WAIT FOR IT - THIS YEAR'S HISTORY HASN'T BEEN CREATED YET!!!!
HERE IS A SUMMARY OF OUR ACTIVITY IN 2012
At our Annual General Meeting at the end of January, the Choir Members were unanimous in agreeing to an invitation to be given to our long-standing choir supporter and friend, Annie Hodkinson, to become a Vice-President of the choir - an invitation which has been graciously and enthusiastically accepted.
Annie has appeared on stage with us as a soloist on many occasions, and more recently, she has added the skills of compèring some of our concerts to her repertoire.
We look forward to a continuing, and successful working partnership with her.
SPRING HAS SPRUNG
Having started 2012 with a concert at the Methodist Centre in Dudley Port, we then presented our Spring Concert in Dudley Concert Hall on Saturday 24th March.
Our guests for this concert were the Birmingham-based brass ensemble, Holborne Brass, the choir from Mount Pleasant Primary School, Quarry Bank, and our compère was Choir Vice-President Philippa Tomson, who is a presenter for ITV Tyne Tees.
Once again we are pleased to report that the concert went exceptionally well, and the audience were treated to a very wide range of musical entertainment from the participants.
We participated in a joint concert with many other entertainers in celebration of St George's Day in Birmingham Symphony Hall on Saturday 21st April
On the following Saturday, we were delighted to host a joint concert in St Mary's Church, Kingswinford with our guest choir, the Tenby Male Choir, with whom we have sung on a couple of previous occasions. This concert was in aid of The Georgina Unit (Leukaemia Appeal Fund) at Russells Hall Hospital and Action Heart. There was a fantastic blend of two well-disciplined choirs, both in their individual items, and in the joint pieces. Audience reaction after the event was extremely positive, and we are already talking about similar future occasions when we can perform together again.
BESIDE THE SEASIDE
During the early summer we celebrated the Royal Diamond Jubilee when we went to the seaside for a short concert tour.
We performed alongside the local church choir at St Luke's Church, Winton Banks, a suburb of Bournemouth on Saturday June 2nd. Not only did we enjoy the concert, but a great weekend was had by all - and we're now looking forward to our next trip away.
In the late summer / early autumn period we appeared at an open gardens event at Ashwood Nurseries in Greensforge, Staffordshire, and then, as is our custom, at the Bible Class Anniversary at Dixon's Green Methodist Church, Dudley
SINGING LARGE with EAMVC
At the end of June, we were delighted to welcome a number of other choirs to our home territory, when we were participating with the English Association of Male Voice Choirs at their annual concert - hosted this year by the Warley Male Choir in Dudley Concert Hall (from now on reverting to its original name of Dudley Town Hall). A large contingent from the Association filled the stage, and a proportion of the auditorium to perform in a very enjoyable concert.
Below are a couple of photographs taken by our own official photographer Ralph Mason - copies of these, and of the other pictures taken at the event may be obtained from Ralph by using the link below
THE WELSH HAVE BEEN (AGAIN)
We're not sure what the Welsh is for "entente cordiale" - but there was a lot more of it on Saturday 22nd September when Aled Jones appeared with us once more as our special guest in Dudley Concert Hall
No - that's not the main entrance to Dudley Concert Hall !!
For those of you who remember - Aled last appeared with us as our special guest in September 2010 - and we were unable to satisfy the demand for tickets. The concert went down a storm, so we decided that we must have a repeat performance.
Well, we are pleased to say that not only was the event repeated in 2012, but we also had the same problem - too many requests for tickets, and not enough seats to go around!!
Also appearing with us were the newly-formed Classical Vocal Duo - Cripps & Saunders, and our compere for the evening was Sky Television News Presenter, Philippa Tomson (one of our own Vice-Presidents)
Once again, we had a fantastic concert, and all of the subsequent feedback from our audience was very complimentary - and it can be confirmed that all of the participants were on top form.
Who knows - Aled may well want to appear with us again - just as long as he doesn't want us to start singing at 6.00am or 7.00am in a morning!
A VILLAGE CONCERT
We appeared in concert in the United Reformed Church in the South Staffordshire village of Wombourne on Saturday 6th October.
Whilst the scale and the setting was significantly different to the London concert, the principle remained the same - i.e. the church was filled to capacity, the choir entertained, the participants enjoyed their singing, the audience went home fulfilled, and a significant sum of money was raised in aid of church funds.
A CAPITAL PERFORMANCE
A strong contingent from the choir sought the streets paved with gold as they went to London to participate in the Festival of Brass and Voices at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 3rd November. It is the third time we have participated in this tri-annual event, which is a significant fund-raiser for Cancer Research UK (the last event in 2006 raised £150,000 for the charity)
The Songsters was part of a mixed choir of almost 1500 voices, singing male-only items, female-only items and some joint male/female choral pieces. The choirs were accompanied by various combinations of brass bands (The Cory Band and Grimethorpe Colliery Band), grand pianos, and, of course the magnificent Royal Albert Hall organ.
The following photographs were taken just before the concert commenced - if you look for a few black dinner suits, you might just spot us amongst the technicolour display
On the following morning, we were scheduled to participate in an impromptu concert at "The Scoop" - an outdoor amphitheatre near to City Hall on the South Bank of the Thames, but sadly, torrential rain meant the cancellation of this part of the proceedings, so we clambered aboard our coach, and returned, bedraggled, to the West Midlands
THURSDAY 8th NOVEMBER
Once again, we promoted and participated in the annual Dudley Festival Of Remembrance on Thursday 8th November in Dudley Town Hall. We combined forces with The Mayor of Dudley and Dudley Metropolitan Borough in preparation for this event, and all of the proceeds will be donated to the local Royal British Legion.
The event was attended by many local Council representatives and religious leaders and a large audience, initially for the ceremonial remembrance service, which was then followed by some light-hearted entertainment, which included performances not only by the Songsters, but also by Phoenix West Midlands Brass, Maggie O'Hara and Marlene, who was our compère for the evening,
Here are a few photographs of the event
The Songsters with Phoenix West Midlands Master of Ceremonies Some of the flag bearers Brass in the foreground Ian Rawlings
Compère, Marlene Maggie O'Hara
The above, and other photographs are available from our official photographer, Ralph Mason Photography www.ralphmason.co.uk
IT WAS CHRISTMAS!
As usual, we had a busy Christmas period - starting off with our popular "Singing Round The Bar" event at the Jolly Crispin in Sedgley
Then as a prelude to the afternoon rehearsal for our Christmas Charity Concert, we had to attend a very important meeting in the Court House pub in Dudley, where we met up with The Sedgley Morris Men, who had been performing in the town's market square. The following pictures were snapped whilst we wet our whistles ready for rehearsal.
Once more, we enjoyed our Christmas Concert in Dudley Town Hall on the Saturday evening, when our guests were The Wooley Pritchard Sovereign Brass band, the Jubilate Choir from Jesson's C of E Primary School, and compère Annie Hodkinson - the following photographs were taken by our official photographer, Ralph Mason Photograpy
On Monday 17th December, we held a Choir Social Event at Himley Cricket Club, courtesy of our President, Joe Brandrick. As you will see from the following two photographs, we were paid a visit by a very beautiful itinerant peg seller who bore a remarkable resemblance to our Chairman!!!
|OUR HISTORY - THE RECENT PAST|
CHARITIES WE SUPPORTED DURING 2010
The main three charities selected to receive support from the Gentlemen Songsters during 2010 are as follows
LEUKAEMIA UNIT APPEAL FUND WEST MIDLANDS
THE RAINBOW BREAST RECONSTRUCTION GROUP
ST THOMAS COMMUNITY NETWORK - DUDLEY
In addition to the above, other charities, both local and national, also benefited from our efforts throughout the year.
Our first concert of the new decade was at St Bernadette's Church in Rennison Drive, Wombourne on Friday 5th February. The concert featured not only a wide selection of items from the Choir's repertoire, but also some varied solo items from individual choristers. Almost £1000 was raised to contribute to the church hall restoration fund.
SALLY ANN's WAR CRY
We were thrilled to have been invited by the Cradley Heath Salvation Army Corps to participate in "An Evening At The Proms" held in Dudley Concert Hall on Saturday 20th February 2010. The entertainment was lead by The Household Troops Band Of The Salvation Army. Also appearing with us were the Canoldier Male Choir and local soloist Hilary Crowhurst.
The evening was a tremendous success - with each of the participants performing at their best, and an enthusiastic audience who contributed with their singing of the popular "Proms" favourites - complete with St George's and Union flags
VISITING MALE VOICE CHOIR
We appeared in a joint concert at the Dormston Theatre in Sedgley with the St Edmundsbury Male Voice Choir.The concert took place on Saturday 27th February, and funds raised were in aid of The Beacon Centre for the Blind. Both choirs performed a wide selection of individual items, and blended very well together in five jointly presented songs. Also appearing with us were sisters, Laura and Julia, two very talented musicians from Lower Gornal, who entertained with the aid of voice, flute, guitar and piano.
Needless to say, the choirs congregated in the bar for lubrication after the concert, and true to expectations, the "Tractor Boys" gave us a fine rendition of To Be A Farmer's Boy -- "Oo Arrgh".
Plans are afoot for us to make a return visit to Suffolk in the not too distant future
Following their recent success when they appeared at the 2009 Proms in the Royal Albert Hall, once again we were pleased to be able to welcome The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain who appeared with us in our Spring Concert in Dudley Concert Hall on Saturday 20th March 2010. Our compère for the evening was Mel Thomas.
The orchestra entertained the audience with a wide selection of their musical talents and dry wit - showcasing their strumming talents, and they demonstrated their versatility by accompanying the choir in two of the items - "Alexander's Rag Time Band" and "Rhythm of Life".
After the concert, we were delighted that they were able to share some "quality time" (and some beer) with us in the bar.
Cry "God for Harry, England and Saint George!"
Once again we participated in Dudley Council's celebrations of St George's Day on Saturday 24th April when we appeared on stage at Dudley Concert Hall with the Band of the Parachute Regiment. We had a fantastic evening celebrating our Patron Saint - with much waving of national flags, and singing of patriotic music. Both the band and the choir were on top form, and were much appreciated by our audience - which included a couple of Parachute Regiment Veterans who had served in "Operation Market Garden" at Arnhem.
A Welcome In The Hillsides - or, at least by the seaside!
We organised a weekend tour to Wales at the beginning of May, staying at a couple of hotels on the seafront at Tenby. Unfortunately, the weather was not too kind to us, but none the less, we enjoyed our time in the Principality. The highlight of the weekend was our participation in a joint concert with the Tenby Male Voice Choir at St Mary's Church in the centre of the town, which was followed by an "afterglow" hosted by the Tenby choir, who provided us with an excellent buffet. Our sincere thanks go to the choir and their wives for their generous hospitality - and we look forward to an early "return visit" to the Black Country.
Without our knowledge (because we always watch the conductor!!), we were filmed as we sang "An American Trilogy" with the Tenby Choir and the resultant video has been discovered on YouTube - although the Tenby Choir is almost invisible
The above photograph was taken whilst the Songsters were catching flies on Tenby trip. Mike Wells was trying to keep his hand in at the same time!
The link below contains some scary moments from that same concert (on this occasion conducted by Tenby's Musical Director)
We appeared with Maggie O'Hara and Annie Hodkinson when we added our support to the Mayor Of Dudley's Charity Fund in a concert at Holy Trinity Church Amblecote on Wednesday 12th May.
The Mayor, Pat Martin chose to support the following three charities during her year of office, and we were delighted to be able to help her in her charitable efforts
Dudley Stroke Association - Dudley Stroke Association was established in 1987 and provides advice, support and information to people who have suffered a stroke and their families and friends. It includes free information packs, a 24-hour helpline and support groups. The charity is based in Pensnett House, Kingswinford and can be contacted on 01384 271982 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dudley Mind - Dudley Mind is a mental health charity that provides emotional, social and therapeutic support to individuals experiencing ill mental health. It offers services ranging from help paying bills and running the home to a drop in centre and trips out. They are based in Hagley Road, Stourbridge and can be contacted on 01384 442 938 or email email@example.com
The Open Stage Learning Group – A charity helping people with learning disabilities perform on stage and was established in 1995. The group meets weekly and has around 20 members and volunteers. It is open to anyone over the age of 16, and meets at The Source, Barnett Lane, Wordsley, for rehearsals. For more information call 07913 483476.
In June we participated in another "on the road" event when we joined the other member choirs of the English Association of Male Voice Choirs in a massed choir event in Cheltenham Town Hall on Saturday 19th June. Last year it was our turn to organise this annual event, and on this occasion it fell upon the Forest of Dean Male Voice Choir to act as hosts
We appeared in concert at one of our regular venues - Holy Trinity Church in Wordsley on Saturday 10th July. This concert gave us the opportunity to launch some new repertoire items, and to give some of our choristers a chance to act as soloists - either in song or in the spoken word. An appreciative audience enjoyed the concert in a very warm church - basking in the evening sunlight!
We are pleased to report that the church benefited to the tune of more than £500 profit for the event
THE FOLLOWING PICTURE OF THE POSTER OUTSIDE DUDLEY CONCERT HALL SAYS IT ALL !
We were pleased to be able to offer our supporters an opportunity to see the face and hear the voice in "close quarters" when Aled Jones was our Special Guest at our Autumn Concert on September 25th in Dudley Concert Hall.
Also appearing were local soprano, Annie Hodkinson, and our compère for the evening, Philippa Tomson from ITV Tyne Tees
We understand that Aled was so impressed by our reputation that he just had to cross the border from the Principality to witness for himself how good English Male Voice Singing really is!
The following photo gallery contains a few shots taken by Ralph Mason (our official photographer) during the evening
We held an Open Evening at our weekly rehearsal on Monday 4th October, when an invitation was thrown out to any member of the public who felt he might be interested in finding out more about life in a male voice choir, with a view to joining us at some time in the future.
A number of interested parties turned up for the event, and we hope that they enjoyed the evening, and that some of them will eventually join as fully fledged choristers
As a footnote, we are pleased to report (in the middle of December), that there have been even more prospective members who have been regularly rehearsing with us since that evening, and we look forward to welcoming them as fully fledged Songsters in the New Year
The following gallery contains photographs taken during the "free and easy" evening
Following our successful concert with Aled Jones, we participated in a massed male voice choir event in Birmingham Symphony Hall to help Birmingham Icknield Male Voice Choir celebrate their 110th anniversary - the following is a brief record of that event
Photographs taken during the rehearsal for the Birmingham Icknield MVC 110th Anniversary Concert:-
The following images were published in the Wolverhampton Express and Star relating to the same concert
On Thursday November 11th in Dudley Concert Hall when we hosted Dudley Borough's Festival of Remembrance - an event supported by the Mayor of Dudley, Cllr Peter Miller. We were joined at this event by the Phoenix West Midlands Brass, Maggie O'Hara and compère, Dave Bartley - a splendid concert which seemed to be enjoyed by all
Once again we raised funds for Help for Heroes at this concert - and we can now report that the magnificent sum of £2,500.00 was raised. A cheque for this amount was presented to our local Help for Heroes representative, Mr Ken Cook at our rehearsal on Monday December 13th
Once again, we had a very successful Christmas Charity Concert, which took place on Saturday 11th December in Dudley Concert Hall. This year we were pleased to welcome the children from Cotwall End Primary School Choir, Sedgley as our guests on stage, together with our friends The Phoenix West Midlands Brass. Our compère for the evening was our Vice- President, Michael Collie from BBC Midlands Today.
During this concert, we were pleased to be able to present three cheques of £1000 each to our three chosen charities:
LEUKAEMIA UNIT APPEAL FUND WEST MIDLANDS (Georgina Ward, Russells Hall Hospital)
THE RAINBOW BREAST RECONSTRUCTION GROUP
ST THOMAS COMMUNITY NETWORK - DUDLEY
Below are a few photographs from our Christmas concert. Unfortunately, our photographer could not attend the first half of the concert, so we are not able to show a complete record of the event
All of the above photographs are by RALPH MASON PHOTOGRAPHY
Our final appearance in 2010 was our customary "free and easy" seasonal sing along at the Jolly Crispin pub in Sedgley
After another busy and successful year, the larynxes, piano and pitch-pipe were stood down for a few weeks after the Christmas cheer had been distributed with both formal and informal seasonal performances
The Head Master's report for 2011 was very favourable:-
- We grew in number by about seven members.
- We added many new items to our repertoire
- We added a new and easily portable electronic piano to our stable
- We sang in Concert Halls, Cathedrals, Churches, Care Homes, Pubs and even a Farmer's Field
- We sang with some very special guest artists (and we've booked some more for the future)
- We performed in some fantastic joint concerts with other choirs and bands (and more for 2012)
- We filled our diary for 2012 (and we're already booked for dates through into 2014)
- We developed a very special relationship with two local charities (see below)
- We generated in excess of £10,000 which has gone into local and national charities
OUR CHOSEN CHARITIES FOR 2011
We decided to support four main charities during 2011 - in the main, these charities will benefit from the proceeds of our Spring, Autumn and Christmas concerts - each promoted by the Gentlemen Songsters, and each held at Dudley Concert Hall
The chosen charities (in alphabetical order) were
Bliss Premature Babies Society
Glass House College
Parkinsons Disease Society
Royal National Lifeboat Institution
Our 2011 concert season started on 26th February when we appeared in the parish church of St Bartholomew's in Penn, Wolverhampton. The choir performed a wide selection form its repertoire, and a number of the choristers showed off their individual talents - including vocal solos, organ virtuoso performances and monologues.
The concert was in aid of Compton Hospice, and we understand that a substantial sum was raised
Our 2011 Spring Concert featured special guest, the very talented soprano, Faryl Smith, who shot to fame on the television show "Britain's Got Talent". The concert took place in Dudley Concert Hall on Saturday, 26th March. Adrian Goldberg of Radio WM and Radio Five Live was the compère for the event. The programme will consisted of a wide variety of music from both Faryl's repertoire and that of the choir - and the post-concert audience reaction was very complimentary. A good time was had by all!!
The following link provides further information on Faryl Smith
We were invited to sing at a re-dedication ceremony for a Howitzer Shell, which was originally presented to the people of Wordsley as a formal commemoration of their fund-raising efforts during the First World War. The shell has been cared for, but out of the public eye over recent years. It has now been restored, and is now displayed in a place of honour within Wordsley Community Centre
The event took place in Wordsley Community Centre on Saturday 7th May 2011, and was being supported by the Metropolitan Borough of Dudley. Both the Mayor and the Local MP attended the ceremony, and the event was held in conjunction with Help for Heroes.
On Wednesday May 11th, the Mayor of Dudley, Councillor Peter Miller, presented his charity concert at which we performed. The concert took place in St Mary's Church, The Old Village, Kingswinford at. We were supported in this concert by two of our "regular" friends - Maggie O'Hara, and Annie Hodkinson.
Councillor Miller chose Thomas Pocklington Trust, Acorns Children’s Hospice and the Alzheimer's Society as his charities for his year of office.
SPRING 2011 NEWSLETTER
To view / download a copy of our Spring 2011 Newsletter - CLICK HERE
Please note that we are currently inviting our supporters to join a new mailing list to receive our regular newsletters and future concert announcements.
If you would like to join this new list please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the words MAIL ME in the Subject.
We promise you will not be bombarded with spam - it will be regular (but not too frequent) information about the Songsters which we believe our supporters will be interested to receive
We appeared as part of the massed choir at the English Association of Male Voice Choirs concert in Worcester Cathedral on Saturday 4th June at 7.00pm
Following the Worcester concert we moved very much into the wedding season, as we "sang as they signed" at two of the three weddings we had booked for the summer.
At the end of June and throughout July, we appeared in three community concerts:- at Primrose Hill Church, Netherton, Gig Mill Methodist Church in Stourbridge, and at Wombourne United Reformed Church
A picture taken at the end of the latter concert appears below (because of the small size of Wombourne URC Church, we had to restrict the number of choristers performing - hence the small select (?) group
Following on from the above concert we performed at St Peter's Church, Kinver - where we had appeared at a wedding during the summer months. This concert consisted of a wide range of items from the choir's repertoire, plus a selection from a number of our very talented soloists
Lesley Garrett was our special guest at our Autumn Concert, at Dudley Concert Hall on 17th September 2011, and once again, we were very pleased to welcome BBC Midlands Today's Michael Collie who acted as compère at this concert. The concert was eagerly anticipated by so many people, and the tickets were so much in demand, that the event was sold out nine weeks before it took place.
Lesley performed in two 25-minute spots during the concert, and we were pleased to be able to accompany her in arrangements of three of her favourite numbers.
The evening was a resounding success, and was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience and choir alike.
There was a good reception by the local press, as can be seen by the copy of an article which appeared in the Wolverhampton Express and Star on the following Monday evening
Lesley Concert E&S.pdf - Click to view
For more information on Lesley, please visit her website - www.lesleygarrett.co.uk
The following photographs were taken by our Official Photographer, Ralph Mason, during the day - both in rehearsal and in concert. Copies of these photographs may be sourced from Ralph by sending an email via his website (see the link below) and quoting "Lesley Garrett Concert" and the photo index number (from 1 to 149)
Link to Ralph Mason Photography - Click Here
We can't stop recruiting at present - our total singing membership now adds up to 70 members (September 2011)
On Saturday 8th October we were "on duty" again, on this occasion sharing the stage with Builth Male Voice Choir who were visiting the Black Country for the weekend.
Male choristers come from all walks of life, and each one has his own aims, objectives and expectations of what it is to be a chorister. But it is safe to say that all of those desires were achieved and exceeded by the proceedings in Kingswinford on the 8th October.
The church was full; The audience was in raptures; The choirs were immaculately turned out; The leadership of the Musical Directors was second to none; The Accompanists were brilliant; The individual choirs performed to perfection; The joint singing of the merged choir was magnificent - even though we had never met before; Indeed, it was noticed by more than one of the choristers that the singing of Morte Cristie by the combined voices brought a tear to the eye of Luned Jones the MD of Builth Male Voice Choir; The compere (Mel Thomas) was hilarious; The afterglow at a local establishment was enjoyable. entertaining, full of bonhomie and kept going at a pace until well after midnight.
The only criticism which could be lodged by the Gentlemen Songsters Male Voice Choir was that those attending from the Principality made a lot of mileage about the disparate fortunes of the Welsh and English rugby teams in the events which had taken place in New Zealand earlier in the day.
Despite the last paragraph, we eagerly look forward to a return fixture at some point in the not too distant future
We were delighted to be able to present cheques of £650 each to The Georgina Unit Leukaemia Appeal Fund, Russells Hall Hospital and Action Heart from the proceeds of this concert
Pictured above are Brian Tingley, Alan Powell, Bob Biggs and Bill Hart with Pauline Jenkins (Leukaemia Appeal Fund) and Joy Brown (Action Heart)
Picture courtesy of Ralph Mason Photography - our Official Choir Photographer
We promoted, produced and appeared in the annual Festival of Remembrance on Thursday 10th November, in Dudley Concert Hall, when we were joined by one of the West Midlands' leading brass bands, Sovereign Brass and the new local singing sensation, Simbi Akande. Our compère for the evening was the Black Country Comedienne, Marlene.
Once more, we can report that the evening was a great success, and we are delighted to announce that we will be presenting a cheque for £2,500 to the local branch of the Royal British Legion on a date yet to be announced in the New Year
Here are a few photographic memories of the concert - courtesy of Ralph Mason Photography
For more details link to www.ralphmason.co.uk
On Sunday December 11th, a number of the choristers performed a selection of items from our repertoire and lead the singing of carols and seasonal music at our customary "Christmas Singalong" at the Jolly Crispin pub in Gornal. . On this occasion, the pub was so full when we arrived, that a game of musical chairs had to be played to generate some space for us to perform. Rob, the landlord, told us he will be thinking about a marquee extension for next year's event!
Our final concert in 2011 took place in Dudley Concert Hall on Saturday 17th December when we joined together with all of our friends and supporters at our Christmas Charity Concert - on this occasion, joined also by The Langley Band, Oldswinford C of E Primary School Choir and our compère, Annie Hodkinson.
During this concert, we presented cheques amounting to £1,000 each to the major charities which we have been supporting during the year.
The choir appeared in and performed at a total of 35 functions during 2005, which included six concerts in Dudley Concert Hall, one in Brierley Hill Civic Hall, a massed male voice choir concert in Birmingham Symphony Hall and another in Tewkesbury Abbey. We helped officially open the Royal Show at Stoneleigh, we performed three concerts on our five day tour in Holland, and we paid our respects to the fallen at the British Military Cemetery at Arnhem, and at the John Frost Bridge (A Bridge Too Far) - 60 years after the end of the Second World War. During the year we have appeared with three British Military Bands, and with the White Russian Army Band from Belarus. We have performed at the Mayor of Dudley's Charity Concert, and have been the guest choir at the Sandwell Civic Carol Concert in West Bromwich Town Hall, and we "Rode the Birmingham Wheel" in January. In our more local charity work, we have entertained the Brierley Hill Rotary Club at a St Valentine's Dinner, sung to the exiled Welsh at the Wolverhampton Cambrian Society's St David's Day Dinner, sung carols to the Brockmoor Arthritis Society, and the Russells Hall and Wordsley Hospitals Renal Unit - the list goes on.
We are pleased to report that the tangeable part of our charitable work has put well in excess of £8000 into local, national and international charities during the year, plus lots of other funds raised by the local groups themselves
Detailed accounts of the year's activity appear below
The tragic news which filtered through to us on Boxing Day, 2004, concerning the Tsunami disaster in Asia galvanised the choir into action at a time when we would normally be "resting our voices". We decided to do as much as we could with our talents to help raise funds for the disaster appeal. Our first event, in keeping with our tradition of singing in unusual locations was, with the help of World Tourist Attractions Limited, to "Ride The Birmingham Wheel" - a novel way of spending a Sunday afternoon!
On the following Saturday, we performed in a concert in Holy Trinity Church, Wordsley, and were pleased to raise £3,400 from these two events towards the fund. This money was augmented by a donation from the Geoff Hill Charitable Trust, and in conjunction with Geoff Hill, the Amblecote Christian Centre, The Stourbridge News and other local organisations - well in excess of £7000 was donated to the re-building of a school in Phuket.
Another Tsunami concert was organised by Dudley Entertainments Department in conjunction with Radio WM, as we appeared at Dudley Concert Hall with other local artists in a concert compèred by Adrian Goldberg and Jenny Jones - a further significant sum of money was raised on that occasion.
June Box finally left us as our Assistant Accompanist during January - we thank her for her loyal service over the last twelve years
Romance was in the air during Valentine's week - as we sang a collection of love songs to the members of Brierley Hill Rotary Club after their Valentine's Dinner
A concert in memory of the late Jean Porter, wife of our long-serving second tenor, Jack Porter was held in Gornal Wood Methodist Church - when we were joined by the Haven Singers.
Again we had the pleasure of singing after yet another dinner - this time to the members of the Wolverhampton Cambrian Society at their St David's Day celebrations.
At the end of February we were delighted to be invited by Councillor Malcolm Knowles, Mayor of Dudley to sing at his Charity Concert (in aid of the Carers-2-Carers, and Dudley Deaf Childrens' Society charities). By way of a thank you, the Mayor invited the choir to his Parlour, for a guided tour of the council Chamber and Mayoral suite - some pictures from which appear in the following gallery
In March we joined a massed mixed choir, and military bands at the National Indoor Arena in "Showfantabulous" - a concert celebrating 100 Years of Rotary International.
Our Celebrity concert Guests in Dudley Concert Hall this year were the Band of The Prince Of Wales's Division (Clive) - our "local" military band from Tern Hill Barracks in Shropshire. One of the highlights of this concert was for the band (who double up as a male voice choir) and the Gentlemen Songsters to sing Gwahoddiad together. This year's Bert Bissell Memorial Shield was presented during this concert to a different choir (The Folk Choir) from the same St Dominic's School as last year's winners.
Well over half of the Songsters joined the massed male voice choir at this year's St George's Day Concert in Birmingham Symphony Hall.
We helped Kingswinford Community Centre celebrate its 40th Anniversary in a concert at the end of April
For the second successive year, we appeared at Dudley Concert Hall as guests of the White Russian Army Band at the start of their UK summer tour. The entertainment for the evening consisted of a spectacular selection of items, including music, Cossack dancers, traditional Russian military and folk music, soloists from The Bolshoi Opera,and dancers from the Belarussian National Folk Dancing Academy. We were very proud to have sung The Grand March From Aida with the band. This item gave our Musical Director, Lynn Andrews, an opportunity to conduct yet another military band (having practised on the Band of The Prince Of Wales's Division (Clive) Band a few weeks earlier!) Once again, the evening was a tremendous success, and we hope to be able to support the band on any of their future visits to the midlands.
Here are a few photographs of the concert
Tewkesbury Abbey was, once again, the venue for the massed male voice choir concert of the English Association of Male Voice Choirs during June, and on the first Saturday in July we appeared in a summer concert in Brierley Hill Civic Hall, when local Black Country Comedienne, Marlene was our guest. The hall was arranged "a la social club" with the audience sitting relaxed-style around tables in the auditorium - an arrangement which seemed to be appreciated by many, and which added to the atmosphere for the event.
On the following morning we participated in the opening ceremony of the Royal Show at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire. This was the second year in succession at this event - but on this occasion, thanks to our prudent purchase of a batch of Gentlemen Songsters Umbrellas, we were not subjected to the monsoon experienced in 2004 - a reminder of which appears in the following photo gallery
Once again, we had a splendid day at the show, and enjoyed our various performances during the day. We were very pleased to meet up with our Honorary Member, Pam Ayres who happened to be visiting the show on the same day.
At the end of August, a party of 79 Gentlemen Songsters, wives and supporters went to the Netherlands for a five day / three concert tour, staying in the coastal resort of Noordwijk. We performed concerts in the Groete kerke (Big church), Monnickendam, the Oude kerk (Old church), Zeist, and in the Englese kerk (English Church), Amsterdam. All three concerts were played to very full “houses”, and we certainly gained the impression that our Dutch audiences were very appreciative of our singing.
Whilst in Holland, we took the opportunity to visit Arnhem, pausing to visit and sing at the John Frost bridge over the River Rhine at Arnhem where in 1944, allied paratroopers from the 2nd Paratroop Batallion under the command of Lt-Col John Frost held the bridge, pinned down by the enemy for seven days in a bitterly fought campaign which lead to great losses of allied forces - eventually the bridge was deemed "A Bridge Too Far", a name which became the title of the film depicting the story.
Whilst in this area, we also be visited the Ooseterbeek British War Cemetery to pay our respects to the many British, Commonwealth and Polish troops who lost their lives here -our visit taking place just a few days after the 60th Anniversary of VJ Day
It was the evening before our visit to Oosterbeek that we learnt that Albert Evans, one of our travelling Second Tenors, had lost a comrade in the fighting near Arnhem, and Albert had never visited the area since those dark days. We were pleased to be able to help Albert locate his comrade’s grave in the cemetery. Another Second Tenor in our party, Jack Porter also saw service at Arnhem, and likewise it was his first return visit since the war. As our small and moving tribute to our two colleagues, and to those who fought in that campaign, we sang Morte Criste at the entrance to the Cemetery.
As a finale to a very successful tour, we added to our list of performances in more unusual locations – this time by singing three numbers on board the P&O Ferry, The Pride of Kent
Here are just a few of our memories of the tour
On our return, we joined the Kidderminster Valentines (a ladies choir) in a joint concert at Kidderminster Town Hall - to celebrate the hall's 150th Anniversary.
Our Annual Concert took place as usual in Dudley Concert Hall in mid October, when our guests were the Steve King Big Band, together with their regular soloist, Lynn Dawes. The Songsters took the opportunity for this concert to add some "swing" numbers to their already varied repertoire - so numbers such as Chatanooga Choo Choo, Begin the Beguine, Ain't Misbehavin, and Moonlight Serenade had their first Songsters' airing. A few photographs from this event appear in the following gallery
It was at this concert when we formally presented his chain of office to our new Vice-President, Michael Collie of BBC Midlands News. Michael and his wife, Gaye, have been very supportive of the choir since we first met him a few years ago when he acted as compère at one of our concerts. It is worth noting that he attended one of our rehearsals and passed his initiation audition with flying colours - we are looking forward to hearing him sing the news on the telly!!!
Once again, we appeared on stage in Dudley Concert Hall in the Borough's Festival of Remembrance - other artists who participated were The Phoenix West Midlands Brass, ex-Stutz Bear Cat Steve Baggott, Tony Palmer and Mel Thomas. As in last year's festival, the first half of the evening was a very moving act of remembrance, followed by a light-hearted second half, which culminated in the singing (many times) of "Land of Hope and Glory" - accompanied by much flag waving - a very memorable event.
As always, Christmas was a busy period with some concerts to entertain local groups, and our participation in the Sandwell Civic Carol Concert along with the Langley Band, at West Bromwich Town Hall
Our guests at this year's Christmas Charity Concert were The Side By Side Theatre Group, The St Dominic’s School (Brewood) Folk Choir, The Dudley Metropolitan Wind Orchestra, and our compère was Central TV’s Philippa Tomson.
Pictured below - compère Philippa Tomson getting ready for the concert!!!
Side By Side evolved from the Learning For Life Drama course at Stourbridge College in 1997. The members of the group have become the first group of amateur actors with learning difficulties to achieve awards and recognition in a wide range of areas in the performing arts. The connection between the Songsters and Side By Side extends beyond our joint stage appearances – The Songsters’ newly appointed Vice-President, Michael Collie is a Patron of Side By Side.
St Dominic’s School Folk Choir is the second choir from that school to have won the Gentlemen Songsters-promoted “Bert Bissell Memorial Shield” at the Dudley Festival of Music Drama And Dance, and we were pleased that they accompanied us on stage to perform their winning number from that contest at the Festival earlier this year.
Helping the music go with a swing at this concert was the Dudley Metropolitan Wind Orchestra, conducted by Craig Sprostan and Tony May . This is one of the many local band groups in which Craig has an active involvement, and is made up from young musicians from schools within the Dudley Metropolitan Borough.
Our compère for the evening was Philippa Tomson from Central TV News. Philippa commenced a career in journalism, and graduated to become Chief Reporter at the Express & Star before joining Central Television in March 2002. She claims she likes eating good food and working it off in the gym, dancing and reading biographies. She didn’t do any of these when she last appeared with us as compère – it was hoped that this time she was going to dance - no such luck!!
The two beneficiary charities for our Christmas Concert were the “Wings” charity - a Wombourne–based charity supporting, and providing respite care to autisitic children and their families, and the Codsall-based “West Midlands County Air Ambulance” - both very deserving causes, which we are proud to support - and we were able to present a cheque of £1000 to each charity on the night
On the following Monday evening, we hosted a Soiree in Himley Hall where we met with, and entertained a number of our loyal regular supporters in a "free and easy" social evening
At Christmas 2004, we were all saddened to hear and see the tragic news from Asia in the days following the Tsunami which hit that region. As part of our efforts to help provide funding for the relief effort, the Songsters had a “sing in” on the Birmingham Wheel, and we organised a concert at Holy Trinity Church, Wordsley—and we dedicated the proceeds to a specific fund to rebuild a school in Phuket - the Ban Kamala school. Our contributions were added to other funds collected locally, and we are pleased to be associated with the Rev Peter Jenkins of Amblecote Christian Centre in that project.
We decided to hold an annual event to raise further funding to assist in the running of the school, and supporting the many children who attend the school, many of whom were orphaned as a result of the disaster. The funds raised will be utilised in the development of musical education at the school—by the purchase of instruments, books, musical teaching etc.
The first of these repeat concerts entitled "Tsunami - The Work Continues" took place on January 21st at Holy Trinity, and we were very honoured to have Adrian Goldberg of Radio WM as our compère at this event. Thanks to everyone concerned, we are pleased to report that we raised over £2,300 at this concert
We held a 12 hour Sing-In at Gig Mill Methodist Church at the beginning of February. On this occasion our objectives were purely personal - we needed to raise funds to kit out the choir with a new set of uniforms, so we decided that a sponsored sing-in would help us on our way. We were grateful for the advanced publicity we received from both the Stourbridge and Dudley News, and the Express and Star for this event. Not only did it help us bring in an audience, but also it attracted a lot of interest from potential suppliers of new uniforms - and in addition we have made contact with some potential new choir members
Thank you to all who supported us at this event
We were asked by The Worshipful The Mayor of Dudley, Councillor Ian Kettle to perform in his Charity Concert, and were joined at this concert with Black Country comedian, Tommy Mundon and local soloist Jane McWilliams. The Mayor's chosen charities this year were Orbis (Sight Saving Worldwide) and the Support Group for Pain Relief at Russells Hall Hospital. We are pleased to report that over £1000 was raised on the occasion
The Worshipful The Mayor of Dudley, Councillor Ian Kettle
Dudley Concert Hall was the venue for our Celebrity Concert when our guests were The Ukulele Orchestra Of Great Britain. This fascinating group of musicians have enjoyed a very rapid rise to fame and we were delighted to have engaged their services for the evening - and what an evening it was!!!! Both the Gentlemen Songsters and the Ukulele Orchestra were on top form, and some very favourable comments have been passed to us from a large number of our audience.
We were pleased to present the Bert Bissell Memorial Shield, contested at the 2006 Dudley Festival of Music Drama and Dance to the choir from St Peter's Collegiate School, Wolverhampton. Two representatives from the choir attended our Celebrity Concert and received the Shield, Certificate and a £100 cheque on behalf of the choir.
Once again, a large contingent of the Songsters participated in the Celebrating England Concert held in Birmingham Symphony Hall on St George's Day. We were part of a 200-strong massed male voice choir, taking a leading role in the choral content of a very emotional patriotic concert - which also included a significant contribution from our local Morris Men from Sedgley, and accompaniment from the local brass band, Sovereign Brass.
Black Country comedians, Aynuk and Ayli, were our guests at our Spring Concert, held in Brierley Hill Civic Hall in May.
It was a great evening's entertainment, combining the best of Aynuk and Ayli's humour with the singing of the choir, together with vocal solos by Lynn Andrews and piano solos by Neil Bolton. At one stage during the concert, the choir discovered that Ayli had infiltrated their ranks - it was soon rectified, however, when they realised that he was a better singer than they were - we wondered why we were suddenly sounding a lot better!!
We were deeply saddened to hear of the passing away of Ayli (John Plant) towards the end of 2006 after a short illness. He will be missed not only by the choir, but also by many thousands of Black Country folk.
In early June, we jumped into a couple of charabancs and trundled off to the West Country, donning our surfing gear, and staying for a weekend in a very sunny Newquay, Cornwall. On the Saturday evening we joined forces with the City of Truro Male Choir for a concert in Newquay Parish Church. All agreed that the weekend had been a roaring success, and the concert and subsequent hospitality shown by the men of Truro was first class - this is definitely one weekend to be repeated (home or away)
In June we joined the other member choirs of the English Association of Male Voice Choirs on stage in the Great Hall at Birmingham University for a massed male voice choir concert, other artists who appeared with us on that occasion were Second City Sound.
Back on our own territory, we presented a concert at Stream Road Methodist Church, Kingswinford as part of their flower festival in celebration of the church's 40th Anniversary
Once again, we were invited to lead the singing at the opening ceremony at the Royal Show in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire - at which Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent was in attendance. We also performed in the bandstand in front of the Royal Pavilion at intervals during the day
Our Annual Concert in Dudley Concert Hall took place in October when Don Maclean was our special guest. Don had recently passed over the reins of Good Morning Sunday on Radio 2 to Aled Jones, but is also known for his earlier appearances as compère of both Crackerjack and the Black And White Minstrel Show.
In the West Midlands, Don is often to be seen appearing in Birmingham in shows such as "Go and Play Up Your Own End", and in Malcolm Stent's "A League Apart". He also has a long tradition of appearing as a pantomime dame. Needless to say, the Gentlemen Songsters are very proud to have helped Don's career along - he has become so much more famous since he appeared with us last in the late 1990's in the then Dudley Town Hall - and after this year's show he is destined to go on to bigger and better things!!!
Don was recently heard to say "Appearing with the Gentlemen Songsters was something you did only once in your life - like being baptized or watching the Charlotte Church chat show on TV. But I'm absolutely delighted to be appearing with them again"
- BUT HE DID AND HE WAS!!
OUR NEW VICE-PRESIDENT
We were pleased to announce the election of Philippa Tomson as one of Vice-Presidents. Philippa, who has acted as a compère for us on more than one occasion, trained as a journalist with the Express and Star in Wolverhampton, and subsequently came to our attention as one of the regular presenters on ITV's Central Tonight programme. She left Central TV to take up an anchor role presenting Tyne Tees Television's local evening news programme - following in the footsteps of the "everlasting" Mike Neville. Philippa was presented with her badge of office onstage during the Don Maclean concert,
A few pictures from the Don Maclean concert
October always signals the start of the Songsters' busy concert period. Quickly following our concert with Don Maclean were a series of major concerts in a variety of locations:-
On Sunday 22nd October we appeared with other choirs as guests of the West Mercia Police Band in a concert in Birmingham Symphony Hall, This concert raised funds for the Birmingham Children's Hospital - a cause which we ourselves decided to support (along with the Children with AIDS Charity) in our 50th Anniversary Year in 2007. The other choirs who participated in this concert were a contingent of Welsh Choirs (Ebbw Vale, Cwm, Abertillery Colliery and Beaufort Male Voice Choirs) with some local support from the West Midlands (Canoldir, Shelfield and Warley Male Choirs). Also appearing were the Tredegar Brass Band, and the CBSO Childrens' Choir
Later in October, we appeared as guests of the White Russian Army Band (from Belarus) in a concert in Dudley Concert Hall. This was the third successive year we have appeared with this band (formerly known as the Red Army Band). In addition to the band, there were soloists and dancers from the Bolshoi Ballet.
A picture from the 2005 concert with the White Russian Army Band
To complete a busy weekend, we sang in a concert at Zoar Methodist Church, Gornal, Dudley on Saturday 28th October - being joined on this occasion by the Kingswinford Ladies Choir. This concert was to celebrate the centenary of the current church building.
We participated in the Festival of Brass and Voices in London's Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 4th November. This concert was a fund raiser for Cancer Research. On the following morning the choristers descended on Covent Garden for a more "impromptu" performance - something like 1000 buskers!!!
A few photos of the preparation for the concert, and of Sunday's Big Sing
In total the organisers were able to present a cheque for £95,000 to Claire Marshall, Cancer Research UK's Fundraising Manager and we were very proud to be part of this hugely successful event
Later in the week - on the Thursday evening - we took our place back on stage in Dudley Concert Hall in Dudley's Festival of Remembrance - this is another of our regular bookings
On Saturday 18th November, we participated in a concert organised by the Brierley Hill and Kinsgswinford Branch of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution in Holy Trinity Church, Wordsley, Stourbridge. Joining us in this concert were the Tenby Male Choir - appropriately in 2006, since this is the year when the RNLI stationed a brand new design of lifeboat (the Tamar Class) in Tenby as one of two inaugural stations for this class of lifeboat.
We appeared in Gornal again - this time at Dudley Road Methodist Church in a concert raising funds for Action Heart
The last major concert of the year was our Christmas Charity Concert in Dudley Concert Hall. Appearing with us at this concert were Phoenix Brass and St Peter's Collegiate School Choir from Wolverhampton. Our compère for the evening was our newly-appointed Vice-President, Philippa Tomson. This year's chosen charities were the Dudley Hospital Kidney Patient's Association and Wolverhampton Coronary Aftercare. We were able to donate £1000 to each of the charities on the night
In the early part of 1957, a young academic named Patrick Moore began a new television series on BBC Television called "The Sky At Night". He must have seen a rising star at that time, because in May of that year, nine men founded The Wall Heath Male Voice Choir - which later became The Gentlemen Songsters Male Voice Choir.
CHARITABLE DONATIONS DURING 2007
We have been able to make the following presentations and donations to other organisations and charities during 2007 - our Golden Anniversary Year
Wordsley Team Parish (Holy Trinity Church) - £50.00
St John's Ambulance - £160.00
Compassion & Care International (Tsunami Appeal) - £1750.00
Friends of Oscar (Oscar Fradgley Appeal) - £500.00
SSAFA - Dudley Branch (Soldiers Sailors and Airmen Family Association) - £1850.00
St Dominic's School, Brewood (The Bert Bissell Memorial Shield Prize) - £100.00
Princess Diana Birmingham Childrens' Hospital Neurosurgery Ward - £2000.00
Children With AIDS Charity - £2000.00
A Magnificent Total of £8410.00
Our 2007 season commenced with a concert at Holy Trinity Church, Wordsley. Once again, we were performing in our "Tsunami - The Work Continues" concert. This was the third successive January concert - a series which commenced immediately after the Asian Tsunami disaster. Our first concert was used to raise funds to help in the re-building of the Ban Kamala School in Phuket, after which, we decided that we would like to continue fund raising for the same school, but to allocate any funds raised to the furtherance of musical education in the school, and to do this on an annual basis.
This year, we were assisted in the concert by the Senior choir and pupils from St Peter's Collegiate School, Wolverhampton. The school's choir were the winners of last year's Bert Bissell Memorial Shield at the Dudley Festival of Music Drama and Dance.
During the concert we were given a first hand report of progress in Phuket from the Rev Peter Jenkins who, along with Pastor Brian Burton, has been personally involved in the work in Asia.
We presented a cheque to the Rev Peter Jenkins,
and in recognition of our work in supporting this worthy cause, he presented the Gentlemen Songsters with a framed photograph of the rebuilt school at Ban Kamala
Once again at this concert, we were pleased to have the support of the BBC's Politics Show presenter, Adrian Goldberg, who acted as compère for the evening.
Because 2007 was our Golden Anniversary Year, we decided to hold a series of concerts in celebration at venues around the Dudley borough. The first of these concerts took place at the church where the choir (The Wall Heath Male Voice Choir) was founded, and where it held its rehearsals in the early days - St Andrews Congregational Church, Wall Heath. A few things have changed since 1957. The choir is now called The Gentlemen Songsters Male Voice Choir with a membership six times its original number; and we now rehearse at Stream Road Methodist Church, Kingswinford. One thing has not changed - our remaining founder member, Don Marsh, who, whilst no longer a singing member of the choir, is still a very active member and supporter, and who is one of our Vice-Presidents. Don acted as compère for the evening - using the opportunity to recount a few "old tales" about the choir and its members. The concert featured the choir performing a range of items representing the style and content of its repertoire during the half-century.
The next concert in the series took place in Stourbridge Town Hall. In addition to a wide selection of old and new items by the choir, there was a performance by the young people from the Side By Side Theatre Group, under the direction of Sue Wallin.
The Gentlemen Songsters have been proud to be associated with the Side By Side group over recent years, and we have been pleased to be able to support them by enjoying their performances, by performing on stage with them, and by helping raise funds to assist them in their various appearances at such events as the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Once again, we were very grateful for our friend Adrian Goldberg, who generously agreed to be compère on this occasion.
We put in our customary appearance as part of a massed male voice choir at Birmingham Symphony Hall in the Celebrating England Concert, organised by the Birmingham St George's Day Association.
Well-known celebrity poet, Pam Ayres was our guest artist at Dudley Concert Hall in March
This was the third time Pam has appeared with us - and as a result of our friendship with Pam, she was made an Honorary Member of the Gentlemen Songsters on the last occasion we met. Unfortunately, on this third occasion Pam was suffering a very bad throat infection - but in true theatrical tradition - "the show went on" - and what a show it was
Helping keep order on stage during this concert was another great friend of the choir - local historian and radio celebrity Professor Carl Chinn.
Here are a few photographs taken during the evening
Our Anniversary Celebrations continued in May when we held a concert in Brierley Hill Civic Hall when our guests were The Bachelors featuring John Stokes. The compère for the evening was local man Doug Parker. During this concert, a collection was made to benefit Oscar Fradgley, a young boy from Kingswinford who was born without hands and feet.
John Walley took charge of the baton as Acting Musical Director at the end of May on the departure of Lynn Andrews.
We then performed in a joint concert at Walsall Town Hall in June when we joined with Warley Male Choir and the hosts, Shelfield Male Voice Choir in a massed male voice concert. Also appearing was the Walsall Borough organist, Peter Morris.
Later in June - we appeared in another massed male voice choir event at a wet-under-foot Tewkesbury Abbey with the other member choirs of the English Association of Male Voice Choirs. Yet again, there was another sell out at this annual event.
Steven Swindells joined us as Assistant Accompanist at the tender age of 16 during the summer of 2007. Even though Steven has now turned 17, he has still worked wonders for the average age of the choir!!!
Steven in Concert Dress and pictured at a recent rehearsal
And pictured again - this time with Accompanist Neil Bolton prior to our Annual Concert
Steven has already contributed to both rehearsal and concert piano playing, and we look forward to hearing more of his keyboard skills in the coming years
The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain were our guests - this time at our Annual Concert in October, and what a concert it was - the "Sold Out" notice having to be posted a few days before curtain-up. Both the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and the Gentlemen Songsters Male Voice Choir were on tip top form, as was our compère, Michael Collie.
The icing on the cake came towards the end of the concert when Michael Collie - using the magic of mobile phone texts, and his contacts within the BBC Sports Department - was able to announce the result of England's Rugby World Cup semi-final triumph over the French team.
Pictured above is Michael Collie, who bought the coffee prior to some of the guys commencing their ukulele rehearsal session
We performed in Dudley Concert Hall at the annual Festival of Remembrance - alongside Phoenix West Midlands Brass, Doug Parker and Mel Thomas. This has become a "regular fixture" for the Songsters, and we are delighted to be able to help commemorate those who gave their lives in many conflicts over the years. The Festival, like that at the Royal Albert Hall, has a format combining a service of dedication with a light-hearted nostalgic end to the evening's events. We were able to present a cheque of over £1800 to the SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors and Airforce Family Association) from the proceeds of this event
We sincerely hope that we can continue to help Dudley's civic elders and the local British Legion in the perpetuation of this important ceremony.
Also in November, we appeared for the first time at Kinver Methodist Church- an event which raised money for the Methodist Homes for the Aged
As we approached the Christmas season, we joined with the Langley Band and other artists to perform in the Mayor of Sandwell's Christmas Carol concert at West Bromwich Town Hall
The final concert of our 50th Anniversary year was our Christmas Charity Concert - at which we were very proud to present cheques totalling £4000 to the two charities which we supported during 2007 - The Neurosurgery Ward at the Birmingham Childrens' Hospital, and the Children with AIDS Charity. Our guests at this concert (which was yet another sell out) were the Phoenix West Midlands Brass and the Under Eights Choir from St Dominic's School, Brewood. Local comedian Doug Parker once again proved what a good compère he is by getting everyone into the Christmas spirit, and ensuring the concert went without a hitch.
CHARITABLE DONATIONS (see below for the 2008 Summary)
Following recent tradition, we once again organised the Festival of Remembrance held in Dudley Concert Hall in November (2008). The event, details of which appear below in Our Most Recent Concerts (click to follow the link), was a resounding success, and we are pleased to have been able to send a donation of £1750 to the HELP for HEROES charity.
We were also pleased to be able to make a donation of £500 to the Black Country Talking Newspaper & Magazine. Bronwyn Hall represented the organisation when she visited one of our rehearsals to accept the cheque. The donation comprised a gift of £200 in memory of the late Mr Don Andrews, father of our former Musical Director Lynn Andrews, and a further £300 from Gentlemen Songsters charity funds.
Money Talks! Chairman John Bowen and Treasurer Bob Biggs hand over the cheque to the
Black Country Talking Newspaper & Magazine representatives
Click on the picture above to download an information sheet and application form for the Talking Newspaper
Un-audited Summary of Charitable Donations
By the Gentlemen Songsters Male Voice Choir During 2008
Ban Kamala School, Phuket (Tsunami) £2000
Black Country Talking Newspaper & Magazine £ 500
Help For Heroes (Remembrance Concert) £1750
Wordsley Team Parish £ 100
St John’s Ambulance Brigade £ 160
Royal Orthopaedic Hospital Birmingham League of Friends £2000
Wings (Wombourne) Special Needs Support Group £2000
Grand Total £8510
The above figure does not take into account any funds raised and donated as a result of our involvement in joint concerts with other choirs (e.g The St George’s Day celebrations at Symphony Hall, Birmingham, and the English Association of Male Voice Choirs Concert at Birmingham Town Hall)
SUMMARY OF CONCERTS IN
TSUNAMI FUND RAISING
Once again we held a concert at Holy Trinity Church, Wordsley to continue our tradition of raising funds to assist in the musical education of the students at Ban Kamala School, Phuket - so badly devastated by the Tsunami three years ago. Details of the concert appear on the poster below
The concert was very well attended, and the audience were treated to a real feast of quality entertainment from all of the artists. We are pleased to report that we were able to donate £2000 to the school - which beat the amount raised the corresponding concert in 2007
A few photographic memories of the evening
We have been sent some pictures showing some of the musical instruments purchased with our donations from previous concerts
Our Spring (Celebrity) Concert in Dudley Concert Hall featured local concert organist Jean Martyn - seen here on the steps of the concert hall with some of our choristers. The evening was a tremendous success - Jean providing some splendid entertainment - not only on her concert organ, but also (at the request of the Mayor of Dudley, Councillor David Stanley) by playing in the styles of both Winifred Atwell and Russ Conway, on the Steinway piano. The compère for this concert was Mel Thomas.
Click on the above poster to link to Jean Martyn's Website
Here are some pictures taken during the evening
We are pleased to announce that June Box has accepted an invitation to become a Choir Vice-President. June was our Accompanist for ten years, prior to handing over the reins to Neil Bolton, after which time she continued for a further two years as Assistant Accompanist. The Committee and Members are delighted that June has accepted this role, and we look forward to many more years with June "in the ranks"
Once again we appeared with other male choirs, and various artists in Birmingham Symphony Hall on Saturday 26th April in the annual event organised by the Birmingham St George's Day Association - details of which appear on their website
Yet again this was a fantastic celebration of St George's Day, and everything English
A picture of the choirs and band on stage at Symphony Hall
We were invited by the Kidderminster Valentines ladies choir to join them on stage in Kidderminster Town Hall on Saturday 7th June with the Malvern Singers and Kidderminster Male Choir to celebrate the Valentines' 20th Birthday. We sang a number of joint items with the other choirs, plus a few items from our own repertoire.
We performed with a whole host of Black Country entertainers in a concert in tribute to the former Black Country comedienne, Dolly Allen - this concert took place on Sunday 22nd June at Brierley Hill Civic Hall, and coincided with the dedication of a "blue plaque" in Dolly's honour
On June 28th, we had the privilege of singing with eight other member choirs of the English Association of Male Voice Choirs in the magnificent surroundings of the recently refurbished Birmingham Town Hall. It is traditional at these events that one choir acts as the host choir for the evening, and this year it was the turn of Birmingham Icknield Male Voice Choir. Our great friend Professor Carl Chinn was the host for the evening, and the event raised funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Also appearing with the 300-strong massed choirs were Birmingham soprano, Sharron Burns; Midland-based organist Keith Hearnshaw and the splendid Midlands Young Persons String Group, Bravura.
Picture courtesy of Birmingham Icknield Male Voice Choir
The concert was a fantastic success - just to hear the power of 300 plus male voices and the grand organ at full tilt was something to witness - but equally the power of 300 unaccompanied voices singing pianissimo - on a whisper. There were many hairs standing on necks on that occasion
Below is a picture of the presentation of a cheque for £2,200.00 to representatives of the MS Society - being the proceeds of the evening's event. The cheque was presented on behalf of the EAMVC by its Chairperson, June Bissell, together with members of Birmingham Icknield and Warley Male Voice Choirs at a joint concert they held in West Bromwich in November
It was back to our roots (well almost) for a concert on Saturday 5th July in the pretty church of St John's in Swindon, South Staffordshire. This promised to be another good concert, and it certainly was - we turned out a large contingent of choristers and made the valley of the Smestow Brook resonate with sound. A second impromptu concert was held later in the evening in the bar of the Green Man pub in the village - and Alan, the landlord, was beginning to think that he might have to send for emergency supplies of Banks's Bitter!!
Once again, we sang at the Anniversary of the Vicar Street Young Men's Bible Class in mid September - this year, however, was slightly different, in that the church premises at Vicar Street, Dudley, had been closed down a couple of weeks beforehand, and the service was held in Dixon's Green Methodist Church. Yet again it was a privilege to be invited to honour that anniversary.
One of the relics which has been preserved from the building at Vicar Street is a stained glass window depicting Bert Bissell, The plaque placed by the Young Men's Bible Class, The Dove of Peace and the Cairn at the top of Ben Nevis
We appeared with Viva Musica as one of their guests in a concert in Dudley Concert Hall on Saturday 27th September. We were joined by two other choirs - The Kidderminster Valentines and Summerhill Choral Society. Each of the choirs performed a number of individual items, and the 200 or so voices joined together for some combined items. Former High Sheriff of the West Midlands (and TISWAS presenter) Peter Tomlinson was the compère for this event
Our Annual Concert took place on the 11th October when our guests were the Langley Band together with compère Don Maclean.
Pictured on the steps of Dudley Concert Hall prior to the concert are Don Maclean and some of the choir and band members
Photos - Courtesy of Newsquest (The Stourbidge News)
See the poster below for further details on this concert
Click on the poster to link to Langley Band's website
We have been working very hard during the summer months to bring some new music into our repertoire, and also polishing up some old male voice favourites which we have not sung for the last few years. We had an opportunity to showcase the results of our efforts when we presented the Dudley Festival of Remembrance on Thursday 6th November in Dudley Concert Hall. Local British Legion representatives were on parade, and the sacred part of the proceedings was led by local clergyman, Revd Michael Brain - leading up to the two minutes silence, the falling of poppies and the sounding of The Last Post.
Full details of this event appear in the poster below
As on previous occasions, we were supported by the Phoenix West Midlands Brass Band. Dave Hartley compèred the event, and local comediènne, Marlene brought her special brand of humour to the second half of the concert
Phoenix West Midlands Brass were again on stage at Dudley Concert Hall with us in our final concert of the year - our Christmas Charity Concert on Saturday 13th December. Other artists who appeared in this concert were St Peter's Collegiate School Choir, Harvey Andrews and compère Michael Collie (one of our Vice Presidents). We were supporting the Wings (Wombourne) Special Needs Support Group and The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital Birmingham League Of Friends at this concert, and were pleased to be able to present a cheque for £2000 to each of these charities
BBC Midlands Today Presenter and Gentlemen Songsters Vice-President
Phoenix West Midlands Brass - Click on the Picture to go to their Website
SUMMARY OF CONCERTS IN 2009
Further details of some of these concerts appear below :-
DONATIONS TO CHARITY IN 2009
Despite the near-collapse of the banking system, the credit crunch and the high unemployment figures, 2009 has proved to be a record year for the amount of money we have donated to charity.
In total we have given in excess of £9,800 directly from our own fund raising efforts during the year (which includes the concert we organised on behalf of the English Association of Male Voice Choirs at Lichfield Cathedral in June) but in addition, more than £1700 was raised in conjunction with other artists and donated to the Kemp Hospice, Kidderminster, and an anticipated sum of substantially more than £100,000 will be donated to Cancer Research UK as a result of the Festival of Brass and Voices concert in which we participated at the Royal Albert Hall in October.
In summary, we are "over the moon" at being instrumental in this mammoth fund raising effort - but it has to be said that we enjoyed the singing during the process!!
We staged a concert in Holy Trinity Church, Wordsley on Saturday 14th February 2009, when we were joined "on stage" by a touring choir from The Netherlands - the DON KOZAKKENKOOR (Don Cossacks Choir) - a Dutch choir which specialises in singing Russian music. This promised to be a fantastic start to our 2009 programme, and how right that proved to be
Also appearing with us at this event was local soloist Annie Hodkinson. Anne has appeared with us on many occasions in the past, and amongst all of the gentlemen on stage, she certainly added a significant amount of glamour
Once more, we decided to make this annual concert a charity event but this year, we wanted to contribute to a local worthy cause, and the Beacon Centre For The Blind in Sedgley was chosen. In addition to their regular need for funds, The Beacon Centre was, at the time, raising funds towards its new "second site" (which was officially opened later in 2009)
To read about, and listen to Don Kozakkenkoor, click on the picture above - some of their website is written in English
On March 21st, we hosted a Spring Concert in Dudley Concert Hall, when our guests were the well known group from the 60's pop scene The Rockin Berries a group who have been at the top of their profession for 30 years, and remain one of the top musical comedy groups in the U.K
Formed at the beginning of the 60’s by guitarist Chuck Botfield, they spent a long period in Germany honing their skills for vocal harmony and comedy.
On their return from Germany to the U.K., after playing in German clubs for 8 hours a night, they were soon recognised as one of the slickest groups around.
They were quickly signed by Pye records which culminated in their first number one hit in 1964, “He’s In Town”. Several gold and silver discs were earned as a string of hits followed their first number one, including "Poor Man's Son".
In 1967 they were invited to do a Royal Command Performance, and were only the second group to ever be invited on to the show, the first being the Beatles.
In 1968 they returned to the Palladium as special Guest Stars on the Des O’Connor Show for a 28 week season.
They have since returned to the Palladium on several occasions as Guest Stars appearing with such stars as Tom Jones and Cyd Charisse.
Through the 70’s and 80’s they were one of the major attractions on the theatre and cabaret circuit, appearing in numerous summer seasons at all the major resorts, picking up many awards along the way, voted for by both club owners and the general public.
In the 90’s the ROCKIN’ BERRIES were at the top of their field constantly in demand at major cabaret venues and for corporate work, and they continue at this pinnacle today.
Our compère for the evening was Black Country Wordsmith, David Bartley.
Once again, our choice of a 60's Group as the star attraction at this concert proved to be a resounding success - one which may well be repeated on a future occasion
BERT BISSELL MEMORIAL SHIELD
The winners of the 2009 award for the Bert Bissell Memorial Shield at the Dudley Festival of Music Drama and Dance were once again a choir representing St Dominics' School, Brewood.
Dudley Metropolitan Borough's St George's Day celebrations took place in Brierley Hill, and we participated in their Celebration Concert on the evening of Saturday 25th April.
Also appearing in the concert were Maggie O'Hara, Annie Hodkinson, The West Midlands Fire Service Band and Don Maclean
Playing to a packed house, the assembled artists helped provide a fitting end to the day's celebrations in the Borough, with much fun fervour and flag waving
ENGLISH ASSOCIATION OF MALE VOICE CHOIRS CONCERT - 2009
The Gentlemen Songsters had the honour of hosting the 2009 English Association of Male Voice Choirs' concert.
This concert was held in the magnificent setting of Lichfield Cathedral on Saturday 20th June 2009, and featured over 250 voices from 8 male voice choirs - was a resounding success.
Our guest artists at this event were the Wolverhampton-born soprano, Helen Withers, and Staffordshire-based concert organist Jean Martyn. Our compère for the evening was one of our Vice Presidents - BBC Midlands Today presenter, Michael Collie (whose Grandfather was once the Dean Of Lichfield Cathedral)
The following video news item appeared in the Wolverhampton-based Express & Star newspaper on Tuesday 28th April
Autumn Concert 2009
We are pleased to report that we had a COMPLETE SELL OUT for this event. Well over 1000 members of the public crowded into Dudley Concert Hall to see our star attraction
on Saturday 26th September 2009
All concerned agreed that the concert was a resounding success, not only because of the numbers attending, but also from the pure enjoyment of the entertainment provided
The following gallery is a selection of photographs taken during the concert by Karsten Vogel, who travelled to Dudley from his home in Germany for the event. Karsten is a member of Hayley's on-line fan club Hayley Westenra International -
The following pictures were taken by the Choir's official photographer Ralph Mason Photography
Hayley Westenra began
performing when she was just 6 years old and made her first recording in a
professional studio at 12. She was still only 16 when she released her
debut international CD, Pure. It rapidly became the fastest-selling debut
album from a classical artist, and reached the Top 10 of the pop charts in
11 countries. Her albums have sold more than four million copies worldwide
to date. “Pure” was certified by the official UK chart compilers as the best
selling classical album of the 21st Century.
We appeared as guest artists in a concert in Kidderminster Town Hall on Friday 2nd October. The concert which was in the style of a musical revue was in aid of the Kemp Hospice, and we are pleased to report that the proceeds were well in excess of £1700.
We took part in the Festival of Brass and Voices concert at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 31st October. The concert featured massed choirs of 1500 voices, plus the Grimethorpe Colliery and Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Bands - and was in aid of Cancer Research UK. It is anticipated that well over £100,000 will be raised towards this very worthy cause as a result of this concert
The above photograph was taken at the 2006 Festival of Brass and Voices
In mid November we promoted and participated in the Festival of Remembrance in Dudley Concert Hall. We were supported by Phoenix West Midlands Brass, Maggie O'Hara and Mel Thomas. This event, in similar format to that which takes place in the Royal Albert Hall, was exceptionally well attended, and once again it was a pleasure to see the the assembled masses of war veterans, British Legion members, Sea Scouts and members of the general public. We can confirm that we raised the sum of £2000 which was donated to the "Help For Heroes" campaign.
During the latter part of November, we were guest artists when the Central Military Band of the Ministry Of Defence of Kazakhstan appeared in Dudley as part of their UK tour, and we had the privilege, not only of singing a selection from our own repertoire, but also singing a number of items jointly with the band. Once again, this was a most enjoyable concert.
Saturday 12th December was the occasion of our final concert of the year - the ever-popular Christmas Charity Concert in Dudley Concert Hall. The concert featured the Songsters, supported by the Phoenix West Midlands Brass, and our compère Annie Hodkinson. We were pleased to be able to present cheques of £1000 each to the three charities which we were supporting this year - namely Camp Quality UK, The Motor Neurone Disease Association (West Midlands) and The Multiple Sclerosis Society (Dudley).
OUR HISTORY - THE EARLY YEARS
"The Wall Heath Male Voice Choir" was founded in May 1957 with nine members, Harry Ord as Conductor, and Ralph Brookes as Accompanist. At Christmas, the choir held its first Carol Concert in aid of charity - raising just over £20. We regularly raise approaching £4,000 for local charities at the same event now.
The following picture, which came into our possession recently, courtesy of former member John Trafford, was taken in late 1957
Our research to date has named the members as follows
Back row:- Don Marsh, Harry Round, John Trafford, Noel Lee, ??, Fred Abbiss, Dennis Lord
Middle row:- Bert Hough, Malcolm Mees, Alan Hough, David Lloyd-George, Harold Ashman, Les Lester, Jack Lawley, Alex Payton
Front Row:- Tom Simmons, Stan Murray, Frank Painter, Joe Pioli, John Millward, Harry Ord (Conductor), Ralph Brooks (Accompanist), Bill Astley, Fred Trafford
If anyone can help identify the remaining member, we would be most grateful
The choir made its first appearance in the school hall at King Edward VI School, Stourbridge.
Tom Simmons was appointed as Deputy Conductor..
Our sole surviving founder member, Don Marsh, was appointed Secretary, a post he held for 21 years. David Lloyd George commenced a seventeen year period as Choir Chairman. Noel J M Lee was appointed Accompanist.
The present title of "The Gentlemen Songsters Male Voice Choir" was adopted and Tom Simmons was appointed Conductor with Noel J M Lee as his Deputy Conductor.
Irene Cox was appointed as Accompanist.
Albert Haynes was appointed Treasurer, a post he held for 22 years
Noel J M Lee was appointed as Conductor, when business commitments meant that Tom Simmons had to leave the area
George Porter became Deputy Conductor, a post he held until 1976, after which time he continued to sing with the choir.
A "Grand Concert" was held in the Wall Heath Community Centre. This was a precursor to our Annual Concerts. On this occasion, our guests were Edith Poles (Soprano) and Arthur Mallen (Tenor)
We produced our first recording during this year, and we held our first Autumn Annual Concert. The picture below was used on the cover of the l.p
We were invited by our great friend, the late Bert Bissell MBE to sing at Vicar Street Methodist Church, Dudley, for the Anniversary Service of the Young Mens' Bible Class (of which Bert was Class Leader) This has become an annual event in the Choir's calendar ever since.
Janet Lawton became our Accompanist. Janet still has a close association with the Choir, and is a Vice-President. Local comedian, Tommy Mundon made a second appearance with the choir at our Annual Concert as Guest Artist
The Choir was invited to sing at The Ideal Homes Exhibition at Bingley Hall, Birmingham (the site of the present Birmingham Symphony Hall)
Our guests at the Annual Concert were Betty Banks and the folk group "Gemini 3"
The Choir's popularity had grown, and it was necessary to move the location of our Annual Concert from local church halls to the 900-seat Brierley Hill Civic Hall. Our guest artists on this occasion were Herbert Bowen (tenor) and Harry Millward (bass)
We produced our first stereo LP, extracts of which were broadcast on Radio Birmingham. We have also featured in radio broadcasts elsewhere in the England and Scotland, and in the USA and Australia. We have also appeared live on television from BBC Pebble Mill in Birmingham
Sopranos, Beryl Hill and Rosemary Ashman were the guest artistes at the Annual Concert
This year's Annual Concert saw soprano, Catherine Smith, and comedienne, Dolly Allen as guest artistes
Tommy Mundon appeared again at the Annual Concert - this time with the soprano, Marylyn Troth. David Lloyd George was appointed as the Choir's first President on completion of his extended period as Chairman. Sadly he died in the same year.
The Gentlemen Songsters Male Voice Choir became the first choir to sing on the summit of Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain - see the picture below. Janet Lawton was appointed Deputy Conductor
Jim Grainger - our prolific "Letter Writer to the Wolverhampton Express & Star" has recently discovered the following article and photograph which appeared in the Dudley Herald on July 7th 1978
We commenced our annual spring Celebrity Concerts in our new "home", the 1060-seat Dudley Town Hall. Our guests on this occasion were Maryetta and Vernon Midgley, accompanied by their mother, Gladys. We have since performed on many occasions with the Midgley family, and have forged strong relationships with these "stars" of such radio programmes as Friday Night Is Music Night
The following picture of the choir, outside the ruins of Dudley Priory, was taken at the end of the 1970's
Maryetta and Vernon Midgley were again our guests, and the choir visited Scotland for a concert tour
Our Celebrity Concert guests this year were The Fairey Engineering Brass Band
We held two special events to celebrate our Silver Jubilee year. The first was a concert at which our guests were again Maryetta and Vernon. The second was a massed male choir event, at which we were joined by choristers from Bridgnorth, Cannock, Cradley Heath, Kidderminster and Wolverhampton. The soprano, Angela Beale also joined us at the latter event
Janet Lawton retired as our Accompanist, and was appointed as our first Vice President. She was succeeded at the piano by Susie Bourne. It was in this year that Noel J M Lee was promoted from Conductor to Musical Director
The Cambridge Buskers were our guests at the Celebrity Concert, and we also held a concert at which our guests were The Peninsula Womens' Chorus from Palo Alto, California, USA
We sang with massed choirs at the National Association Of Choirs (Group 11) at Bedworth Civic Hall. Later in the year we appeared in the "Massed English Male Choirs Concert" at the Royal Albert Hall in London
This year saw the "twinning" of Dudley with Fort William in Scotland, and the choir was invited to perform at the civic ceremony in Scotland. During the year a joint concert was held with the "Worcester Chorus" from Worcester, Massachusetts, USA. At our Christmas Charity Concert, we raised £1,710 towards the BBC's Children In Need appeal. The following picture was taken at one of the choir performances during 1986
We were invited to participate in the 21st Anniversary celebrations of the Canoldir Male Choir at Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre Arena. We also visited Mark in Somerset for a concert in the village church. Our connections with other male choirs were extended again at our Celebrity Concert when the Tredegar Male Voice Choir were our guests - we continue to enjoy a close association with them today
The choir's first major international tour took place in 1988 when we visited New England, USA, giving concerts in Sturbridge, Worcester and Manchester in Massachusetts, together with a performance at Cape Cod. The visit to Sturbridge coincided with the 250th anniversary of the founding of the town by former residents of Stourbridge, England. We were also pleased to play host to the "Bremer Singkries" from Bremen, Germany. Our association with Bert Bissell MBE was cemented when he was invited to become President. Moira Anderson was our guest at the Celebrity Concert.
Children In Need featured again in our fund raising this year when we appeared at a massed choir event in Luton. Our international travels continued when we paid a return visit to the Bremer Singkries' home city and were pleased to have the opportunity of singing in Bremen Cathedral. Our second Vice President, Rev Donald Anderson MA BD HFC was appointed.
We hosted a number of visitors from Sturbridge, Massachusetts, and the Royal Doulton Band were our Celebrity Concert guests. Second Tenor, Graham Hancox, was appointed Deputy Conductor - a post he held for three years before he was "transferred" to Wolverhampton Orpheus Male Voice Choir as its Musical Director.
Our Celebrity Concert guest artiste on this occasion was Mary OHara, and we were honoured to perform in front of Her Majesty The Queen on the occasion of the International Olympic Committee meeting at the International Convention Centre in Birmingham. This was one of the very first major events held at this impressive conference and entertainment complex. We were invited to appear at a concert in aid of the Royal Institute For The Blind in Torquay - an event which was repeated some twelve months later
Massed male voice choir events were on this year's agenda as we appeared in Peterborough Cathedral. We were also present at the first "World Choir" event with 6,500 male choristers, Dame Gwyneth Evans, Dennis O'Neill, Oliver Sammons, Tom Jones and the massed bands of the Guards Division at Cardiff Arms Park. It was at the end of this year that Susie Bourne retired as Accompanist, and was replaced by our fourth lady Accompanist, June Box.
Susie Bourne was made an Honorary Member for services to the Choir. Shrewsbury Abbey was the venue for our first major event of this year - again as a massed male choir event. We participated in a further "World Choir" performance, this time with 8,500 voices, and Shirley Bassey as our "support act".Our Celebrity Concert this year saw guests the HM Band of the Royal Marines
The Midgley's were our Celebrity Concert guests, and the award winning Besses O' Th' Barn Brass Band appeared at our Annual Concert
Again we hosted a party of visitors from Sturbridge, Massachusetts, and our celebrity guest for this year was another well known "voice" from Friday Night Is Music Night, Valerie Masterson
A social evening with Tredegar MVC started the year, which also saw us perform a concert in Launceston, Cornwall, and host a joint concert with The Band of HM Coldstream Guards. Our fifth lady member, Lynn Andrews was appointed Deputy Conductor
During this, our "Ruby Anniversary" year we celebrated with an Anniversary Dinner at which our guests were Joe and Joy Brandrick of Brandrick Holdings (our sponsors for the year) and the Midgley family. Maryetta and Vernon Midley were the stars at our Gala Concert the following evening. A party of choristers climbed Ben Nevis and laid a wreath on behalf of Bert Bissell at the summit peace cairn which he had founded on VJ Day. The choir also performed an impromptu concert at the summit. Bert was present at the foot of the mountain to welcome the climbers back at the end of the day - this was to be Bert's last visit to "The Ben" with the choir. The Warley Male Choir were guests at our Annual Concert, together with local artists who had appeared with us over the forty years. Lynn Andrews took charge as Musical Director in November
Our guests at the Celebrity Concert were the Central Band of the Royal Air Force. In May, we had a very successful five day singing tour in Normandy, France, during which, we performed an impromptu concert at the request of Mme Gondree, in front of her cafe at Pegasus Bridge, the first building in France to be liberated by the allies on D Day in 1944.
Neil Bolton was appointed as our Deputy Accompanist and John Walley as Deputy Conductor. Brixham Male Voice Choir were our guests at our Annual Concert together with the Bedworth Brass Band. Choir President, Bert Bissell passed away at the age of 96.
|1999||Our first engagement in 1999 was to pay our respects at Bert Bissell's memorial service.We appeared in concert with The Sandwell Youth Band in Dudley, and with St Cecilia's Singers at a concert in Cannock. Our Celebrity Concert guest was the Bass Baritone Willard White. The Corbett Hospital League of Friends benefitted from a concert at Holy Trinity Church, Amblecote. We had a weekend trip to Torbay, performing with Brixham Orpheus Male Voice Choir in All Saints Parish Church. We hosted a joint concert with the Band of the Prince Of Wales's Division (Clive) in Dudley Town Hall. We appeared on BBC Midlands Today's "The News Makers" programme.|
Pam Ayres was the guest at our Celebrity Concert.
We had another European
tour, this time to the Moselle region of Germany which
included a short recital in Cologne Cathedral.
Pictured above are the choir and supporters on the steps of Cologne Catherdral
Vice President, Rev Donald Anderson passed away during 2000. We helped Vicar Street Methodist Young Men's Bible Class celebrate its 75th Anniversary when the speaker was President of The Methodist Conference, Rev Inderjit Bhogal. We joined the English Association of Male Voice Choirs at their annual massed choir event in Worcester and the guests at our Annual Concert were the Aldbourne Brass from Wiltshire. We appeared at Birmingham Symphony Hall with Icknield Male Voice Choir at their Centenary Celebration Concert, where the compère was Dr Carl Chinn. We also appeared in Dudley Technical College Hall at a concert in aid of Dudley Festival of Music .We again played to a packed house at Dudley Town Hall at our Christmas Charity Concert, and we performed in a Christmas Concert at New Road Methodist Church, Tipton. A few members of the choir "appeared" on a live Radio WM broadcast - on the Carl Chinn show
|2001||Our 2001 Celebrity Concert
guest was the Black Country comedian, Tommy Mundon. At this concert, we
presented a new award in memory of Bert Bissell,
The Bert Bissell Memorial Shield, to be presented annually to the
school choir showing the most promising performance of a piece of music
whilst participating in the Dudley Festival of Music, Drama and Dance.
The first winners of this award were the Moseley Park School
Harmony Group from Bilston.
We appeared in concert at Dudley Technical College Hall as part of the Dudley Festival of Music, Drama and Dance.We joined in concert with the Kingswinford Ladies Singers, to mark the retirement of their Musical Director, Gwen Browne (who is married to Geoff Marsh, one of our bass section). We participated in a concert at Dudley Kingswinford Rugby Club - an organisation which seems to be vying for nomination as the GSMVC Nursery Club.We performed in a joint concert with Dormston High School Choir at the school's new theatre in Sedgley. We were the host choir at this year's concert of the English Association of Male Voice Choirs in Pershore Abbey. The guest organist on that evening, was Paul Carr.
The guests at our annual concert in Dudley Town Hall were Bedworth Brass. During this concert, we gave the "world premier performance" of the newly published arrangement of "The Mountains Are Calling Me Home" - dedicated to the memory of the late Bert Bissell.The final event of 2001 was our Christmas Charity Concert, when our guests were the Dudley Metropolitan Schools Band, and the Moseley Park School Harmony Group.
Our first concert in 2002 was at St
John's Church, Swindon, South Staffordshire.The Bert Bissell Memorial Shield
was won for the second time by the
Moseley Park School Harmony Group. Our Celebrity
Concert guest was Nigel Ogden.
At Easter, we toured the Algarve, raising funds for the
local Volunteer Fire Service, and the Salvation Army. We joined with the Side By
Side Theatre Group at a concert in Stourbridge Town Hall, raising funds for them to travel to Edinburgh to participate in the International Festival .
the guests of Halesowen Handbell Ringers at a concert in Halesowen. Pam Ayres was the guest at our Annual
Concert. This concert was marked by two very special events - Pam
as an Honorary Member of the GSMVC (the first such member of the choir); and
we also launched our first CD "Do You Hear The Songsters Sing?"
- part of
the proceeds of which were donated to
Mary Stevens' Hospice. We appeared on
stage at the CAMRA
Dudley Winter Ales Festival in Dudley Town Hall, and two weeks later we participated in one of
the Christmas Special Evenings at the Black Country Living Museum.
We were joined at our
Christmas Charity Concert by the Langley Band, Moseley Park School Harmony Group, Rev
Suzanne Newton, and Mark Bolton (of Carlton TV Sport).
We were joined at our Christmas Charity Concert by the Langley Band, Moseley Park School Harmony Group, Rev Suzanne Newton, and Mark Bolton (of Carlton TV Sport).
Our first performance in 2003 was
at the end of a St Davids Day Dinner held by the Wolverhampton
Cambrian Society.Our Celebrity Concert in Dudley Town
Hall saw us perform with
The Bachelors, featuring John Stokes the final item of this concert was a special arrangement of
I Believe featuring the choir and The
Bachelors together. At this concert, June Box
announced that she was retiring as our Principal
Accompanist after 10 years - to be replaced by
Neil Bolton, who was promoted from Assistant Accompanist. We
were pleased that June agreed to
stay on as our Assistant Accompanist for the foreseeable future. We were
also pleased to unveil our new Roland Digital Piano at this concert.
It has enabled us to widen the repertoire of the
choir, and enhance our performances. We were pleased to help dedicate another new
musical instrument - the organ at Gig Mill Methodist Church. Gig Mill is our second rehearsal home, and is attended
by a large number of our members, and their
organist is our Deputy
Conductor, John Walley. On St
George's Day, we participated as part of a massed
male voice choir, together with the
Brummagem Glorishears Morris Dancers and the Wooley Pritchard Sovereign
Brass Band in a concert in Birmingham Symphony Hall.
The concert, initiated by Professor Carl Chinn, was a resounding success.
In July, we sang at Dudley Wood Methodist
Church for their Flower Festival Weekend. Once again, we were
pleased to take the stage at Birmingham Symphony Hall as one of a number of local choirs,
adding up to 500 voices, in a concert organised by the West Midlands Police Male Voice
Choir. Having helped close
Dudley Town Hall (for its refurbishment) in
spring this year, we were pleased to be the promoters and performers
of the first concert at its re-opening in October - the occasion of our Annual Concert,
when our guests were Tommy Mundon and brass virtuoso, Mike West.
Approaching Christmas, we joined Warley Male Voice Choir and The Sandwell Band
in concert at West Bromwich
Town Hall. The compère at this concert was BBC Midlands Todays Michael Collie. The next
seasonal concert was one of our regular appearances at St Johns Church, Wolverley.
Two of the more
local events during December were attended by a smaller section of the choir
the first of these was at a gathering of the patients and families of The Wordsley
Renal Unit (Corbett Hospital) and the second as the post lunch entertainment at the Mary
Stevens Hospice Luncheon Clubs Christmas lunch.
Michael Collie was called to duty once again as the compère at our
Christmas Charity Concert at Dudley Town Hall, where we were accompanied by the Malvern Hills District Brass
Band, and supported by the Mayfield Preparatory School Boys Choir
(winners of the 2003 Bert Bissell Memorial Shield). Our two charity
beneficiaries at this concert were The Friends Of Chernobyl’s Children, and
The Side By Side Theatre Group. At the end of this concert, the Choir was pleased to bestow the status of Honorary Member on Michael
Collie. All good things come to
an end, and it was at the end of 2003 when Don Marsh, our only remaining founder member
announced that he was to retire from singing. However, no one escapes that easily, and to
honour Don's 47 years of singing membership, the Committee voted Don into Life-Membership
of the choir, and also elected him as a Vice President - an honour befitting his years of
loyal service to the choir. We hope that our association with Don
will continue for many years
On St George's Day, we participated as part of a massed male voice choir, together with the Brummagem Glorishears Morris Dancers and the Wooley Pritchard Sovereign Brass Band in a concert in Birmingham Symphony Hall. The concert, initiated by Professor Carl Chinn, was a resounding success. In July, we sang at Dudley Wood Methodist Church for their Flower Festival Weekend. Once again, we were pleased to take the stage at Birmingham Symphony Hall as one of a number of local choirs, adding up to 500 voices, in a concert organised by the West Midlands Police Male Voice Choir. Having helped close Dudley Town Hall (for its refurbishment) in spring this year, we were pleased to be the promoters and performers of the first concert at its re-opening in October - the occasion of our Annual Concert, when our guests were Tommy Mundon and brass virtuoso, Mike West. Approaching Christmas, we joined Warley Male Voice Choir and The Sandwell Band in concert at West Bromwich Town Hall. The compère at this concert was BBC Midlands Todays Michael Collie. The next seasonal concert was one of our regular appearances at St Johns Church, Wolverley. Two of the more local events during December were attended by a smaller section of the choir the first of these was at a gathering of the patients and families of The Wordsley Renal Unit (Corbett Hospital) and the second as the post lunch entertainment at the Mary Stevens Hospice Luncheon Clubs Christmas lunch. Michael Collie was called to duty once again as the compère at our Christmas Charity Concert at Dudley Town Hall, where we were accompanied by the Malvern Hills District Brass Band, and supported by the Mayfield Preparatory School Boys Choir (winners of the 2003 Bert Bissell Memorial Shield). Our two charity beneficiaries at this concert were The Friends Of Chernobyl’s Children, and The Side By Side Theatre Group. At the end of this concert, the Choir was pleased to bestow the status of Honorary Member on Michael Collie. All good things come to an end, and it was at the end of 2003 when Don Marsh, our only remaining founder member announced that he was to retire from singing. However, no one escapes that easily, and to honour Don's 47 years of singing membership, the Committee voted Don into Life-Membership of the choir, and also elected him as a Vice President - an honour befitting his years of loyal service to the choir. We hope that our association with Don will continue for many years to come
commenced with a concert where we appeared as guests of the Phoenix West Midlands Brass in
Brierley Hill Civic Hall. We were so impressed with the band, that we invited them to
join with us as our guests at our Annual Concert. In
April, the choir went back in time to the Sixties, and performed a selection of music from
that era in the first half of a very successful concert in which Gerry and the Pacemakers
appeared as the Celebrity Guests in the second half. All the Gerry "favourites"
were performed during the evening, and many of the audience were so moved as to start
dancing in the aisles of Dudley Town Hall - most definitely a first at a Gentlemen
Songsters' concert.The Bert
Bissell Memorial Shield was won this year by St Dominic's School, Brewood, Staffordshire,
and representatives of the choir attended our
Celebrity Concert to receive the trophy. April 23rd saw a large contingent from the
choir join a 300-plus male voice choir at Birmingham Symphony Hall for this year's
celebration of St George's Day. On a beautiful spring evening in mid May, we
performed at St John's Parish Church, Swindon (South Staffordshire) in celebration of
their 150th Anniversary. A few days later, we were again on stage in
Dudley Town Hall - this time with Cradley Heath Male Voice Choir as a joint support act
for the first night of a twenty-night UK tour by the White Russian Army Band. On a chilly Friday evening at the beginning
of July, we all boarded the land train operated by Dudley Zoo, and took our supplies of
gas and air up to the top of the hill where Dudley Castle is located, and we sang in the
grounds of the castle as our contribution to this year's Dudley Arts Council Showcase. The
evening concluded in the semi-darkness as we sat on the land train descending the hill all
singing lustily "The Runaway Train"
We were very
honoured to be invited to participate in the opening ceremony of the 2004 Royal Show at
Stoneleigh, Warwickshire at the beginning of July. In addition to taking a significant
part in the opening dedication service, we also appeared in the band-stand and in other
locations around the showground at intervals during the day, including a short recital on
the lawn in front of the Royal Pavilion before an audience of invited guests and
dignitaries. The first part of this performance was foreshortened by a torrential downpour
and thunderstorm which saw us uproot the choir, the accompanists, our Musical Director and
the electronic piano to take what little shelter was offered under the pavilion's verandah.
Tewkesbury Abbey was the magnificent
setting for this year's massed choir event with the other member choirs
of the English Association of Male Voice Choirs - over 300 voices singing to a packed audience in the surroundings of this splendid former Benedictine Abbey. Two local concerts were performed one in aid of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution at Holy Trinity Church, Wordsley where in excess of £1000 was raised. The second of these concerts was held to celebrate the 155th Anniversary of St Marks Church, Pensnett. The big news in the Autumn was the notification from the Charities Commission that the Choir has been accepted as a Registered Charity - a status which we hope will benefit both the choir and the many charitable organisations it works with. Our Annual Concert took place in the re-named Dudley Concert Hall, when our guests were Phoenix West Midlands Brass, and the compere was ITV Central News's Philippa Tomson. This special evening also included a presentation of a cheque to Mary Stevens Hospice for the money raised to date in the sale of our first CD, and we launched our second CD The 60's & More From The Songsters - this time we will be donating £1.00 from every sale to Action Heart. We were pleased to be able to assist the Dudley Metropolitan Borough Entertainments Department by participating in an Open Day at Dudley Concert Hall - giving a short Saturday afternoon recital. The consensus of opinion was that the afternoon was a success - offering the full spectrum of activities held in the concert hall to the general public in a free and easy "come and have a look" style. In mid November, we were again on the Dudley Concert Hall stage - on this occasion participating in the Borough's Festival of Remembrance - and singing yet again to a packed house. Our "rehearsal home" - Stream Road Methodist Church was in need of funds to help refurbish its grand piano, so the Songsters offered to put on a concert at the church to help raise some of that money. The proceeds were a magnificent £950, which almost covered the entire refurbishment cost. One other local church which has hosted our rehearsals from time to time, Gig Mill Methodist Church, was the promoter and beneficiary of a fund raising concert during November. Again we were delighted to be able to help out on this occasion.The first weekend in December was busy, with two more local concerts - the first on the Saturday evening at the Amblecote Christian Centre proceeds of which were in aid of the local Ladies' T.L.C. group. This was followed on the Sunday afternoon, by what has become an annual event - a seasonal concert in the company of the local renal patients group. As usual, late December was a busy time, with our charity concert at Dudley Concert Hall,Our guests were Sam Robinson, The Side By Side Theatre Group, St Dominics School Choir (winners of this years Bert Bissell Memorial Shield competition), and the Dudley Brass Ensemble, The compère for the evening was BBC Midlands Todays Michael Collie. As usual, two local charities received donations (of £1000 each) as beneficiaries of the proceeds of the evening. This year, the charities were Bushey Fields Hospital, Dudley and the Jasmin Machine Fund. This concert was followed a few days later by a soiree held in Himley Hall, when we socialised with, and sang to a large number of invited guests. This novel idea of entertaining some of our many friends seemed to be well received, and gave us the opportunity to mix more informally with our supporters in some very pleasant surroundings. This will not be the last of such occasions One of the charity beneficiaries at the 2004 Christmas Charity Concert was the Jasmin Fund. As a baby, Jasmin Greatholder was seriously ill, and spent many weeks in The Princess Diana Birmingham Children's Hospital, followed by many subsequent visits for various forms of treatment. In their gratitude for the care and support given to Jasmin, her family decided to start the Jasmin Fund to help provide essential equipment for the hospital. We were delighted to be able to help towards that fund last year, and are pleased to show a few pictures of Jasmin with the SATS Monitoring Machine which was purchased with the donation we made to the hospital. We are also delighted to say that Jasmin has made a wonderful recovery, and is "mixing it" with all the others - especially with her one year old brother Ben
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