Choir History

The Beginnings

The formation of an all-male musical group to organise services and sing at a Men's Sunday was suggested at a trustees meeting of the Wetley Rocks Methodist Church in 1975. This went ahead with about 12 members of the Chapel and Parish and became the foundation of the Wetley Rocks Male Voice Choir. The first MD was chapel choir member Haydn Jones.

Milestones

Over the years the choir has had several Musical Directors. By 1982 Jean Beardmore had taken over as Musical Director from Haydn Jones with accompanists Bernard Lewis and Christine Willshaw. John Ellis took over from her in 1988 assisted by accompanist Norman Hunt. He was followed by Allan Williams and in 1998 by Mike Cook with accompanist Jill Evans. Simon Baker and Mark Dale took the reins in 2006 which brings us to the present with Ian Jones as MD with Elizabeth Bell as accomapanist at first and now with Philip Riddle on the piano.

The choir has performed at many concerts. Some in local churches, parish halls and community centres, some larger venus, often for charities. We have also performed at weddings and, sadly, funerals. We have regularly taken part in the Leek Arts Festival performing gala concerts with the Llangollen Male Voice Choir in 2012, with Endon Community Choir in 2013 and 2014. Charities supported include local appeals (e.g. for chruch restoration) but major fundraising events have also been organised notably a concert in 2013 at Central Hall, Longton supporting Shine (Spina bifida and Hydrocephalus) which raised £2500. In 2014 we staged another charity concert, this time in aid of a local charity Love for Leah where over £1000 was raised.

We were proud to welcome Councillor Robert Plant as our President in 2013. Robert has been a constant and loyal supporter of the choir. He has both attended many of our concerts and been very active in raising funds and grants for us. We all owe him an immense debt of gratitude.

The choir recorded a CD in 2013 featuring half a dozen pieces from our repertoire. You can listen to one of these pieces on YouTube! "Stronger as One" performed by Wetley Rocks Male Voice Choir.

Competition

In the early years the choir took part in several competitions at festivals in Macclesfield, Newcastle, Biddulph and Morecambe often being placed or winning. In 1985 we won the Hanson Trophy for best Male Voice Choir for the third time at the Macclesfield Music and Drama Festival.

In 1987 we sang in a "Choral Spectacular" of Thirteen Choirs organised by the National Association of Choirs at the Victoria Hall, Hanley. We have also taken part in two "Songs of Praise" concerts for the BBC.

Visits and Tours

Wetley Rocks MVC has mainly performed in the local area but there have been a few visits further afield. In 1986 we performed two concerts in the Isle of Arran under the leadership of John Ellis. We have also travelled to Mittertiech, Germany (Wetley Rocks and Cheddleton twin town). We have sung joint concerts with many other choirs including Cwmbran Male Choir, Llangollen Male Voice Choir and Chapel-en-le-Frith Choir.

... and Today

Today, we are as active as ever performing 9 or 10 concerts each year ranging from small events in local church halls to major concerts. We are preparing for our new season which will begin with a performance at a Men's Sunday service at Wetley Rocks Methodist Chapel in March as our celebratory 40th anniversary of the founding of the choir. We are planning a gala concert with the Denbigh and District Male Voice Choir in October in aid of the local branch of the British Heart Foundation.

The choir continues to thrive; membership stands at about 24 choristers and we always welcome new singers. You don't have to read music (though at times it helps); all we ask for is a decent voice and enthusiasm!

Here's looking forward to the next 40 years!