In 1968 a small group of singers met at a local public house in Much Wenlock and declared their intention to meet on a regular basis to sing for pleasure, and so Much Wenlock Male Voice Choir was born.
The choir attracted members from a wide area of Shropshire and enjoyed continued success under the leadership of its founder Musical Director, Mrs Ceridwen Constantine, who combined a background of Welsh choral singing with formal music training at the Northern School of Music, Manchester.
Under Mrs Constantines stewardship, over a period of 40 years, the choir developed a wide repertoire of more than 200 traditional and popular songs. Stage performances always being made without using sheet music so that songs truly come straight ‘from the heart’. Although the choir has taken part in Eisteddfods and musical competitions over the years. it is mainly non- competitive and the choir’s aim remains to ‘sing for pleasure’.
1980 saw the choirs first overseas tour, to Thiers in France and the choir has made some 25 tours, travelling widely throughout Britain and Europe, touring the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Ireland, Spain, France, Germany, Holland, Belgium and Atlanta USA.
The choir formed ties with choirs in Holland, Germany and Belgium as well as the U.K, fostering international links and hosting choirs from abroad on their return visits to Shropshire. It participated in joint concerts with the Lon Dhoo Choir IOM, Icknield, Cwmtawe, Greater Manchester Police Choir, Northampton, Rhayder, Rame Peninsula, Llanelli, Newquay and East Fife, to name but a few.
Mrs Constantine oversaw the release of three recordings, “Singing For Pleasure” recorded at the William Brookes School in 1975, “Were You There” recorded in Birmingham in 1980 and “On Wenlock Edge” recorded at the William Brookes School in 1996.
In 2000 the choir attended the Jersey International Music Festival and were placed second in the male voice section. In the same year they participated in a massed choir event at the Manchester Evening News Arena “2000 in 2000”. The choir joined other choirs for massed choir concerts at Telford, Manchester, Llangollen, Cardiff, Dublin and Birmingham and participated in the Shrewsbury International Music Festivals, regularly sharing the stage in concert with choirs attending the Festivals.
2010 saw the retirement Mrs Constantine and the appointment of Paul Kelly as Musical Director. Paul brought a wealth of experience to the post, having previously directed a variety of orchestras, choirs and bands. Paul was formerly employed as Director of Music at the William Brookes School and under his leadership the choir moved forwards in its sound and range of music, building on what was an already extensive repertoire. As a result the current programme of song reflects a more modern twist and always attracts very positive responses from audiences.
The choir toured Northern Ireland in May 2011, singing with the Bangor Ladies choir and also with Ballyclare MVC at the Presbyterian Church in Belfast and took part in the Olympics ‘Welcome Songs’ in 2012 when they were filmed by Central TV. The choir visited Gateshead, Tyne & Wear in 2014 and toured the Lake District in 2015, performing a joint concert with Barrow MVC at Grange Over Sands. 2016 saw a visit to South Wales for a joint concert with Abertillery Ladies Choir. In December of the same year the choir were pleased to announce the release of their most recent recording ‘Spirit of the Edge’ – see ‘Gallery’ on this website to listen to a track and find out how to buy a copy!
The choir celebrated its 50th year in 2018 with an anniversary dinner at the Buckatree Hall Hotel to which all choristers, patrons and friends were invited.
Last year (2019) the choir travelled to Cornwall over the May Bank Holiday weekend, to take part in the Cornish International Choral festival, which saw choirs from all over the world visit the county to compete or sing for pleasure. See the post on the main page for more details.
The choir is proud to have helped many organisations raise money for charitable purposes, helping charities both local and national raise tens of thousands of pounds, enriching the community life of the town of Much Wenlock and other communities in Shropshire and beyond. The choir is a registered charity (No: 1105919) and a member of the National Association of choirs. (Group 22)
The choir has many loyal patrons and supporters whom it wishes to thank for their continuing support.
Musical Director – Richard Fox
In August this year the choir were pleased to announce the appointment of Richard Fox as their new Musical Director. Richard has a wealth of experience and was latterly the Head of Music at Bridgnorth Endowed School as well as being a member of a local jazz ensemble ‘Band on the Edge’, a group which coincidentally included the choirs previous MD Paul Kelly.
Richards musical career began in Sussex where he attended University to study 20th Century Music and conducted the university orchestra. In his final year he was appointed as Musical Director of Sussex Musical Theatre Company in Brighton. A part time job with the local BBC radio station resulted in a three year spell hosting his own classical music show.
A career in teaching saw Richard teach in schools in five different countries, including comprehensives, grammar schools and also in the independant sector. As a musician he has composed a number of choral works, some of which have reached audiences as far away as Spain and Australia. Over the years he has been Musical Director and conductor of several choirs, theatre companies and operatic societies and has sung with the BBC Symphony Chorus and with the Telford based Gallery Singers, a chamber choir that has won both the North Wales Choral Competition and was awarded first prize at the Bath International Choral Competition.
Now retired from teaching and living locally at Ditton Priors Richard is looking forward to pursuing a range of musical activities and his enthusiasm and interest is clear … “I love teaching music – it’s a lot of fun and very rewarding. Music can have a profound effect on a person’s attitude, confidence and enthusiasm…I’m passionate about music…” The choir looks forward to a long, productive and happy working relationship.
Principal Accompanist – David Fisher
The choirs Principal Accompanist is David Fisher, an accomplished and highly experienced pianist and a graduate of Trinity College of Music in London, where he gained a Fellowship Diploma in organ playing, as well as Teaching Diplomas in piano. During the 1980’s David conducted the Halfway House Male Voice Choir near Shrewsbury.
Much Wenlock Male Voice Choir meets for rehearsals on Tuesday evenings 7.30pm, at the William Brookes School, Much Wenlock (during Term Time). The choir would like to increase active membership allowing more scope to broaden the range of material it can cover and is pleased to have welcome a number of new choristers over the past year. Why not come and give it a try, there is a great sense of camaraderie and we really do welcome new members of all abilities.
Learn more about our choir on this site, or visit http://www.muchwenlockguide.info/ to learn more about Much Wenlock.