Friday 25th January, 2013 MILITARY DINNER Duke of Gloucester Barracks, South Cerney GL7 5RD
The Story Behind the Dinner: Assistant Commissionary James Langley Dalton VC was awarded his VC following the action at Rorke's Drift. He was in the Commissariat & Transport Department which was one of the establishments which eventually became part of the Royal Corps of Transport. The RLC was formed, in April 1993, by the union of 5 British Army Corps, including the RCT. Hence the connection. At the dinner, the great great grandaughter of Mr Dalton will be presented with the citation for his Victoria Cross.
It was with great sadness that we announced the death of our friend and accompanist, Geoff Mann.
Cheltenham Town Hall, May 2011
Geoff joined us in 2003 (link) and soon become an integral and much admired part of the musical team.
Following illness which kept him away from the Choir for much of 2012, Geoff made his return to the piano on 18th July and was greeted by a standing ovation from choir members. He was looking very well and happy, so it came as a great shock to learn he had suffered a stroke that night. This led to a bleed in his brain from which he never regained consciousness.
Geoff’s funeral was held at Cheltenham Crematorium on Tuesday 31st July. There was standing room only because so many came to pay their last respects. With Cotswold Male Voice Choir members past and present joined by some from the Police Choir and Churchdown Choir, there were about 50 choristers to sing Speed Your Journey, at his wife Janet’s request. The first hymn was Jerusalem and we thought the roof was going to blow off! What a send off for dear Geoff.
Geoff’s mucical talents touched so many. He will not be forgotten.
I first met Geoff 25 or was it 30 years ago when he played for me at the Cheltenham Festival. When he knew I had a piano tuning and restoration business, we could not stop talking Pianos . He had such a good musical ear he could hear I had a health problem , I now know what it is. I loved talking to Geoff about music and his Steinway, but we also talked about health problems, mine at first. AT and asthma etc. We were talking about his problems on the last wednesday night he was with us when he said he was going for treatment. I was going to email the next day. [Tony Powell, First Tenors]
Geoff’s commitment to the choir was outstanding. His attendance record was exemplary, even when we were performing 25 concerts a year in some very odd venues. I remember him sitting precariously at the keyboard on a slippery, muddy path in the rain at Rococo Gardens and more recently when he was not feeling well squeezing in to a small space at the Snooty Fox in Tetbury. He sometimes made his feelings known, but always came back for more. For a man of his talent I often felt he gave us more credibility and loyalty than we really deserved. His many qualities will make him almost impossible to replace. [Paul Hipkiss, Bass Section]
My first memory of Geoff is singing just after I’d joined the choir at a wedding in the Rococo Gardens in Painswick. The bride had chosen to get married in a lovely part of the Gardens but at the top of a steep slope. The choir, Geoff and the keyboard were therefore on a slope too. To prevent Geoff from gradually heading downhill on the end of 300 feet of cable, one of us had a foot against the keyboard-stand to stop it moving, others had a foot against the piano stool and Geoff’s face said something like “Here’s another fine mess you’ve got me into!” And rain threatened. Later, I became Musical Director. At one early rehearsal, I wanted to do “Rhythm of Life” with the choir and I wanted to take it at a brisk pace. So, with the full authority of my high office, I commandingly raised my baton, beat a brisk bar for nothing to give Geoff the speed for the intro – and nothing happened. I looked across to the piano and Geoff was sitting there, hands on knees. He said to me, almost sorrowfully: “That’s not the speed, Martin – it really isn’t. This is the speed!” And off he went into the intro at a slower pace. He was right about the speed and he grinned at me at the end! Mind you, there was the time when he took “Battle Hymn of the Republic” at such a lick that His truth wasn’t so much marching on as Usain Bolting off! But that’s another story. CMVC has been privileged to have Geoff as accompanist. He was a brilliant pianist who knew when to slip in extra notes or harmonies and emphasise certain parts so as to help us over a sticky patch in a song, to help us get our entries accurately or to remind certain sections of the choir that they didn’t have the tune, they really didn’t! “Thank you” doesn’t seem a big enough tribute to Geoff but in this case those two small words for me contain three big emotions: appreciation of Geoff’s prodigious musical talents; gratitude that I have been able to work with Geoff and do so many concerts, weddings and solos with him; and such sadness that this has now all come to an end. Thank you, Geoff. [Martin Dear, First Tenor Section]
I joined the choir over three years ago now and remember well on my first few rehearsals (mainly listening and being amazed) how Geoff's playing shone out in clear support of the choir, whilst working in harmony with the Musical Director. After some time I started to speak with Geoff and would often ask him after a concert what he thought of the instrument he had been landed with on that particular occasion. As you might imagine he told me but even when he wasn't too happy about the instrument I don't think we really noticed it because Geoff would have gotten the best out of it. The other thing that I remember clearly is asking Geoff what he thought we sang the best, I expected for him to say some particular song but he replied "I think this choir often sings at its best when it is a quiet piece such as Steal Away" then adding "provided you don't go flat!!" A great bloke, much missed. [Stephen Giles, Baritone Section]
The members of Churchdown Male Voice Choir were very sad to hear of the death of dear Geoff and would like to pass their condolences to Janet and family. Our Musical Director Ralph Barnes has a particular reason to thank Geoff as he was Ralph’s piano teacher for two years, getting him through Grade V11 Piano and coaching him in Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Geoff could always be relied upon whenever we needed a stand-in accompanist at rehearsals. With just a phone call he would appear to give his usual immaculate accompaniments, sometimes at first sight of the music. He was a large man with a huge heart and a willingness to help anyone. A much – loved man he will be missed by everyone who had the privilege of knowing him. May he rest in peace. [Barry Woods, Churchdown Male Voice Choir]
Leslie at the annual choir dinner in the Little Owl, Charlton Kings in 2010.
Only a day after learning of Michael Power’s death (see below), we received news of the passing away of another former respected musical director, Leslie Burgess, on 3rd September 2011. Leslie had been suffering from cancer for some time. His family were with him at Gloucester Royal Hospital when he died at 5.45pm. Following a bad fall at home, Leslie was taken to GRH but, sadly, never returned home. Leslie left his wife, Morfydd, son Paul and daughter in law Jane.
Leslie was musical director from 1977 to 1999 and the music library contains many of his unique musical arrangements. The Choir continues to sing these today.
Leslie’s funeral was held at Cheltenham Crematorium on Thursday 15th September at 2.30pm. The Hymns were Cwm Rhondda and Immortal Invisible, and the Choir sang Leslie’s composition The Cotswold Song.
At the wake, it was agreed with Morfydd that a concert should be arranged celebrating Leslie’s life.
Michael (right) presenting Malcolm Williams with Choir Life Membership in 2006.
It was with great sadness that we reported the passing away on Friday 2nd September 2011 of our friend and former musical director, Michael Power. Following a long battle with both diabetes and a brain tumour, he died peacefully in his sleep at the Sue Ryder Hospice in Leckhampton, Cheltenham at 4.10am.
Michael came to the rescue of the Choir eight years before when our then musical director resigned. Without fuss, he moved from singing in the first tenors to take up the conductor's baton and guide the Choir through a difficult period in its history.
The Choir's music library contains Michael's arrangements of some of our repertoire and these will be cherished.
Michael left his wife Tina and their two children, Stephen and Elizabeth. Michael's funeral took place at Gloucester Cathedral, with which he was associated for many years, on Wednesday 14th September.
Choir members joined a congregation of 500 to celebrate Michael’s life.
______________________________________________________ Concert raises over £4,000 Cheltenham Town Hall - Saturday 21st May 2011 Proceeds donated to the Prince’s Trust (link) & the Japanese Relief Fund
In attendance: Choir Patron - The Worshipful Mayor of Cheltenham, Councillor Barbara Driver
With the Bach String Ensemble Japan, Geoffrey Mann, Steve Banyard, Martin Dear & Brian Blessed.
The concert featured new works by choir member, Steve Banyard, and the Bach String Ensemble. We received many congratulations, of which these were typical:
Click here to listen to the post concert review of 23rd May 2011
Gloucestershire Echo Review (23rd May 2011): Effervescent Brian Blessed lent a great and grand presence as he compered a varied programme. The Bach String Ensemble Japan commanded respect for their impeccable playing and demeanour. With no obvious conductor their unanimity of timing was perfect. Crisp definitive Bach counterpoint in the Concerto For Three Violins was followed by an assured yet playful Mozart Divertimento, while rich chords and a big sound with powerful attack featured in Tchaikovsky's Serenade For Strings. Achieving an excellent and balanced harmonic blend the Cotswold Male Voice Choir's words were distinct in Bizet's Divine Brahma from The Pearl Fishers, Verdi's Speed Your Journey and Gwahoddiad in which the choir made a strong impact. They ended with You'll Never Walk Alone – exiting on a high. Jill Bacon * Ever ascending, with an eclectic span of venue and repertoire, The Cotswold Male Voice Choir. As an audience member I was privileged to experience Strings & Voices on Saturday evening. Brian Blessed was an amazing compère, who rightly stressed the impact of Steve Banyard’s delightful composition No-one Else. Martin’s solo certainly did justice to a piece worthy of long term resonance. The Choir and Ensemble were splendid, both complementary and complimentary. The audience’s fervent response resounded the harmony of such an important occasion. I sense that the proceeds will be considerable. Congratulations and thanks to all of you in the general evolution of the Choir. I enjoyed your personal riposte, Steve: ‘Thank you, sweetie” [when Brian Blessed kissed you on stage], I hadn’t expected that! In pitch and tone, warmest wishes, Malcolm Williams (son of founding musical director, Dave Williams) * The concert was successful and we all are very happy. The success of the concert was brought by your help to us. I hope we will share such a nice time again in the near future. On behalf of our ensemble members, I would like to say thank you more than a thousand times. Best wishes, Miho Kajihara (Bach String Ensemble Japan) * I would like to add my compliments to all concerned. Our daughters have posted on Facebook such comments as 'I pity all those not at the Town Hall this evening. Frankly you missed a treat' and 'Can't believe the last few hours' so I think they enjoyed themselves. Go Japan! Janet * Thank you and your committee for organising such a wonderful concert with the Japanese string ensemble. Saturday night was thoroughly enjoyable. Joan B. * Thank you for such a wonderful concert last Saturday night. A quote from a wife who has been dragged along to concerts for the last thirty odd years "That was the best ever on both quality and audience satisfaction" and from a son who has had nearly the same dedication forced upon him "I enjoyed that one Dad. I was not just supporting you this time". From quotes like that it must have been good ... Never mind 'must have been' ... It was good! We were more than pleased it worked out well. Many thanks Gordon * Just to say how much my husband and myself enjoyed Saturday nights concert. You brought the flyers and had a chat a few weeks ago, sorry that we did not get the chance to talk with you again last night but I had to let you know what a good night we had. The music was superb and the whole evening was most enjoyable. We also got the chance to meet a new member of the Montpellier community. I hope that everything went well for yourself and the rest of the choir and that the Ensemble got away on their flights alright, and raised lots of much needed funds for you charities. Thank you and best wishes to your members. Mary Bunting * Wow!!! Many congratulations to all concerned for such a great concert. Several of my family & friends in the audience were full of praise for the whole programme. What a privilege to be able to perform with the accompaniment of professionals of the likes of our own Geoff and the Japanese ensemble. A special hightlight, of course, was Martin's rendition of Steve B's fine piece enhanced by the ensemble. The whole effort was made possible through the hard work and dedication of Steve A and all the organising team who put in so much effort and time to ensure the success of the whole venture. It makes me proud to be a member. Congratulations all round. Peter de G * May I first say how much I enjoyed last night's concert. The choir sang wonderfully well and was most uplifting. Whilst waiting for Brian I was able to have brief conversations with some of the choir and found them to be most welcoming and friendly. The String Ensemble left me speechless; they were phenominal. I am not the biggest fan of stringed instruments but their performance has totally changed my mind. I can't remember the last time I was as moved by an evening of music. Thank you. Jeremy * Just a quick word to say how much I enjoyed your [Steve Banyard’s] wonderful song with your musical arrangement it was quite moving, and sung so well by Martin, I am sure I speak for many people who were privilege to be at the concert last night in saying this. Regretfully I will not be at rehearsal on Wednesday night to receive acclamations for the middle row of the basses, as I am now away for 3/4 weeks on Tall Ships, though you can be assured that I will carry the tune in my head and on my lips whilst battling the stormy winds. Best wishes, Dave * What another resounding success last night was! Comments were very favourable from all quarters. A fantastic evening that must have taken a lot of organising, and good management, (even supplying black folders for the forgetful Rosemary). I have had my reservations about Brian Blessed dashed when he supplied such a spontaneous presentation, so full of fun. I must also congtratulate Steve Banyard and Martin on Steve’s new song, and the orchestration of it with the strings. It sounded fab. Pat & I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it including the afterglow which lots of the audience joined in. Thanks to all concerned in the efforts toput the show on. Best Regards, Mike & Pat Harwar * What a fantastic concert. You had some very talented people on the stage, including Steve Banyard. Thought his composition was excellent and Martin sang it wonderfully. Brian Blessed was something else!!! Best wishes to all. Would like to see the photos when you have them. Sue and Al (Gloucestershire Police Male Voice Choir) * Thank you and your committee for organising such a wonderful concert with the Japanese string ensemble. Saturday night was thoroughly enjoyable. Joan Baker
MEDIA FEATURES and INTERVIEWS
Click here to listen to the post concert review of 23rd May 2011 Click here to listen to Miho Kajihara’s and Martin Dear’s interview of 20th May 2011 Click here to listen to Brian Blessed’s interview of 17th May Click here to listen to Paul Hipkiss’ and Denis Watson’s interview of 26th March 2011
Click here to listen to radio interview of 5th April 2011
The Choir staged a joint concert at St. John The Baptist Church, Beckford (map) with Bryncoch Male Voice Choir, from Neath. There was a full house and the enthusiasm of the audience was infectious. The atmosphere of fun was made more so when the Accompanists’ music stand fell over, much to everyone’s amusement, during the final number (and encore) of The Rhythm of Life.
Further jollity followed afterwards at the Beckford Inn. When the time came for our guests to leave at nearly midnight, promises were made to reciprocate with a choir visit to Neath.
Sunday 27th June 2010 A day that will forever live in the annals of infamy ...
World Cup Song
Despite the best efforts of the England World Cup song’s composer, Steve Banyard, and the Choir, England were beaten 4 - 1 by Germany. It was an awful display by the English players which resulted in England not even making the quarter finals.
The Choir was invited to sing Let’s Hear It England on the pitch at half time at Whaddon Road. Thanks to a powerful sound system in the stadium, the crowd were able to join in and 30 children also joined in the chorus standing just in front of the Choir. The day’s fun was capped by Cheltenham Town drawing 1 - 1 with Accrington Stanley, thus ensuring their football league survival.
We staged a joint concert in Cheltenham’s Christchurch with Mynyddislwyn Male Choir (link) raising money for the Mayor’s Charity Fund. This concert was also the first ‘live’ performance of the England World Cup song ‘Let’s Hear It England’. __________________________________
Sunday 21st March 2010
"There will be an England World Cup song after all this year, recorded by an unlikely alliance of 11 television football commentators and the Cotswold Male Voice Choir ..."
The Choir sang with soprano soloist, Emily Campbell, supporting the theatre restoration fund.
Press review from the Gloucestershire Echo and the Citizen:
This choir has come a long way since those 18 men met together in the works canteen of S Smith and Sons (England) Ltd way back in 1949. Sixty years later the choir is thriving with a busy programme mostly supporting good causes. This concert was in aid of the Everyman Theatre’s Restoration Fund.
But first I have a small niggle: I could only see the first row of singers as everybody was on the same level. That said, the programme was generally an attractive, certainly a varied, one ranging from Spirituals to the Floral Dance and from Handel to My Fair Lady.
Although a few of the items were less suited to a choir than others, all received tender loving care and were delivered with great attention to harmony and accompanied securely by Geoffrey Mann on piano. Conductor Martin Dear was an attentive, amusing MC.
The concert began with one of the choir’s most successful offerings – the Battle Hymn of the Republic – a rousing start indeed. Equally good was the rendering of Shenandoah, but less suitable to a largish choir was Aznavour’s She, which remains more suitable to the single voice.
Discipline is an ever-present feature of this choir, which sings from memory and depends on everybody closely watching the conductor at all times.
The programme was enhanced by young soloist Emily Campbell. She has a warm and secure soprano voice with a mezzo quality and gave a good account of Handel’s Ombra Mai Fu, Dvorak’s lovely Song To The Moon and I Could Have Danced All Night by Lerner and Loewe.
Emily is a singer of much promise. All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable concert.
Donald Hollins (8th March 2010)
__________________________________ 11th November 2009 & 2010
Service of Remembrance Sailing on the MV Havengore (link), from St. Katharine’s Pier, Tower of London
The MV Havengore is the motor vessel which carried Sir Winston Churchill’s coffin along the Thames during his State Funeral in 1965. A worldwide audience of 350 million watched the event.
We sailed on MV Havengore from the Tower of London at 10am, mooring next to Big Ben by 11am, to coincide with the service and silence at Westminster Abbey. Choir members led the singing of the hymns and entertained the other guests after the service, which was conducted by the Queen’s Chaplain, the Reverend Roger Hall.
Order of Service (PDF)
At the invitation of the Governor of the Tower of London, we then enjoyed a free tour of the Tower. Being led in procession from and back to the Tower by their piper was a first for all of us. Another highlight was being joined by a flotilla of other boats, including the Thames Lightermen, the Harbour Master, River Police and RNLI, sailing under Tower Bridge which was raised as a mark of respect.
Update 16th November 2009: The organisers have advised us they intend to make this an annual event. If so, and given our limit of 11 on board the MV Havengore, we would like to give other choir members the opportunity to go next year.
River Thames Police Drama 11th November 2010
(Letter of thanks to the Metropolitan Police 12th November 2010)
Remembrance Day Service – 11th November 2010 River Thames Police
We should like you to extend our thanks to your River Thames officers for their help yesterday.
Having been caught in very slow traffic on the Embankment, we arrived at St. Katherine’s Pier to find the M.V. Havengore, on which the Queen’s Minister was to conduct the Remembrance Service, had departed a few minutes earlier. Other choir members had boarded but it was only then that we realised we were carrying the accompaniment music for the hymns, without which there would be a hymnless service and many disgruntled dignitaries.
Your officers helped us board their launch. It caught up with the Havengore, allowing us to transfer our music file. Then there was the tricky task of transferring us while both vessels were under way. This was achieved with great skill from both crews, especially when you consider one was 91 years old and two others in their eighties.
Although we thought it was very dramatic, your officers managed the situation with great care and calmness.
This tour was a resounding success. The highlight for many was singing on the Friday in Ely Cathedral’s Lady Chapel. The Cathedral is so beautiful and also good acoustically. The Choir was on top form, as demanded by such a venue, and as demonstrated by the enthusiastic congratulations of the audience.
From Hayley Newton, Fundraiser, Sue Ryder Care ... “Please pass on many thanks to all the members of the Cotswold Male Voice Choir for the wonderful concert that you held on Friday at Ely Cathedral. A magnificent £306.32 was raised from the retiring collection, which we are really, really pleased with and will be used for providing top quality care for people with life limiting illnesses. I have heard nothing but excellent praise for both the Choir and the programme of the concert, one person even told me that it is best thing they have been to in several years. I am now very disappointed that I was not able to make it!"
On the Saturday night, our joint concert in Godmanchester with Huntingdon Male Voice Choir went very well too, followed as usual by our leading the afterglow. They were quite different from us with a more choral based repertoire, so it came as a bit of a surprise later when they started jigging around and hand clapping in a prearranged afterglow routine. __________________________________
10th October 2009
In a very busy October of 5 concerts, Birmingham City Council asked the Choir to open their Light Night Festival, on stage in Centenary Square. Undaunted, 23 singers set off, accompanied by our musical team with wives and friends. The weather was kind and the powerful stage lights kept the choir warm.
It was an impressive orbital 15 metre stage, manned by 4 professionals managing the lighting and sound systems. If only we could count on that level of service at all concerts!
The question was, what should we sing? Should we go for the lowest common denominator and sing only a popular music programme, which most of the crowd would know, or should we stick to our tried and tested varied programme. Our musical director, Martin Dear, opted for the latter and it was well received.
Advance press release from Birmingham City Council
The Cotswold Male Voice Choir joined Churchdown Male Voice Choir, Churchdown Choral Society and the Band of the Gloucestershire Constabulary for a sell out concert in Gloucester Cathedral, supporting Help for Heroes. Musical director, Martin Dear, gave a sublime solo performance of If With All Your Heart, from Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah.
The Cotswold Male Voice Choir singing Steal Way was described as “sublime” by the press.
The concert was sold out two weeks before the event and 1,100 packed into the Cathedral. It was so full that large video screens had to be erected in both side aisles for those who could see past the enormous pillars in the Nave. Press reviewer Roger Jones, of the GlosMedia Group, wrote “The concert featured an eclectic range of music. Some of it worked particularly well in the Cathedral, including the sonorous a capella singing of the Cotswold Male Voice Choir in the spiritual Steal Away”.
Funds raised were £15,864.02p.
25th September 2009
Citations for Services to Music - 60 Years Singing with the Choir
Don Baker and Bernard Stride were awarded citations for “Services to Music” by the Mayor, Cllr. Lloyd Surgenor, for their 60 years of service each to the Cotswold Male Voice Choir. A conservative estimate puts their time spent at rehearsals and performing at concerts at 9,000 hours each. The Choir salutes you both.
Waterstone’s Cheltenham hosted the book signing by Malcolm Williams, attended by the Choir who sang accompanied by Geoff Mann and conducted by Martin Dear. It was an emotional day, during which we were joined by several family members of departed singers, including four daughters of founder members; Ken Eldridge, Bill Griffiths and Fred Dean.
Purchase at ...
3rd June 2009 Over 80 people including choir members, their partners and our guests, the Fukuoka Bach String Ensemble took an evening boat trip for three hours up the River Severn to Haw Bridge and back.
The King Arthur leaving Gloucester Docks for an evening cruise.
Entertaining Guests Sailing on the Severn
The King Arthur was very spacious and the weather was very kind. The Choir enjoyed the bar and a finger buffet on board. The violin and viola section of the Fukuoka Bach String Ensemble entertained everyone with a varied selection of music played in the saloon. The evening ended with the Choir singing for the final 40 minutes until we arrived back at Gloucester Docks. During the trip, presentations were made by both the Choir and by the Fukuoka Bach String Ensemble. It was a ‘Night to Remember’ [sic], beginning with the Choir singing the theme from the film ‘Titanic’!
31st May 2009
60th Anniversary Concert
BBC interviews before the concert ... Part One / Part Two
To celebrate the Choir’s 60th anniversary, a concert was held in Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre on 31st May 2009. The combination of the Choir with our guests from Japan, the Fukuoka Bach String Ensemble, created a wonderful blend of music, as proved by the many kind messages received.
Cotswold Life - Society Page (JPG) (courtesy of Archant Life Ltd)
In attendance were honoured guests Mayor Lloyd Surgenor and Mrs. Surgenor, Chief Constable Dr. Tim Brain O.B.E. and Mrs. Brain. Mr. Martin Horwood M.P. and Dr. Shona Arora, Mr. Leslie Burgess and Mrs. Morfydd Burgess, Mr. Malcolm Williams, Mr. Bruce Rhodes and Mrs. Kathy Rhodes and compère, Mr. John Rockley of BBC Radio Gloucestershire
11th May 2009
Plaque at Smiths Indistries, Bishop’s Cleeve
5.30pm on 11th May 2009 marked the precise time of the 60th anniversary of the formation of the Choir by eighteen men working at Smiths Industries in Bishop’s Cleeve in 1949. They met in the now demolished canteen. Choir member Richard Gaul, who works at the now named GE Aviation, erected this plaque on the day, where the canteen used to stand. How modest!
20th March 2009
BBC Points West Studios, Bristol
The BBC have kindly given us their permission to use their TV content in this video ...
Video design by Steve Banyard. TV content courtesy of BBC. ______________________________
New Year 2009
John Rockley interviews Roger Western and Steve Allsup about the Twickenham Concerts Click here to listen to a digital recording
The Choir’s publicity department had been working very hard. By February, the choir membership exceeded 50 singers again and the Choir’s concert calendar was fully booked more than a year ahead.
November 2008 and February, March 2009
Twickenham - 6 Nations Rugby - 6 Concerts
Following our trips to sing at Twickenham station on rugby international days at the invitation of England Rugby sponsors BetFair, they said the Choir was “the most successful entertainment we have ever had at any event.”
The middle picture above shows some of the 50,000 people who filed past our staging on each of the six days and they all left smiling, despite England’s poor showing on the pitch!
Don ‘Sinatra’ Baker leads “Now is the Hour”, a favourite with the thousands of Kiwi fans.