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About WMVC
How It All Started
Choir People

Weybridge Male Voice Choir
Founded 1921
Serving The Community

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Registered Charity No. 1038624
Member of the National Federation of Music Societies
About Weybridge Male Voice Choir
Hon. President: Malcolm Singer M.A. (Cantab.)
Director of Music, The Yehudi Menuhin School
Director of Music: Jonathan Kilhams

Weybridge Male Voice Choir outside Peterborough Cathedral

Weybridge Male Voice Choir outside Peterborough Cathedral
where they sang on route to a joint concert with
Sheffield's Worrall Male Voice Choir

   We are a choir of amateur singers who :
  • Are based in Weybridge, Surrey, England and come from all backgrounds, age groups, occupations and levels of singing experience
     
  • Sing for our own enjoyment , to preserve and extend the male voice choir tradition and to raise money for deserving causes
     
  • Are a registered charity in our own right , performing twenty concerts or more each year for local and national charities
     
  • Take pride in the reputation we enjoy and the standard of performance we have achieved under the expert guidance of our Musical Director
     
  • Delight in sharing our love of singing with local, national and international audiences
     
  • Maintain an extensive and varied repertoire from which we are able to build a concert programme to suit all musical tastes
     
  • Have undertaken many concert tours nationally and abroad, and participate in festivals and competitions
     
  • Enjoy the unique fellowship and camaraderie of joint performances and events with other choirs
     
  • Gladly welcome new members without formal audition - the only requirement is a desire to sing!
The Weybridge Male Voice Choir was formed in 1921 by a small group of enthusiastic singers and since then has grown to its present strength of over sixty members, enjoying a national and international reputation for performance quality and entertainment value.

Although the choir is based in Weybridge in Surrey our membership is drawn from all over Surrey and from all walks of life. We enjoy entertaining audiences throughout Surrey, the South East and many other parts of Great Britain, raising funds through our performances for many local and national charities. The choir has also travelled extensively, performing concerts and joining with other choirs in competitions and festivals throughout the UK and abroad.

We offer exciting and varied programmes of popular opera choruses, spirituals, hymns and devotional pieces, traditional songs and ballads and choral arrangements of songs from musical shows and the current popular music scene, all performed in the spine-tingling four-part harmony which is unique to traditional male voice choral singing.

The choir continues to flourish and following the untimely death of our long-serving Musical Director Christine Best in 2012 we have been fortunate to benefit from the direction of our Deputy MD Ed Pepper; from Gareth Giles; and from our present Director Jonathan Kilhams, under whose enthusiastic leadership we look forward to singing through to our centenary year in 2021 and beyond!
How It All Started

In 1921 a small group of choristers from the United Reformed Church in Weybridge decided to get together on a regular basis to sing. Very soon they were giving public performances in support of local charities and community projects, and so was born the Weybridge Male Voice Choir. From those humble beginnings the choir has grown to its present strength of over seventy members and enjoys a national and international reputation

"Big trees from little acorns grow" seems to be a fair description of the birth and development of the Weybridge Male Voice Choir, for such was the success of a scratch male quartet at a concert in the Congregational Church Lecture Hall in Queen's Road, Weybridge in 1921 that recruitment was started to form a choir.

An inaugural meeting over a cup of tea resulted in the formation of the choir under the leadership of its first conductor, Mr Charles Edwards, and it soon started accepting local concert engagements. Recognition of the choir swiftly spread throughout North West Surrey and demand for concerts in support of worthy causes increased each year. Choir membership grew too, reaching nearly sixty by 1925.

Like any amateur organisation the choir has had its 'downs' as well as 'ups'. After the burgeoning success of the first years the choir hit hard times in the early thirties, with falling membership resulting in an unbalanced choir. With hard work and enthusiasm, however, this trend was soon reversed and the choir re-structured to continue its growth, entering the local competitive arena in 1933 at the Kingston Music Festival.

Participation in festivals has continued ever since with some notable successes. The Second World War interrupted activities, but at a special general meeting in 1946 the choir was reunited once more to resume where it had left off.

During the twenty seven years under the Musical Directorship of Bob Farrow, from 1950 until his death in 1977, the quality, success and reputation of the choir blossomed, and continued under the subsequent leadership of Malcolm Singer (now Musical Director of the Yehudi Menuhin School at Stoke d'Abernon) and then Thomas Hartman.

Under Tom's baton the choir celebrated its Diamond Jubilee in 1981 with a series of special concerts, culminating in a performance of Cherubini's Requiem in D Minor for male voice choir and orchestra.

With Tom's departure after two enjoyable years it was not possible to find a full-time Musical Director to replace him immediately, and the choir entered another difficult period with membership starting to fall.

The trend was soon reversed, however, with the appointment in 1985 of Christine Best as Musical Director, who had already been involved with the choir for many years as accompanist.

Weybridge Male Voice Choir in Cathedral Concert, Liverpool July 2005

Weybridge Male Voice Choir in Cathedral Concert, Liverpool

Weybridge Male Voice Choir in Cathedral Concert, Liverpool July 2005

The last decade has seen another 'golden age' in the choir. As well as its usual programme of twenty or so concerts each year in support of charities and community projects the choir has;

  • Toured abroad in Holland, Germany, France and the Czech Republic
     

  • Participated in World Choir events in Cardiff Arms Park, Atlanta and Dublin
     

  • Competed with success in many festivals
     

  • Performed in many Cathedrals and other prestige venues (Lichfield, York, Peterborough, Wells, Ely, London Guildhall)
     

  • Participated in the VE Day anniversary celebrations in Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace.

Weybridge has been an enthusiastic participant in the regular Six Choirs Festivals involving male choirs across the country, and has hosted the event on two occasions. The choir is always pleased to join with other choirs and in recent years has been pleased to welcome to its Annual Concert in Weybridge choirs from Chicago, Germany, Prague, Vancouver, Tonna and Port Talbot.

In 1996 the choir celebrated its 75th Anniversary by participating in the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod and staging a special Anniversary Concert at the Purcell Room, Royal Festival Hall, London.

Thanks to the enthusiasm and devotion of its Musical Directors and other officers the choir has gone from strength to strength, becoming an integral part of the artistic and social life of Weybridge and surrounding areas as well as expanding its reputation nationally and abroad. We are resolved to continue and build on these strengths into the 21st century!

Choir People      

Jonathan Kilhams Bmus(hons) ABRSMdip, Musical Director

Jonathan Kilhams Musical Director of Weybridge Male Voice ChoirJonathan started his music career as a Chorister in Chichester Cathedral, where from an early age he realised his love of choral singing. This continued to flourish at his secondary school, Lancing College and resulted in him gaining a choral scholarship to Royal Holloway University of London where he was a member of the prestigious Chapel Choir. Through this choir Jonathan has recorded nearly ten discs on the world renowned Hyperion record label and toured this music around Europe, America and China. Being a soloist on several of these albums has resulted in him performing live on Estonian, British and American radio.

Jonathan enjoys a successful singing career as well as his conducting and has performed to people such as Charles, Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cambridge as well as performing in prestigious venues such as The Barbican Centre, Royal Festival Hall and The Royal Albert Hall. Jonathan is a member of the cutting edge choir, Lumina and also sings regularly with the National Portrait Choir and several Cathedrals across the South.

Much of Jonathan’s work is taken up with conducting a variety of choirs from Weybridge Male Voice Choir to children’s choirs in Shepperton. Since leaving university in 2012 his conducting career has continued to flourish and is in high demand in London and Surrey. His belief that choral singing is a universal language that has the power to bring people together in times of need is infectious and has resulted in his choral society, Walton Voices, doubling in size in just one year.

Ed Pepper, Deputy ConductorEd Pepper, Deputy Conductor of Weybridge Male Voice Choir

Ed joined the choir in 1974 as a Baritone and subsequently transferred to the Bass section. Coming from a musical family his singing career started at a young age, joining his local church choir at the age of 9. He has been singing ever since, currently with WMVC and Mosaic Chamber Choir. Along the way he performed with a quartet which came third in a Radio Two Barbershop Competition, subsequently recording 4 songs for later broadcast.

During his time with WMVC Ed has served as Baritone Section Representative, Secretary, Stage Manager and Chairman. As one of the Choir’s solo entertainers he is renowned for his humorous monologues.

His role as Deputy Conductor is to complement and support the Musical Director and he has relished the opportunities to conduct both in weekly rehearsals and in concert. During the period of uncertainty following the illness and subsequent passing of Christine Best in 2012 and again in 2013 with the retirement through ill health of Gareth Giles, Ed was pivotal in ensuring that the choir's performances continued, taking over all rehearsals and concert performances, including participation in 2012 in the Five Choirs Concert in St James' Church, Weybridge and the Diamond Jubilee Massed Male Choir Festival at the Fairfield Hall in Croydon.

 Mike Wood - Accompanist - Weybridge Male Voice ChoirMike Wood - Accompanist

Mike Wood's enjoyment of music and musical performance has endured from his early teens when he learnt the flute. He played in many orchestras and also found the opportunity to teach himself to play the organ. He was appointed church organist when he was 16.

Mike joined WMVC as a chorister, but after a brief spell became the choir's accompanist. He describes himself as an amateur musician who is delighted to have found a beneficial outlet for his talents.

As well as playing for other choral societies and groups, he was for some years Organist and Choirmaster at St Mary's Church, Sunbury and St Nicholas' Church in Shepperton.

Christine Best, Musical Direcor of Weybridge Male Voice ChoirChristine Best BA Cert Ed. A Cert CM, Musical Director 1985 - 2012

Christine Best died on Tuesday 2 October 2012, after a year-long fight with cancer. She had been re-admitted to St Peter's Hospital, Chertsey a few days before and passed away peacefully in her sleep.

Christine Best had been a well known and loved figure in the musical life of Weybridge and the surrounding area for many years. She attended Woking Grammar School and later went on to Whitelands College of Education to study English and Drama. Here she also became part of the musical life of the college, studying with Gordon Reynolds, Master of Music at Hampton Court Palace. She returned at weekends to play the organ at St. Michael’s Church, the then daughter church of St James’ in Weybridge.

In 1967 Christine left college and started teaching at St. James Junior School, at the same time becoming accompanist for the Weybridge Male Voice Choir. She continued in that role for the next eighteen years, apart from one or two short periods filling in as conductor whilst the choir was between MDs! She took over as full-time Musical Director in 1985.

In 1982 Christine was appointed Deputy Head of St James Junior School and subsequently became Head Teacher at St Mary’s Junior School in Long Ditton. On her retirement she became a Governor of what is now St James C of E Primary School in Weybridge.

As Director of Music at St James’ Church in Weybridge she was awarded the Maynard Prize in 2008 for gaining the highest marks overall in the course for the Archbishops’ Award of the Guild of Church Musicians. In the same year she was made an Honorary Member of the Guild of Church Musicians for her work in the field of church music.

Christine was also Musical Director of Treble Clef Ladies' Choir and of the Weyward Singers.

Want To Join Us ?  
Want To Join Us?   "But I can't sing..."

This is the reply which often comes back when someone is invited to join the choir. in actual fact most of us can sing, but many of us don’t realise it!

And it's true! Singing and making music is as instinctive to us humans as breathing, eating and drinking! It helps if you can hold a tune in your head, but beyond that everything else can be taught. 
So if you live within reach of Weybridge and you'd like to give us a try, just come along to one of our weekly practice sessions, any Tuesday evening, 8pm at St James' Parish Centre, Weybridge. Park in the adjoining Churchfield Road Car Park.

There is no formal audition, only an informal test after a few weeks. You will be made very welcome and can decide for yourself whether or not you want to join us.

Of course, we're always happy to welcome experienced singers too, so if you live or work in the area, please come along.
 
The Magnificent St James' Church - A Beautiful Local Landmark

St James' Parish Church

 
We have built up an extensive and varied repertoire of items ranging from traditional male voice numbers to modern arrangements, and regularly add new items, many of them suggested by members themselves. We also sing bespoke arrangements and original numbers written by past & present musical directors!

We perform about a dozen or so concerts each year, mostly in support of local and national charities at home and abroad as an important element of our choral and social diary.

For more details, contact the Secretary on this email : secretary@weybridgemvc.org.uk
Please mention the All About Weybridge Website.
Photos
Weybridge Male Voice Choir Singing at the Eden Project Cornwall
Photos Courtesy Bernard Andrews Photography
Weybridge Male Voice Choir in Cathedral Concert, Liverpool July 2005
Weybridge Male Voice Choir in Cathedral Concert, Liverpool July 2005
 
Contact Details

Weybridge Male Voice Choir

Joining The Choir:
Email to the Secretary secretary@weybridgemvc.org.uk
Concerts &  Bookings:
John Kirby, Concert Secretary bookings@weybridgemvc.org.uk
Telephone: 01932 247 747 Please mention the All About Weybridge Website
 

Weybridge Male Voice Choir Website

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