The Noughties (Volume 1)

Singing With Others

2000 we joined the English Association of Male Voice Choirs (EAMVC), an organisation which exists to promote the art of male voice singing, and which produces an annual concert featuring the member choirs. Over the years, these concerts have been held in venues such as Tewksbury Abbey, Pershore Abbey, Lichfield Cathedral and The Great Hall in Birmingham University.

In addition to these concerts, we have appeared with many other choirs, bands and soloists.

2001 we presented a new award in memory of Bert Bissell - The Bert Bissell Memorial Award - to be presented annually to the school choir showing the most promising performance of a piece of music at the Dudley Festival of Music, Drama, and Dance. Following the creation of this award, it became traditional for us to invite the winners of the award to appear with us in our Christmas Charity Concert.

One of our missions is to bring the pleasure of music to others, and we regularly encourage local school choirs to sing with us in our concerts.

In 2003 and 2004 we re-visited the “Sixties” and performed with bothThe Bachelors, and Gerry and the Pacemakers - such was the impact of the latter, that many of our audience were dancing in the aisles - certainly a first for a Gentlemen Songsters’ concert!

Gerry and the Pacemakers

Pam Ayres outside the Cologne Cathedral with the Gentleman SongstersThe Gentlemen Songsters and partners outside Cologne Cathedral.

2000 Pam Ayres was the guest at our Celebrity Concert. The Moselle region of Germany was our European tour destination this year, which included a visit to, and a short recital in Cologne Cathedral – the choir and supporters are pictured on the steps of the cathedral.

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, and sang in their massed voices concert in Worcester. The guests at our Annual Concert were the Aldbourne Brass from Wiltshire, and we appeared in Birmingham Symphony Hall with Icknield Male Voice Choir at their Centenary Concert, We also appeared in Dudley Technical College Hall at a concert in aid of Dudley Festival of Music.

2001 Black Country comedian, Tommy Mundon.was our Celebrity Concert guest. We performed in Dudley Technical College Hall as part of the Dudley Festival. We joined the Kingswinford Ladies Singers, to mark the retirement of their Musical Director, Gwen Browne (the wife of Geoff Marsh, one of our bass section). We participated in a concert at Dudley Kingswinford Rugby Club – which is proving a good recruiting ground for GSMVC members.

We performed in a joint concert with Dormston High School Choir at the school's new theatre in Sedgley, and we were the host choir at this year's EAMVC concert in Pershore Abbey. Bedworth Brass joined us in our Autumn concert, and both Dudley Metropolitan Schools Band, and Moseley Park School Harmony Group at Christmas.

2002 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 local charities.. We joined with the Side By Side Theatre Group at a concert in Stourbridge Town Hall, and we were the guests of Halesowen Handbell Ringers at a concert in Halesowen. Reluctantly we appeared on stage at the CAMRA Dudley Winter Ales Festival! 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 and Moseley Park School Harmony Group once more.

2003 We sang at a St David’s Day Dinner for the Wolverhampton Cambrian Society. On St George's Day, we participated as part of a massed choir in Birmingham Symphony Hall, and later in the year at the same venue with West Midlands Police Male Voice Choir and other choirs. In July, we sang at Dudley Wood Methodist Church for their Flower Festival Weekend, Having helped close Dudley Town Hall (for its refurbishment) in the spring we were pleased perform in the first concert at its re-opening in October. We joined Warley Male Voice Choir and The Sandwell Band in concert at West Bromwich Town Hall, and other local events included a concert at St John’s Church, Wolverley; at gathering of the patients and families of The Wordsley Renal Unit and “post-lunch entertainment” at the Mary Steven’s Hospice Luncheon Club’s Christmas lunch. BBC presenter, Michael Collie was the compère at our Christmas Charity Concert when our guests were Malvern Hills District Brass Band, and Mayfield Preparatory School Boys’.

2004 We were guests of the Phoenix West Midlands Brass in Brierley Hill Civic Hall and were so impressed that we invited them to be guests at our Annual Concert. The Bert Bissell Memorial Award was won this year by St Dominic's School from Brewood . Again we participated in the Birmingham St George’s Day Concert, and in May, we performed at the 150th Anniversary of St John's Parish Church, Swindon (South Staffordshire). We joined with Cradley Heath Male Voice Choir in Dudley Town Hall as a support act for the White Russian Army Band. In July, we sang in the grounds of Dudley Castle, within the bounds of Dudley Zoo, and at the end of the evening we descended the hill on the zoo’s land-train singing "The Runaway Train". We sang at the opening ceremony of the Royal Show at Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, and at other locations around the showground – including the Royal Pavilion lawn - a performance foreshortened by a torrential downpour and thunderstorm which saw us uproot everyone to take shelter with the VIP’s in the pavilion. Tewksbury Abbey was the location for the EAMVC concert. Later in the year we sang at two local churches - Holy Trinity Church, Wordsley, and St Mark’s Church, Pensnett. We gained Registered Charity status during this year. 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. Dudley Metropolitan Borough Entertainments Department invited us to participate in an Open Day at Dudley Concert Hall, and in November, we were onstage in the same location singing in the Borough's Festival of Remembrance. Our "rehearsal home" - Stream Road Methodist Church Kingswinford was in need of funds to refurbish its grand piano, so we offered to put on a concert and succeeded in raising £950, which almost covered the entire refurbishment cost. Gig Mill Methodist Church, was the location and beneficiary of a fund raising concert. Seasonal concerts were held at the Amblecote Christian Centre, and for the local renal patients group. The guests at our Christmas Charity Concert were Sam Robinson, The Side By Side Theatre Group, St Dominic’s School Choir and the Dudley Brass Ensemble, The compère for the evening was BBC Midlands Today’s Michael Collie We held a soiree in Himley Hall, where we sang to a large number of invited guests.

Boxing Day 2004 saw the Tsunami disaster in Asia which 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 to raise funds for the disaster appeal. Our first event, in keeping with our tradition of singing in unusual locations, was to "Ride The Birmingham Wheel" - a novel way of spending a Sunday afternoon! On the following Saturday, we held a concert in Holy Trinity Church, Wordsley, and were pleased to raise £3,400 from these two events. This money was augmented by a donation from the Geoff Hill Charitable Trust, Financial support also came from the Amblecote Christian Centre, the Stourbridge News and other local organisations – resulting in a donation in excess of £7000 towards the re-building of a school in Phuket. Another Tsunami concert was organised by Dudley Entertainments Department in conjunction with Radio WM, when we appeared at Dudley Concert Hall with other local artists and the programme was compèred by both Adrian Goldberg and Jenny Jones. A further significant sum of money was raised on that occasion.


June Box and Neil Bolton

June had been our Accompanist for 10 years when she announced her intention to retire - handing over the reins to Assistant Accompanist Neil Bolton. However, June agreed to remain with us as Assistant Accompanist for the foreseeable future

Pam Ayres

Former Opportunity Knocks winner, and poetess, Pam Ayres was a guest at two of our concerts in 2000 and 2002. We decided that she was so “at one” with us, that we invested her as an Honorary Member.

Michael Collie

After helping us out and contributing to a number of our concerts as a compere, we bestowed the status of Honorary Member on Michael at our 2003 Christmas Concert.

Don Marsh

By 2003, Don Marsh was our only remaining founder member (after more than forty-six years service). However, a lot of singing during those years had taken its toll, and Don decided it was time to relax his larynx and retire from singing. However, no one escapes that easily, so to honour his many years service, he was given Life-Membership of the choir, and was also invited to become a Choir Vice-President, an honour befitting such loyal service.

John Walley

Our connection with Gig Mill Methodist Church (our second-line rehearsal home) was further cemented when we were invited to perform in a concert to help dedicate their new organ. We have a number of choristers who are members of this church, not least of whom is our Deputy Musical Director, John also happens to be the Gig Mill church’s organist!