Stithians St. Stythians Male Voice Choir Cornwall, UK


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Review of 2008 ........................................................BACK TO PRESENT
The first two months of the New Year were, as usual, used mostly for learning new songs and polishing up old ones. The Choir made two concert appearances. The first of these was with Stithians Ladies Choir for a Sankey Evening at the Methodist Church in St. Just (Penwith). This is about as far west as possible in Cornwall and extends our range in the county from St. Just to Kilkhampton. We had a good audience and a fine tea in a beautiful church. This is a large church and the membership there make strenuous efforts to keep it in good order. It was ironic that the concert had to be cut short two hymns from the end when the power failed - this means lights, our electric piano and the organ! The vote of thanks was given in near darkness and we sang our last hymn as planned God be with you till we meet again accompanied by a traditional piano. The Choir's Annual Dinner was held at the Green Lawns Hotel, Falmouth with 105 members and guests attending. It was admirably organised by David Dower with our Chairman, Frank Hugo, acting as Master of Ceremonies. Alastair Taylor was our guest speaker who, after a hilarious 'speech', finished off with 3 numbers on the piano - a most unusual and sparkling addition to the evening's entertainment.
Our second concert of the year was another unusual event. Billed as Voices of Angels, we hosted the new Cornwall Boys' Choir for its first public concert. This choir was developed out of an initiative of the Cornwall International Male Choral Festival 2007. The choir, which is composed of boys aged between 7 and 14, is directed by Angela Renshaw. Our two choirs shared the concert and combined to sing Proper Job! as a finale. The Boys put on a fine performance beating us 3 - 1 in the singing of foreign language numbers. Proceeds were for the Precious Lives project (Children's Hospice South West) and we are pleased to report that the proceeds totalled over £1175. We stress the huge contribution of our visiting Choir, both in attracting a large audience and for their musical contribution.
The Choir was involved in a series of joint concerts in April. First, we were the guests of Mousehole MVC at Richmond Methodist Church, Penzance. The next outing was to the other end of the County at Launceston Central Methodist Church for a concert which included singing some Sankey hymns and sharing the programme with Bude Metric Band. The following week we were guests (with Mousehole MVC) of the City of Truro Choir. This 'Three Choirs Concert' was held in St. Mary's Methodist Church, Truro. The compère was Tiffany Truscott of Radio Cornwall who was pleased to give some more publicity to the Precious Lives Appeal, the beneficiaries of the collection at the end of the concert. The next major event for the choir was the rehearsing and recording BBC TV's Songs of Praise from Truro Cathedral in May. Some 550 singers were involved. Our Choir has recorded before - both locally and for BBC and ITV - but this was perhaps bigger than most of us had experienced. Lights, camera, action - again please - and again … quite an experience!
The Choir was invited by St. Stythians Band to perform at Falmouth's Princess Pavilion on Sunday 1st June. This was such a successful evening that we did it all again on Sunday 29th June - this time with a Songs of Praise feature. Between these two band concerts in June, we gave a concert at the delightful Crowan Parish Church. We were well received there by a good audience. We next appeared at the prestigious Gwennap Church series of Wednesday evening concerts on 2nd July.
A major event of 2008 was the Choir's tour to South Wales. A total of 87 folk departed for Llanelli in two coaches on the morning of Friday 25th July. Ystradgynlais is at the head of the Swansea Valley, nestling under the western end of the Brecon Beacons. The main concert of the tour was held that evening to a capacity audience in St. Cynog's (Parish) Church. This we shared with Ystradgynlais MVC. Our part of the performance including the singing of the lullaby Suo Gân (in Welsh). On the return journey we called in at Cheriton Bishop, Devon to give an afternoon concert in memory of Tom Penaluna, a founder member of the Choir.
Shortly after our return, the Choir shared a concert with Hayle-Praze, Marazion and Treverva MVCs at the Hayle Festival (Heylfest) and three days later we were out again for the St. Stythians Band 80th Anniversary Concert at the Princess Pavilion in Falmouth. The Band generously made this a celebration of Music in Stithians, inviting the Ladies Choir and the Male Voice Choir to share it with them. The delightful Chynhale Methodist Church near Helston was our next venue. This was originally the Trevarno Estate Chapel. It is a good place to sing and our soloist, soprano Alison Harvey, made the most of it. The next day we fulfilled our only engagement for the year at the Princess Pavilion patio in Falmouth. The very popular violin and piano duo, John and Rosemary Heard were our guest artistes.
Our Annual Gala Concert was held at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Falmouth on 4th October. Our guests were Alastair Taylor's Redruth Amateur Operatic Society Trust (RAOST) Youth Choir. These children added an extra dimension to the concert. They respond with great enthusiasm to their conductor and it was a real pleasure to watch Alastair at work with them. Our compère was Bruce Taylor of Miller Countrywide. He was an excellent Chairman and he also arranged the printing of our programmes and posters. The following week we were at Trewoon, near St. Austell. Our soloist was the young soprano, Francesca (Frankie) Addy. The BBC Songs of Praise from Truro Cathedral was screened on 2nd November. Our choir was asked to form the three front rows. This put us directly in the Conductor's line of fire and we seemed to respond to this, singing with energy. The choir participated, as last year, in the Trelawny Challenge organised by the Federation of Cornish MVCs for BBC's Children in Need. The following Sunday we were at Redruth Methodist Church with Camborne Band for a Remembrance service.
Christmas then took over. The Stithians Methodist Church Carol Concert featuring St. Stythians MVC and Stithians Ladies' Choir was held on Sunday 7th December. Carols at the Village Hall followed on Tuesday 16th December. Two days later we repeated last year's visit to the Culdrose Community Centre. This serves the families of the naval personnel and at one point we had eleven children singing with us.
We were pleased to welcome a total of seven new members to the choir and our membership in 2008 numbered 50 - a record. We are also delighted to welcome J. C. Williams and Son (House Furnishers) of Meneage Street, Helston as our major sponsors and we thank the company for this important contribution to our efforts and to choral music in the area.