End of an era as Melton Mowbray Male Voice Choir prepare for final farewell concert after 57 years of performing

The Melton Mowbray Male Voice Choir EMN-161105-185733001
The Melton Mowbray Male Voice Choir EMN-161105-185733001
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A Melton choir which has been performing for 57 years, helping to raise thousands of pounds for worthwhile causes, is aiming to go out on a high note at its final farewell concert.

The Melton Mowbray Male Voice Choir, which was formed in 1959, will sing for the very last time at Sage Cross Methodist Chapel on Saturday, June 11, 7pm start, before disbanding.

The decision has been put down to the ages of the choir’s membership and failing to recruit new members.

The choir was formed in 1959 when a group of men came together to form a choir to sing at a ‘men’s Sunday service’ at Sage Cross Methodist Church.

That choir found that they enjoyed singing together and decided to continue, with members attending on a weekly basis.

Initially the then choirmaster at Sage Cross, Mr Dunstan (1959-1960), conducted them but very soon they

enlisted the first long-term conductor, Albert Hart (1960-1986), at the time choirmaster at Sherrard Street Methodist Church which no longer exists.

Albert invited men of his acquaintance, who could sing, to join the choir and a good balance of parts, with about 18 members, began rehearsing on Monday evenings at Sage Cross.

As well as concentrating on the music the evenings were always good fun. One memorable moment of notoriety was during the singing of ‘The Song of the Jolly Roger’ at a concert at the United Reformed Church.

While conducting the choir with great exuberance and enthusiasm towards the swashbuckling final crescendo, conductor Albert’s trousers fell down, round his ankles, leaving him a picture of sartorial elegance, arms aloft, displaying his white underpants and socks held up with gentleman’s elasticated suspenders. The choir members sang on with tears of laughter running down their faces.

On retirement Albert was followed by Jack Smith who expertly fulfilled the role of conductor from 1986 to 2000. During this time the choir took part in several massed choir concerts with other Leicestershire male voice choirs, at Leicester’s De Montfort Hall, often with celebrated soloists and military bands, such as the Blues and Royals, as major fundraising events for LOROS and the armed forces charity SSAFA.

Jack’s retirement in 2000 made way for present conductor, Allan Marriott, (2000-2016) who has continued

in excellent fashion, introducing new music, welcoming new members and both training and providing the musical direction of the choir.

Over the years the choir has benefited from the skills of talented accompanists at the piano. Notably Cliff Drane who supported the choir with consummate professionalism from the early years, and currently by Neville Favell who not only plays but has brought unique composing and arranging skills creating original male voice choir songs, several of which have been accepted for publication.

Other accompanists who have played for the choir from time to time include Miranda Wilder who will join the choir for its final concert.

John Fairbrother, of the Melton Mowbray Male Voice Choir, said “The choir has maintained a membership of about 20 plus singing members across four musical parts, comprising first and second tenor, baritone and bass.

“Over the 57 years in excess of 80 members have joined and enjoyed their time with the choir before moving on.”

The choir has one remaining founder member, Ron Haworth, who was part of the original ‘men’s Sunday choir’. Ron was made an honorary life member in recognition of this unique achievement.

Mr Fairbrother added: “In addition to the choir members, concerts have benefited from a host of soloists, both singers and instrumentalists, adding variety to the choir’s extensive repertoire.

“The members would like to thank everyone who has supported the choir over the years, and particularly our friends at Sage Cross Methodist Church who have allowed us to meet here on most Monday evenings, and

for hosting our final concert.”

For more details about the choir’s farewell concert you can email John Fairbrother at jwfairbrother@gmail.com