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Presentations Made to Two Outstanding Choristers

Photographs by Colleen Gauntlett

At Caldicot Male Voice Choir’s Annual Concert on Saturday 6th April, following a wonderful performance by both the choir and its Guest Artiste, Rhydian Jenkins, two presentations were made to well deserving, outstanding choristers.


The first presentation was to long standing chorister Mervyn Roberts (who is approaching forty years service) of a Lifetime Achievement Award and Honorary Vice-Presidency by Jessica Morden MP, and John Griffiths AM, accompanied by Choir President Richard Evans, Musical Director Sian Hatton and chairman John Nicholson.


Mervyn is not only as a dedicated baritone chorister but was for many years choir treasurer. He was instrumental in obtaining and managing funds and the finances not only to enable the choir to continue but also to achieve the building of the Choir’s magnificent Choir Hall in 1996. Mervyn maintains a wonderful, dry sense of humour and is rarely lost for words so on this occasion he could not resist making a short speech to give thanks for the many years of friendship and joy that he has shared with the choir and he is truly surprised, humbled and honoured by the presentation of this award.


The second presentation of a Certificate and gold lapel badge by the same team was made to baritone David Gould to celebrate remarkably, 50 years of continuous service to the choir


While the choir, formed in 1963 was still in its infancy, chorister number 28, David signed up in 1969 and in his early years, he often stepped in to conduct the Choir in the after concert singing, when the social conductor, the late Colin Jones (who along with still active chorister John Evans also served over 50 years with the choir) wasn’t there. Thus he became known as ‘Jones apprentice’ and David has continued to conduct the choir in the afterglows for the past 20 years.


David has served on many Choir committees and also held the posts of transport manager, vice-chairman, treasurer and secretary. David, has a fine baritone voice and has featured as a soloist at many concerts, including this year’s Annual. In 2002 he formed even closer ties with the choir by marrying its musical director Sian Hatton.


David has participated in every Choir tour both at home and abroad with the exception of the tour to Scotland in 2017 when at the age of 72, he embarked on a tour of the Amazon jungle!
Both Mervyn and David are to be congratulated and thanked for their huge contribution to, not only Caldicot Male Voice Choir but also to the wonderful culture of Welsh Male Voice Singing.

Wonderful 2019 Annual Concert

Photograph by Colleen Gauntlett

Once again a wonderful concert was presented by Caldicot Male Voice Choir on Saturday evening 6th April at Caldicot Leisure Centre. Many thanks to all who came and supported us including special invited guests and vice presidents.


Soloist Rhydian Jenkins was superb with a fabulous demonstration of controlled singing expertly accompanied by Jeanette Massocchi. Dean Powell as compere was his usual professional, witty self and it’s always a pleasure to have him compere our concerts.


The choir’s performance was exemplary and many thanks to the music team of Sian Hatton, Shirley-Anne James, Stephen Berry and John Nicholson for their leadership and hard work.


The Choir included a wide range of songs from its repertoire including opener Men of Harlech, followed by The Prayer, part sung in Italian, ever favourite A Miner’s Song and the first welsh number ‘Llef’. Further pieces in Welsh were ‘Gwahoddiad’, a new version of Calon Lan arranged by Stephen Berry, ‘Y Tangnefeddwyr’, ‘Anfonaf Angel and’ finalising with ‘O Gymru’ arranged by Dr Haydn James who was in the audience. The choir was joined by Rhydian who sang the solo part in this item.
The Choir also premiered at the Annual Concert, Simon and Garfunkels ‘Bridge Over Trouble Water’, again arranged by Stephen Berry and foot tapping ‘Amen’ -This Little Light.


A presentation in the form of framed Certificate and gold lapel badge was made to David Gould for completing a remarkable 50 years continuous service to the choir (only the third chorister in the choir’s history to achieve this) and Mervyn Roberts honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award Certificate for his close to forty years of dedicated and outstanding service to the choir. Congratulations to both.

Choir Takes Welsh Culture to Bristol on St David’s Day

On St David’s Day March 1st, Caldicot Male Voice Choir took a part of Welsh culture across the Severn Estuary to the far side of Bristol to entertain the residents of the luxury Audley Redwood Retirement Village in Failand, Bristol.

About 40 members of the choir assembled in the resplendent, modern Redwood Hall at the centre of the village to begin the performance. Conducted by Sian Hatton and Shirley-Anne James, accompanied by Stephen Berry and John Nicholson, the choir presented an eclectic mix of Welsh songs including well known Calon Lan, Rachie, Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn, Eli Jenkins Prayer, Anfonal Angel, Cwm Rhondda and O Gymru interspersed with a few English numbers including ‘On the Street Where You Live’ from the sound of Music and ‘Stout Hearted Men’. Sian Hatton included a delightful solo of ‘My Little Welsh Home’ and tenor chorister Peter Hanks presented a solo rendition of ‘Dafydd y Garreg Wen’ as a much appreciated addition to the concert.

Following grateful consumption of the sandwiches and french fries provided by the hosts, the choristers departed to a local hostelry ‘The Failand Inn’ for further refreshments and an enjoyable hour or so of traditional ‘Afterglow’ singing, led by chorister Dave Gould.

Choir Welcomes American Visitors

On 21st February at practice, the doors of the hall opened and the choir were thrilled to welcome two American visitors, Rachel Hultin (on the left facing) and Annette Miller. Both had travelled 4800 miles from Wheat Ridge, Colorado, USA just to hear us sing. They were leaving to go back home the following day and I hope they will have some lasting memories of us to take with them. They were given a much appreciated CD of our latest recording ‘One Moment in Time’.


Rachel’s comment was ‘A worthwhile journey indeed! My ears and my heart are filled with joy for the music’ to be further endorsed by Annette who wrote ‘ I believed we were coming to a concert. Imagine my surprise when I learned it was a practice.
I then felt I was imposing by being here. However, your members could not have been more welcoming! Thank you for letting us listen to your beautiful voices. You were fantastic!’


Many thanks for your kind words both and so glad you enjoyed our practice and that we made you feel welcome.


If any of you out there would like to visit us, please call in to the Choir Hall on any Monday or Thursday evening from 7-00pm. You will be made very welcome.

Choir celebrates Stephen’s 70th Birthday with Cake

On 18th February at Caldicot Male Voice Choir’s practice the choristers shared in accompanist Stephen Berry’s 70th birthday (the day before) by not only singing ‘Happy birthday’ once more but indulged themselves by partaking of a special cake commissioned by Steve from Colleen Gauntlett to share with the choir.

The cake was a 12 inch square red velvet chocolate sponge covered in fondant icing, with a buttercream filling and decorated with musical symbols and a hand crafted motif of Steve at an upright piano constructed purely from sugar and completely edible (except for the ribbon). Cake makers and ‘sugar crafters’ will appreciate the stress and many hours that were spent creating the cake but well worth it when her ‘choir boys’ appreciate it.

As with all Colleen’s cakes this was greatly appreciated and eagerly devoured by all members but leaving a piece for Steve to take home. Only crumbs remained at the end but Steve was able to take the model home to take pride of place.

Steve was heard to say ‘it’s a fabulous cake, exceeding all expectations and must be Colleen’s best yet. I’m absolutely thrilled’.
Steve has been an accompanist at the choir since 2007 and is also musical director of Newport’s U3A choir who also shared in his birthday celebrations last week.

We are all thrilled that Steve has had a wonderful 70th birthday weekend shared by all his friends (choral and otherwise) and family.

The Choir crosses the County’s northern border to sing at Ewyas Harold

Caldicot Male Voice Choir travelled just over Monmouthshire’s northern border into Herefordshire to visit the Memorial Hall at picturesque Ewyas Harold at the head of the Golden Valley and in the lee of the Black Mountains to sing to a packed house of about 200. The concert was arranged to raise funds for St Michael’s Hospice in Hereford and it is understood that about £2000 was raised on the night.

Compered by Tom Williams and supported by guest artistes, fourteen year old soloist Amber Powell and guitarist/vocalist Kirsty Thomas the choir performed on stage to a wide range from its repertoire conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied by Stephen Berry and John Nicholson.

The Choir opened with the rousing hymn tune Rachie to be followed by a selection including the spiritual Ride the Chariot with soloists David Gould and Siân Hatton, the sadly tragic folk song Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn and inspiring African Prayer’ ‘Nkosi Sikeleli Afrika’ partly sung in Welsh.

Guest artiste, fourteen year old Amber Powell delightfully sang two pieces from her musical studies ”To Sylvia’ and ‘Where ‘ere you Walk’. Following with the theme tune from ‘The Sound of Music’ Amber left the stage to appreciative, well deserved, generous applause.

The choir continued by including two premiere arrangements of ‘Calôn Lan’ and the Simon and Garfunkel hit, ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ by Stephen Berry as well as a ‘Miner’s Song’, ‘On the Street Where You Live’ from the musical My Fair Lady and ‘Stout Hearted Men’ originally from the 1940 film ‘New Moon’ and sung by Nelson Eddy.

Talented guitarist and vocalist Kirsty Thomas, who started learning the guitar at 13 years of age, provided a contrasting and entertaining performance of ‘Hallelujah’, ‘Old No. 7’ referring to a famous brand of Kentucky Whiskey and completing with ‘A Coat of Many Colours’ made famous by Dolly Parton.

The Choir returned to the stage to finalise with its versions of ‘With a Voice of Singing’, ‘Anfonaf Angel’, the partriotic ‘O Gymru’ and the well known favourite hymn ‘When I Survey the Wond’rous Cross’ sung to the tune Morte Criste.

The concert ended with the singing of both anthems ‘God Save the Queen’ and ‘Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ and rapturous, standing ovation applause for all artistes from an enthusiastic and appreciative audience.

THE RACE NIGHT IS BACK ON FEBRUARY 22nd

Caldicot Male Voice Choir has a proud history of raising hundreds of thousands of pounds for charities and good causes through its concerts and other activities over many years.  In order to carry out this valuable community work it does of course need to raise funds for itself and to maintain its own magnificent, purpose built Choir hall in Mill Lane which serves the Caldicot Community.

For over twenty years the Choir hall has been host, not only to many concerts and social occasions but also to a fun filled Race Night and this year it is being held on 22nd February starting at  7 -00pm.  Entry is strictly by ticket only at £8 from Ron Powell and includes a buffet.  Ten races are being shown on a state of the art projection system with a 4 metre screen and a superb  sound system to make it all the more realistic.  Races are randomised so no-one has any idea of the winners. A lot of fun is promised as in the past by sponsoring horses and placing small bets in the hope of winning.  There is no chance of losing your shirt.

The evening is backed up by a raffle with fabulous prizes so please come along for a really great night if you like a day at the races! Tickets are going faster than the horses so get your quickly.

CHOIR SINGS FOR CHORISTER’S DAUGHTER AND NEW HUSBAND AT EVENING RECEPTION

Photograph taken by Colleen Gauntlett

On Saturday 26th January Caldicot Male Voice Choir sang at Lucy and Tom’s celebratory wedding evening at the Choir Hall in Caldicot following their 2 pm wedding at Caldicot Castle. Lucy is the daughter of bass chorister Paul Carlson who was introduced to husband Tom by a friend from School. Both trained as teachers but Lucy now works for Torfaen Play Services.
 
As they walked into the choir hall, the choir, conducted by Shirley-Anne James and accompanied by John Nicholson welcomed them in with the rousing Welsh hymn tune, ‘Rachie’, followed by melodic ‘Shenandoah’, ‘On the Street Where You Live’ from the musical My Fair Lady, Eli Jenkins Prayer from Under Milk Wood, ‘Somewhere out there’ from the Stephen Spielberg film ‘An American Tail’, The programme also included romantic Welsh modern tunes ‘Anfonaf Angel’ and ‘Yfory’ and then including the Tennessee Ernie Ford hit ‘Sixteen Tons’ and the Everley Brothers hit ‘Let it be me’ before the choir finalised to rapturous applause from the appreciative guests with the famous Welsh hymn ‘Cwm Rhondda’.
 
The guests rounded off the early part of the evening by enthusiastically playing a selection of party games such as Connect 4, Hangman, noughts and crosses, Frustration and many others from pre-digital and internet days. Caldicot Male Voice Choir would like to congratulate Tom and Lucy on their marriage and wish them every happiness in their future lives together as Mr and Mrs Leigh
 

Choristers share their birthday with a celebratory cake

Photograph and post by Lyn Gauntlett

76 years ago on January 16th 1943 the country echoed not only to the boom of Hitler’s bombs but also to the sounds of baritone David Kirton and top tenor Peter Hanks entering the world. This has carried on for many years as they continue to be long standing choristers in Caldicot Male Voice Choir. To celebrate this momentous anniversary, Dave asked Chorister’s wife and Caldicot Male Voice Choir photographer Colleen Gauntlett to make a special cake for both as she has done on several special occasions.
 
Happy to oblige, Colleen presented her creation of a chocolate orange sponge cake complete with fondant covering and orange cream filling to the choristers on 17th January. The decorative theme showed David Kirton in his role as bar manager at the hall (as well as his many other functions) and Peter Hanks in his role as a solo tenor performer at many of the choir’s concerts. Both were thrilled to take home the hand made sugar crafted models of each.

 
The photographs show the 14 inch cake in all its glory before being, as is so often the case, eagerly devoured at a break in practice by the choir and musical team of Shirley Shirley-Anne James, Stephen Berry and John Nicholson until only crumbs remain.

Another birthday milestone for Bill Nash

 

It was with great delight and pleasure that on Monday 7th January the choir was able, once again to wish its oldest chorister a forthcoming happy birthday by enthusiastically singing the tune  ‘Happy Birthday’ to Bill Nash.

Bill will be celebrating his unbelievable 96th birthday on Wednesday 9th January which surely must make him the oldest male voice chorister in Wales still actively and regularly singing. A highlight of his year was to be presented to HRH Prince Charles when the choir was honoured to sing at the Prince’s celebration of his 70th birthday at Buckingham Palace last May.

Bottom bass Bill makes the journey to practice from the centre of Bristol to Caldicot twice a week aided by his family and is still able to make it to many of our concerts.

Bill was born in Llanharan in 1923 to later sing with his father and brothers in Llanharan Male Voice Choir and attend Cowbridge Grammar School from where he left at 16 years old to serve in the RAF before and during the second World War as an aircraft fitter. He served in North Africa, Italy, South Africa and other countries before moving to Gloucester after the war and then to Bristol in 1952 to work many years for the British Aircraft Corporation and where he has lived since. He sang in Redland Male Choir in Bristol for many years before joining Caldicot Male Voice Choir in 1970.

He has, in his long history of about 80 years of male choral singing, sung in every section of a male voice choir. An incredible, probably unequalled record.

Bill has an incredible knowledge and expertise as a chorister and is always willing to pass on his experiences to younger and new members of the choir, not to mention our musical team.

The top photograph shows Bill with his daughter Sharon (his other children being Andrew, Jane, Ellen and Anne)  at Buckingham Palace and the lower shows him being presented with a well deserved Lifetime Achievement award and conferred as an Honorary Vice President of Caldicot Male Voice Choir at a special presentation by John Griffiths AM and Musical Director Siân Hatton at our Annual Concert in April 2014.

Many happy returns and best wishes for a happy birthday and celebration on Wednesday, Bill.

Coincidentally Bill shares his birthday with fellow chorister second tenor Mike Thurman who is a comparative youngster at 71 who was also congratulated at practice. Many happy returns to both.

Footnote.  Roy Noble paid a tribute to Bill on his BBC Radio Wales show on Sunday 20th January 2019 and played Alexander’s Ragtime band sung by the choir. Reports were also published in the South Wales Argus and the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Review.

 

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