The concert at Cheadle Community Arts Centre on 13th April was chiefly memorable for three things. First of these was the singing of Carrie Ann Williams, a fourth year student at Birmingham Conservatoire and a supremely accomplished young lady with the voice of an angel. She sang a thoughtfully constructed programme of contrasting pieces with great authority and assurance and elicited rapturous applause from a delighted audience. Tideswell Male Voice Choir has a reputation for encouraging young performers, and providing opportunities for them to perform and exhibit their talent. Carrie Ann Williams is a more than worthy addition to the constellation of young soloists, such as Erin Alexander, Charlotte Hoather and Matthew Mellor, they have had the pleasure of sharing the concert platform with.
The second thing which made this an evening to remember was the singing of the justly acclaimed Tideswell Male Voice Choir. Resplendent in their handsome mustard coloured jackets, they treated us to a demonstration of refined choral singing which fully justified the invitation which the mayor and council of Cheadle had extended to them, to attend this concert in aid of The Macmillan Nurses charity.
The third thing for which this concert will be remembered was an unfortunate incident involving a foot and a very heavy keyboard. The foot was attached to a limb of TMVC’s principal accompanist, Christopher Ellis, and the keyboard was being carried to its station a little before the concert start by himself and musical director Dennis Kay. These two gentlemen being perhaps unskilled or inexperienced in manual handling, let the instrument drop and its descent was interrupted by Christopher’s toe – resulting in the fracture of that appendage! What to do? The irrepressible Christopher, notwithstanding a good deal of excruciating pain, continued with the concert, his bandaged toe resting on a stool and his performance seeming so little affected as to be indistinguishable from his usual magnificent self. A later visit to A&E confirmed that he had sustained quite a serious injury to his toe, but the latest news is that he is making an excellent recovery.
It is perhaps worth a mention, although maestro Dennis Kay did not thank me for reminding him, that the beautiful church of Saint Giles stands but a little removed from the scene of this mishap. Saint Giles, it will be remembered, is the patron saint of cripples!
For those fortunate persons who attended the first concert of the season by TMVC on the evening of 7th April, it was a case of “buy one, get one free”, because the Peak District’s famous choir shared the concert at The Pavilion Arts Centre, Buxton, with their guests from the east of England: the Huntingdon Male Voice Choir.
The concert opened (appropriately) with Let All Men Sing from the ninety voices of the two choirs under the baton of HMVC’s distinguished musical director, Peter Davies.
So these two fine choirs took their turns on the stage, Huntingdon with its unashamedly traditional approach and Tideswell with a more contemporary programme. Audience reaction to both ensembles was sufficient testimony to the enduring popularity of this unique genre of choral singing.
It is interesting to reflect on the changes in repertoire and indeed in audience expectations in recent years, and on how TMVC has responded to these trends. While other choirs excavate their libraries for dog-eared copies of old warhorses such as Martyrs of the Arena and Comrades in Arms (not that these are undeserving of occasional performance), TMVC are delighting audiences with their interpretation of contemporary popular pieces and bringing the uniquely beautiful male-voice-choir sound to a new and appreciative generation.
The programme was punctuated with scintillating performances from guest soloists Erin Alexander and Matthew Mellor. Erin is a glittering talent; her slight but elegant figure belies the vocal power she is capable of generating. Her versatility was demonstrated in The Girl in 14G, where she astonished us with an awesome range of vocal styles from Broadway musical, moody cabaret, Mozartian coloratura, grand Italian Opera and Wagnerian helden-soprano.
Matthew Mellor is another of those talents which streak across the show-business firmament like a shooting-star; they seem to come upon us “ready made”. He entertained us with two large-scale solos from recent show hits: I Wont Send Roses from “Mack and Mabel” and This is the Moment from “Jeckyll and Hyde”. He sings with passion and conviction; a comparison with Michael Ball would not be too extravagant
The duets by these two prodigiously talented teenagers were achingly beautiful.
In the second half, Christopher Ellis (Principal accompanist to TMVC and a a much-sought-after concert pianist), gave performances of Rachmaninov’s Etude Tableaux op 39 No.1 and an unpublished sketch by Gershwin: For Lily Pons. Two contrasting pieces, the latter a rarity, performed with consummate virtuosity.
Before the final item, the President of TMVC, Edwina (there is only one Edwina), made an eloquent and witty address in which she reminded potential and hesitant gentlemen in the audience that they would be welcomed into the community of The Tideswell Male Voice Choir if they turned up to their rehearsals and decided to stay.
Matthew made his choir-conducting debut as TMVC’s musical director Dennis Kay reaffirmed his superb vocal credentials in a moving performance of Bring Him Home.
The evening came to a tumultuous climax with all performers joining in the stirring Do You Hear the People Sing, which naturally elicited a demand for an encore. A fitting finale to a superb musical experience.
Don’t miss the opportunity to listen to TMVC as they present an evening of music from the musicals, in the spectacular setting of Gawsworth Hall, Macclesfield, Cheshire.
Picture the scene: a glorious evening in August, an open-air thousand-seat theatre, set in the glorious floodlit gardens of this ancient Manor House with all its romance and charm, listening to the songs from the musicals brought to you by the award-winning Tideswell Male Voice Choir and featuring some of the country’s leading young talent.
If you love Musical Theatre and the songs from them, in particular Les Miserables, you won’t want to miss this.
For further details, visit gawsworthhall@btinternet,com or telephone 01260 223456
Sunday 7th October at Buxton Opera House was an evening of unalloyed excellence.
The occasion was the long-anticipated concert by Tideswell Male Voice Choir (TMVC), The Military Wives and guest soloists. A sell-out since it was first advertised in April, there was not a seat to be had in the 900-capacity auditorium, such are the reputation and popularity of these fine ensembles and artistes.
This was not the only opportunity the public had of hearing the Military Wives that weekend, for they sang with local schoolchildren and TMVC at Buxton Football Ground on the Saturday before.
THE MILITARY WIVES
In Buxton's wat’ry spa they gave, those Military Wives
With Tideswell Male Voice Choir, the concert of their lives!
All who were there that night averred of this fantastic show
It was the very best they’d heard, before they left to go!
The talk of all the nation, respected far and wide,
A source of admiration, we speak of them with pride.
They sang it loud, they sang it clear, that night their voice they found
They sang of absent husbands dear and wished them homeward bound.
While warriors toil ’neath foreign skies, they also do their duty,
They charm the nation's ears and eyes with female grace and beauty.
They’ve won the hearts of young and old, these Amazons of Singing,
A special place for them we hold for the pleasure they are bringing.
They sing of lovers far from home, of longings unrequited,
Of how the blessed day must come when they’ll be reunited.
In anxious times few things can raise the spirit more than song
That helps to ease the lonely days when gloomy musings throng.
So with bright song they find a way to let their fancies roam
And eagerly await the day their men are coming home.
(But paying for this enterprise? Who would the funds augment?
Would business to the challenge rise and sponsor the event?
The Palace, Tarmac, Markovitz and Lomas Distribution
With Holdsworth Handmade Choc'lates, all made a contribution!)
With thanks to our Poet Choreate, to coin a phrase.
In a truly splendid display of Buxton hospitality, the Military Wives were entertained and accommodated throughout by the generosity of local businesses: Tarmac, Markovitz, The Palace Hotel, Lomas Distribution and Holdsworth Chocolates.
Those fortunate enough to have obtained the precious tickets to the Opera House were treated to a succession of perfect pieces from both ensembles, punctuated with superb performances by soloists Erin Alexander and Phil Rigley. The demure figure of TV’s Charles Foster welcomed us to the show and linked the various items seamlessly with his entertaining wit.
The Military Wives, now something of a national treasure, brought their own brand of heart-warming entertainment to the proceedings. They are visually delightful and vocally superb and we are never far away from reminding ourselves who they are and what they represent, which gives added poignancy to their performance. Not that they don’t know how to enjoy themselves, as evidenced by their spirited rendering of A. Lloyd Weber’s Sing. Their performance of their signature tune Wherever You Are was heartfelt and moving. And when they mingled with TMVC in the joint item You’ll Never Walk Alone, which opened the show, the effect was awesome.
Tideswell Male Voice Choir were on scintillating form – not least in their breathless (and humorous) interpretation of Drunken Sailor and a visceral performance of Anthem from the musical Chess.
In the right hands, a male voice choir is a magnificent instrument, capable of great power but also great subtlety. Musical Director Dennis Kay is the man who has brought this wonderful ensemble to the perfection it achieved this evening. With seemingly boundless energy, he also conducted every piece by the “Wives”
Erin Alexander is a vocal prodigy. At eighteen years old (astonishingly!) It is difficult to see how her voice can further improve since it has arrived at a level of maturity and sonority which give her the ability to deliver ambitious pieces such as Un Bel Di Vedremo (One Fine Day) and Air Des Bijoux (The Jewel Song). She sings with convincing authority and with an elegance and grace of movement which are perfectly choreographed with the mood of the lyrics. Her voice is never less than beautiful – we shall hear more of Erin Alexander.
Phil Rigley – another teenager – stepped forward from the ranks of TMVC to delight us with Tell My Father in his precocious but manly baritone. Phil joined Erin in the touching duet Come What May and they were joined by the “Wives” and TMVC in a magnificent finale which brought the audience to its feet and made a fitting climax to this memorable Show. At its conclusion, Edwina Currie, TMVC’s president, gave the thanks and acknowledgements, filling the house with her inimitable personality and charm.
This was a magical evening – a celebration of music and the power of the human voice to elicit the entire spectrum of emotions in the listener. But there was a matrix to all this reverie and that was the playing by TMVC’s principal accompanist Christopher Ellis. I am already at risk of adjectival exhaustion, so I will say no more than that this extraordinary young man’s contribution was, in every respect, “perfect”. – TME
When two widely acclaimed, talented and enthusiastic ensembles come together in the same programme, you have the formula for an exciting and entertaining concert. Such was the case on Saturday 22nd September in the superb gothic setting of St John the Baptist Church (the “Cathedral of the Peak”) in Tideswell, when Tideswell Male Voice Choir were joined by their guests the Abbeydale Singers on the occasion of their special Annual Concert. TMVC were of course on home ground while the Abbeydale Singers, a mixed ensemble of some 30 singers, had travelled from the Fulwood district of Sheffield.
Tideswell MVC opened the concert with their top tenors: exposed, alone, but relaxed and confident in the opening first verse of You’ll Never Walk Alone, to be joined in harmony by the entire fifty-strong choir in a second verse which would have thrilled the hearts of Liverpool FC supporters everywhere! They continued the opening section with arrangements of familiar pieces, each performed with feeling and energy, and quickly established a palpable rapport with the highly appreciative audience.
Vocal diffidence is a quality unknown to Abbeydale’s musical director, Kevin Haighton; in his animated preamble to each piece, he delivered as many syllables per second as a Bakewell auctioneer on market day; all of it however, interesting, informative and germane.
There could not have been a greater contrast between Abbeydale’s first offering: Thomas de Luis Victoria’s O Quam Gloriosum and the arrangement of Bohemian Rhapsody from TMVC which preceded it. Both were excellent in their own way. The Victoria beautifully performed and evoking an authentic contemplative mystical feeling even further enhanced by the surroundings of gothic stonework tracery and the magnificent Hunstone wood carvings ... and TMVC’s Bohemian Rhapsody? Well, it was simply – rhapsodic!
Abbeydale treated the audience to a historical exploration of religious choral masterpieces in a thoughtfully constructed programme finishing their first selection almost up to date, with Durufleé’s Notre Père.
This is a fine choir, with a well balanced ensemble – each section assuming responsibility for its own contribution and never over-singing and eclipsing neighbouring parts. All the pieces were sung a capella, in contrast to TMVC who had the benefit of Christopher Ellis’s masterly accompaniment.
The “Men” were doubtless conscious of performing to their own dedicated Tideswell followers and inspired by the larger-than-life personality of maestro Dennis Kay. They gave a superb second half, provoking not a few tears in poignant renderings of He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother and Two Little Boys. Nineteen-year-old Phil Rigley (baritone) was equally poignant in his moving interpretation of My Father. We wish him well as he leaves TMVC for a while and embarks on his Oxford University studentship.
There was more than a hint of sea breeze around the venerable masonry of St John the Baptist church as Abbeydale delivered their final selection. Bobby Shaftoe made more than one appearance, and there were a risqué Mermaid (or rather a Mermai-id) and an intoxicating arrangement of Drunken Sailor, all sung with nautical panache.
The audience demanded more and Abbeydale metamorphosed themselves into authentic early instruments such as crumphorns and sackbuts and whatever other improbable antiques might have featured in the piece by Henry VIII which they chose to delight us with.
TMVC’s president, Edwina Currie (that doyenne of the after-occasion speech), rounded off the end of the evening with an effusive thank-you to all concerned. Well, not quite the end, as there was much exchange of Yorkshire and Derbyshire musical “wisdom” in the nearby George Hotel until late that memorable night.
As a music critic, my task in reviewing the concert which took place at Daneside Theatre Congleton on the evening of 28th August would have been easier if there had been any imperfections to draw attention to; but there were none! And no wonder, with two superb “turns” on the bill: Tideswell Male Voice Choir with guest soloist Erin Alexander.
TMVC is rapidly increasing its reputation as one of the best ensembles of the genre, largely due to the exacting standards expected of it by musical director Dennis Kay. A concert by them nowadays is always going to be special. So while one member of the audience may have been disappointed – a critic with nothing to carp about – the rest were certainly not.
Erin Alexander was undoubtedly the star of the show.
Erin’s slight but elegant figure and girlish charm belie the formidable talent which this eighteen-year-old soprano can summon. The voice is versatile and capable of mature sonorities astonishing in one so youthful. She has a disarming ability to engage and develop a rapport with an audience – relaxed and confident and with a stamina that is enviable, she entertained us with a succession of beautifully presented songs to increasingly enthusiastic response from a delighted auditorium.
Equally at home with demanding songs by Andrew Lloyd Weber or Krieger’s Dream Girls, she demonstrated another side to her (usually classical) singing personality. As if this were not enough, each song was accompanied with breathtaking virtuosity by Christopher Ellis (TMVC’s principal accompanist) on the electronic keyboard.
Tideswell Male Voice Choir (those extraordinary “men in black”) were on superb form this evening – as if if inspired by Erin’s flawless performance, they were not to be found wanting. They delivered a succession of highly entertaining and contrasting pieces including new repertoire (Sloop John B and Two Little Boys – yes, that one!) which left us in no doubt that we were in the presence of a choir which – as their new magazine asserts – is “Going Places”.
Erin was not the only soloist; maestro Dennis Kay in the absence of his two regular “John Valjeans” from the ranks of the choir, established his vocal credentials by performing Bring Him Home from Les Miserables with great beauty and feeling.
Then from the baritones, nineteen-year-old Phil Rigley stepped forward to join Erin in a lovely and deeply affecting performance of Baerwald’s Come What May. Phil had already impressed us with his manly baritone in a heartfelt performance of Tell my Father in spite of the “red badge of courage” he was wearing – a heavily bandaged left hand, crushed in a recent farm accident.
I may have been frustrated by my lack of anything less than perfect to criticise, but I have to concede, I have never before made my way through a foyer at the end of a show, overhearing so many expressions of appreciation at an evening's performance.
Tideswell Male Voice Choir don’t do concerts; they do experiences – and the evening of Saturday 18th August at Romiley Forum Theatre was one such memorable experience. The choir also has a reputation for providing opportunities for emerging talented singers to experiment and punctuate the choir’s performance with displays of their own vocal virtuosity in front of a live audience. The talented singer on this occasion was eighteen-year-old Charlotte Hoather from Winsford.
Every now and then, but rarely, one comes across someone who leaves you with the abiding impression that you have been in the presence of a very special talent. Charlotte had this effect on a packed audience that evening. Her singing was of a quality and maturity beyond her years and done with an assurance which comes from knowing that what you are about to deliver is nothing less than sublime. The voice is big, but versatile, as she demonstrated in the several contrasting pieces which she performed, each set with a change of stunning and appropriate costumes, ranging from sartorially elegant evening gowns to dazzling sequined glitz for the brash “Show” numbers and (memorably) a cowboy outfit for The Deadwood Stage with obligato whistling accompaniment from the choir! Each song was performed with conviction and sincerity of feeling; indeed, her ability to assume the persona of each character whether serious or frivolous was positively protean. And all this to an accompaniment from Christopher Ellis who, conscious of contributing to a stunning performance, rose to mephistophelian heights of virtuosity.
And the choir? Well they gave their usual brilliant heart-warming entertainment under the mischievous direction of maestro Dennis Kay. Oh, and our president Edwina Currie (never at a loss for words) gave a charmingly witty presentation, complete with a very cute curtsy from her grand-daughter Zoe.
Our Annual Concert was a great success at Tideswell Parish Church on the 28th. Our guests were Cor Abergwaun, a mixed-voice choir from Fishguard, who gave us some lovely songs, including several Welsh pieces of course. Our own performance was among our best-ever too, with Drunken Sailor and Bohemian Rhapsody going down particularly well. Our two joint pieces with Cor Abergwaun went well too, especially the finale, African Trilogy. One lady wrote afterwards to say we’d reduced her almost to tears more than once.
Last year we were honoured to give a concert in St David’s Cathedral, jointly with two other choirs. One of them was Cor Abergwaun. This year we returned the compliment by inviting them to join us, and here we all are (above).
During the concert Edwina Currie, the choir’s president, entertained us with her customary sharp wit. She was proud and delighted to make a formal presentation to Helen Gentle, representing the teenagers’ wing of Weston Park Charity Cancer Hospital in Sheffield, of a giant cheque for £8,190 which the choir helped to raise for them in 2011. In her acceptance speech Helen was gracious enough to compliment both choirs on a splendid evening of music.
Those fortunate enough to have been in the audience of the Pavilion Arts Centre, Buxton, on the evening of 1st April 2012 will have abiding memories of an exhilarating musical experience. The occasion was the first of this season’s concerts by the Peak District’s own Tideswell Male Voice Choir: “A Rustle of Spring”. It was actually two concerts in one, or rather a concert by the choir sandwiching a recital by Christopher Ellis, the principal accompanist of TMVC.
The quality of singing from this amateur ensemble is consistently high – a tribute to the energy and commitment of their mercurial musical director Dennis Kay. Their contribution ranged from the new and highly experimental, such as Bohemian Rhapsody and Voice of the Child, the former eliciting a rapturous cheer from the audience at its successful and climactic conclusion, to the well tried and familiar such as Anthem from the musical Chess and American Trilogy; the latter, honed to even greater sublimity and perfection, the result no doubt of hours of painstaking rehearsal.
The arrangement of the sea shanty What Shall we do with the Drunken Sailor, though fraught with every manner of pitfall and unexpected entry for the unwary sections, was delivered with spirited assurance and panache and in There is Nothing Like a Dame, the choir transformed themselves convincingly into the personae of love-sick, sex-starved sailors far from home, to the evident amusement of a delighted audience.
The young soloist who stepped forward from the baritone section was Phil Rigley. He entertained us with a very self-assured performance of Somewhere from Bernstein’s West Side Story, followed by an equally impressive rendering of Stars from the musical Les Miserables.
And now for the recital by Christopher Ellis: In my last review I said I was bankrupt of superlatives to describe the playing of this young man. On this occasion he was nothing less than promethean. Seated near the front and watching him play, I was struck by the way in which he seems to merge into the very fabric of the instrument over which he has such astonishing command until pianist and piano speak with a single, almost hypnotic authority.
I cannot help thinking that Christopher Ellis’s talent might be more at home in the more elevated surroundings of venues such as the Royal Festival Hall or St John’s, Smith Square, as his music may have been a little too cerebral for some of the audience. Nonetheless, he beguiled and astonished us in turn with his impassioned playing. His interpretation of Chopin’s Ballade Number 1 Op23 was authentically romantic, sensitive in places, dark and brooding, delirious and turbulent in others. The young Mr Ellis is not above taking risks! Sinding’s eponymous Rustle of Spring was, by contrast, refreshingly airy and the Rachmaninov Corelli Variations and Gershwin’s Three Preludes gave opportunities to display the virtuosity and technical brilliance of this highly accomplished artist.
This being our first outing of the year (as it were), it was also an opportunity for our new president Edwina Currie to appear on stage with us and address the audience. Edwina expressed her delight at assuming her new office and charmed the audience with her grace and wit. She was not the only wit, for in a departure from the usual, Ray Whitely from the first tenors punctuated the proceedings with amusing anecdotes relating to various choirmen, creating a precedent for humorous interludes which I’m sure will become a regular feature of the concerts.
The Rustle of Spring concert demonstrated yet again that this superb ensemble, the Tideswell Male Voice Choir, can with nothing more than from within its own members and resources, engage, edify and entertain an audience, leaving them wanting more and wishing to follow and support them again and again. – TME
This is a copy of a recent press release.
The hugely popular Military Wives Choir will be joining Derbyshire’s critically acclaimed Tideswell Male Voice Choir in its annual musical spectacular at the Buxton Opera House later this year, on Sunday 7 October.
The Military Wives Choir was formed at two army bases in Devon: the Royal Marines Base, Chivenor, and the Royal Citadel, Plymouth. With a 2011 Christmas number one Wherever You Are, written by the royal wedding composer Paul Mealor, and a new album In My Dreams, released on 5 March, this choir has made a remarkable musical journey since its inception.
Dennis Kay, TMVC Principal Conductor and Director of Music, commented that since the formation of the first Military Wives Choir others have sprung up around the country, which is fantastic, but: “I am delighted that the original Military Wives Choir will be joining us on stage and bringing its special choral sound to our show at the Opera House. I believe that, following last year’s brilliant show with the Band of the Royal Air Force College, this year will be our biggest ever.
“Don’t miss the opportunity to see and hear the Military Wives live in Buxton, along with an exciting new programme from the men of Tideswell MVC.”
Updated 25 April 2013