Last month we were delighted to have wished long serving choristers and close friends, baritone Tom Hole on the left and bass John Wyson very many happy returns on celebrating their 85th birthdays on October 29th. Both were born many miles but only hours apart. John was born in Malta and lived there during the German bombings during World War 2 but we’re not sure where Tommy was chiselled out. We wish them many more shared birthdays together.
This photo was taken at the funeral service of much loved vice president Margaret Moss at Cirencester Baptist Church on 30th October 2017.
Photographs by Colleen Gauntlett. Left click on images to enlarge
Unlike our last visit to Long Ashton in a torrential downpour, the evening was a cold but dry Friday night on November 10th as the Choir of about 60 members once again made its way over the Severn Bridge and on to All Saints Church at Long Ashton, Bristol to support the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal and Church Restoration funds. Every time we visit this Church it is always to a full house and again this time we were not disappointed.
Conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley-Anne James, accompanied by John Nicholson and Stephen Berry, the choir presented a full programme of a wide range of music from Welsh favourites, ‘Rachie’,’ Cwm Rhondda’, ‘Anfonaf Angel’ and ‘Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn’ to fitting ‘Mansions of the Lord’ from the film ‘We are Soldiers’, ‘He’, ‘A Miner’s Song’, ‘Mansions of the Lord’ and ‘There is No Death’. The Choir was pleased to present ‘Ride the Chariot’ with soloists Siân Hatton and David Gould. Included also were the epic ‘Comrades in Arms’, ”When I survey the wond’rous cross’ to the tune Morte Criste, ‘With a Voice of Singing,’ ‘Shenandoah,’ and finalising with ‘O Gymru’, extolling the virtues of Wales with soloist Tom Hole.
The Choir were once again joined in the concert by about 50 of the talented young children of the local Downs School who presented a wide range of musical styles from a Brass ensemble playing ‘Bob the Builder’ and ‘Batman’. a clarinet solo of an Adagio by Albinoni, to delightful Choral pieces including ‘Nearer my God to Thee’ and a wonderful arrangement of When you Believe’. Further items included a saxophone duet of ‘It Don’t Mean a thing, a trumpet solo of Pavane-Faure and a Guitar Solo of Andantino by Carulli. Further choral items included ‘In Dreams’ and a foot tapping ‘Happy’ by Pharell Williams. Their items were conducted by Mark Weaver and choir director Marysia Gorska-Saj and accompanied once again by Susan Gregory.
Not to make a break from tradition, following the concert the Choir and supporters made their way through the rain to the Bowling Club at Long Ashton for a welcome warm reception, refreshments and again, a hearty afterglow to the delight of the patrons.
On a lighter note from recent posts the Choir was happy to sing at the David Broome Events Centre (Cricklands) near Caldicot to entertain the participants and organisers of the British Home International Equestrian Dressage Competition which invites teams form all over the British Isles to compete. At the welcoming party, while the participants were eating a meal of chips and chilli and a variety of Welsh traditional offerings of cawl and welshcakes, the Choir, conducted by Sian Hatton and accompanied by John Nicholson and Stephen Berry performed with a variety of songs from its repertoire such as Rachie, Llef, Somewhere Out There, Troyte’s Chant, O Gymru, A Miner’s Song, Aus der Traube in die Tonne and Cwm Rhondda.
The evening was made a little more special in that it was top tenor Paul Priest’s and bottom bass Colin Hart’s first concert. I’m sure there will be many more.
After the meal the choir continued to entertain the crowds with a period of ‘Afterglow’ singing, led by Dai Gould to a delighted audience which often joined in with Fields of Athenry, My Grandfather’s Clock, The Gypsy and even Sospan Fach.
From the many comments and thanks it was clear that the audience, many of whom had never experienced the singing of Welsh Male Voice Choir close up, were thrilled and excited with our performance. This is why we do it, folks.
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.
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
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.
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.
On July 15th 2017, some sixty members of Caldicot Male Voice Choir travelled through the quiet country lanes and rolling hillsides of Wiltshire and Dorset to finally arrive in an area of outstanding beauty at the picturesque village of Wimbourne St GIles, home of the Earls of Shaftesbury. Every year the St Giles Church Council bedecks the church in a wonderful display of flower arrangements and sculptures. This year’s theme was ‘Country Ways’ and the choir positioned itself against the magnificent wooden screen of the 18th century Georgian church surrounded by over thirty magnificent floral displays.
The Choir, conducted by Siân Hatton and accompanied by Stephen Berry and John Nicholson performed a wide mix of favourites including Welsh hymns Rachie, Cwm Rhondda, Laudamus, Eli Jenkins’ Prayer and Malotte’s The Lord’s Prayer through to fast moving The Lady is a Tramp, With a Voice of Singing and Ride the Chariot. These pieces contrasted with the Welsh songs ‘Anfonaf Angel’ the traditional, tragic, Welsh folk song, ‘Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn’, ‘The Impossible Dream’ featured in The Man of La Mancha and ‘Mansions of the Lord’ from the film ‘We are Soldiers’. The choir also delighted the audience with its premier performance of ‘Shenandoah’. In a long, varied programme, Siân Hatton delighted the audience with a rendition of the humorous Marriott Edgar poem ‘Albert and the Lion’ accompanied on piano by Stephen Berry.
The programme included a performance from a four piece brass ensemble made up from young pupils of the local Queen Elizabeth School who delighted the audience with an exploration of musical styles beginning with ‘Fly me to the Moon’ included Baroque, Handel’s ‘Hornpipe’ from Water Music, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake right through to ‘Sir Duke’ by Stevie Wonder and ‘La Cucaracha’, finalising with the Glenn Miller classic ‘In the Mood’.. The foursome form part of the thirty odd strong School orchestra who perform over thirty concerts a year.
Following rapturous applause from the audience and words of appreciation and a request to visit again from the Rector, the reverend David Paskins the choir left to board the coach to nearby Cranborne and the Sheaf of Arrows for well deserved refreshment.
This time last year Caldicot Male Voice Choir travelled in the rain to the magnificent St Peter’s RC Church in Cardiff to share the stage with the touring American Tapestry Choir and this year it was delighted to repeat the experience on July 6th, this time in glorious sunshine, with Californian choir, the San Jose Symphonic Choir conducted by Leroy Krumm and accompanied by Mark Bruce. The concert, arranged by UK Travel Designers Ltd. was held in aid of the Severn View Open Doors project which supports sufferers of dementia in the Chepstow area and over £500 was donated by the choirs and audience. The Choir is aiming to raise sufficient funds to provide a number of outbuildings for the charity’s sensory garden.
The 50 strong San Jose Choir opened the concert with a disciplined walk through to the stage with trumpet accompaniment of ‘Now I Walk in Beauty’ written by Gregg Smith and followed their first half with classical pieces from around the world including Rachmaninofff’s ‘Borgorodiste Devo’, ‘Shine on this Shining Night’, and a delightful harmonised version of ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’. The Welsh audience were thrilled that the choir superbly performed ‘Ar hyd y nos’ in Welsh to round off their first performance.
Caldicot Male Voice Choir of over 60 voices conducted by Shirley-Anne James and accompanied by Stephen Berry included a series of songs from its extensive repertoire either side of the interval, opening with well known hymn ‘Cwm Rhondda’ followed by items as varied as folk song ‘Bugeilio’r Gwentith Gwyn’, the hymn of forgiveness ‘He’, ‘Anfonal Angel’, ‘The Lord’s Prayer’, ‘Troyte’s Chant’, ‘Laudamus’, ‘With a Voice of SInging’ and finalising with the famous Wesleyan hymn ‘Morte Criste’ much appreciated by the Americans and audience alike.
The San Jose choir’s second performance was less classical and included Bernstein’s ‘Somewhere’, ‘Keep your Lamps Aglow’, William Smith’s ‘Ride the Chariot’ (also included in Caldicot’s repertoire), ‘Hear me Redeemer’ and of course Burt Bacharach’s ‘Do You know the way to San Jose’. Finishing with a tremendous version of ‘Battle Hymn of the Republic’ with trumpet and piccolo accompaniment as well as piano, the choir received a long standing ovation from an appreciative audience.
Finally the two choirs assembled on stage to sing together the two National Anthems, ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ conducted by Leroy Krumm followed by ‘Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ conducted by Shirley-Anne James which again led to another standing ovation in recognition of superb performances from two wonderful choirs.
Many of the American choristers had never heard a Welsh Male Voice Choir before and all were thrilled to have shared this fabulous choral experience and will return to the USA with a desire to return to Wales again.
Following its visit to Cardiff, the San Jose Choir continues its tour of the UK with concerts in Harrogate and York before returning to California.
On Thursday 6th July, Caldicot Male Voice will suspend its usual practice and instead will be appearing alongside the prestigious touring Californian choir, the San Jose Symphonic Choir at St Peter’s Church, St. Peter’s Street, Cardiff at 7-30pm.
Founded in 1924 the San Jose Symphonic of over 100 voices has toured extensively in its history throughout Europe, Australia and across America and Caldicot Male Voice is thrilled to be performing alongside them. The Symphonic Choir will be conducted by Leroy G Kromm, its renowned musical director since 1985 and will be accompanied by Mark Bruce.
Caldicot Male Voice Choir will perform not only a traditional mix of traditional Welsh choral music but also more modern pieces and is conducted by Sian Hatton, musical director since 1988 and Shirley Anne James. The choir will be accompanied by Stephen Berry and John Nicholson.
Last year Caldicot choir performed, to great acclaim at the same venue with the 100 strong American Tapestry choir and this year’s concert should be at least as fabulous as it was then.
Entry is free but any donations will be made to the Choir’s nominated charity for 2017, the Severn View Open Doors project which provides support for sufferers of Dementia in the Chepstow area.