will soon be upon us and the Choir Hall in Mill Lane will once again be the venue for showing all of the matches on a giant 3 metre screen with fabulous sound. Doors open one hour before the first kick off on all weekend days. The first match is Wales v Scotland at the Principality Stadium. Kick off 2-15 pm.

Don’t just sit alone watching the games on your little 32 inch tellies (maybe 43 inch), drinking a warm can of lager while the wife puts the cleaner on or nags you to go shopping, get away and watch the matches live with your mates at the Choir Hall. It’s a great atmosphere, reasonably priced drinks from a fully stocked, licensed bar, lighting effects, flags and bunting to put on a great show. Bring your wife or girl friend along as well, many do and they have a great time.

Short of going to the matches at the Principality stadium or elsewhere, this is the next best thing.

The poster says it all, entry is free, refreshments will be available as well and maybe the choir members will sing the National anthem.

All profits go to help Caldicot Male Voice Choir continue to give concerts to help local and national charities, so by coming along you will be helping out good causes as well.

If you would like to sponsor a match for £20, please contact us. It would be greatly appreciated and your name would be added to the poster and other advertising on future listings.

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.

New Chorister, Ron joins the ranks as a 2nd Tenor

A few days ago we received an e-mail via the web site from Ron Ashton who is currently living in Marshfield, Gloucestershire but will soon be moving to Caldicot.  Ron asked for information on the choir and indicated that he might like to join us.  Ron told us that he had previously sung in St Peter’s, Filton plus St George Singers Community Choirs.

Always keen to welcome new members, he was invited to visit us and we are delighted that he did so on Monday 15th January.  He was so keen that after listening to us until the interval, he had a brief chat to Lyn and John who arranged for him to have his first voice test with Siân in the back room  He emerged to the announcement that he was proclaimed as a 2nd tenor and took his place next to Russell in the third row.

Following the latest reported sad news it is always a delight to bring some good news to the choir and we wish Ron a long and happy association with us.  We are sure he will enjoy himself and become a valuable member of our Choir.

Why not follow Ron’s example and get in touch with us?  It’s really very simple

 

Another serving chorister sadly passes away

John Wyson RIP

 

Once again, as so often in the recent past, the entire Choir was devastated to learn of the sudden death of another serving chorister, this time long standing Bass chorister, John Wyson on 10th January.

Only last November I posted on the News page how ‘Johnny’ shared his 85th birthday with fellow chorister and best friend, baritone Tommy Hole never thinking that I would be writing of this sad news today.  Johnny had been suffering poor health for a few years but this did not stop him from coming to just about every practice and concert until his death.  He was a regular and staunch supporter of the ’10 o’clock team’ that meets to set up or clear the hall before and after events.  I was privileged to sit by him at practice for the past year and we would often joke that we shouldn’t try to copy each other, since I’m in the baritone section.

Johnny was born in Malta and survived the dreadful bombing of that heroic island before coming to this country as a youngster to eventually work as a fireman on the then Great Western Railway.and British Rail.  He formed a close relationship with fellow ex railwaymen and bass choristers, the late Roy Jones and Wyn Goodwin when he joined the choir in the 1990’s. However his thoughts and longings always harped back to his beloved birthplace where so many of his family still live.

Although diminutive in size, hidden so often by choristers in front of him in photos, he had a huge heart and there is no doubt that he was a devoted member of the choir and it soon became a major part, like so many others, of his life in Caldicot; so much so that in 2014 he encouraged his new neighbour from Bristol, Chris Nolan to join us as yet another bass.  Together with his wife Kirstie, they too have become stalwarts of the choir and firm friends of Johnny.

Not  only had Johnny toured extensively with the choir, including the recent trip to Edinburgh and Stirling, he was a keen golfer and a strong supporter and active member of the ‘Birdie Boys’ and went on every trip arranged by them.

Johnny was also devoted to his family, especially his grandchildren of whom he was extremely proud and I’m sure that his death, following other recent tragedies in the family, came as a terrible shock to them all.   As a tribute the choir sang ‘Gwahoddiad’ (Invitation) at practice on January 11th and our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to all his friends and family. We have lost a true friend, a lovely man and great chorister and we will all miss him.

 

Lyn Gauntlett

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 consume Colleen’s Christmas Cake

 

The final choir practice before Christmas last night saw Colleen Gauntlett come into the Choir hall with her present for all the choir in the form of a home made, decorated, giant sponge cake. This was, as is usual with all the cakes she makes, eagerly devoured by the choristers on the night (including those with diabetes – naughty).

Colleen has often, in the past 5 years brought in a cake to celebrate special occasions like Christmas, St David’s Day or her husband’s (my) birthday. Her most famous cakes were the five fruit cakes made for the 50th Anniversary which modelled many of the choristers and the Choir badge in 3 dimensions. Her cakes are always appreciated by the choristers, many of whom take a piece home for their wives, although I understand some wives didn’t get piece.

The photo shows Chris Richards, John Nicholson, Colleen Gauntlett, Chris Nolan , Stephen Berry and David Hennesey  waiting for their slice.  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone.

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.

 

Second School Christmas Concert of the Year with Castle Park Primary School

Photos by Colleen Gauntlett.  Left click on images to enlarge

The Festive Season continued in its full spirit when Caldicot Male Voice Choir carolling concerts with a local school continued with the invitation to the children of Years 5 and 6 of Castle Park Primary School to join in an evening of cheerful carolling to an audience of over 100 beaming parents, grandparents aunts, uncles and over fifty choristers on Thursday 14th December.  The first surprise was that an unexpected return visit by Santa Claus thrilled and delighted the children who had already taken to the stage.

Introduced nervelessly by Mason of Year 6, the children gave an enthusiastic and talented performance of a wide range of poems and carols, opening with ‘Here we come a Wassailing’ (introduced by Violet) which is an old English word for ‘a toast’ – Cheers!  This rousing number was followed by Sharima’s introduction of  ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ to which the audience joined in but needed picture cards to remind them of each gift brought by their true love. Cian then told us that Year 5 will sing Welsh folk tune ‘Sospan Fach’ and Cody introduced Year 6 to give a rendition of the poem ‘Colonel Fazackerley’ which tells of his meeting with a ghost which invited himself to Christmas dinner. Summer of Year 5 introduced ‘Something is happening’ a song telling of the story of Christmas and then Anoushka also of year 5 the singing of the traditional ‘Away in a Manger’ in which Evieanna, Brooke and Gracie delightfully sang the first verse.

In a change from the usual concert dress uniform of blazers and greys Caldicot Male Voice Choir took to the stage in colourful Seasonal attire and fancy dress of decorative pullovers and Santa hats.  The Choir’s first half programme, conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied by John Nicholson included favourites ‘Casatchok’, ‘Christmas Time Again is Here’ sung to the hymn tune Llanfair, ‘A Christmas Medley’, ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Shepherds Watch and Wise Men Wonder’.

Following an interlude Caldicot Male Voice Choir returned to the stage to sing their version of hit ‘Silver Bells’ sung by many including Bing Crosby, Doris Day, John Denver, Johnny Mathis and many others, ancient carol ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ played in Supermarkets everywhere, ‘Joy to the World’, Bing Crosby’s famous Christmas song ‘I’m Dreamin’ of a White Christmas’ and finishing with a humorous rendition of ‘The Carol Singers’,  originally written for the male choristers of Manchester Cathedral is a parody of the world’s worst carol singers in which they are finally arrested and jailed by policeman ‘old Bob Bates’ characterised by top tenor Bob Doggett.

Evieanna of Castle Park School Choir welcomed us all back to the second half performance when the choir continued to entertain us with a mix of ”Mary’s Boy Child’, sung to a swing time rhythm and a cheerful ‘Santa Clause’ introduced by Year 6 pupil, Naveah. Kyle then said that the words of a simple song were changed to make it Christmassy – ‘I Wanna Hear Bells’  We certainly did – it was that loud but wonderfully sung.  In contrast, Cieran told us that their version of ‘Silent Night’ which followed was challenging because the last verse ‘Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht’ was sung in German. Well done for a perfect performance.  ‘The true meaning of Christmas’ was told in a poem written by Tom Krause and introduced by Mason of Year 5 before the wonderful performances of the children were finalised by Noah of Year 6 with the loud hand clapping and foot stamping which came as an enjoyable and integral part of  the invitation to ‘Come on and Celebrate’.  It was a good job the staging was sturdy enough to stand up to over 50 children stamping as hard as they could to the rhythm.

The evening closed with a finale of Caldicot Male Voice Choir, Castle Park Primary School and all the audience joining in with the well known favourite ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’

The evening was a great success enjoyed by all and was a reflection of all the hard work put in by the weekly practice of Castle Park Primary School Choir,  Their musical team of Mr M Jones, Mrs S. Wilcher and Mrs T. Withey, together with head teacher Mrs Kay Ford can be rightly and justly proud of their pupils.  Many thanks must be extended to the School’s PTA who provided the refreshments and organised the raffle. Tribute must also be paid to all those choristers who helped set up the hall beforehand and to chorister Leon Jones who provided and set up the Christmas trees and decorations.

 

Carolling Choristers join with Rogiet Primary School for concert

Photos by Colleen Gauntlett.  Left click on images to enlarge

Caldicot Male Voice Choir’s hectic Christmas season sounded off with a wonderful combination of Christmas seasonal songs sung by both the Choir and children of Rogiet Primary School choir on Tuesday 12th December at Caldicot Choir Hall.  In front of a packed hall of over one hundred proud parents and over fifty Caldicot Male Voice Choir choristers, the mixed choir of 34 children, introduced by head teacher Kathryn Evans, formed up on the stage to be suddenly and ecstatically thrilled by the unexpected appearance of Santa Claus taking time off in his busy schedule to pay a special visit.   The delight on all their faces was a joy to behold matched only by the surprise on the parents’ faces.

Led by teachers Lauren Miles and Anna Cox the children opened with precise and confident versions of ‘Glory to God’ followed by rousing ‘Sing Out at Christmas’.  Traditional ‘Away in a Manger’ and ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ delighted an appreciative audience and before finalising the first performance with ‘This is the Time and the Season’, seasonal poems were orated by pupils Lowri and Isobel to add a poignant touch to their first half.

In a change from the usual concert dress uniform of blazers and greys Caldicot Male Voice Choir took to the stage in colourful Seasonal attire and fancy dress of decorative pullovers and Santa hats.  The Choir’s first half programme, conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied by Stephen Berry and John Nicholson included favourites ‘Casatchok’, ‘Christmas Time Again is Here’ sung to the hymn tune Llanfair, ‘O Holy Night’ with soloist Sian Hatton, ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Shepherds Watch and Wise Men Wonder’.

Following an interlude Caldicot Male Voice Choir returned to the stage to sing their version of the Perry Como hit ‘Silver Bells’, ancient carol ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’, ‘Joy to the World’, Bing Crosby’s famous Christmas song ‘I’m Dreamin’ of a White Christmas’ and finishing with a humorous rendition of ‘The Carol Singers’, a parody of the world’s worst carol singers in which they are finally arrested and jailed by policeman ‘old Bob Bates’ characterised by accompanist and choir chairman John Nicholson.

Rogiet School Choir again took to the the stage to entertain us with a mix of ‘Who is the Man in the Bright Red Suit’, ‘Half the World Away’ and ‘Jingle Bells’, delightfully read poems by William and Cerys and finalising a wonderful performance ‘Yeah! Tomorrow’s Christmas’, ‘Christmas is a Magical Time’ and completing with ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’  Following a standing ovation and well deserved tributes from Caldicot Male Voice Choir’s musical team, the finale was a fabulous action packed, joint version of ‘Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer’ in which one of the highlights was the joining in with the children of all the actions by Caldicot’s youngest members Sam Atkins and Liam Evans who had the advantage of being former pupils of Rogiet School and helped teach the children all the actions beforehand.

The evening was a great success enjoyed by all and was a reflection of all the hard work put in by the weekly practice of Rogiet Junior School Choir and many thanks must be extended to the School’s PTA who provided the refreshments and organised the raffle. Tribute must also be paid to all those choristers who helped set up the hall beforehand and to chorister Leon Jones who provided and set up the Christmas trees and decorations.

 

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