Founding Member Remembers
21 January 2015
The choir recently received an email from John Fawcett, a founding member of Bestwood Male Voice Choir. John has kindly given us permission to reproduce his letter and his reminiscences of the early Bestwood Male Voice Choir.
Almost by accident I accessed your website which I found really informative. Some of the early information appealed to me because I was a founder member, or perhaps more accurately, I was there from the beginning.
I was only 14 years old and the youngest in the choir by at least 20 years. I was perhaps the object of some curiosity but I was accepted and sang with the choir for two or three years, always under the musical direction of Frank Dunn, a man with a remarkable vocal range from bottom bass to top tenor.
I lived in the village until my career eventually took me far away. Some years ago I wrote for my own interest an account of how I remembered the village, the colliery, the school and so on and I included something about the choir. This is a reminiscence of what may have been one of the choir's early public performances. Here it is.
Bestwood Male Voice Choir
In the early 1950s a move was made to set up a male voice choir. The Manager at the colliery was to be the conductor and musical director and, since there were one or two senior officials from the Area Headquarters, there was a good turnout. Some members clearly had half a lifetime’s singing experience from church and other choirs, but many were novices. The conductor quickly realised the variation in talent and arranged the rehearsals to suit almost the slowest. They were divided into the four singing parts, 1st and 2nd tenors, baritones and bases. The range of the male human voice which the four parts covered is quite extensive, but surprisingly the conductor could apparently sing through the whole range. Some of the more ambitious and assertive elbowed their way to the front row and sang with great fervour and as much flair as they dared.
They started with very simple things, hymn tunes such as Crimond and Belmont, but soon progressed to ballads and later to more ambitious pieces. The pianist was a small man in his middle years whose keyboard skills ranged from choral accompanist to pub and dance band player, all carried out with effortless grace.
The first time the choir performed was at a charity event in the large Methodist chapel in Bulwell, early one Saturday evening. Since the choir had to arrive in style a coach was hired, although the distance was scarcely three miles. The choir was dressed up in dark grey suits and white shirts, but with a black bow tie. The concert day came and the choir and their wives and girlfriends trooped into the chapel, the choir squeezing into the area around the altar to render, at first nervously and later with greater confidence, almost their full repertoire.
The large chapel was full and for the audience, or rather congregation, this was clearly a night to be relished, but only if they themselves would be allowed to sing. Finally, when all the soloists had done their bit, the choir had exhausted its programme, the local circuit minister had gravely thanked everyone in sight, and the organ had played “The Lost Chord” in its full Victorian grandeur, it was announced that all should sing “All Hail the Power of Jesu’s Name”. A rather sedate version is well known in the Church of England but this was a Methodist anthem of powerful praise. No one in the entire building it seemed needed either music or words and all sang with a gusto and commitment too overwhelming to describe. The verses were relatively restrained, sung merely at double forte. But at the chorus no one held back from the sustained soaring melody or from the rolling harmony, each part rising to a mighty crescendo in the final “Crown Him Lord of All”. Strangers may have been at first slightly apprehensive at singing of what was clearly the symbol of their faith and culture, but soon everyone was swept up in the great rendition. By the final verses caution was thrown to the winds and the singing was almost beyond belief.
In the excitement most of the congregation, not needing to refer to any hymn sheet, was studying the choir closely to see if any were unfamiliar with this non conformist ritual, this tribal anthem, by which token you either were, or were not, one of them. The hymn was sung, the spell broken and the concert ended.
In the years that followed the choir went from strength to strength, and won competitions at festivals, bringing home prizes and cups, medals and awards. Competitions in far away places always entailed a hired bus and, since the event usually took place on a Saturday afternoon, the journey home involved one or more stops to take on refreshment. One young man, not yet exposed to the social habits of the more mature adults, found their antics quite revealing.
Bestwood MVC Charity Of The Year
17 January 2015
Bestwood Male Voice Choir is proud to announce that their Charity Of The Year for 2015 is the Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance. The following is a description of the work that they do from their web site.
The Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance is a dedicated medical air service which first began flying operations in Lincolnshire in April 1994.
Based at RAF Waddington, south of Lincoln, we are unaffected by road congestion, country roads, heavy vehicles or road works. Our Helicopter is fully equipped and staffed by two paramedics; it can literally make the difference between life and death.
If somebody is involved in a serious accident or suddenly taken ill, speed is of the essence. In order to give the best possible chance of making a full recovery, the Air Ambulance can get patients to hospital as quickly as possible. It can fly at just under 160mph to any point in the two counties in less than 20 minutes.
Every year we need to raise £1.8 million to keep our Air Ambulance flying. To date with your generous support this has been possible, please continue to help spread the word and keep this vital lifesaving service running.
Joining the Choir
If you think you may like to join the choir, come along and listen to a rehearsal on Tuesday evenings at 7.30pm.
We meet at
Bestwood Village Social Club,
Booking the Choir
We are available to perform at all kinds of events. We can provide a varied programme of songs from our 2015 repertoire to entertain at weddings, corporate events and fundraising concerts.
If you would like the choir to sing at your event, please contact our Concert Secretary, by email on email@example.com or use the Contact Us page.
National Association of Choirs
Rotenburg an der Fulda
Gedling Borough Council
Bestwood Village WI
His Grace the Duke of St Albans
Registered Charity No. 702126