Alcester Male Voice Choir
PUBLISHED: 01:16 21 September 2011 | UPDATED: 20:01 20 February 2013
How a band of enthusiastic Warwickshire schoolboys grew into one of the best male voice choirs in the country.
Theyve sung in front of thousands with Katherine Jenkins and Shirley Bassey, and theyve performed at the Royal Albert Hall and Cardiff Arms Park, among other famous venuesbut they still rehearse in a church hall in a small Warwickshire town.
The Alcester Male Voice Choir has grown from a handful of enthusiastic schoolboys, teachers and parents in the early 1970s to become one of the countrys leading male choirs, in demand throughout the year.
The success of the choir is down to a combination of factors, not least of which is a passion for singing allied to the commitment and drive of its founder and Director of Music, Judith Land.
A native of the Land of Song, Judith left Wales to teach in England; and it was as Head of Music at a local school that she formed a mixed choir of students in 1974. The lads enjoyed it so much that they persuaded some of their dads to join in. Renamed the Alcester Male Voice Choir, they gave their first concert in St Nicholas Parish Church in the town.
Music has been my career and hobby and it is a great privilege working with so many talented and enthusiatic gentlemen who enjoy the sound of a male voice choir, says Judith.
That first group of 18 men soon swelled. Today the choir numbers more than 75 members, making it one of the largest male voice choirs in the country, and they enjoy a national and international reputation.
Singing is our passion but so is raising funds for charity, says choir member Rob Kingscott. Throughout any one year the choir performs at least 12 concerts on behalf of others, helping to raise much needed funds for churches, charities, clubs and societies. Indeed over the years many, many thousands of pounds have been raised in this way.
Over the years the choir has performed at Ragley Hall, Worcester Cathedral, Birmingham Town Hall, Cardiff Arms Park, The Royal Albert Hall and Birmingham Symphony Hall. They have sung with Welsh diva Katherine Jenkins, and the legendary Shirley Bassey, as well as many leading Welsh choirs.
Earlier this summer the choir toured Brittany, performing to enthusiastic crowds in Rennes and St Malo, among others. They have previously toured Germany, Austria, Spain and Italy. In November this year the choir has been invited to appear at the Welsh Fesitval of Remembrance in Cardiff, singing alongside some of the finest Welsh male voice choirs.
Judith has nurtured a culture that this is a community choir and open to any men who like singing, says Rob. All she asks is that they are prepared to make the commitment to weekly rehearsals and the regulars concerts. There is no audition process and choristers are only asked to join a concert performance when they themselves feel ready.
Judith, who studied at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, is highly respected and acknowledged as one of the best in the business by her peers. She says: We all work extremely hard but the thrill and exhilaration I get seeing it all come together in a concert makes it all worth while. The choir is a family, we support and help each other. There are no auditions. Why not come along for a few taster rehearsals to see how we work and what we sing?
Rehearsals take place every Wednesday at the Alcester Baptist Church. New members and others with an interest in music are welcome to attend.