50 years on and still in good voice

THE POWERFUL yet sweet sound of a town male voice choir is still soaring after 50 years of song. Formed in 1958 by employees at the English Electric Company (now MBDA), the Stevenage Male Voice Choir is celebrating its jubilee year and is marking the occ

THE POWERFUL yet sweet sound of a town male voice choir is still soaring after 50 years of song.

Formed in 1958 by employees at the English Electric Company (now MBDA), the Stevenage Male Voice Choir is celebrating its jubilee year and is marking the occasion with a series of concerts both here and abroad.

No stranger to big occasions, the choir has performed many prestigious concerts during the last half century, often for charity, and has appeared on television in Opportunity Knocks, Let the People Sing and Carols at Christmas.

Chairman and second tenor John Bishop, from Hitchin, said: "Over the years we've helped charities raise many thousands of pounds. In recent years the choir has appeared at prestigious venues such as Twickenham rugby ground, Hampton Court and the Natural History Museum and also had several concert tours abroad, including Ireland and Malta.


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"This year we will be celebrating 50 years with a two-concert trip to France, including a concert in Chatelaillon-Plage which is twinned with Knebworth. Later in the year we will be performing a specially composed work with the Hitchin Symphony Orchestra whose musical director, Paul Adrian Rooke, is also the choir's musical director."

Bass and press officer John Clarke, 68, from Archer Road in Stevenage, said: "It started at EEC many years ago and it just grew and grew. I've been with the choir for 12 years but some have been there for 30. Some of our members are now in their 80s but anyone can join, from 18 to, well, any age.

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"You know people think of a choir as church music but it's all kinds of music. It's a smashing hobby for anyone. It's for the enjoyment of it.

"It's the best thing I've ever done. You get to know all the people and the wives have their own club. If anyone should sadly die we keep in touch with the widows. I wish I'd joined many years before and hopefully we'll keep going for many years to come."

Secretary, first tenor and relative newcomer Edward Furye, 70, from Bedford Road, Letchworth GC, said: "I joined the choir about five years ago. My wife has MS and one of the choir members helped her, so that was how I heard about it. I do it because I love singing and the companionship. The wives support us by making tea and not throwing anything at us."

Fan and patron of the choir, best-selling author Ken Follett, said: "I am proud to be patron of the Stevenage Male Choir. The high quality of their singing is always a joy to me, and I admire their talents and their perfectionism."

The 30-strong choir sing a varied repertoire ranging from classics and opera to popular and show songs accompanied by piano. They perform around 12 concerts a year.

You can hear the choir sing everything from Elgar to Cole Porter when they open the mayor's charity concert at the Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage, next Thursday, March 20.

The choir rehearses every Friday evening at the Arts Pavilion at the Roaring Meg retail park in Stevenage and are always keen to welcome new members. Anybody interested in joining (music reading not necessary) should visit its website www.smvc.org or contact the secretary, Edward Furye, on 01462 627502.

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