Leyland Male Voice Choir ensure they end their time on a high note

A male voice choir gave their all at their final concert to show support for St Catherine's Hospice.

Tuesday, 20th December 2016, 8:37 am
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 3:01 pm
Leyland Male Voice Choir perform at St Catherine's Hospice

After 41 years, Leyland Male Voice Choir (MVC) decided to call it a day after dwindling numbers meant it was difficult to sustain.

Their last public performance was at St Catherine’s Hospice in Lostock Hall earlier this month, which was part of St Catherine’s Christmas Festival.

But they got together one last time a few nights later at Midge Hall Chapel, in Leyland, for the ladies night.

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Leyland Male Voice Choir's last meeting

It proved a rousing and emotional night, as the choir was joined by non-active members, including founder Dr John Wilson, and numbers swelled to 21.

The gang sang Morte Criste at the beginning and at the end of the mini concert and Rhythm of Life was enjoyed so much by the ladies that several were moved to dance around the room.

The evening’s music was concluded with an impromptu and unconducted rendition of Gwahoddiad, which was sung in Welsh with a Lancashire twang.

Members reminisced about the group, which was formed by Dr John Wilson in 1975. He had moved to the area in 1972 to work for Leyland Truck and Bus Division, but as a keen vocalist, he couldn’t find a suitable local choir. This prompted him to form Leyland MVC on February 26 1975.

Leyland Male Voice Choir's last meeting

The choir’s repertoire increased over the years and became a very healthy mix of traditional and the best of more recent compositions.

As a male voice choir, they particularly enjoyed Welsh male voice arrangements and traditionally many of their concerts would end with Emrys Jones’ arrangement for men of his own composition Morte Criste (set to Isaac Watts lyrics When I Survey the Wondrous Cross).

Concerts were held in and around the North West and sometimes even further afield.

The choir was proud to have contributed to the raising of thousands of pounds for worthwhile local and national charities, and to sing with massed choirs and at competition venues.

Dr Wilson retired on the choir’s 40th anniversary and Chris Haydock, who joined in 2013, helped the choir move forward under his leadership in February last year.

Chris says: “More recently, members numbers have lessened, and the majority were concerned that returning to previous venues, they would fall short of the high standard they had set themselves and after a meeting about the immediate future of the choir, the outcome was to ‘disband’ at the end of the year.

“I had conducted and compiled the programmes for five public concerts in my 22 months directing the choir.

“Bass and baritones have been recruited, but most choirs, mixed or male voice, struggle to recruit tenors, and the choir numbers have dropped over the years from more than 30, to now less than 15 active members.

“Our final public performance was at St Catherine’s Hospice and we were accompanied by Dr John Wilson, who founded the choir.

“It was quite fitting that he should be with us for that night.

“It will be rather sad that what as been such a strong choir of more than 40 years have found its numbers lessening, the majority want to end on a ‘high note’ rather than be known as a choir that ‘used to be really good!’

“I hope that individually all my friends find another route for their personal music, because I know they still have a love of music in their hearts.

“It has been a privilege, not only to sing with them since Easter 2013, but to lead their direction since February 2015.”