Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Tenby Male Choir – Terry to Spend More Time with his Family

Long serving choir Chairman Terry Evans handed over the reins to incoming chairman Paul Varallo at the AGM on Tuesday December 8th. Terry joined the choir only a very short time after it was formed and so is almost a founder member. This was some forty years ago and in that time Terry has served the choir in many capacities not least as Chairman for six years.

Terry has been a very dependable and hands on chairman always ready to get his hands dirty if there was a job which needed doing but for which there was no one available.

In the last year, an especially busy one for the choir as it was our fortieth anniversary we had a huge concert programme with 31 concerts in all including four very special gala concerts where we invited other distant and local choirs plus the Manchester based Integra brass band and award winning Goodwick Brass band. There were outdoor events at Saundersfoot, Cresswell Quay, Lawrenny, Pembroke Castle (where we were supported by Only Men Aloud!!), Hotel concerts in the Giltar Hotel and numerous concerts in aid of a wide spread of local and international charities.

It started with the St David’s Day concert on 1st March and finished with four concerts in a week in Malta on our anniversary tour at the end of October. So we had eight hard, but always enjoyable, months.

In his handover speech Terry gave credit to the hard work of all of the committee and especially the Secretary David Stewart-Walvin and Treasurer David Blackmore. He also thanked our musical team of Director Ian “Wilbur” Williams and Accompanist Jill “no relation” Williams.

"Outgoing Chairman - Terry Evans"

Musical Director Ian then gave his view of the year from a musical perspective and complimented the choir for their efforts both in terms of hard work, improvement and also attendance at rehearsals and concerts alike.

So it was the job of new Chairman Paul Varallo to look forward and stated that he was “honoured to have been appointed as Chairman of this wonderful choir” He expressed his hope to build on the success that we have had under Terry's stewardship and looked forward to the challenges of 2016 with optimism saying “We're a good choir and I'm confident that with the choristers and the music team we have, we will only get better.”

"Incoming Chairman - Paul Varallo"

The committee was elected with founder member Tom Pearce as Vice-Chairman whilst David Stewart-Walvin as secretary and David Blackmore as treasurer will continue in those posts for the coming year. Other committee members are Geoff Horton-Jones, Ken Fryer, David James, Roger Stephens, Charlie McFee, and Terry Evans [Automatic as Past Chairman]

The choir begins a short Xmas break following a Xmas get together at our headquarters in the Tenby and County Club but will return on January 5th to begin a new year.
Having mentioned a number of people during the year who have given their time to the choir we would also like to express our thanks to our regular supporters and to many other people in the Tenby area who support our concerts and make it all worthwhile. A Happy Xmas to you all with special good wishes to one of our oldest members who has not been able to attend this year, Bobby Turnbull.

"Bobby Turnbull"

In mentioning above that we have had very good attendance at rehearsals and concerts this demonstrates what enjoyment singing provides. If it did not then attendances and membership would slip away but this is not the case. We have a number of new members this year including some younger ones making our membership just about 50 now but there is always room for more. .
If you would like to come and join us then look at our website www.tenbymalechoir.org or Facebook account (just do an internet search for Tenby Male Choir Facebook).

Alternatively our secretary David Stewart-Walvin is always glad to receive a phone call from interested people on 01834 844926.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Tenby Male Choir – The boys are back in town.

This week it was back to rehearsals for another coming season having returned from our tour of Malta.
After many months of planning and hard work by our tour co-ordinator Peter Spacey the time had finally come for us to fly off to Malta for our 40th anniversary tour. And so for the last week in October the tour went pretty much without a hitch.
With substantial assistance from the Lions International Malta concerts were arranged in three magnificent venues and all of them had good audiences. We sang in the Stella Maris Church in Sliema first of all and finished with our concert in the St. Paul’s Protestant Cathedral in the capital city of Valetta. Both of these are magnificent venues but magnificent though they were, they were eclipsed by our concert in Gozo where we sang at the St. George’s Basilica, the baroque Roman Catholic Church in Victoria. It is not often the choir will have the privilege to sing at such splendid venues and we are pleased that we were able to do them justice with an excellent performance in all of them.
We also sang at the Union club of Malta with a more light-hearted repertoire to a members only audience with the choir being honorary members for the evening. I am sure that we left the audience wanting more in every case which is always a good way to conclude. The choir all wore red poppies on their choir shirts for this performance.
I did say the tour went pretty much without a hitch but there was one minor hitch or more of an unhitch really when MD Wilbur during a particularly energetic burst of conducting found that one of the straps on his braces inconveniently came loose. I imagine that this may have been a first for the Stella Maris Church. Fortunately, the other strap held firm and there were no injuries amongst the front row of dignitaries. Most of all Wilbur did not allow this to impact on the professionalism of his conducting.
In between concerts and rehearsals the choir put on impromptu singing sessions on request in the hotel lobby and in local hostelries. We were also able to visit many of the historic venues and exhibitions on the islands and also partook with enthusiasm in the more recent practice of imbibing the local brew called Cisk. We understand the custom is known as getting well and truly “Cisked” though of course none of the choir went quite that far.
Some of the choir supporters also took amateur videos of our performances and these are available on Youtube. Just do a search on “Youtube Tenby Male Choir, Malta” and I recommend the video of “Bring Him Home” to get an idea of the singing and the surroundings.
Although our season has ended now we do have one final commitment of the year when we will sing at the Remembrance Day Parade on Sunday 08 November. Given the amount of history surrounding Malta’s valiant fight and significant loss of life in WWII, it is a fitting service for us all to return to.
There are also links to choir videos on our excellent website at www.tenbymalechoir.org and you can read or even add to our Guestbook from the home page. We also have a Facebook account if you want to be one of our Friends.
If ever there was a convenient time to come and join your local choir this is the time as we start the learning process of new songs in earnest and also brush up on any weak areas of existing songs without the pressure of concerts to perform.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Tenby Male Choir - End of Season

And so it ends. Our long 2015 40th anniversary year concert season ended with our final concert at St. Mary’s church last Thursday. Considering the holiday season is mainly over we had a reasonable audience although not to our normal summer levels. However, we still tried our best to entertain and it was well received. Musical director “Wilbur” Williams is fond of reminding us that we are only as good as our last concert and so I guess this is how good we are. We haven’t had our “Wilbur” mark out of ten for this concert yet but suffice to say that he looked happy enough especially with Benedictus. This is a new song for us this season and very popular with the choir and the audience. It is a lovely song to demonstrate the harmonies of a male voice choir.
Principal soloist Paul Varallo sang Anfonaf Angel (Guardian Angel) this song has been sung by a number of people but a popular version is by Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel with backing from the Welsh National Orchestra which was made to support the Wales Air Ambulance, a cause which we, along with other local, choirs raised funds for last year. It can be purchased on their web site. www.walesairambulance.com and makes a fine addition to a CD collection with our own CD Hywl a Hiraeth available via our very own website.
Paul also sang Holy City both songs receiving sustained applause. This final concert also featured two support soloists, Duncan Hilling singing the opening and closing lines of The Fields of Athenry and Tom Pearce with Home on the Hill as part of a trilogy of Welsh songs starting with Calon Lan and finishing with O Gymru..

During the season we have also been selling raffle tickets in support of the choir costs and so at the close of this final concert the draw was held. Promoter David James supervised, with Revd Canon Andrew Grace  standing by ensuring utmost good faith, whilst Paul Varallo read out the winners and noted them. Sadly nobody in the audience that evening was a beneficiary but the top prizes and winners were:-
One Weeks Self Catering Holiday for 3
Mount Pleasant Apartment, Saundersfoot
Mr Anthony Miller, Weston-Super-Mare

One nights B&B at Cliff House, Saundersfoot
Caroline Hamilton, London
Cheque for £150 donated by Saundersfoot BayLeisure Park, Saundersfoot
Valerie Meekins, Watford
Print of Tenby Limited Edition Print is painted and donated by Naomi Tyldeman RI Award Winning artist
A local man who wishes to be anonymous.
Sunday Lunch at St. Brides Spa Hotel, Saundersfoot
Sian Dowling, Cardiff
Cheque for £100 donated by Saundersfoot BayLeisure Park, Saundersfoot
Local Lady, Tenby

Our grateful thanks go to everyone who bought a ticket, many of them local people during our days selling them outside Sainsbury’s but the addresses of the prize winners also shows how many people from far and wide come to our concerts and bought tickets. We are also grateful of course to the local businesses which provided the prizes without which the raffle could not take place. Clearly Saundersfoot, Tenby’s little neighbour, has demonstrated that small though it may be, its generosity is large. Thank you all.

In a couple of weeks then we will fly to Malta for some rest and relaxation although we have three concerts booked in major venues in Malta so it won’t be all play. We want to put Wales and Tenby on the map in Malta as we have done on so many other occasions and places.
Between now and then we will brush up on some of our more religiously inclined songs which we are led to believe will go down a storm over there and of course learn the Maltese national anthem in Maltese a language descended from Siculo-Arabic and so mildly challenging with a fortnight to go.
The choir website is at www.tenbymalechoir.org and you can read or even add to our Guestbook from the home page. We also have a Facebook account if you want to be one of our Friends.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Tenby Male Choir – Lions and a Maltese Falcon?

Last week we held the penultimate concert in our long programme. This concert was held in aid of the Lions International and so the money raised will go towards their good works in the local community but also to worthy charity appeals around the world. As a choir we may never know exactly where the money our concerts raise finds its ultimate home. We do know, however, that we can rely on the organisations we help to make it effective as we choose them carefully. On the night of this concert we had competition from an important rugby match but a good audience turned out all the same.

The big thing on our radar now is our tour to Malta. This is the culmination of a long year of concerts where we have invited many “friends” from other choirs and bands. We are grateful to their support and we have enjoyed all of their visits and their company.
So we will now take the flag of Tenby to Malta a country with great links to the UK especially in the second world war where it was of course awarded the George cross, the only time that this award has gone to a country rather than an individual, reflecting the thought that on that tiny Island virtually everyone deserved to be honoured. Some of us are from cities that were bombed heavily in the war but I don’t know if any of them even London took the prolonged bombing that Malta did.

I mentioned in a report some weeks ago that one of our members has a link to Malta in that George Pryce actually delivered Spitfires to the island during his Royal Navy service and so he played his part in helping it survive and provide such a strategic benefit to our own defence. So we gave them a George Pryce and then a George cross.
Another link to Malta for the choir is that our president radio presenter Roy Noble is a commander of the Order of St. John which of course has great connections with Malta going back to the days of the crusades and indeed the Order was once based in Malta and ran a health service for the Maltese people. It also built hospitals which remain there today.
Recently Roy told me a little more about his personal history from the perspective of the Order of St. John. He was invited to join the order in March 2000 and as he put it, “this seemed a natural thing to accept” as his wife Elaine’s father had been a member of St. John’s ambulance brigade, Aberaman division, Aberdare. He tells me they still have photos of him in his uniform on their wall at home. He also recalled the strong relationships that the brigade has with the collieries in terms of first aid and mines rescue units.
Roy is the son of a collier whose grandfather was killed in a coalmine, a day he remembers well but obviously with sadness. Roy is extremely disappointed that he can’t travel with us due to other commitments as despite his association he has never yet been able to visit Malta.
But he sent us a message to say “God Speed to everyone travelling. The choir will fly the flag for Tenby and Wales magnificently well, I’m certain and Elaine and I will be thinking of you with a large measure of envy.” And he has also kindly provided funds with which we will toast his health in Malta.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays now until we travel we have only rehearsals at the County Club so if you would like to get to know us come along. It will be a chance to learn the Maltese national anthem in Maltese, something which we look forward to with trepidation. The language does not look easy being descended from Siculo-Arabic with which few of us are conversant. But then we have people from various parts of England and “little England beyond Wales” who have coped with the Welsh language so we should manage.

The choir website is at www.tenbymalechoir.org and you can read or even add to our Guestbook from the home page. We also have a Facebook account if you want to be one of our Friends.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Tenby Male Choir – The Generation Game

Our two youngest members Joe Varallo and Wesley Davies will remember this year’s Arts Festival concert as the first concert when they appeared together. Joe is the son of Paul Varallo the choir’s principal soloist and Wesley the grandson of baritone and occasional soloist Duncan Hilling. Duncan did in fact perform a solo spot on the night as part of the lovely song The Fields of Athenry.
Following a Bruce Forsyth theme it is something of a “Brucie bonus” for the choir this week to have these two new members lowering the average age of the choir. He also used to say "You get nothing for a pair, not in this game" but we are hoping we’ll get a lot from this pair. These days Male Voice choirs, like so many other organisations, face an ageing issue with their main membership growing older and not attracting new and younger members. So it is good to see the new “boys” on stage after months of rehearsal. We would welcome many more. However when they found themselves having to move a heavy piano they might have wondered why we really want younger members.

Paul Varallo’s songs in his solo spot were the Welsh lullaby Suo Gan, the Welsh song Y Darlun or “The Picture” based on a drawing of praying hands by Albrecht Durer, the Neapolitan song Return to Sorrento and a Victorian ballad called The Holy City behind which lies a tale. It is said that it was once sung by an opera singer awaiting trial for fraud in his cell while a group of men arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct were before the judge. The men were said to have dropped to their knees as the song began 'Last night I lay a-sleeping, There came a dream so fair.', the lyrics contrasting with their previous night's drunkenness. The song's conclusion resulted in the judge dismissing the men without punishment, each having learned a lesson from the song.

Another potential benefit from singing upon which we hope none of the choir members needs to rely during our coming tour of Malta.

On the following Saturday the choir were commissioned to sing at the wedding of Ben Leslie and Kelly Jones so Manorbier Castle became Ben and Kelly’s little kingdom for the day. In beautiful autumn sunshine the choir sang on the central lawn as guests assembled and then inside the castle, sang the lovely song “She” from Notting Hill as the bride was escorted to the ceremony room by her stepfather Terry Morris. We enjoyed the day and we are grateful for the kind comments received and which are now on the choir’s website guest book.

As the voices of a not wholly Welsh choir reverberated off the walls of a Norman Castle thoughts also turned to an imminent battle later that day in an English fortress some 200 miles away.

The choir website is at  www.tenbymalechoir.org

Coming events
After a long concert season ext week sees our final concert which is at St. Mary’s church, Tenby on Thursday 8th October at 8pm. Tickets available on the door. This is the last chance to see and hear the choir for this year. Following that we have a few rehearsals for our tour of Malta from 24th to 31st October where we shall be carrying the banner of Tenby once again to foreign fields. We have three planned concerts at the Stella Maris Parish Church in Sliema, St Georges Bassilica, Gozo and St.Paul’s Protestant Cathedral

Choir membership

We are always looking for new members. It’s fun to sing so if you enjoy doing it, in the bath or at any recent rugby matches, karaoke evening or in the car why not think about joining?  The best way is to talk to a member of the choir or come to a rehearsal just to watch.  (our next one should be on 6th October). We meet at the County Club in Tenby

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Tenby Male Choir – Happy 40th Birthday

As a long and demanding concert season in our anniversary year draws to a close, it was time for the choir members to let their hair down. Although this may not involve a large quantity of hair for some members they can still let down what there is in good style. Last Saturday was the actual anniversary of our inception that being 19th September, 1975. So those who could attend came along to a very sumptuous buffet and to a slice of birthday cake.

What a lovely birthday cake it was too. It was made by Gill the wife of choir founder member Tom Pearce. Gill teaches Cake Decorating and Sugarcraft at Pembrokeshire College and as the photo shows, husband Tom regularly advises by tasting much of the produce.

Entertainment was provided by John Butland with a repertoire of well known hit songs from the past, those days when pop music really was music. Top of his bill was generally agreed to be Handbags and Gladrags. Our younger members may recognise this as a Stereophonics hit whilst my personal favourite amongst the other people who sang it was Rod Stewart who recorded it in 1969 with Mike D’Abo (Manfred Mann) who originally wrote it, arranging it and accompanying Rod Stewart on piano.

Also shown are choir top tenor Eddie Stapleton and wife Barbara. Against odds of 365-1 by coincidence Eddie’s birthday falls on the same date as the choir’s birthday but he’s been going twice and long as the choir as he was celebrating his 82nd birthday on that evening. I hope that isn’t water in his glass.

Coming events
Next week we have a concert in aid of the charity fund for the Lions Clubs International. “The Lions” donate to their local communities and also to major national and international charities and appeals. The concert will be at St. Mary’s church on Thursday 1st October at 8pm. Tickets available on the door.
The big event coming up for us though is a tour of Malta from 24th to 31st October where we shall be carrying the banner of Tenby once again to foreign fields. We have three planned concerts at the Stella Maris Parish Church in Sliema, St Georges Bassilica, Gozo and St.Paul’s Protestant Cathedral

Choir Guestbook
It’s always an enjoyable evening when we sing at a concert but it does make it extra special when we get good audience reaction and we are fortunate to have had many standing ovations and demands for an encore this year. Following the concert we also often have people come up to us and say how much they have enjoyed themselves, which is a very personal compliment. We also often get lovely and kind letters of appreciation which are read out at rehearsals but sadly they are read out and filed. So I am pleased to be able to announce that the choir website now has a new feature, a guest book, where you can record your comments for posterity. To access this just go to the choir website atwww.tenbymalechoir.org and click on the guestbook icon on the right hand side. There are a number of entries there already in just the first week.

Choir membership
We are always looking for new members. It’s fun to sing so if you enjoy doing it, in the bath at a rugby match, karaoke evening or in the car why not think about joining?  The best way is to talk to a member of the choir or come to a rehearsal just to watch.  (our next one should be on 29th September). We meet at the County Club in Tenby

Friday, 4 September 2015

Tenby Male Choir – Will you be able to say “I was there”?

There’s going to be a spectacular end to this week for the choir as tomorrow (Saturday 5th) will be the night of the grand Gala Concert celebrating our 40 years as a choir. I know from the post-concert comments we get that people are often mesmerised by the traditional finale to our concerts. This is the wonderful American trilogy which was made famous, of course, by Elvis Presley.  They feel that way because it is a pretty spectacular combination of a large male voice choir singing at the top of their voices and complemented by the nerve tingling piano accompaniment of our splendid accompanist Jill Williams. These two alone would be impressive but at St. Mary’s church we are also joined by the massive church organ played by resident church organist Dr. John Harrison BEM. All of this is harnessed by our esoteric MD Ian Williams (no relation). So if that is enjoyable then the thought of three major male voice choirs, a brass band, the piano and the church organ is surely going to be a unique sound for those present to hear.
If you have a ticket already you can look forward to being part of this by listening or even joining in. If, however, you are one of the unlucky people who don’t have a ticket then you may still have a few hours left to book one online (see below) or by phone from our MC and Treasurer Dave Blackmore on 01834 813061. Tickets can also be bought at The Card Shop near Barclays Bank in Tenby.  If you would like to be emailed a copy of the full programme for this concert, contact our secretary David Stewart-Walvin on 01834 844926.
Tickets for this major event cost £10. If you are really risk-oriented you could even try to pay on the door but may either be disappointed or find yourself with standing room only. Doors open at 6:45pm for a 7:30pm start to the concert.
Only if you do get a ticket will you be able to say in future years “I was there for the Tenby Male Choir Gala Concert in 2015”.

Anniversary Year CD
We have also recorded a CD for our anniversary year and CDs will be on sale at the concert. Sometimes a queue forms when people are buying them after a concert and so you are advised to ask for one on the way in to avoid being held up after the concert. They can also be purchased on line via the website.
Last week’s concert was held in support of the RNLI and we once again sang to a large audience. They were not just supporting the choir but I am sure supporting a cause that many hold dear to their hearts. In a seaside town we benefit from the beauty of the sea but we are also exposed to its dangers. We all therefore feel reassured by the presence of our own lifeboat station knowing that it is there in times of need. Although we see the RNLI as being there in emergency we should also recognise that they also do a significant preventative job in educating children via schools and other children’s groups about the dangers of the sea and how to avoid them. We are proud to have raised over £25,000 for the RNLI over the years and pleased to make this further contribution to fund their role in emergencies and ongoing prevention.
Our soloist on the night was the daughter of the lifeboat’s chief mechanic Stephen Lowe. Local violinist Hannah Lowe was accompanied by the lovely piano playing of her mother Sian. They played the fast and furious Hungarian Dance by Nolck, then by contrast the much slower Vocalise by Rachmaninoff, the melodious Lovers’ Waltz by Jay Ungar and finally the cheery, foot-tapping Intrada by Scottish composer Alfred Moffat.

Our next concert after the Grand Gala concert will be at St. John’s church on 10th September starting at 7:30pm.

Come and watch a rehearsal
We offer a warm welcome to anyone at our rehearsals on Tuesday or Thursday evenings at the County Club. Feel free to come along at 8pm to see how we go about learning our songs and music. It’s also a great way to test the water if you have ever thought about joining a male voice choir. Experience and age don't matter.

The choir website is  www.tenbymalechoir.org and on the website you will find links to our Facebook page, the choir blog, some video recordings of the choir and of course information about concerts and our programme of  events.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Tenby Male Choir – On the boardwalk

Last week was a week of three different performances demonstrating the variety and our versatility in the events we now do. On Tuesday evening 11th August we held our first outdoor concert on the new decking down at Saundersfoot harbour which proved to be a really good venue with a large audience. People were not only on the decking itself but also around the railings of the harbour in a sort of amphitheatre scenario. Then back to formality on Thursday at St. Mary’s church for a concert in aid of the Red Cross and then on the Saturday, 12 of the choir took their turn in a series of “a capella” performances we are doing as “the Specsavers choir” in aid of the Welsh Deaf Rugby Union cause. This one took place in Cardigan with the next one being in Haverfordwest tomorrow (Saturday).

The point is often made that singing can be good for your health and wellbeing so it was good to see a few faces from the Saundersfoot medical centre in the audience for the concert which took place on the new decking at Saundersfoot harbour. Perhaps the message could go back to recommend prescribing “singing to be taken with a glass of liquid twice a week”. Choir founder member Tom Pearce can be seen with the lovely background of Saundersfoot harbour.

The Red Cross concert was once again enhanced by trumpet soloist Corey Morris accompanied on piano by Dr. John Harrison BEM, organist of St. Mary’s church. Corey’s performances are always well received by the audience. His command of the instrument on both classical and lighter melodies is very enjoyable. You just know that people are singing the words to themselves when they hear such lovely songs as Over the Rainbow, My Way and What a Wonderful World.

There is no let up next week. As mentioned above we will start the week’s programme as “the Specsavers choir” in Haverfordwest on Saturday morning 22nd August where we will begin singing outside the Specsavers shop in Bridge Street. Specsavers are the sponsors of the Welsh Deaf Rugby Union. Then if the weather is good enough on Tuesday evening we will be outdoors again but this time at the entrance to the harbour in Tenby and then back at St. Mary’s church on Thursday for a concert in aid of RNLI. The lifeboat service operating from Tenby is one of around 200 in the British Isles and there has been a lifeboat station here for over 160 years. We are always glad to do concerts in aid of charities but I think there is a particular association with this very worthy cause which deserves the maximum support. So please come along if you can.

There is plenty of information and interesting stuff on our growing website including video clips. The website can be found at www.tenbymalechoir.org. There are contact details and different ways in which you can get to know more about it all

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

This weeks Wilburism

Tenby Male Choir – Hear us Tonight at Cresswell Quay

We are singing tonight (Friday 7th August) in the open air at Cresswell Quay where there will be a barbecue available. There is no entrance fee and it has proved to be very popular in recent years. Come along, listen for free, join in and generally have a good evening out. It starts at 6:30pm.
Last week we had an excellent reception from a large audience for our concert on Thursday 30th July including a standing ovation and demands for an encore, which we complied with of course. We had people from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, USA and New Zealand as well as all parts of England and Wales but nobody admitted to being Australian on the night which is unusual. MC Dave Blackmore did wonder whether it had anything to do with the Ashes result that week. The concert included a tremendous trumpet interlude with Corey Morris showing not only his talent with the trumpet but his overall confidence and comfort as a performer. He was admirably accompanied on the piano by St. Mary’s church organist Dr. John Harrison MBE playing some pieces which they had composed together. In all Corey performed Somewhere, Over the Rainbow, Oh What a Wonderful World, The theme from Ground Force, Henry Purcell’s Trumpet Tune and finally My Way. The concert was held in aid of the West Wales Prostate Cancer Support charity.

On the following Saturday 1st August a select group of 12 choristers performed unaccompanied in Pembroke Dock as “the Specsavers choir” including a very well received half hour stint in the Rugby Club. We were supporting the Specsavers’ campaign to raise funds for the Wales Deaf Rugby charity. You can see from the photo that bottom bass Eric Mullins selflessly put everything he had into making this fun event a success.

We’ve had some terrific feedback this season from people who have been to our concerts. It’s the result of good training by our MD “Wilbur” Williams and our accompanist Jill (No Relation) Williams but also due to a lot of practice both in rehearsals and because we hold so many concerts. We hope we sound as good as the feedback suggests but most of us are very much people who came to the choir just because we liked singing along. The vast majority came along wondering whether they were good enough and enjoyed it so much that they stayed on. The message is that you don’t need to be a competent singer, you don’t need to speak Welsh, you don’t need to be able to read music and it certainly doesn’t matter how young or old you are. If you come along to a rehearsal and decide to join you will simply learn words and music gradually. Whatever your level of ability you will get better with practice as in all things. We are always interested in people’s thoughts or questions about the choir especially those of younger people and we are willing to help anyone overcome their reservations.

There is plenty of information and interesting stuff on our growing website including video clips. The website can be found at www.tenbymalechoir.org. There are contact details and different ways in which you can get to know more about it all.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Wilburism this week

Tenby Male Choir – John a Diamond Geezer

We’ve had a few personal honours in the past few months for our choir members, two MBEs, the ordainment of a deacon, and now we have another rare personal achievement. John L. Jones and his wife Mary from Broadmoor celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary on 10th June and received a lovely message personally signed “Elizabeth R” from the Queen along with a photo of Her Majesty. It will only be a couple of years to the Queen celebrating her Platinum wedding anniversary and no doubt John will return the favour with his photo and a card signed “John L”.
John claims to be still active and knowing he is a keen gardener, I assume that is what he means although I do recall when someone in a rehearsal asserted that "most of us are past it”, a voice in a broad Pembrokeshire accent from the middle row of the top tenors did respond cryptically with the comment “speak for yourself”.

We had a very good audience on Thursday 23rd July at St. Mary’s church. The evening began differently with Eric Mullins standing in for our chairman to handle the choir’s entrance and exit and putting his years of police marching experience to good use to organise a very efficient “staging” process.  Perhaps this will become a regular feature so that accompanist Jill Williams may not be encouraged to play the theme tune from Dad’s Army as we exit the stage. Fortunately Eric did not ask us all to greet the audience with “Evenin All” – not this time anyway.
The main solo spot for the evening was provided by our principal soloist second tenor Paul Varallo who sang Some Enchanted Evening, Bruscia La Terra Mia, Y Darlun and Bless This House. Tom Pierce also sang solo in My Little Welsh Home. We are grateful to local butcher Andrew Rees for sponsoring the concert.
It seems we are in great demand at the moment for all sorts of engagements, we have a backlog of charities wishing to book us for a concert, we have wedding invitations, outdoor concerts at Lawrenny, Cresswell Quay and both Tenby and Saundersfoot harbours, have just sung at Pembroke Castle with Only Men Aloud and now we are delighted to be invited by Specsavers the national eyesight partnership with over 2000 branches to sing a number of concerts at stores in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire. This is a national campaign by Specsavers to raise money for the Wales Deaf Rugby Union . This is all part of celebrating the coming World cup and has a rugby theme with the choir wearing Specsavers rugby shirts and singing at their stores. The “Specsavers’ Choir” will be singing tomorrow between 12pm and 4pm at the Dimond Street, Pembroke Dock store. It should be a great occasion so planning your weekend shopping to be in Pembroke Dock on Saturday would be a great move. The picture shows Paul Varallo with members and accompanists of the Maesteg and Caerphily choirs at a recent planning meeting for the campaign. There is a full press release on our website.

We won’t really be able to draw breath before we have two further concerts next week. Firstly on Tuesday 4th August we will be at St. John’s church, Tenby at 8pm and then its down by the river on Friday night with an outdoor concert at Creswell Quay. There is no entrance fee for the outdoor concert and a barbecue will be available. My grandchildren haven’t stopped asking me when the Cresswell Quay event is as they enjoyed it so much last year. It’s a great family evening out – weather permitting, of course.
The new choir CD called Hwyl a Hiraeth is proving very popular with attendees at the concerts and they can also be bought on our website for which there are details below.
New members and supporters are always welcome and anyone can come along to a rehearsal or concert and learn about what choir membership is all about. Rehearsals are on most Tuesdays and Thursdays unless we have a concert on one of those nights. So come along, have a listen and discuss what it’s all about with other members with a post-rehearsal pint to learn how you can support the choir or talk to us if you have a view or some doubts. We are always interested in people’s thoughts about the choir especially those of younger people.
There is plenty of information and interesting stuff on our growing website including video clips. The website can be found at www.tenbymalechoir.org. There are contact details and different ways in which you can get to know more about it all.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Latest News ..............

Thurs 30 July  - St Mary's Tenby Male Choir Charity Concert supporting and raising funds for West Wales Prostate Cancer Care starts 8.00pm
Thurs 30 July  - St Mary's Church Fete 11-3pm. Selling Raffle Tickets and the new Choir CD
Tues 04 August  - St Johns Tenby Male Choir Charity Concert for Church Funds - starts 8.00pm
Tues 04 August  - St Johns Garden Tea Party 2-.00 - 5.00pm offering tea and cakes plus sandwiches to the public on  the afternoon before the choir concert

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Tenby Male Choir – No time to rehearse

There are not many weeks in the year, even in the middle of a concert season where we have no rehearsals but last week was one of those. We had a hotel concert at the Giltar Hotel on Tuesday followed by a formal concert at St Mary’s Church on the Thursday.
The hotel concerts are usually a bit of fun for everyone involved - even the choir  -although of course we do still concentrate seriously on the songs themselves. But there is time for an interval with Eddie Stapleton and his always popular and mildly risqué turn as a stand up comedian. Most of the choir members have heard some of those jokes a few times now but they still evoke a smile. For the audience of course most of them at least are being heard for the first time and they always go down well.
Eric Mullins too is always popular with songs lending themselves to his bass voice such as the Floral Dance a very old English song made famous by Terry Wogan and the Hanwell Brass Band but does anyone remember it by the Eagles under the title “Come on Baby” in 1960? Ah, they don’t make music like that any more.
On Thursday it was back to a bit more formality although there is always a bit of fun even there and some audience participation. After our big event at Pembroke Castle and a trip down to Lawrenny it was good to be back in town and we were pleased to see a very good audience once again at our concert on 16th July in aid of Huntingdon’s Disease. It was also a second chance to feature brother and sister Talfan and Siriol Jenkins, from Wiseman’s Bridge. Talfan is 14 and Siriol 16. These very talented young musicians performed a very accomplished set of pieces on piano and saxophone which were appreciated by the audience and the choir.

Last night we were at St. Mary’s again for a concert sponsored by local butcher Andrew Rees to whom we are very grateful for his generosity and to make it three in a row we will be at St. Mary’s church yet again on Thursday 30th July this time in aid of the West Wales Prostate Cancer Support charity. Please come along and support this worthy cause if you can and we promise to give you an enjoyable evening. There are concessionary tickets available for those who qualify.
Look out for more details of outdoor events coming up as we will be at Cresswell Quay and also both Saundersfoot and Tenby Harbours during August, as part of a heavy month where we will hold no less than eight concerts so not much time for rehearsing in that month either. We have a few new members who are going to have to learn “on the job”.
CDs continue to sell well and you can pick up a copy of this new Tenby Male choir CD at any concert or on our website for which there are details below.
New members and supporters are always welcome and anyone can come along to a rehearsal or concert and learn about what choir membership is all about. Rehearsals are on most Tuesdays and Thursdays unless we have a concert on one of those nights. So come along, have a listen and discuss what it’s all about with other members with a post-rehearsal pint to learn how you can support the choir or talk to us if you have a view or some doubts. We are always interested in people’s thoughts about the choir especially those of younger people.

There is plenty of information and interesting stuff on our growing website including video clips. The website can be found at www.tenbymalechoir.org. There are contact details and different ways in which you can get to know more about it all.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Tenby Male Choir – Wallowing in Glorious Applause

 We had a terrific evening out last Friday at the Lawrenny Arms inn where we did one of our “out on the road” concerts. The venue was a marquee fully equipped with barbecue and bar so a good time was had by all. The concert followed on from a very successful appearance at Pembroke Castle the week before and for both concerts the crowd particularly enjoyed singing along with Eric Mullins and the choir for the hippopotamus song. Young and old enthusiastically joined in to sing Follow me Follow down to the hollow etc. As the tide was out at Lawrenny there was plenty of glorious mud in view but a lovely venue all the same.
The crowd also enjoyed Climb Every Mountain so much that there was a request to sing it again at the end of the concert and a novel deviation from the normal stage singing happened as the choir walked amongst the audience singing it as the audience joined in with what they could remember. That’s something we haven’t done before and it seemed to go down very well with the audience.
A further encore was demanded so the choir rounded off the evening with the rousing Welsh song Men of Harlech. With the words “he is bravest he who leads us” being very appropriate for a Musical Director showing the courage and determination to turn up “just a little” late following car problems. But the choir had nonetheless soldiered on alone for a couple of songs to the appreciation of an audience containing more than a few Saxons before our musical director came to the fore.
The ever smooth Dave Blackmore in his customary role of Master of Ceremonies kept the crowd informed and amused throughout this minor hiccup.

Our next concert is on Thursday 23rd July at St. Mary’s church and tickets can be purchased on the door or via our website.
CD Spot
A few people have asked what the Greek words mean on the cover of our new CD but most local people will recognise them as the town council motto on the coat of arms and will also have seen them on the building down at the TenbyHarbour which was once the old sea water baths. The motto was then appropriate as it means “The sea washes away all the ills of men.”
This is a quotation from the writer of Greek tragedies Euripides who some say bears a striking resemblance to chorister John Morgan but John is certainly no Deacon Blue. He is in fact a very happy deacon having recently been ordained as a deacon of St. Mary’s church. Congratulations to John.

Our accompanist Jill Williams is usually the lone female performer at concerts and rehearsals as we are after all a male Voice choir but we are all very appreciative of Jill’s terrific accompaniment and we were very pleased to celebrate her birthday just the other week and to enjoy a slice of birthday cake. This picture is of Jill about to go on stage at the Pembroke Castle concert last week.

New members and supporters are always welcome and anyone can come along to a rehearsal and learn about what choir membership is all about. Rehearsals are on most Tuesdays and Thursdays unless we have a concert on one of those nights. So come along, have a listen and discuss what it’s all about with other members with a post-rehearsal pint to learn how you can support the choir or talk to us if you have a view or some doubts. We are always interested in people’s thoughts about the choir especially those of younger people.
There is plenty of information and interesting stuff on our growing website including video clips. The website can be found at www.tenbymalechoir.org. There are contact details and different ways in which you can get to know more about it all.

Tenby Male Choir Only Men Aloud Pembroke Castle

Oh what a night or day in fact. Last Sunday, may be remembered for the Greek ‘no’ vote or the christening of royal baby Charlotte but over 1,000 people should remember it for a concert in Pembroke Castle where Tenby Male Choir performed on the same bill as Only Men Aloud. The entire audience was certainly left with something to remember. 
‘Warming up’ for a superb, professional act with its sound systems, its lighting, the professional choreography and full time practice sessions had to be a challenge for a local group of part-time amateurs. But we stood tall and had a fantastic reception. 

We came armed with some 35 voices, a piano and the benefit of our regular two evenings a week rehearsals to rely on, but we also had a person to bring to life that piano in Jill Williams and our Musical Director Ian Williams to harness our limited materials and produce a stunning result of 100 per cent live singing and entertainment. 
If we were a warm-up act, then we got the audience boiling over at times and culminating in a standing ovation. We gave the audience variety in heart-rending songs like Anthem from Chess and Bring Him Home from Les Miserables. We gave them sing-a-long songs like Climb Every Mountain and The Hippopotamus Song. There was audience participation with My Grandfather’s Clock and our very own Yugoslavian trilogy and unforgettably the finale was The American Trilogy which certainly was perhaps the ‘tingle moment’ of ‘tingle moments’ for the crowd. 
There were three soloists on the night further demonstrating our versatility with Eric Mullins singing The Hippopotamus Song, Paul Varallo with Return to Sorrento in Italian where the final long held note earned a huge round of applause from an enchanted audience. Last but not least, founder member Tom Pearce in his home town appropriately sang My Little Welsh Home when you could have heard a pin drop. All of these solos can be heard on our new CD Hwyl a Hiraeth, along with many others in our wide repertoire. It can be bought at any concert or online via our website. 

Thanks also go to the highly efficient support and security staff who were always helpful and our apologies for those who had to collect up the underwear on stage at the end of the performance. 
I mentioned in a recent report that male voice choirs are having difficulties surviving in places, but in the war against survival a major battle was won in the fitting surroundings of the towers of Pembroke Castle on Sunday. If you missed out on the night, you can see us for free tonight at Lawrenny Ferry starting at 7.30. This is a great occasion on a nice summer’s evening where there will be a barbecue available. If you can’t make that, then there is a further chance to see us free at the Giltar Hotel, Tenby, on Tuesday, July 14, or at a charity concert in aid of Huntingdon’s disease which will be at St.Mary’s Church, Tenby, on Thursday, July 16. Tickets for this will be available on the door.