Friday, 16 May 2008

Hexham Male Voice Choir 60th Anniversary

For its anniversary concert on Friday, May 23, at 7pm, the choir will be joined by soprano Rachel Orr, baritone Robert Seaton, and violinist Ben Armishaw, whose wife, Ruth, will accompany the three artists on the piano.

Tickets and further information are available from Mr Arthur on (01434) 600488.
FOR 60 years Hexham Male Voice Choir has enthralled its audiences the length and breadth of Tynedale and beyond.

Now, fittingly, members are preparing to mark their diamond anniversary in song with a special concert at Hexham’s Queen Elizabeth High School next week.
The evening will be a chance to look back on the choir’s illustrious history – from its inaugural meeting in Hexham’s Queen’s Hall cafe on May 26, 1948, to success at festivals in Tynedale, Blackpool Southport and Wansbeck, to name but a few.
And it will be an opportunity to encourage new singers to join the choir’s happy band.
Current chairman Tom Arthur, who joined the choir himself 57 years ago this coming November, said: “We have always done our best to reach the highest levels of singing we can
“Sadly, many young men are not coming through these days because they have other interests, or are leaving for universities, or to work elsewhere.
“But once in, new members would enjoy the camaraderie of the choir.”
Today there are just 29 members, but Mr Arthur remains hopeful the choir’s ranks will, once again, top 40-45 – a level enjoyed during its earliest days.
Following its inauguration, the choir held its first rehearsal in June 1948 at the Abbey Hotel (now the Beaumont Hotel), by which time it had grown to 36 members.
It staged its first major concert in aid of Hexham’s Trinity Methodist Church and by May, 1950 had even recorded six of its favourite songs.
During its 60-year history the choir has come under the baton of just five conductors.
First was John Gilhespy, then Bill Highman, whose wife, Joan, was the daughter of Tom Mearis, the famed conductor of the Felling Male Voice Choir.
Other conductors have been Bill Skelton, Allan Armstrong, who succeeded Bill in 1976, and Douglas Carrick, who later led the choir to success at the North of England Music Festival at Blackpool.
Nine years ago Mr Armstrong, of Allendale, signed up for his second stint with the choir and he remains its conductor today.