An excellent article from the editor of our current (Spring 2018) newsletter. (Click on newsletter image to the right to download as PDF.) Well done Mitch!
What Is The Point Of A Choirmaster?
The conductor raises the baton, the choir takes a deep breath and the piano bursts into life. The audience can only see the conductor’s back and the movement of the baton keeping time, while the choir sings. I have stood before relatively few choir conductors in my short time, but I have been astonished at the change of sound the same choir produces under the different batons. A choir is a musical instrument that needs to be tuned by an expert before a performance and then played by an expert during it. The Snowdown choir is indeed fortunate that their current choirmaster, (Michael Lewis) is a man with many strings to his bow and apart from his obvious musical talents he understands that you ‘catch more flies with honey rather than vinegar’. The current standard of the choir’s singing is a testament to his ability to use praise and encouragement to bring out the best in everyone.
A legend in the art of the choirmaster is none other than Alwyn Humphreys MBE, who will conduct the
Massed Voices Concert at the Royal Albert Hall on 19th May, 2018.
The Snowdown choir is a rare bird which will also be singing alongside the multitude of home-grown Welsh choirs on that day. To ensure that all the participating choirs are up to the standard required, Alwyn makes flying visits to listen to, and train, all of the choristers taking part in the nuances of the pieces to be performed.
In February, Alwyn arrived in Aylesham to raise his baton before a nervous assembly of choristers, and proceeded to put them through their paces. It is to Snowdown’s credit that Alwyn has in previous visits praised the choir for their dedication in learning the many tricky Welsh pieces of music required for the performances, and again the choristers proved they had manfully raised their game for this year’s event.
Alwyn rightfully has a reputation for inspiring a choir to produce their very best performance. When he conducts, the passion and enthusiasm pours out of him and into the choir. You cannot help but lift your voice and follow him as his baton slashes the air and his eyes fix you in his gaze. To sing in the Albert Hall while the roar of the mighty Jupiter organ thunders above you and a conductor such as Alwyn before you, urging you to give of your all, is an experience you will always remember.
The choir are really looking forward to being part of the joint concert with Foreland Fields School next Friday, 9th March at 7 p.m. As well as the two choirs there will be performances from Tom Abrahams and Denny Wood.
It will be an excellent evening’s entertainment and great value for money at only £5 per ticket. All to raise funds towards a specialist Junior Playground.
We recently had a visit from Alwyn Humphreys MBE, who will be conducting us in The Massed Voices concert at the Royal Albert Hall on 19th May, 2018.
We spent several hours rehearsing pieces and noting Alwyn’s preferences on the interpretation of the music.
It’s fair to say everyone really enjoyed the evening and it has definitely raised the excitement levels in looking forward to our performance.
On Monday February 12th, we welcome as conductor for the evening, Dr Alwyn Humphreys OBE.
Alwyn was conductor of the Morriston Orpheus Choir from Swansea for 25 years.
He will be assessing the Choir’s progress with the Royal Albert Hall concert programme that he will be conducting on Saturday May 19th 2018, being the concert of massed Welsh Voices R.A.H.
The choir have been learning the concert programme for the last two years, all of the music has to be committed to memory as no music is taken on stage, and of the 19 pieces to be sung, 9 will be performed in the Welsh language!
Come along to our traditional St. David’s Day Concert at the Aylesham Community Project on Saturday 3rd March at 7.30 p.m. Tickets only £3 – at the door or call 07342960927.
It was the Public House at Capel-le-Ferne, not an actual lighthouse.
The choir gave a free concert to diners and drinkers at The Lighthouse last Sunday, which was very well received.
Very positive feedback from Mair at the pub, thank you!
“Everyone I spoke to thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and quite a few said they were looking forward to the choir singing in Capel next year . We raised £107 .35 for the local charity .
Nadolig Llawen a Blwyddyn Newydd Dda ! “
(Which we hope translates to: “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”)
A well balanced section of volunteers from the Choir, (12 singers, 3 per section) surprised Yvonne Morgan, at her home in Rainham , Kent yesterday afternoon on the occasion of her 80th birthday after a request from her son to the Choir.
This message was received from her son Gwynne this morning sent to our concert secretary David Rance.
“Thanks again David to you and the gang, you did a great job – and mum loved it! So many people said they could have sat there all night listening to you!! All the best, Gwynne”.
We sang several songs in Welsh, with solos from Barry Rampton (Myffanwy) and David Rance (Calon Lan) and Bryan Marsh passed on our best wishes for her birthday, in Welsh of course.
Yvonne & Gwynne did make the mistake of telling the choir they were welcome to eat from the buffet!
Our concert at the All Souls church in Cheriton last Saturday (21/10/17) was well attended, considering the awful weather predictions for the night.
Great solo performances from Nigel Adams, Gerry Tighe and Brian Chambers.
Gerard Ahern took the opportunity to accompany several of our songs on the church organ, along with Aileen Dickson playing piano.
Also great hospitality from our hosts, provided by the ladies of the Mothers’ Union.
We even received a standing ovation at the end of the concert – well, from 2 audience members! But the rest of the audience clearly enjoyed the evening and feedback from our hosts said that “everyone we spoke to was enthralled by the music.”
After what was, to be honest, a shaky rehearsal the choir really stepped up to the mark for the live performance. Audience feedback was great, as was the hospitality.
Soloist Brian Chambers gave his usual excellent performances. Graham Steel sang a comic number from ‘Oliver’ which probably got the loudest applause of the night. Our chairman Gerry Tighe gave an outstanding performance considering he was unwell and managed to get the audience and choir singing along.
A trip of around 50 miles each way for many of us performing, but well worth the effort!
Our concert at Broad Oak Chapel, near Sturry, Canterbury, on Saturday 30th October was a real success. Unusually, because of the small size of the chapel, choir numbers had to be limited and we managed to squeeze just 21 singers into the building.
Normally at the interval, or when a soloist takes the spotlight, the choir remove to another area. As there was no space, we had the luxury of chairs behind every singer this time.
The hospitality given to the choir was superb, as was the reception to our performance.
Soloist Martin Kelly made his debut – and what a debut it was! He received tremendous applause from both the audience and his fellow choir members. Likewise Nigel Adams performed excellently, with songs very appropriate for the occasion. And accompanist Gerard Ahern managed all on his own, without our other accompanist turning the music pages!
After the event, cooling off outside under the stars, we were approached by a gentleman from the audience. He confided that sadly his wife’s father had passed away in February this year. It happened so suddenly that his wife was in shock, and hadn’t shed a single tear. But she was so moved by our performance of ‘Amazing Grace’ that she cried. For the right reasons, he assured us. Just a single effect like that provides us with a lot of pleasure, and justifies the hard work everyone puts into learning and performing the pieces.
Very pleased to welcome David Lake to the choir. David will be singing in our 2nd Tenor section.
Definitely the best section to be in. (Unbiased editor!)
Our newsletter, the first from our new editor-in-chief Andrew Mitchell (Mitch!) is now available.
Click on the picture to the right to download and read all about our fantastic trip to Snowdon.
The choir are excited to be a part of the village’s 90th anniversary celebrations and are holding a free concert to celebrate. We hope to see you there!
Saturday 3rd June’s concert was held at the local church of our MD, Michael Lewis, for a very good reason: It was a celebration of Michael’s 20th year as MD of our choir.
Although the choir was probably in a more relaxed mood than usual, we were all determined to give our best to mark the occasion. Judging from the feedback from the audience, it worked. Excellent solos from Nigel Adams and Dale Collett making his debut. Plus two terrific organ pieces by Michael himself.
Michael was presented with a custom-made waistcoat and bow-tie as a thank you, it wasn’t a surprise to see they were decorated with musical symbols.
Here’s just one of the many positive reviews:
‘June 3rd was a warm summer evening. The garden looked so inviting and it was a wrench to leave it. How glad we are that we did! What a musical feast awaited us. We have attended many Snowdown Colliery Choir evenings and always enjoyed them. This was the best yet.
The programme was varied. The execution precise and harmonious – a reflection of the close relationship between Mike and the Choir and testament to the hard work and dedication needed to produce a concert like this.
There was something for everyone. Amusing, poignant and prolific – goosebumps on the arms!
What a fitting tribute to Mike’s 20 years as the conductor. Talking of fitting, the gift of a music themed waistcoat and bow tie from the choir to Mike, fitted like a glove.
A truly special evening.’
It’s fair to say our concert on Saturday 6th May, at the beautiful Holy Trinity Church, in Folkestone, was a resounding success. ‘Spine-tingling’ was mentioned several times by the audience! We received a great review which will be included in the June edition of the church’s magazine – thank you Sid for that and the photo!
‘Snowdown Colliery Male Voice Choir is the last remaining colliery choir in Kent, and we were fortunate to be able to hear them perform in Holy Trinity Church on 6th May.
The choir’s repertoire ranged from folk songs to such traditional favourites as ‘Cwm Rhondda’ (but sung in English!) There were a number of arrangements of songs from West-End musicals, and also included some from ‘Les Miserables’.These were sung with such feeling and emotion that a number of members of the audience were seen to be close to tears.
The evening flew past; nobody wanted it to end, but fortunately the choir were persuaded to treat us to an encore, which was followed by prolonged applause.
Hopefully the choir will be able to return again, in the near future to delight us further, and for their part members of the choir expressed their appreciation for being able to perform in such a splendid venue.’
Saturday night’s concert was sung to a very appreciative audience who filled the church.
The concert was to raise funds for restoration of the church organ which on occasion, while of course ably played by Gerard Ahern, let us know that it needed attention!
Terrific solos by both Barry Rampton and ‘Mitch’ (Andrew Mitchell), whose rendition of Too–Ra–Loo–Ra–Loo–Ral (That’s an Irish Lullaby) brought tears to some eyes – in a good way!
The event, extremely well organised by the church, raised £5oo for the organ restoration fund.
The concert to raise funds for the Mayors’ Charities was very well attended, including Mayors from around the district. The audience was extremely appreciative, particularly with our MD Michael Lewis’s anecdotes about the choir and its history – as well as with the choir’s performance, of course!
Excellent solos from Nigel Adams and Gerry Tighe, with the audience eventually learning what seemed a rather lengthy chorus of the Willy Nelson song ‘Damp As A Dungeon’, and joining in with Gerry and the choir.
Our accompanists Elaine Dickson and Gerald Ahern were accomplished as ever, and gave a great four-handed rendition of ‘Rock Around The Clock’. One or two members of the choir were actually seen moving to the music, while singing. 🙂
It was a real pleasure for the choir to receive such excellent feedback from the audience both during and after the concert. One to be remembered!
Our Monday night rehearsal was taken by Dr Alwyn Humphreys in preparation for our massed choir concert at the Royal Albert Hall next year. A thoroughly enjoyable evening. The choir made some wonderful sounds under Alwyn’s direction. We look forward to him returning to rehearse again with us soon.
Also very nice feedback from someone who had just come along to listen to the rehearsal:
‘We enjoyed listening to last night’s rehearsal and were impressed with the choir.
Thank you for allowing us to hear you and we look forward to coming to one of your future concerts.’
The choir were really on form for their concert on 4th March, and performed magnificently to a full audience. Choir soloists were Brian Chambers, Nigel Adams, and Gerry Tighe, all entertained the audience marvellously.
Our very able accompanists Aileen Dickson, and Gerard Ahern joined forces to accompany the choir on piano and organ in several pieces, to great effect.
Over £700 was raised for the church funds.
Great concert, well done all.
A very appreciative audience were present at the Annual Christmas Concert featuring the Snowdown Colliery Welfare Male Voice Choir and the Snowdown Colliery Welfare Band.
This was the 30th year of this joint musical venture and the responsive audience were treated to a very wide range of Christmas music ranging from ‘ Gaudete’ to Maria Carey!
One of the highlights of the evening was a combined performance by choir and band of a piece of music entitled ‘A Christmas Fantasy’ . This piece was performed very well indeed, especially considering the choir and band did not have the opportunity to rehearse this piece together before this year’s performance.
Nigel Adams’ solo ‘Sweet Chiming Christmas Bells’ was also very well received.
Well done to Choir, Band , and audience for a very enjoyable evening.
The choir performed in the lovely village of Barham, for a small but appreciative audience, to raise funds for the Barham Bowls Club. It’s good to see the effort spent on Welsh pronunciation, ably coached by Bryan Marsh, is appreciated!
“I must write to say how much we enjoyed the concert yesterday evening in Barham. The varied nature of the programme and the professional performance of the choir made for an excellent evening’s entertainment so please do pass on our thanks to your members. I was particularly impressed by the Welsh contribution. As a language short on the use of vowels, it is difficult to get your tongue round some of the longest words but you did a magnificent job – and impressed the Welsh speakers in the audience! Thank you all so much!”
We held a joint concert with our fellow choristers from Huntingdon Male Voice Choir, held to raise funds for FHODS and the choir.
An excellent turnout was well rewarded, with great performances by both choirs, separately and jointly. Huntingdon Choir’s African chanting and foot-stamping gave some real energy to the performance.
A special mention to a brilliant solo by Brian Chambers, performing ‘Empty Chairs At Empty Tables’ from Les Miserables.
And kudos to our accompanists Gerard Aherne and Aileen Dickson – when the lights were dimmed for Brian’s solo, the piano was also plunged into darkness! Gerard soldiered on playing by memory, while quick-thinking from Aileen resulted in using a phone’s torch to shed some light.
A memorable evening, with some great feedback from the Huntingdon Choir too:
“ Thank you to Snowdown for hosting what was, for us, a fantastic evening on Saturday. The whole Choir enjoyed it enormously and I thought the choirs gave great performances, both individually and together. Please pass on my personal thanks to the committee, for agreeing to stage the concert, and to everyone involved in bringing it to fruition. Your welcome could not have been bettered and it was great that your members were able to stay on for the afterglow, which brought the event to a great conclusion. (The buffet was very much appreciated too!)”