The History of The Cotswold Male Voice Choir 2000 onwards
in reverse chronological order ...
A Very Busy Choir
Those who have been members of the Choir for some time know that our current success had not come about without cost, both emotionally and in terms of lost members. This goes some way to explain the commitment of the current membership, which is remarkable. In 2008, when adding up the concerts and wedding engagements (23), the rehearsals (47) and the committee meetings (11), more than eighty days had been accounted for by choir ‘business’.
And this brings us to the closing chapter of 2008 on the eve of the Choir’s 60th anniversary … 2009 was to prove even busier, with 88 days taken up by choir business.
Faye Hatcher interviews Martin Dear, Dr. Gill Rouse and Joop Meyers of the Goudas Liedertafel Male Choir, prior to the concert in Cheltenham College Chapel, supporting LINC.
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Sybil Ruscoe interviews Don Baker and Bernard Stride who, the next year, were both to celebrate 60 years singing with the Choir.
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Bob Jones interviews Martin Dear about what it means to be the musical director of the Cotswold Male Voice Choir.
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Mont Blanc - Choir members in high altitude training!
Choir tour to Annecy in the French Alps
A happy atmosphere continued for the next few months. This carried on to Bristol Airport while waiting for the flight to Geneva, then onward by coach to Annecy. Arriving at the Airport, with a couple of hours to spare, everyone was surprised to learn from member and tour organiser, Mike Wright, that he had ‘negotiated a few good deals’ and, as a result, we had all overpaid. He then proceeded to hand out cash refunds in envelopes to every member. Mike’s health was toasted until the call to board was announced.
Choir Tour to Cornwall
Following the previous year’s visits to Cheltenham by Cornish choirs, Rame Peninsula Male Choir and the City of Truro Male Voice Choir, the Cotswold Male Voice Choir toured to St.Ives in Cornwall to sing with the Praze-an-Beeble Male Voice Choir.
In the ‘afterglow’ at the hotel after a successful concert, the Choir was joined by a number of the Praze
‘boys’. Much jollity ensued culminating in bass singer, Haydn Sutton, standing to sing a solo. What an easy choice. We were in Cornwall. ‘The Floral Dance’? Haydn launched instead into ‘Glorious Devon’! Fortunately, Praze had a sense of humour, but they didn’t join in.
Cheltenham Town Hall, May 2011
Geoffrey Mann Joins as Choir Accompanist
During this turbulent time, there was one undoubted positive. On the retirement of Jean Lea, Geoffrey Mann agreed to the appointment of Accompanist. Jean had been a wonderful Accompanist and, to show the Choir’s appreciation for her 25 years of service, Albert England and other choir members travelled to her home to present Jean with a gift for her garden, which was another love of her life.
Geoff took over but it was a few weeks before the piano music made its way back from Jean to the Choir. Undaunted, Geoff sight read the vocal musical parts and transposed the notes to the piano while the Choir rehearsed – as they would say today ‘in real time’.
Choir members are still commenting how lucky they were to replace one talented pianist with another.
2001 / 2002
On stage in Ireland
Choir Tours Ireland and Germany
In 2001 and 2002 the Choir toured to Ireland and Germany respectively. The Choir’s timing could not have been worse, for the 2001 tour to Cork coincided with the terrible attack on New York’s Twin Towers. In a mark of respect for the victims, every establishment had closed its doors. The potential audience at the main weekend concert assumed it too had been cancelled, so the Choir was just about on its own in the performance hall.
One does not wish to make light of such a tragedy but two stories did come back with the Choir. In the concert venue, a gentleman had been laid out to rest in mourning, leading to murmurs of having a ‘captive audience’. During the afternoon wait prior to the concert, the Choir soon found all hostelries to be shut also – well, almost. Killing time by walking around Cork, four enterprising choir members were sure they could hear noise coming from a ‘curtains drawn’ pub. Gingerly they knocked on the door which duly opened. In what must have looked like an ‘Is there any room at the Inn?’ scene, they were welcomed and sang for their beer for the best part of the afternoon.