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Fabulous Gala Concert with Risca Male Choir

 

Photos by Colleen Gauntlett.  Left click on images to enlarge.

Those of you who go to Caldicot Leisure Centre in Mill Lane cannot fail to see Caldicot Male Voice Choir’s Choir Hall with it’s bright red badge above the entrance.  This magnificent hall was opened in 1996 through funds raised by the choristers and grants at that time. To celebrate the opening, three local choirs, Risca, Cwmbran and Blaenavon were invited to Caldicot to perform in a special inaugural Gala concert. The start of the tradition of annual Gala concerts.

Caldicot was thrilled that 22 years years later, Risca Male Choir accepted the invitation to return to perform in Caldicot Male Voice Choir’s 22nd Gala concert on September 8th at the Leisure Centre where the capacity audience of over 400 was presented with one of the best Gala performances for many years. Introduced by the professional performance throughout of compère and host Dean Powell Caldicot, conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied by Stephen Berry and John Nicholson and including about 15 who were at the inaugural Gala, opened proceedings with resounding ‘Men of Harlech’ to be followed by varying styles of ‘Mansions of the Lord’, haunting ‘Tangnefeddwyr’, ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ by Malotte, spiritual ‘Ride the Chariot’ and the premiere performance by Caldicot of ‘The Prayer’, a beautiful song much of which is sung in Italian.

Risca followed, conducted by new Musical Director Tomos Gwyn and accompanied by Alison Thomas with a range of song styles including vigorous ‘Gloria’, the beautiful Rudyard Kipling inspired ‘Seal Lullaby’, spiritual ‘Goin’ up a Yonder’ to be followed by tributes to the First World War dead, the poem ‘In Flander’s Fields’ and the poem by Robert Binyon ‘For the Fallen’ with the words ‘They shall not grow old…..’,  Risca choir included about ten members who were part of the first Gala Concert.

Taking to the stage after the interval, Risca presented us with contrasting styles of the famous ‘O Danny Boy’, rhythmic ‘Gonna Rise Up Singing’, ‘Hiraeth’ expressing the virtues of the particularly Welsh emotion of longing. Included was the soft, Welsh lullaby ‘Si Hei Lwli ‘Mabi’, Anfonaf Angel and patriotic ‘O Gymru’, extolling the virtues of Wales.

Showing off the range of songs sung by Welsh male choirs, Caldicot presented a varied second half programme of ‘African Prayer’ based on the South African National Anthem, Nkosi Sikelel’I Africa but sung in both Xhosa and Welsh, a now firm favourite the memorable words of ‘A Miner’s Song’, a foot tapping copy of Tennessee Ernie Ford’s ‘Sixteen Tons’, the tragic love story of Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn and finally the most famous of all Welsh hymns, ‘Cwm Rhondda’.

Both Choirs combined on stage for about 100 voices to sing the famous all time favourite hymn, ‘When I Survey the Wond’rous Cross’ sung to the tune ‘Morte Criste’ as a finale.  Amazing!

There is no doubt that the audience, including special guests Jessica Morden MP, Peter Clarke, chairman of Monmouthshire County Council and councillors Alan Davies, David Evans, Tony Easson, Jim Higginson representing Caldicot wards, Rev. Preben Andersen of Caldicot Methodist Church, Dr Haydn James, musical director of the Welsh Rugby Union and Wales and British Lions Rugby legend Gerald Davies in his capacity as Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Monmouthshire, was absolutely thrilled with the evening of tremendous Male Voice Choir singing by two of Wales’ leading choirs. A night to remember!

Many thanks to all who helped in the creation and organisation of such a wonderful concert.

 

Birdie Boys off for a round at St Pierre

Photographs by Ron Ashton, Colleen Gauntlett and Lyn Gauntlett

Caldicot Choir’s golfers, The Birdie Boys not only tweet and twitter in the choir, they and their friends play a round of Golf or two to raise funds for Charities.  Last Saturday 23 of them came along to the St Pierre Marriott Golf resort near Chepstow to play on the Mathern Course in a special Golf Day to help Caldicot Male Voice Choir continue to raise funds for good causes through its concert activities.

While trying to emulate the achievements of past winners on this course such as Jacklin, Woosnam, Langer, Ballasteros and Gallagher, six teams of four started off from the clubhouse and hotel and after a marathon 5 mile walk (although some went by buggy) through the links while trying to get a little white ball down a sequence of 18 holes, they all managed to get back to the hotel by about 5-30pm.

The eventual winners of the event organised by choristers Maurice Penny, Tony Griffiths and Alyn Dawe was a team from the Choir captained by chorister Tony Griffiths and guest golfers Mike Griffiths, Chris Orum and Dale Harris. Birdie Boys captain on the day, Alyn Dawe presented the intrepid four with a magnificent trophy, donated by The Birdie Boys golfers  Second place was a team of choristers represented by captain Dave Gould, Paul Thomas, Ron Powell and Mark Stocker. Third place was another team of choristers; Tom Hole, David Hennesey, Alyn Dawe and Jason Dawe. Nearest the pin on the 5th hole – Chris Orum, nearest the pin on the 18th – Dale Harris and finally, longest drive on the 17th – chorister Karl Gregory.

Following the fish and chip supper and the presentations of awards by Birdie Boys captain Alyn Dawe, a raffle with prizes on the night and sponsorship of each of the 18 holes and pins raised about £700. The main sponsors were Flexi-Print, Gambia Horse and Donkey charity, JAGA transport, Ray’s Garden Services, Blood Bikes Wales, MPS, The Tredegar Arms, Shirenewton and Timothy Taylor’s Brewery not to mention several individual sponsorships.

A fabulous day of golf was enjoyed by everyone in perfect weather conditions.

22 Years since Risca Male Choir at the opening of Caldicot Choir Hall

Photo by Colleen Gauntlett

 

In 1996 work was completed on building the brand new, purpose built, magnificent Choir Hall in Caldicot.  Owned and funded by Caldicot Male Voice Choir with help from local authorities and the National Lottery grants, the building’s completion was marked by holding a Gala Concert to which Risca, Blaenavon and Cwmbran Male Choirs were invited to join Caldicot in a feast of wonderful Welsh male choral singing. Since then a Gala concert to which another choir or musical group is invited has been held each year to remember this auspicious occasion .

In the past, Blaenavon and Cwmbran Male Choirs have returned to the Choir Hall and now, after a gap of 22 years Caldicot Male Voice Choir is thrilled and delighted to invite Risca Male Choir once again to its Gala concert.  Risca is arguably one of the leading choirs in Wales and together with Caldicot, fresh from its acclaimed appearances recently at the Royal Albert Hall and Buckingham Palace are sure to give a give a fantastic evening’s entertainment.

We are also pleased to welcome back for the fourth time the talented, humorous, witty and extremely choir knowledgeable, Dean Powell to host the concert.

The concert is at Caldicot Leisure Centre in Mill Lane Caldicot on Saturday September 8th and doors open at 6-30 pm.  Tickets are £10 each from Alan Pearce on 01291 422005 in advance, from the Leisure Centre, from any chorister or at the door on the night.

Caldicot Male Voice Choir is always keen to welcome potential new members so if are interested in starting a new hobby, learn new skills and make new friends then please take a look at our web site www.caldicotmalevoicechoir.co.uk or visit the choir hall on any Monday or Thursday night from 7 pm.

Choir Sings at local Wedding

Photos by Colleen Gauntlett. Left Click to Enlarge

 

 

On a glorious Summer Saturday 4th August, over 50 members of Caldicot Male Voice Choir made the short journey to St Mary Virgin Church in Caldicot to take part in the celebration and service of the wedding of Caroline Nash to Andrew Bundock.  Caroline is a teacher at Castle Park Primary School in Caldicot and has heard the choir sing before at its recent Christmas Concert at the choir hall when it shared the stage with the wonderful school choir.  Andrew works locally as a civil servant and the couple have been together for nineteen years before tying the knot.

Prior to the marriage service, conducted by Rev Richard Terrado-Reardon, the choir entertained the waiting congregation with favourites Anfonaf Angel, On the Street Where You Live from ‘My Fair Lady, Wise Men Say (Only Fools Rush In), made famous by Elvis Presley and Let it be me, recorded by the Everley Brothers.  The Choir was conducted by Musical Director  Siân Hatton and accompanied on keyboard by John Nicholson.

Hymns sung and joined in enthusiastically by the Caldicot choir included ‘Lord of All Hopefulness,’ ‘Give Me Joy in My Heart’ and not forgetting a must at weddings ‘Love Divine, all loves excelling’.  The church organist for the wedding was the choirs other accompanist Stephen Berry. The hymns and service were interspersed with a Bible reading from Corinthians delighfullyr read by Catherine Stephens and a beautiful, poignant poem, written by the Bride, Caroline and read by Anna Melling as a tribute to the life she had already spent with her new husband Andrew .

During the signing of the register, the choir further entertained the wedding guests with renderings of modern Welsh song ‘Yfory’, expressing the promise of ‘tomorrow’ and ‘You Raise Me Up’ made famous by Westlife, Josh Groban and many others.

Finally the newlyweds walked down the aisle to the refrains of the much loved Welsh Hymn ‘Calon Lân’ sung by the choir and accompanied by Stephen Berry on the church organ and then, in what is becoming a wedding tradition with the choir, to have their photograph taken outside the church with the choristers in the background while singing Calon Lân.

 

Choir Sings for Severn View Garden

 

A selection of photographs taken by Colleen Gauntlett
Caldicot Male Voice Choir is proud of its long history of raising funds for good causes and on Saturday 21st July it saw the culmination of its main 2017 Fund Raising project, suggested by chorister Alyn Dawe to help build a Sensory Garden at the Severn View Residential Home in Mounton Road, Chepstow.
 
To quote Project Leader Maureen Jenkins.
 
“At Severn View Residential Home in Chepstow we care for, and support 32 people; most of whom are living with dementia. Whilst dementia can be a cruel disease, we do know that it is possible to live well with this disease. An important part of this is having free, safe and open access to outside spaces to be busy gardening, spend time alone or with friends and feel the sun and wind on your face. In a world of confusion, sometimes fear and often sadness a garden specially designed for those suffering with dementia can be a healing place that promotes well-being. We would like to be able to “open the doors” and see our residents faces when they go out to a safe, secure and beautiful garden.”
 
“Among the many contributors to help create the garden were Chepstow Lions, Chepstow Masons, Tesco (Chepstow),Tesco Bags of Help, Caldicot Male Voice Choir, Gwent Constabulary, Community Sponsorship, Chepstow Town council, Chepstow Townswomen’s Guild, Steve Bushell and Quest Construction, The families of the residents past and present who have helped and those who continue to do so. Tribute must be paid in particular to Rachael Davies for her tireless, devoted work to create the garden supported by Rob Campbell, Anne Masters and recently Andy Herbert.”
 
Through various events throughout 2017, Caldicot Male Voice Choir and its associated cycle club, golf society and supporters raised over £4500 to enable a magnificent Summer House and other structures around the garden to be built. Events included a St. David’s Day concert, a Quiz Night, a Table top sale, the now annual Redwick Cycle Challenge and a sponsored long distance cycle ride from Hay on Wye to Caldicot in pouring rain. The Choir’s Golf Society raised about £1000 with a golf tournament at the St Pierre Golf Club.
 
At the Garden party to celebrate the opening of the Garden, the Choir together with entertainers, the extremely talented and humorous ‘The Pashy Pops’ duo singing popular songs from the Forties and Fifties, and the amazing Severn Tunnel Band. The Choir, conducted by Siân Hatton and accompanied by John Nicholson assembled in front of the Summer House to entertain the residents and guests to a range of songs including Rachie, Llef, Somewhere out there and rousing Stout Hearted Men much to the delight of everyone involved.
 
To see the beautiful garden in all its Summer glory and to see the smiles of delight on the residents guaranteed that all the Choir’s and other supporters to create the wonderful garden was time and effort well spent.
 

Choir returns to Caldicot Methodist Church

 

Photo by Colleen Gauntlett

Following its recent performances at the Royal Albert Hall and Buckingham Palace in May and more recently in July at Bristol, Caldicot Male Voice Choir gladly returned to home soil to sing at the local Methodist Church in Caldicot to raise funds for the organisation ‘Count Everyone In’ which supports, through the Methodist Church, adults with learning difficulties. The concert was attended by the organisations founders Pete and Christine Winmill from Newbury and was introduced by minister, Rev. Preben Andersen, a keen and enthusiastic supporter of the Choir..

Conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied on piano by John Nicholson Caldicot choir’s concert consisted of many of the pieces sung in Bristol to entertain a welcoming home audience.  The Methodist Church always gives us a warm and appreciative welcome.  As well as Welsh favourites, Rachie, Anfonaf Angel, and Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn, the choir delighted the audience with Shenandoah, With a Voice of Singing, Somewhere Out There, Eli Jenkins’ Prayer and You Raise Me Up, made famous by Westlife and many others in the first part of the concert.

The choir was supported by father and daughter partnership, Gareth and Catrin Edwards.  Catrin delighted us with clarinet arrangements of In ‘Dream’ and ‘Into the West’ composed by Shore from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Calon Lân and Cwm Rhondda while Gareth accompanied his daughter on the church organ.  Later Catrin delighted us further with clarinet arrangements of Wiegenlid (Brahms), Nocturne (Chopin), Ascot Gavotte from My Fair Lady (Lerner and Loewe) and finally The Lord’s My Shepherd (Townsend) while her father Gareth accompanied on piano.  Catrin celebrated her 15th birthday recently and has been learning the difficult clarinet instrument since she was five years old. A pupil of the Welsh medium school Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw in Pontypool she has taken time out from her GCSE exams to play for us at the concert.

Caldicot Male Voice Choir continued its programme in the second part with more Welsh favourites such as Cwm Rhondda,and Gwahoddiad and included A Miner’s Song, Ride the Chariot, the German drinking song Aus der Traube and the Tennessee Ernie Ford hit Sixteen Tons.  The concert finalised with the well known him ‘When I Survey the Wond’rous Cross to the tune Morte Criste in which Oliver Edwards although attending in his role as Mayor of Caldicot, is also a 2nd bass chorister of the choir and was invited to join the choir by Musical Director Siân Hatton.

Rev. Andersen was pleased to later inform us that the concert raised £264 in voluntary contributions for ‘Count Everyone In’.

Choir Sings with touring American Choir

On a blistering July 10th evening Caldicot Male Voice Choir made the short journey over the bridge to the magnificent Bristol’s Staple Hill Methodist Church to join the 35 strong touring Marvin United Methodist Church Chancel Choir from Tyler, Texas, USA.  This choir which included young members of the Bella Voce choir from the same town are touring the south of England over six days.  Before appearing with us they had earlier sung a lunchtime recital at the oldest Methodist Building in the world at the New Room, Bristol. The tour included concerts at Hampton Court Palace, Worcester College, Oxford and finalising at Southwark Cathedral.

Conducted by Musical Director James Broussard, the Texas Choir assembled up the steps behind the altar to give a stunning opening performance of a mix of American Spiritual music in

various styles including Shaker arrangements and all sung amazingly without accompaniment. Their pieces included several thrilling and amazing bass, tenor and soprano soloists from among its number.  This was followed later in the evening, following Caldicot’s two performances by an equally amazing performance.

Caldicot Male Voice Choir, conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied by John Nicholson on piano, performed either side of the interval by singing a range of items from its repertoire including Welsh favourites Rachie, Robat Arwel’s arrangement of Anfonaf Angel, Cwm Rhondda, the love story of Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn, Gwahoddiad and the resounding Yr Tangnefeddwyr , the poem by Waldo Williams recalling the wartime bombing of Swansea.  Caldicot delighted the Americans, who had never heard a Welsh Male Voice Choir before, by including Shenandoah, Somewhere Out There from the Spielberg cartoon American Tail and the spiritual Ride the Chariot.  Caldicot’s versatile programme also included A Miner’s Song, composed by Dan and Laura Curtis and the rousing pair Comrades in Arms and Men of Harlech.  The concert concluded with the choir and audience singing Mae Hen Wlad fy Nhadau from the Gallery.

Caldicot Choir were delighted by the many expressions of praise heaped on them by the American Choir who later joined us at the Staple Hill Oak pub for a taste of British hospitality. This was the third occasion where we have joined with a touring American Choir in recent years.  The previous were at St Peter’s Church Cardiff in 2016 (Tapestry Choir, California) and 2017 (San Jose Symphonic, California) and it looks forward to greeting many more in the future.

The concert was held to raise funds for The St Peter’s Hospice in Bristol and it raised well over £1000 for the charity.

Choir meets Royalty at Buckingham Palace

Photos from Choir members.  Left click to enlarge.

 

Following on from an incredible weekend in London, which included a performance at the Royal Albert Hall, 65 members of Caldicot Male Voice Choir returned early on Tuesday 22nd May to provide Welsh choral music at Buckingham Palace by singing for Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and newly weds Prince Harry and Megan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at a Garden Party which formed the start of Prince Charles’ celebration of his 70th Birthday on November 14th.

The Prince of Wales invited over 7000 guests who represented organisations of which he is the Patron together with representatives of the Emergency Services, Medical teams and military connections of which he is the Colonel in Chief.As part of the programme which included the Band of the Welsh Guards, The National Pipe Band, The Genesis Gospel Singers, Côr y Bro, a mixed voice choir from London, Caldicot Male Voice Choir entertained the 7000 guests at 4-30pm outside the Royal tea tent, set against the lake.  The choir’s programme, conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied by John Nicholson and Siân included of course Cwm Rhondda, Anfonaf Angel, Llanfair, Rachie, Men of Harlech, God Bless the Prince of Wales and as a special inclusion for the honeymoon couple the choir included the romantic Everley Brothers hit, Let it Be Me.

Following our performance and a delicious round of sandwiches, cakes, tea and other treats we were delighted that Prince Charles and his wife Camilla came into the Royal tent to join us and chat to several of he choir members including Siân Hatton (that’s my husband over there said Sian) and Shirley Anne James our two musical directors. The Prince and Camilla congratulated both on the performance and noted that we had appeared at the Royal Albert Hall.  Other choristers spoken to were Andy Friedman, Roger Francis and Garry Keeble who had met the Prince at the opening of the first Severn crossing. ‘That was a long time ago’, commented the Prince.  Moving along the line the Prince and Camilla had a brief chat to a number of choristers,including David Currie, Ron Powell, David Gould, John MacArthur and Lyn Gauntlett.  Among many questions the Prince asked which sections did they sing in and thanked them for their hard work and for coming to his party.  Bass chorister Oliver Edwards was introduced to the Prince as the youngest Mayor of Caldicot Town Council and the thrilled Bill Nash was introduced as probably the oldest, active chorister in Wales at 95 years of age. On departing, the choristers conveyed their thanks for the invitation and wished Prince Charles a very happy birthday.

Choir Appears at the Royal Albert Hall

On the steps of The Albert Memorial at Hyde Park before the rehearsal
Again formed up on the steps of the Albert Memorial just before the concert
The Concert Programme

Photos by Colleen Gauntlett.  Left click on the images to enlarge.

 

What an incredible occasion!  The culmination of 18 months of hard work practising and learning twenty pieces for this fabulous event.  There were times of despair, thinking that we would never learn all these pieces, some familiar, some totally new to us but in the end we got there by shear determination.

About 60 of Caldicot’s finest joined as the largest single contingent with more than 700 or so other choristers from another 27 choirs across Wales and a few including Mansfield Welsh, Snowdown Colliery Welfare from Kent and Oxford Welsh from England made their way to London to join in the Festival of Song, held only every three years.  Gwent was also represented by Abertillery Orpheus, Beaufort and Pontnewydd Male Choirs,

The Massed choir was conducted by Dr Alwyn Humphreys MBE and accompanied by Caradog Wiliams who appeared at our Choir Hall at our 2017 Annual Concert.  Solo artistes included Magor’s Ffion Edwards and Caldicot choir is proud that it sponsored Ffion to enter the competition and that she was thrilled to appear with us at this year’s Annual concert.

The audience leaped out of their seats to the tremendous, explosive sound of nearly 800 voices opening up with Welsh Hymn, Llanfair, accompanied by the magnificent Royal Albert Hall organ played by Huw Tregellis Williams.  Things calmed down a little with the gentle refrain of Ar Lân y Môr and then back to the finishing crescendo of Stout Hearted Men.

In the programme, this alternation of loud and soft continued throughout with offerings of There is No Death, delightful Anfonaf Angel and Morte Criste conducted by Mair Lewis, musical director of Swansea Male Choir.  Among the more memorable pieces, although how can we forget any of them were Cwm Rhondda, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, the wonderful poem Y Tangnefeddwyr and African Prayer both set to music by Eric Jones who was in the audience.

The whole evening was complemented by wonderful performances from winners of the Geraint Morris Award;  Rhydian Jenkins (2015), Ffion Edwards (2016) and Samantha Oxborough (2017) and completed with the eighteen incredible voices of the Bella Voce Ladies Choir from Pembroke

Exhausted but wonderfully happy, the choir left to return to its hotel for an Afterglow of singing in a crowded lounge to be joined in our version of A Grandfather’s Clock by none other than Alwyn Humphreys himself.  Dai Gould would not give up the baton though.

If you would like to join this incredible choir, please visit our web site www.caldicotmalevoicechoir.co.uk or come along to our Choir Hall in Mill Lane, Caldicot on any Monday or Thursday evening.

Choir meets up with Whitland MVC

About 850 choristers from 49 male voice choirs are travelling to London to take part in the Festival of Male Choirs at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday evening May 19th.

 
Caldicot Male Voice Choir is the largest single contingent with over 60 making the trip but many of its choristers and their wives took time out yesterday, 13th May to join up with Whitland and District Male Voice Choir at the Old Ferry Inn at Beachley near Chepstow.
 
The Whitland choristers have been cycling around Wales visiting every choir that is taking part in the Festival of Massed Choirs at the Royal Albert Hall. The aim of the cycle ride was to raise £3,000 for Prostate Cymru which is the nominated charity of the Welsh Association of Male Choirs who are the organisers of the event in the Royal Albert Hall. The latest news is that nearly £5000 has been raised so far.
 
The choristers will end their cycle ride at the steps of the Royal Albert Hall on Friday, May 18 and will present a cheque for their donation to representatives of Prostate Cymru.
 
On their final journey from Pembrokeshire to London they stopped off at the Old Ferry Inn after cycling 126 miles in a day before continuing on Thursday to meet up with Oxford Male Voice Choir at Cowley.
 
Caldicot Male Voice were pleased to welcome them on their penultimate leg and provided their guests with an evening of afterglow singing led by chorister Dave Gould and was later delighted to present Gareth Edwards of Whitland Choir cyclists with £140 collected by bucket contributions. In a similar vein Caldicot Choir is proud to have raised £8500 in 2015 for Prostate Cymru with a wide range of events throughout the year.
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