Male voice choir seeks...males

Retford Male Voice Choir are in need of new members (w110531-15)
Retford Male Voice Choir are in need of new members (w110531-15)

RETFORD Male Voice Choir is short of one thing. Men.

Which is a bit of a problem when you are an all-male group.

The Retford Male Voice Choir pictured in 1970.

The Retford Male Voice Choir pictured in 1970.

In its heyday the choir, which was formed 72 years ago, had around 80 members.

Now it is down to 19 singers and most of them are pensioners, with several not in the best of health.

Chairman Bob Paul believes the lack of new young members joining is because there aren’t the number of church choirs anymore, a traditional training ground for male singers.

Bob, 73, of Auckland Road, Retford, has been a member of Retford for MVC for 30 years and sings baritone.

He said: “I used to sing with a church choir and I sang in assembly when I was at Sir Frederick Milner School.”

“I also sing with Thurnscoe Harmonica and Cantata Retford. I love singing all kinds of music.”

His wife Cynthia sings soprano with the Lena Snowden Singers in Retford.

“We don’t hold auditions so there’s no need for anyone to be worried about their voice not being good enough,” said Bob.

“They can just stand at the back and join in with everyone else if they wish. You don’t have to have sung with a choir before or be able to read music.”

“As long as you can sing in tune and are willing to learn, you are half way there. We take all ages as well.”

Bob said the bare minimum they could perform with would be eight members, two voices of each part. But he has noticed a difference in the power of the singing with the drop off in numbers.

He said: “I used to have 16 voices in my ear, all singing the same part as me, but now you don’t get that same volume and power.”

The current line-up includes Roy Hatton, from Worksop, who used to teach at Worksop Technical College, and Malcolm Spencer, of Gainsborough, who also sings with Gainsborough Choral.

Retford MVC sings a range of different types of music, from West End musicals, ballads and opera to hymns, pop songs and nice ‘n easy music.

“People sometimes think we sing all church music, but that’s not the case, we do a really wide range. We also sing at weddings and funerals and have special music for occasions like that.”

The choir’s concert secretary is baritone David Jackson, 71, of Main Street, Rampton, who joined in 16 years ago after being talked into it by a friend.

He then got talked into becoming concert secretary in 2001.

He said: “I had never sung before, apart from in the bath and occasionally in church.”

“My favourite music to sing is spirituals and sensible choral work.”

Retford MVC was founded by a group of 12 men in April 1939, just five months before the Second World War started.

This meant the number of singers was affected almost immediately as men were called up, but the choir continued doggedly on and Bob has a programme for a concert held at Retford Town Hall on 21st February 1943.

The price of the programme was three old pence and the choir was joined by the Band of the Rifle Brigade with the proceeds in aid of the Red Cross Agricultural Fund.

Anyone wanting to join can go to rehearsals, held on Tuesdays at Hallcroft Methodist Church, Retford. Or call Bob on 01777 704417 or David on 01777 248440.