This is where we keep old news.
The choirmen are delighted to make the following announcement, which has also appeared in local newspapers.
Hard on the heels of her dancing exploits on BBC TV, Edwina Currie has assumed a new musical mantle as president of the Tideswell Male Voice Choir. Well known as a writer, broadcaster, politician and guest speaker, Edwina has a lifelong interest in music. Edwina commented: “I never thought I would win Strictly Come Dancing and coincidentally, when I was eliminated, I was invited to become president of a wonderful male voice choir in the Peak District. I was delighted to accept the opportunity. So, while I may have lost Vincent Simone, I have now gained sixty men from Derbyshire!”
Tideswell Male Voice Choir is a highly acclaimed and progressive choir based in the Peak District. Bill Preece, chairman of the choir, said: “Edwina is an ideal choice to represent and promote the choir’s burgeoning reputation for excellence in choral singing.”
Edwina’s first appearance as president of the choir will be a charity Christmas Musical Spectacular at the Winding Wheel, Chesterfield, on Sunday 18 December 2011. The concert will feature the choir and the Sir Richard Arkwright’s Masson Mills Band, whose president, Lord Hattersley, will also be there.
Edwina was born in Liverpool and went to the same school as the Beatles’ George Harrison and Sir Paul McCartney. She admits that much of her education time was spent in the Cavern Club listening to their music. This stimulated her love of music.
As a youngster, she took real delight in singing uplifting psalms in Hebrew as part of the Orthodox Jewish congregation in Childwall, Liverpool, to which her family belonged.
Music has played a big part in her life and she likes nothing more than listening to music on the radio while driving in the Peak District. Her eclectic musical tastes range from Simon and Garfunkel to Beethoven.
While Edwina was MP for the South Derbyshire constituency, she was an active supporter of Gresley and Melbourne Male Voice Choirs. Gresley MVC travelled to London to sing at Edwina’s 50th birthday celebrations. She also arranged for Gresley MVC to visit the Loire region of France where she has a home.
In 2006, Edwina appeared in Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes in which she featured as French singer Edith Piaf with a rendition of Milord.
In 2009, her musical prowess was demonstrated when, as part of the TV Show Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, she teamed up with Declan Donnelly, Anthony Costa and Nicky Clarke to release a charity single. The release was a cover version of the Wham hit song Wake Me Up (Before You Go Go) and it reached No. 64 in the UK charts.
Continuing the musical theme, Edwina describes her marriage to her husband, John, as being: “Married to the most handsome baritone in the High Peak.”
Edwina has had three successful careers – so far! In politics, she became one of the nation’s best-known MPs and served in Margaret Thatcher’s government 1986–88, in the Department of Health.
Writing proved a lot easier than politics. In all, she has had ten books published. She started with non-fiction then turned to novels which were instant best-sellers in the UK. As a broadcaster, she is a frequent contributor to news and current affairs programmes. For many years she has been a well known radio and TV presenter and performer.
If the characteristics that make for a great concert are: a standing ovation from a packed house, an enrapt audience, tumultuous applause, cries for “more” and enthusiastic banter in the foyer after the performance, then the concert on 9th October at Buxton Opera House eminently qualifies.
This was to be the highlight of Tideswell Male Voice Choir’s 2011 programme – after all, they were singing with their special guests, the Band of the RAF College, a highly accomplished and famous ensemble. They rose admirably to the challenge and between them delivered what is already being spoken of as “our best show yet”.
The RAF College Band, under the energetic direction of Flight Lieutenant Matthew Little, treated us to a programme of amazing variety and versatility. The MD’s own arrangement of Brazil was particularly memorable, exploiting all the possibilities and sonorities of a military band in latin mood. The percussion section was conspicuously active, demonstrating their skills on a bewildering assortment of things which could be hit with a stick or banged together and positively peripatetic in action!
The three “Swing Wing” numbers led by Warrant Officer Gary Stevens had the audience tapping their feet and humming along to familiar big band sounds performed with consummate musicianship and virtuosity. Who can forget that saxophone lineup, still less the solo on the bass trombone?
I am becoming bankrupt of superlatives when speaking of Christopher Ellis’s piano playing. His interpretation of Rhapsody in Blue with the RAF College Band brought the audience to its feet and would, I am sure, have received full approval from old George Gershwin himself had he been there to appreciate it.
In the presence of musicians of this quality, the challenge for Tideswell Male Voice Choir was to excel – they did not disappoint. Among their many entertaining offerings was a particularly animated performance of We ain’t got Dames, a poignant interpretation of Anthem from the musical Chess and a powerful and dramatically convincing solo from 19-year-old bass Phil Rigley in the song Stars from Les Miserables.
The Audience had their opportunity to sing (attended by much waving of programmes) in a Last Night of the Proms style singalong of Land of Hope and Glory, with band and choir.
And the encore? What else but the regimental march of The Royal Air Force: March Past.
This concert, like that which the choir performed with the Central Band of the RAF in Longton in September 2010, was organised to raise funds for Help the Heroes. – TME
On the afternoon of 17th September, 40 sets of vocal cords were travelling east by coach and car along the A14. The owners of these vocal cords, the men from Tideswell Male Voice Choir, were converging on the town of Huntingdon to perform that evening in a concert with their friends the Huntingdon Male Voice Choir. The pretext for this was an invitation from a friend of our ex-chairman. That was three years ago! But now it was finally happening and the occasion was the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of HMVC.
Our hosts had arranged for us to sing at the Performing Arts Centre in the leafy surroundings of Hinchingbrooke Country Park and they had done their marketing well, for the place was packed, as we adjusted our ties, cleared our throats and marched onto the stage.
The first item on the programme was a performance with HMVC of Rachie by Caradog Roberts. A great tune this and the eighty voices did it justice. You could almost imagine the Sally Army tambourines joining in! The audience loved it.
Tideswell then went on to deliver their contribution to the evening’s entertainment with an eclectic programme including a surprisingly animated performance of We Ain’t Got Dames and a highly charged interpretation of Stars from Les Miserables by nineteen-year-old soloist Phil Rigley.
The choral programme was punctuated with a performance by Christopher Ellis of three short Gershwin pieces on the Centre’s recently purchased grand piano. Christopher made this magnificent instrument speak with playing of brilliant and faultless virtuosity.
Huntingdon’s contribution under the charismatic direction of Haydn James was memorable for the two stirring items sung in Welsh and a lovely rendering of The Lily of the Valley.
The two choirs joined forces for the final item in the first and last halves of the concert, which were Morte Criste and Gwahoddiad respectively. These stalwarts of the male voice choir repertoire were delivered with great power and authority by the eighty performers, leaving the highly appreciative audience in no doubt that the male voice choir genre is very much still with us and has the power to lift the spirit, captivate and entertain. – TME
Thursday 25th September 2011 saw the choir on the stage of Stockport Romiley Forum Theatre. Along with their very recent excursion to Congleton this is part of the choir’s strategy to enhance their customer base and make their unique talents known to a wider audience.
The concert was memorable, amongst other things, for its soloists, all with one exception drawn from the ranks of the choir.
The choir is proud of its recent youthful recruits and two of them, Phil Rigley and Mathew Hopkins with a combined age of 32, stepped forward in the first half, to join musical director Dennis Kay in a heart-warming performance of You Raise Me Up.
The second half featured a medley of pieces from the great stage musical Les Miserables. How well this music lends itself to the genre of the male voice choir!
But those soloists:
The poignant Bring him Home was performed by second tenor Stuart Gordon with great sensitivity and assurance. Stuart is a relative newcomer to the scary solo spot but no one in the audience would have noticed, especially the gentleman who exclaimed “super!” at the finish of the piece before the tumultuous applause.
Nineteen year old Phil Rigley looks too much the nice guy to be the calculating obsessive gendarme Javert, but he assumed that persona in a performance of Stars, delivered with authority and feeling in his robust baritone.
The family contribution was from 12-year-old Megan Kelly, granddaughter of the musical director. A slight figure on this big stage against a backdrop of forty men, Megan sang Castle On A Cloud and Only on my Own in a voice that is still child-like but charmingly beautiful.
I have hardly mentioned the choir! They of course delivered their usual entertaining excellence, not least in Leonard Cohen’s Halelujah, and Anthem from Chess – two fine interpretations with which they are becoming increasingly associated.
With concerts and performances like this one, the reputation of this fine choir can only be enhanced far beyond the horizons of their Peak District home, the small village of Tideswell. – TME
The Tideswell MVC came to the Daneside Theatre in Congleton for the very first time and treated its audience to a truly wonderful evening with a feast of music and some magical moments.
The evening commenced with a very effective, staged performance of You’ll Never Walk Alone followed immediately by an equally impressive rendition of There Is Nothing Like A Dame.
There then followed a selection of songs, all delivered with confidence and style, although Alexander’s Ragtime Band did run the risk of coming apart at one point, when some of the tenors attempted to leave the rest of the choir behind. A few stern looks from the MD soon got them back in step and the response from the audience told us how much they enjoyed this piece. The first half concluded with a very moving performance of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah stirring the emotions and leaving more than one person in tears.
Following the interval, the men appeared in a change of uniform having donned red, white and blue sashes to present songs from the musicals. An impressive performance of the song Anthem from the musical Chess opened the second half of this highly entertaining show. There then followed a medley of songs from Les Miserables which featured three soloists: Stuart Gordon (Bring Him Home) Phil Rigley (Stars) and 12-year-old Megan Kelly (Castle on a Cloud and On My Own), each of them bringing an added dimension to the medley as they performed with confidence and brilliance.
The finale gave an opportunity for everyone to join in with the choir as they presented a Last-Night-of-the-Proms sequence of songs. Jerusalem and Land of Hope and Glory lifted the roof and it was a truly brilliant end to a wonderful evening spent in the company of the Tideswell Male Voice Choir.
More, More, were the calls from the auditorium, and the choir obliged with the ever popular American Trilogy
My final comment has to be levelled at the choir’s Musical Director, Dennis Kay, and their Principal Accompanist, Christopher Ellis. What a superb team these two make! Dennis brings his own style and experience to events such as this, his evident inspirational leadership draws the very best out of the men of the choir. Christopher just oozes “brilliance”. He inspires confidence, and embellishes accompaniments in his own unique way. This reviewer has never heard better – in my experience, he is Simply the Best! – Anon
There can be few villages of comparable size where music is so much a part of the fabric of the life of the community. Tideswell is not large, yet it boasts a renowned male voice choir, a flourishing mixed voice choir, the Tideswell Singers, the long established Tideswell Band and a small but loyal church choir. Mention must also be made of the informal but very high standard folk sessions which take place each Thursday evening at The Horse & Jockey.
The first two of these ensembles joined forces to deliver a concert – The TMVC Annual Concert at St John’s Church (the “Cathedral of the Peak”) on the balmy Summer evening of Saturday 30th July – the first time they had performed together.
There were very few empty seats in this big church as both choirs opened the evening’s entertainment with a spirited performance of Rhythm of Life, setting the high standard for what was to follow.
The programme from Tideswell singers, which included Bohemian Rhapsody and motets by Victoria and Rachmaninov, was perhaps the more adventurous. The traditional Macedonian song Shto mi e milo in particular was performed with assurance and panache. But Tideswell Male Voice Choir – not to be outdone – performed their hallmark pieces Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen) and Anthem (from Chess by Andersson and Ulvaeus) with characteristic flair and authority, filling the farthest recesses of this beautiful gothic temple with the electrifying sound of fifty men’s voices in harmony.
The evening was the first occasion when patrons of TMVC were invited to enjoy a glass of wine or other refreshment at the newly restored grammar school, immediately behind St John’s church, which is now the permanent base and home of the choir.
The first half of the concert ended with participation from the audience led by Carol Bowns (musical director of Tideswell Singers), in a highly compressed rehearsal and performance of a Gospel Medley.
The concert ended with TMVC in a medley from Les Miserables. Two soloists stepped forward: Maurice Hargreaves with Bring Him Home, sung with his usual flawlessly confident technique, and Phil Rigley with an inspiring and energetic interpretation of Javert’s song Stars.
The concert brought together residents from Tideswell and further afield in the beautiful ambience of The Cathedral of The Peak, on a memorable and magical Summer evening in the enjoyment and appreciation of the universal language of music.
Comparisons they say are odious, but in this case, they were nothing if not melodious as Chapel-en-le-Frith Male Voice Choir joined forces with Tideswell MVC in a joint concert in the neo-classical splendour of St John’s Church Buxton.
The choirs took to the platform in turn to entertain a capacity audience with an eclectic programme – C-en-le-F being perhaps the more traditional of the two, but affirming their cosmopolitan credentials by singing one song in French and another in Welsh – the former, Cantique de Jean Racine, sensitively rendered. Tideswell experimented with a more theatrical approach in their interpretation of You’ll Never Walk Alone and their performance of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah brought not a few of the audience to their feet in appreciation.
There were four joint items, all well-known war-horses from the male voice choir repertoire, including Gwahoddiad and Morte Criste, demonstrating the power and sonority of an all-men ensemble as nearly “One Hundred Voices” thronged the platform.
The programme was punctuated by performances from three soloists: A highly charged and passionate rendering of a piece from Jesus Christ Superstar by Nicholas D Bennett, a performance of three contrasting Gershwin Preludes by Christopher D Ellis at the Grand Piano delivered with almost supernatural facility, and an impassioned solo from our own Phil Rigley struggling with and mastering the difficult acoustic of this venue.
The concert at St John’s in Festival Week has become a regular and eagerly anticipated part of our annual programme. It just gets better every time!
The afternoon was sultry, hot even, and there was a fine assortment of Panama hats among the ensemble, looking more like the “Men from Delmonte” than the Tideswell Male Voice Choir. But here we were again at Poolsbrook Country Park, the site of the old Ireland Colliery, to sing at the request of The Staveley Armed Forces Veterans’ Association.
The concert began after much ingenious arboreal adjustment to extension leads for the electronic keyboard and we finally got under way, only to be interrupted in our first piece by the roar of Rolls Royce engines from a Mk 2 Supermarine Spitfire of 1940’s vintage in its dramatic flypast. As one man, the choir took up the spontaneous theme of Carlene Mair‘s lyrics: “Proudly with high endeavour, we who are young for ever, won the freedom of the skies, we shall never die” – well, those of us who remembered the words – the rest la-la-laa’d.
The performance continued to an increasingly numerous and appreciative audience with a selection from our repertoire including a spirited rendering of You’ll Never walk Alone, and My Heart Will Go On from the film Titanic (which as our MD remarked, “Always goes down well”).
By the second session, we had attracted more audience and the choirmen were beginning to envy the Newfoundland dogs swimming in their competitions in the cooling waters of the nearby lake.
And so, amid the seductive smells of fried onions and burgers wafting on the Poolsbrook breeze, the choir entertained an audience of hundreds in this one of the first of their Summer engagements. The panamas will no doubt be in evidence again at our next outdoor engagement in Buxton Pavilion Gardens (Fringe Festival Week), Sunday 10th July.
Ysgol Croesgoch has been given £600 towards the refurbishment of the school library. Representatives of Cor Abergwaun and Tideswell Male Voice Choir from Derbyshire were at the school on 22 June to present the cheque. The money had been raised at a concert in St Davids Cathedral in March, when the two choirs were joined by a group from the school. The Headteacher, Mrs Jayne Evans, said: “Our choir was privileged to sing in the Cathedral and the school is most appreciative of the generous gift towards the refurbishment of the library.”
Dennis Kay, Musical Director of the Tideswell Choir, said: “The highlight of our wonderful weekend in St Davids was singing in the Cathedral.” He went on to say: “Tthe Tideswell Choir are very glad to be able to help the School, whose choir sang so well in the concert.”
Edward Holdaway, Treasurer of Cor Abergwaun, said: “The donation to the school was only made possible by the generosity of all those who attended the concert and the sponsors – Cotton Projects, St Davids Assemblies, and Matthew Blakiston of the Farmers Arms, St Davids, and the Sloop Inn, Porthgain”. He added: “Cor Abergwaun is delighted to have been invited to sing in the Tideswell Male Voice Choir’s annual concert next summer.”
On the evening of 7th May 2011, the choir returned to the Methodist Church at Hazel Grove, the scene of our success in the 2010 Festival, to deliver the traditional Winners’ concert. We opened with a lively performance of We Ain’t Got Dames which as usual featured solo spots from John Riches and David Morton.
We introduced two new items: Alexander’s Ragtime Band (scarcely off the rehearsal blocks, but well performed nonetheless) and a very beautiful arrangement of The Lord’s Prayer.
We were joined this evening by a very elegant young soprano: Erin Alexander. Superlatives fail to describe this young lady’s performance. Looking confident and radiant, she addressed the audience in light, pleasant tones which gave no hint of what was to follow. Then, with a poise and maturity beyond her seventeen years, she treated the audience to a sonorously beautiful demonstration of virtuoso singing which left everyone in no doubt that we were in the presence of a new and very special talent. The combination of Erin’s singing with Christopher Ellis’s superbly accomplished piano accompaniment was truly memorable.
The choir continued with What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor, taken at a breathless pace, and the stirring Anthem from Chess.
In a short step from the sublime to the downright ridiculous, we had the audience joining in with the round Belle Mama, with Terry Lomas of the baritones giving a demonstration of pelvic contortions as he conducted his section of the audience, which astonished all present and would have been the envy of many a younger man!
The Les Miserables Medley featured two more beautifully crafted solos from Erin and a solo from Maurice Hargreaves, whose voice just seems to get better and better.
Erin joined the choir in a highly experimental and unrehearsed performance of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. We seemed galvanised and inspired by her presence and responded by delivering one of the finest performances of this piece that we have ever done!
The encore was over, but we returned to the ridiculous with an unscheduled performance of When the Saints go Marching in with an energetic contribution from the irrepressible Billy Hesp on the bones. – TME
All in an April evening the choir assembled in the lovely new church of St John’s in Walton, Chesterfield, before a capacity audience. The concert was distinguished by the number of soloists who stepped forward from the ranks of the choir to deliver their individual offerings. Singing a solo can be a lonely and exposed experience, but David Torrington and Kevin Gill slew the dragon of nerves and gave very creditable performances in this, the second time they have sung before an audience. Malcolm Bennison (no stranger to the solo role) had the audience enrapt with his mellifluous tenor voice in Bonnie Mary of Argyll, but the surprise of the evening was Phil Rigley’s impassioned interpretation of Javert’s Stars from Les Miserables. This was delivered with palpable power and conviction and elicited lengthy and enthusiastic applause from a highly impressed audience.
The interval was an orgy of tea and biscuits, but also an opportunity to mingle and converse with the audience; one choirman found himself in conversation with a medical professional lady from Minnesota, USA.
No concert by TMVC these days is complete without some active participation from the audience: this evening our musical director Dennis Kay had them on their feet in a silly version of The Grand Old Duke of York as well as encouraging them to join in with the Sinatra standard New York and When the Saints go Marching In, the latter featuring an energetic concertante contribution from our own Billy (“Bones”) Hesp on the spoons!
The April evening ended with a stirring rendering of American Trilogy, leaving the Walton audience fulfilled and entertained and having raised a considerable sum for the Chesterfield branch of Parkinson’s UK. – TME
A triple treat was in store for the eight-hundred concert-goers fortunate enough to have secured tickets for the sell-out “Musical Extravaganza” at the Winding Wheel Theatre on Saturday 2nd April.
The concert, which had been organised by The Chesterfield Scarsdale Rotary Club in support of “Help for Heroes”, was really three concerts in one, with the Peak District’s own “Sir Richard Arkwright’s Masson Mills Band” and Tideswell Male Voice Choir joined by The Band of The Royal Marines School of Music.
Masson Mills Band opened the concert under the baton of their guest Musical Director Paul Hindmarsh with a selection of traditional and adventurous contemporary pieces. This Matlock-based band is rapidly gaining a reputation as one of the most accomplished ensembles in the UK – not surprising when you listen to the virtuosity of musicians like Lynden Cooper and Robert Woods, who delighted us with a superb euphonium duet interpretation of Bizet’s Deep inside The Sacred Temple in Wilkinson’s arrangement.
Tideswell Male Voice Choir completed the first half of the concert, their ranks swelled by the twenty-four new members who had joined recently from the Come and Sing project. This was just the second time some of these had performed in a major concert, but there was no compromise to the unique sound quality which this choir is able to generate. We opened with an energetic rendering of What Shall we do With the Drunken Sailor, a piece fraught with shoals and navigational hazards, but we managed to steer a true course through it with considerable panache.
The contrasting Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen was delivered sensitively, followed by four more pieces from our repertoire including You’ll Never Walk Alone with an obbligato audience participation verse.
The Marines had the second half to themselves, opening their performance with the hauntingly beautiful voice of one of the young women marines in Ecstasy of Gold. A very diverse and entertaining programme followed – my personal favourite was the stirring Conquest of Paradise. We then moved from the sublime to the mischievous when the entire percussion section (dressed as quite convincing bumble bees) entertained us with a breathless performance on two (admittedly overcrowded) xylophones of – yes, you’ve guessed it: The Flight of the Bumble Bee!
The Corps of Drums was a favourite with everyone. Immaculate in their dark uniforms and dazzling white helmets, they gave a demonstration of snare drum virtuosity and breathtaking co-ordinated movement. A reminder perhaps that all the marines on stage shared that same sense of discipline and esprit de corps, having many of them recently returned from tours of active service overseas.
The concert – to judge by the audience reaction – was a huge success and generated over two thousand pounds for the “Help for Heroes” cause.
We went to St David’s for a few days recently, the highlight being a concert in the magnificent Cathedral on Friday 25th March. We were joined by a choir of pupils at Croesgoch Primary School and an adult mixed choir: Cor Abergwaun.
The concert got off to a lively start with What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor? With any luck, the audience didn’t notice our deliberate mistake! After that we gave quite a fair rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone, and There’s Nothing Like A Dame, which came to a rousing climax. Time next for a change of pace, with The Two Roses. We could already see some dynamics building in the audience.
Next it was the turn of Cor Abergwaun, who gave us a serene group of Welsh songs.
Then came the kids! Primary school children, neatly turned out and disciplined – the stars of the show! They sang several songs: some lively children’s songs and even You Raise Me Up, which is in our repertoire too. A magnificent solo performance in this one by 9-year-old Scott nearly brought the house down (but this was a Cathedral, after all, so no histrionics please).
We brought the first half to a close with three pieces from Les Miserables: Bring Him Home, with Maurice Hargreaves giving perhaps his best solo performance yet, Do You Hear The People Sing? and One Day More.
After the interval we really got down to work. First was When The Saints Go Marching In, quickly followed by Let It Be Me, Unchained Melody and My Heart Will Go On from the film Titanic.
Next we had all three choirs on stage together in a hastily rehearsed African Trilogy – in at least two simultaneous arrangements! It went well though, to judge by its reception.
Just two pieces left now: the searing Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen, and Anthem from the musical Chess – both highly charged.
The applause was so warm that we gave an encore: An American Trilogy.
The whole evening was a resounding success. The fund-raising target was easily surpassed, which was to raise enough money to build and stock a library at Croesgoch Primary School. Everyone went away happy and fulfilled – roll on the next one!
Here are a few pictures:
Hazel Grove Music Festival
On Saturday 5 March 2011 we took part in the Hazel Grove Music Festival. We were one of five choirs in our section, with one youth choir, one ladies’ choir and two mixed-voices choirs.
We’d met three of the choirs before. One, the ladies’ choir, we met in the competition last year, and the mixed choir from Wales had come a close second to us in that same competition. They came along this year confident of beating us this time, but in fact it was the ladies who beat us – by the narrowest possible margin.
The ladies had improved so much in the year that they deserved to win, and we must offer our sincere congratulations to them (while rubbing our own bruises ruefully!).
Help for Heroes
On Saturday 25 September 2010 we took part in a grand charity concert at the Methodist Central Hall in Longton, Staffordshire, in aid of the Help for Heroes charity. We performed alongside the Central Band of the Royal Air Force, several of whose members had recently been on tours of duty in Afghanistan in support of our troops there.
The house was packed: not one ticket of the 700 had remained unsold. And what enthusiasm! Surely a lot of hands must have been red and sore the next morning after so much applause.
We and the RAF band alternated sessions through the evening, and were both greeted with acclaim. That is one thoroughly professional band! And we did ourselves proud too, giving what we’re sure was our best performance ever.
As we were all conscious of the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain, the evening included pieces such as The White Cliffs of Dover and Land of Hope and Glory. The audience joined in those whole-heartedly, with a good deal of flag-waving to make a rousing, memorable finish to the evening. Standing ovations seemed to be the order of the day.
We heard from the concert’s organiser the next day, who said that the choir had been the best choir he’d heard in fifteen years of organising fund-raising concerts, and all the people he’d spoken to gave the same opinion.
Take a bow, men!
Thanks to Colin Shepherd and Geoff Hipwell for the pictures.
Concert for Buxton Festival Fringe,
St John’s Church, 14 July 2010
(This review is reproduced from the Fringe’s Web site by kind permission of the organisers.)
Each year there is one show on the Fringe that catches you by surprise, which really bowls you over, which leaves you feeling so glad to have been part of it. Almost certainly the TMVC Show will be my Fringe 2010 highlight. This is hard to explain in all sorts of ways. OK, there is something almost inevitably moving about hearing 40 and 70 voices singing together – sometimes in unison, sometimes in 4-part harmonies. I know none of the TMVC but there are some rum looking buggers amongst them – how come they can sing so tenderly and poetically when together?
The Choir seems to be genuinely inclusive; clearly some individuals have strong voices but it is equally certain that some members have pretty average voices, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that they are together, sharing what they do, representing a small village that no one very far away has ever heard of. The TMVC is an amateur choir but it takes its work and purpose very seriously and this is evident by the concentration and attention given to director Dennis Kay.
Pianist Christopher Ellis brilliantly supports the choir; his playing is always sensitive but not intrusive. He had just one solo spot, dazzling with Earl Wild’s arrangement of Gershwin’s The Man I Love. Also on hand for the show was Choir organist Mary Cobbold who told some delightful stories about when she first played on the St John’s organ when she was 11 (must have been about 30 years ago then Mary?) and “was let loose with the choir”. She played two pieces on the organ that she was taught on, including Widor’s Toccata, recalling how she had begun the piece in error many years ago and it served as a rather grand introduction to O Come All Ye Faithful.
Dennis Kay has been closely involved with the Come and Sing project which has brought about 35 men together and, over a period of 10 weeks, has – in the words of one of the new singers – “taken me out of my comfort zone and taught me things about singing that I never knew.” This new, embryonic choir performed for the first time. So at this show we had two choirs that sometimes sang separately and sometimes together. So, what did they sing? In some ways it hardly matters but these are some of the highlights (for me, anyway).
The TMVC opened the evening with four pieces – the last of which was Unchained Melody, almost heavenly in its arrangement. The only sound you heard from the audience all night was rapturous applause. The new, infant choir wasn’t given an easy introduction to concert performance. Their first two numbers being The Grand Old Duke of York and You’ll Never Walk Alone. Both were sung in a controlled manner leaving you to concentrate on this performance.
After the interval the choirs came together for show-stopping performances of There Is Nothing Like A Dame and When the Saints Go Marching In. The TMVC sang two items from their forthcoming CD – What a Wonderful World and Hallelujah. An interesting pair of songs – Louis Armstrong’s song being naïve and sentimental and Cohen’s (even bowdlerised) a desperate, aching song of love gone-wrong. To hear them side by side was a reminder of the range of the choir.
There was time for a preview of the show to come at the Buxton Opera House on October 24th before – appropriately on Bastille Day – two blistering rally calls from Les Miserables. The Tideswell Male Voice Choir may not be the most obvious leaders of political revolution in the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales – but who knows?
The Choir is in Tideswell – with a chamber recorder orchestra – on 24th July; call 01298 77947 for tickets before it sells out. Similarly the Opera House concert on 24 October will sell out quickly.
Concert at St George’s Church, New Mills,
1 May 2010
The 1st of May saw a very special night at St George’s, New Mills, when Tideswell Male Voice Choir sang to packed church.
Their opening number Rhythm of Life (not an easy option) set the stage for a splendid evening. Some of the modern pieces, I Dreamed a Dream, The Rose and You Raise Me Up, brought the hairs up on the back of the neck, their control was superb, but it was in the Church Music that they really came into their own. Maybe they were just in the right setting or maybe the pieces had been practised to competition pitch, they certainly raised the roof. Just as well the concert was in aid of raising money to repair the roof!!.
The atmosphere was such that the Choir themselves enjoyed the evening and the two young people who sang with them are certainly to be encouraged and they have a fine teacher in Dennis Kay.
Altogether a wonderful evening which hopefully can be repeated before too long.
Joint concert with Chapel Ladies’ Choir and Opus 96
St John’s Church, Buxton, 24 April 2010
Tideswell Male Voice Choir got the concert off to a rousing start with Rhythm of Life, after which Dennis Kay explained to the audience that what had begun as a joint concert between TMVC and Chapel-en-le-Frith Ladies Choir had expanded to include visiting Irish choir Opus ’96. Tideswell Male Voice Choir had met members of Opus’96 during their visit to Ireland in 2008. So we were treated to not one, not two but three choirs, all with their own varying style and sound.
The programme then continued with Let It Be Me, new addition to the repertoire Unchained Melody, The Rose and New York, New York all of which were sung with great expression and were warmly received by the audience.
Then it was the turn of Opus’96. Although this was a smaller choir, the whole church was filled with their rich, harmonious sound. They gave us a small and varied selection from their repertoire: With a Song in My Heart, In a Monastery Garden and I Write the Songs.
Chapel-en-le-Frith Ladies Choir rounded off the first half with the popular A Cole Porter Medley, Karl Jenkins’ enigmatic Adiemus, and the stirring Like An Eagle. All sung with great enthusiasm and feeling. Musical Director Lucy Crew thanked Carol, the accompanist, for coming to the rescue at very short notice after Jane their regular accompanist was stranded in Florida by the volcanic ash. Choir and accompanist worked extremely well together and Ann Young, the choir president, presented Carol with a well-deserved bouquet.
After the interval Chapel Ladies Choir continued with a selection of lively songs including A la Cart, a humorous tale of the boy Mozart and his musical go-kart which had the audience laughing out loud. They ended with the moving song As Long As I Have Music.
Opus’96 then returned with Bless This House, which received a “Bravo!” from the audience, followed by It’s Wonderful and the very popular Catch a Falling Star which was delivered with both precision and swing.
TMVC then made an emphatic return with Let There Be Light. They followed this with another new song, My Heart Will Go On from Titanic. Dennis said that if he didn’t see a few tears after this one he would be disappointed. I don’t think he was disappointed. The choir then demonstrated both power and control in Psalm 126 and American Trilogy, during which the audience were utterly enthralled. They ended with An Irish Blessing in honour of guests Opus ’96.
The evening ended with an impromptu, unrehearsed reprise of Rhythm of Life by all three choirs, which was obviously thoroughly enjoyed by choirs and audience alike.
Charity Concert in aid of the Haiti Appeal
St John’s Church, Buxton, 27 January 2010
Hosted by Colin Sykes of BBC North West, a spectacular musical evening was organised at St John’s Church, Buxton, to raise funds in aid of the Haiti Earthquake Appeal. This concert was put together in just one week by Dennis Kay, enthusiastic musical director of Tideswell Male Voice Choir. With tremendous support from many members and non-members, the idea was to provide free admission to the concert, but to make a collection at the end of the evening.
Tideswell Male Voice Choir (‘The Boys’) began steadily with three pieces, the final one being a superb rendition of Rhythm Of Life.
Then it was the turn of 17 year old Phil Rigley who, having been coached for only 6 months, produced a fine version of Somewhere. More to come from Phil in the future! Next to perform were Four To The Bar (accompanied by Colin Sykes) who gave us a selection of Beatles songs, one of which – Follow The Sun – was a particularly lovely arrangement.
Nicholas Bennett, the highly acclaimed baritone, performed a superb solo. We would not have heard a pin drop; such was the audience’s anticipation of this fine singer. Mary Cobbold gave us Toccata from Suite Gothique on the organ. I am certain that I saw the pipes vibrate from the passion channelling through Mary’s fingers. This led to ‘The Boys’ (Boys indeed!) completing the first half; tears for The Lord Is My Shepherd and goose bumps for the rousing Let There Be Light. I am sure conductor Dennis Kay’s feet left the ground when driving ‘The Boys’ through this number. What a finish!
To commence the second half, Mary Cobbold powered her way though Sortie by Lefebure-Wely, leading the way into a selection of Elvis songs by Four To The Bar; Glynis Wells fighting her way though a cold to sing splendidly. Nicholas Bennett was then back again to deserving tremendous applause.
Twen’y Quid (two tenners – two tenors!) gave a vocal duet of Love Changes Everything to the delight of their colleagues (‘The Boys’) [Not half – Ed].
For me, the coming together of all performers in a heart-rending and magnificent vocal rendition of a Les Miserables medley was the highlight of the evening. Soloists Glynis Wells, Nicholas Bennett, Alan Wells and Jeanette Sykes were joined by Dennis Kay for enchanting performances of high quality. Here was the moment when ‘The Boys’ really came into power, singing with emotion, singing with vigour, and singing into the hearts of the audience. This musical certainly does pierce its way into your very soul.
Let us not forget the fine musician Christopher Ellis for his magnificent introductions and musical skills on the piano. His ability to lift everyone is special indeed.
After the appeal, an encore of Les Miserables’ Do You Hear The People Sing by ‘The Boys’ raised the roof and raised people from their seats towards a standing ovation. This time Dennis Kay almost leapt up to the chandelier with excitement!
Well done all!
Thank you to everyone who gave up their time to produce such a splendid evening, in aid of this appeal.
Ray has since joined the choir and is adding his voice to our mellifluidity – Ed.
Celebration Concert at Bakewell Methodist Church
24 October 2009—A Night to Remember
Performing to a full house the choir presented a programme of music which had been selected by past members and family members of those men who once sang with the choir, who sadly are no longer with us.
The evening was a resounding success, bringing back many fond memories of loved ones, and of the music itself.
Under the direction of Eileen Rigg, the choir opened the programme with Rhythm of Life, and following a short introduction and welcome from Musical Director Dennis Kay they followed on with the beautiful Howard Goodall arrangement of The Lord Is My Shepherd, also conducted by Eileen.
God’s Choir, Let There Be Light, Let It Be Me, Softly, As I Leave You, were just a selection of pieces requested and which were included in this excellent programme. The choir performed them all to a very high standard and the quality of their presentation lived up to the high expectations for which this choir has now become renowned. There were some magical moments, particularly in the beautifully controlled soft singing and the equally magical accompaniments, so beautifully played by the choir’s Principal Accompanist, Christopher Ellis.
The programme included two solo items from Christopher, who continues to delight and excite audiences with his sheer brilliance at the piano. His talents have definitely brought a new dimension to T.M.V.C.’s concert programme.
The idea behind the concert was to remember and pay tribute to past members and celebrate their service and commitment. I believe it was achieved with great success, and I am certain this will be repeated.
[Thanks to an anonymous reviewer – Ed]
Annual Concert at Buxton Opera House, 2009
We have a review of this concert by Gay Bolton of Derbyshire Times here. This is a PDF file; clicking the link should download the file to your computer. Grateful thanks go to Gay and the DT for permission to publish the review here.
The 2009 Buxton Fringe Festival
This review is reproduced from the Fringe’s Web site by kind permission of the organisers.)
Tuesday 14 July
I’ll start with a confession: this would not usually have been my first choice concert. But having heard them performing on the Prom on Fringe Sunday, I was happy to step in as a last minute reviewer.
And I was not disappointed. The first half was a little low key for my liking with the choir showing great control in their collective singing in a range of music from sacred – God’s Choir and The Lord Is My Shepherd – to pop including Westlife’s You Raise Me Up and Bette Midler’s The Rose, ending with Any Dream Will Do from Joseph.
The second half saw the choir step up a gear as they swung into two Frank Sinatra numbers, New York, New York and My Way, before moving on to American Trilogy. All of which gave them the chance to really open up to good effect.
The choir closed the concert – fittingly on Bastille Day – with a medley from Les Miserables, including a sensitive solo from Maurice Hargreaves in Bring Him Home.
However, a special mention must be given to 18-year-old bass baritone Tyler Cooper, for two wonderful solos: Empty Chairs and Empty Tables, and, Stars. It was no surprise to learn that he is due to go to the Royal Northern College of Music next year – but on a long lead, back to Tideswell!
Another ‘find’ for the choir is accompanist Christopher Ellis who stunned the audience with his performances of the first of four ballades by Chopin and a scintillating rendition of Earl Wild’s transcription of the Introduction and Summertime from Gershwin’s Fantasy on Porgy and Bess. Both played from memory.
He is appearing on the Fringe again on Wednesday 22 July with baritone Nicholas Bennett in A Way With Words, an evening of great poetry in song.
Throughout the concert, from the quietest numbers to the loudest, the choir’s control and power was evident – personally, I would have liked to have heard a little more variety, and a bit more of the power they so obviously possess.
In my experience, choral directors and conductors have a bit of a reputation for being dragons. Dennis Kay is not one of them, he is generous and nurturing and this clearly brings out the best in the choir. He is happy to share the limelight with soloists, musicians and his very able assistant, Eileen Rigg, with a nice line in patter as he introduced every item.
Most importantly he is very willing to promote young talent such as Tyler and Christopher, and drummer Daniel Hopkins (16). As he rightly says these are the future of Tideswell Male Voice Choir, it is good to know that they are already working with Hope Valley College to attract more young men to singing.
Although not strictly part of the Fringe, the choir can be heard again, this time on their home turf in their Annual Concert in Tideswell Parish Church on Saturday 25 July.
The 2008 Buxton Fringe Festival
As a recent convert to early choral music one can often find me listening to the ‘Tallis Scholars’ or ‘Kings College Choir’, so the thought of being dragged out by Mrs Flett to listen to a dusty old bunch of duffers singing songs from the shows filled me with dread. In fact I had planned on feigning some dreadful acute illness which rendered me couch bound for the evening.
Notwithstanding any of this kind of tomfoolery, I often find that these things are not half as bad as you think they are going to be once you have torn yourself from the womb-like comfort of the armchair and put your shoes on, besides which, Mrs Flett reminded me of our old insurance salesman Nigel Willis who sings with the TMVC. Well that was it then – ‘he’s almost family’ I muttered under my breath pulling on my trainers.
On our arrival the boys had just launched into their first number. I remember thinking "well this could have been worse" and the rest of the programme just got better and better as I became less and less cynical. The Musical Director the jovial Dennis Kay was into audience participation in a big way and he soon had the audience joining in and augmenting the glorious sound that was the TMVC. (shhh don’t tell everyone but, what was worst of all the buggers almost made me shed a tear or two...Almost I said!
So as well as enjoying an excellent musical evening with a genuinely nice bunch of blokes I learned a valuable lesson in my ignorance and arrogance, that any song however modest, sung with enthusiasm, passion and sheer joy will sound any bit as good as any Agnus dei or a Spem in Alium. Highly recommended.