Photos by Coll
OH! WHAT A NIGHT! CALDICOT WON’T FORGET THIS FOR A LONG TIME!
Oh, what a night!
Late December back in sixty-three
What a very special time for me
As I remember what a night.
so the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons 1975 hit song goes, but it was about June in ’63 that the choir was formed and since then we have travelled a long, long road to our 50th Anniversary Celebration Concert on Saturday 13th April 2013. A lot of hard work had been put in by our chairman Leon Jones and others, in conjunction with Inanda Events of Caldicot, Musical team and choristers for the past two years to make this a night to remember, and it certainly was!
To a full house of a fabulous audience of over 500, including special guests Jessica Morden MP; John Griffiths AM Welsh Assembly Minister for Sport and Culture; Chairman of Monmouthshire County Council, Maureen Powell and her Consort, husband John; Mayor of Caldicot Jim Higginson; County Councillors Pauline Watts and John Marshall; Rick Evans, Gwent Fire Service; choir admirer and supporter Revd. Preben Andersen of Caldicot Methodist Church and Lyn Birch of the Welsh Association of Male Voice Choirs among others including most of our Vice-presidents; a Choir of 64 choristers and the Musical Team, supported by the beautiful voice and acting ability of soprano Shân Cothi and the banter and jokes of compère comedian Don Maclean treated the audience to a spectacular extravaganza of music and showmanship never before seen by Caldicot Leisure Centre. It would have put many Rock and Pop group concerts to shame. Shân commented to me that the hall ‘looked just like the West-End’ – and she should know.
Put together by Musical Director Siân Hatton, the programme was designed to reflect the choir’s history, achievements and talents over the past 50 years. Opening with choral favourite, Speed Your Journey, from its’ prize winning, classical Eisteddfod test pieces such as Tempest and Calm and the Lord’s Prayer to foot tapping show stoppers like Alexander’s Ragtime Band, classical Vivaldi’s Gloria, and on to, no less easy to sing, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘Find me Somebody to Love’ by Queen as a fabulous finale. The Choir is extremely proud and pleased to have sung six pieces in the Welsh language, including the rousing hymn, Llanfair, romantic Lleucu Llwyd, biblical Laudamus, the madrigal Innsbruck and finally O Gymru, in which Shân Cothi delightfully sang the solo second verse. I’m sure usual soloist Tommy Hole wouldn’t have minded giving way to Shân.
We must also not forget the magnificent professional parts played by our Assistant Musical Director, Shirley Ann James and Accompanists Stephen Berry and John Nicholson who supported the choir magnificently with truly masterful performances. A DVD and CD of the evening will be made available for sale later in the year. We’ll keep you posted.
The Choir’s performances were alternated by selected items sung by Welsh television and West-end star Shân Cothi accompanied by the extremely talented, 23 year old David Doidge who carried on with true professionalism even though his music fell from the piano. Shân started with ‘Bist du bei mir’, by J.S. Bach then ‘Someday My Heart Will Awake‘ from the King’s Rhapsody by Cardiff born Ivor Novello. The next two pieces were the beautiful melodic film music from ‘The Mission’ – ‘Nella Fantasia’ by Enio Morricone and then Carlotta’s ‘Think of Me’ from Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. The second part included ‘Gymru Fach’ by David Richards in which many of the choristers delighted Shân by joining in with the chorus, followed by all-time favourite ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ from My Fair Lady. To finish, Shân delightfully sang ‘O mio babbino caro’ by Puccini and never to be forgotten, the hilarious Laughing Song – from the opera Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss – and with the audience joining in with the hilarity, bass chorister Karl Gregory was more than delighted to assist by playing the part of the Marquis.
Following thanks and acknowledgements by President Richard Evans and Chairman Leon Jones, presentations of hand-made certificates were made by John Griffiths AM, Welsh Assembly Minister for Culture and Sport to John Jenkins, Alan Pearce, Jason Dawe, Alyn Dawe, Mervyn Roberts, Theo Roberts and last but not least Musical Director Siân Hatton who have completed 25 years of dedicated continuous service with the choir. Siân was also presented with a commemorative pendant as a fully deserved reflection of her outstanding devotion, loyalty and musical contribution over the years
The well deserved praise and accolade was afforded to 2nd tenor Colin Jones who was presented with a certificate and gold engraved, treble clef tie pin to commemorate the magnificent achievement of 50 continuous years service to the choir. Well done Colin for all your efforts over the years. Colin was not a founder member but joined the choir a few months after the first rehearsal as a thirty-odd year old.
The evening was brought to an end by Don Maclean who, throughout the evening did a really entertaining job of compere to the delight of all us. It can’t be easy, coming from the Midlands of England to cope with Welsh pronunciation. Finally, the Choir, conducted by Siân Hatton led the audience with The National Anthem, ‘Mae hen wlad fy nhadau’.
Following the concert, the choir and guests returned, passed illuminated banners on the driveway to help them find their way, to the wonderfully decorated, curtained choir hall with its canopied black, white and gold ceiling. The hall has never been decked out like this before! With a buffet, bar and afterglow, our Anniversary was celebrated well into the early hours by a group who can be rightly proud of its achievements.
But it didn’t end there! Vice chairman Mark Stocker organised a celebratory birthday party for choir members, their families and supporters on the day after the concert. Entertained throughout by the JJR trio (sadly without Roley Bennett, who is recovering from illness), magician Malcolm Haley (‘How did he do that?’ was the order of the evening!) and local disc jockey, West-end singer and T.V. actor Richard Mowlton still weary, bleary-eyed revellers from the night before thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Our 50th Anniversary celebrations have started with a bang!
Quote from Don Maclean on his web-site: www.donmaclean.info
Saturday was a super night. I was asked to compere a concert to mark the 50th anniversary of the Caldicot Male Voice Choir. This was held at the Caldicot Leisure Centre before an audience of 500 people including all the local dignitaries, MPs, MEPs, mayors, councillors etc. They were a marvelous audience and the Male Voice Choir, about 80 blokes in all, sang magnificently. The programme featured classics, Welsh anthems, hymns and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ – these lads can turn their vocal chords to anything. There was a guest artist; one of the best sopranos I’ve ever heard. Her name’s Shan Cothi, a star of Welsh TV and a BAFTA winner – fabulous!