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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

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.

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.

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.

 

Choir Sings for Lady Golfers at St Pierre

 

 

Photos by Colleen Gauntlett

 

The Choir gave up its normal practice night to travel just down the road from its Choir Hall in Caldicot to the Marriott Resort, St Pierre Golf Club where it happily sang a collection of songs to the Ladies section of the St. Pierre Golf Club at their Annual Dinner on November 23rd.

Conducted by Musical Director Siân Hatton and accompanied by John Nicholson, the Choir’s selection included popular Welsh favourites; ‘Cwm Rhondda (Bread of Heaven)’, ‘Rachie’ and ‘Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn’. The entertainment for the ladies over their teas and coffees also included the Choir’s versions of ‘The Impossible Dream’ from the musical Man of La Mancha, American folk song. ‘Shenandoah’ and the German drinking song ‘Aus der Traube in die Tonne’.  The Choir finalised its programme with the greatly appreciated Welsh modern song ‘O Gymru’ in which Siân Hatton took the solo part.

The Choir, to be joined by many of the Ladies, retired to the neighbouring bar for appreciated refreshments and a follow up of ‘Afterglow’ singing led by chorister David Gould.  The only regret expressed by the ladies was that time did not permit a longer performance but all agreed that it was wonderful contribution to a fabulous evening.

Old friends share the same 85th Birthday

 

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.

Choir returns to All Saint’s Church in Long Ashton Bristol

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.

Choristers step out at Equestrian Dressage Event

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.

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