Welwyn Garden City pop-up men’s choir discovers brand new singers
PUBLISHED: 10:39 12 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:40 12 November 2018
Welwyn Garden City’s male voice choir has boosted its numbers since it set up a charity pop-up choir for men who had hardly sung before.
Welwyn Garden City Male Voice Choir (MVC) has been joined by another 18 singers thanks the pop-up project Men’s Voices United (MVU), swelling the 87-year-old choir’s ranks to 47.
MVU set up and trained in the summer as a one-off project, working towards a charity concert at Hatfield House on October 10.
The concert itself raised thousands for mental health charities - but also boosted the new singers’ confidence.
As their voices filled the high-ceilinged Old Palace, the pride and relief of the members of MVU was clearly evident.
The audience gave a rousing reception to MVU, most of whom, unlike the members of the established choir, had never sung before the summer.
They delivered a spirited performance of pop ballads such as ‘You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling’ and ‘You are not alone’, together with a gospel trilogy.
‘Jailhouse Rock’ was a particular favourite, while an arrangement of ‘Pack up your troubles’ and ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’ marked the centenary of the end of the First World War.
The two choirs joined together for several numbers, including a setting of Psalm 23 - The Lord is my Shepherd – better known as the theme tune to the Vicar of Dibley TV show.
Ten-year old Brook, the youngest member of MVU, enchanted the audience with a solo treble part, alongside renowned local soprano Lucy Black.
Martyn Voyle, chair of Welwyn Garden City Male Voice Choir, said there were quite a few of those present with a tear in their eyes.
Audience participation was not limited to rapturous applause, though.
Conductor Juliet Arthur invited them to join in singing rounds of ‘By the waters of Babylon’, accompanied by Bob Worsley and Tony Almond on guitar.
Keith, one of the MVU choir members, said that it had been an amazing experience to sing alongside his fellow choir members in such an historic venue. “It’s something that I couldn’t have imagined doing 10 weeks ago, but thanks to the professionalism of the Welwyn Garden City choir support team, everything was perfectly rehearsed and it all seemed to go like clockwork.”
Fellow chorister Nick Moorhouse paid tribute to the musical team: conductors Juliet Arthur and Les Rayner, and accompanists Mary Anstey and Michelle Boylan.
“The Welwyn Garden City Male Voice choir made us feel so welcome,” he said.
“The support and encouragement they gave us was wonderfully uplifting.”
Mike Lomas agreed and said that both he and other choir members had benefited significantly from the expertise and patience of Juliet and Les.
MVU member Nick Tatchell felt that the project had rekindled his long-lost love of singing and that he didn’t intend to lose it again.
He’s one of 18 new singers who will swell the ranks for the Male Voice Choir to 47 people.
Martyn Voyle, chair of the Welwyn Garden City choir, said: “We’re delighted that several members of MVU have accepted our open invitation to continue their singing career with Welwyn Garden City Male Voice Choir,” he said.
Hugh Smith, who oversaw preparations for the concert, paid tribute to the Marquess of Salisbury, who made the historic Old Palace available free of charge for the charity concert.
“The Old Palace has been a superb venue for this concert, and we are most grateful for the cooperation of Hatfield House staff in getting it ready,” he said. “We are also indebted to our local sponsors, JJ Burgess & Sons and HRJ Foreman Laws for their contributions.”
The proceeds from the concert will go to three mental health charities – Mind (Mid Herts), Sane and JOCA.