HISTORY

BRISTOL MALE VOICE CHOIR began in 1968 as a small Glee Club that grew among a group of friends in the Filton Community Association. With many of its members employed locally at British Aerospace and Rolls Royce in Filton, it grew in size, with Kathy Langdon as its first conductor and accompanist. In 1974 it took the name of Filton Male Voice Choir, led by Brian Sinclair as its MD. One of the founder members of the Glee Club is still performing with the choir today.   In the ‘70s and ‘80s the choir attracted a large membership, giving concerts in Bristol and farther afield, expanding its repertoire and enhancing its reputation. Accordingly it moved its rehearsal base and by 1983 it was holding its weekly rehearsals at St Teresa’s RC church social club. With the expansion in membership came a new MD in the shape of Morris Pearson; his dedication and enthusiasm was a key contribution to the choir’s growth and musical integrity for nearly twenty years until his death in 2000.
Equally crucial to the choir’s musical development was accompanist Elaine Smith who had joined the choir soon after it became Filton MVC. Coinciding with Elaine Smith’s appointment as Musical Director, and recognising the Bristol-wide membership, the decision was made to change the choir’s name to Bristol Male Voice Choir, adopting a new concert uniform in Bristol blue  and accepting the Lord Mayor of Bristol as our patron. The final change in this process of development was to move our rehearsal base to the South Gloucestershire and Stroud College on Gloucester Road North in 2005.
In 2007 Elaine Smith relinquished the role of MD to return to her great love, as accompanist to the choir, a move that allowed vital continuity as the choir appointed a new Musical Director, Steve Daykin, already very active in Bristol musical circles based on his teaching post at Redland High school and his involvement with local orchestras and ensembles. Steve was the driving force of the choir’s musical development between 2007 and 2015, and demonstrated his solo skills as clarinettist in numerous concerts during his tenure, as well as some outstanding piano duets with Elaine Smith. His conducting style is superbly shown in our  performance of  “I dreamed a dream” recorded at the Colston Hall in 2012, lifting the  “hit” parade on Youtube to the 50,000 mark.

Following Steve’s move to become Director of Music at Lichfield Cathedral choir school at the end of 2014, in January 2015 the choir was delighted to welcome as his successor a fellow graduate of Cardiff’s Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Jo Scullin had already been closely involved with the Welsh male voice music scene as accompanist to the Morriston Orpheus Male Voice Choir and as a teacher of piano at the Cathedral School, Llandaff, Cardiff. She arrived as Musical Director of Bristol Male Voice Choir , therefore, with great teaching skills, close knowledge of the Welsh words of part of our repertoire , and a winningly persuasive approach to rehearsals that has rejuvenated choir members and attracted numerous new recruits.

Under Jo’s guidance, the choir’s concert programme has followed a path that has reached out to new and unexpected performance venues, including not only our traditional annual and Christmas joint concerts with male voice and ladies choirs, in the Colston Hall and St George’s , Brandon Hill, but also capacity audiences at Bristol Cathedral. We sang for an international rugby game at Ashton Gate and for the Bristol club at two of their home games in the Championship, and we continued our run of  Christmas concerts for the National Trust at Tyntesfield House, moving indoors for December after entertaining tourist crowds and visitors to Grove Park, Weston super Mare, in the summer.
Cornwall’s International Male Voice Festival, where we have competed in the past,  once again becomes our destination in May 2017 for the competition and the concerts, singing alongside the array of visiting European youth and adult male choirs. We look forward to our next tour, to Vienna and Salzburg, in the autumn of 2018.

RECORDINGS
Early recordings by the choir as Filton MVC include Tribute to the Task Force made at Hereford Cathedral under the auspices of the English Association of Male Voice Choirs; Horizons (2001) and Men in Harmony recorded in Bristol.
Under Steve Daykin, Stout-hearted Men was recorded in combination with the male voice choirs of Basingstoke, Hart and Weybridge in 2007 at The Anvil, Basingstoke; this was followed in 2008 by Out of the Blue , in 2010 by This is the Moment  and, as Steve Daykin’s swan song with the choir, And so it goes in 2014.
Other recordings including the choir’s work have been made during visits (winning 4th place in the 2009 competition) to the Cornwall International Male Voice Choir Festival.  While access to our recorded music has traditionally been via CDs, the choir’s winter concert with Bristol’s Gurt Lush Choir in the Colston Hall in 2012 was posted on YouTube where there have been many thousands of ‘hits’ for individual songs. Throughout the recordings are songs from many countries in different languages, in a repertoire reflecting the choir’s search for fine music wherever it is to be found and used on its travels.

ON THE ROAD The choir’s charity fund-raising is a significant part of its concert schedule and its popularity and reputation have attracted invitations to sing for BBC TV programmes, the Welsh language channel S4C, BBC Radio and Classic FM. Well-known local venues for performances have been St George’s on Brandon Hill, the Colston Hall, St Mary Redcliffe and Bristol Cathedral. In 2004 Filton MVC took part in the London Welsh Massed Male Voice Choir concert in the Albert Hall under the direction of the Morriston Orpheus MD at the time, Alwyn Humphries. Concert tours have been made to Witzenhausen in Germany on various occasions, to Canada to celebrate the voyage of Cabot’s The Matthew in 1997 and to Poland in 2003. For its 40th anniversary the choir visited three of America’s cities called Bristol in the eastern States, ending the tour with a massed male voice concert in New York’s Carnegie Hall  in 2008, joining with Bryn Terfel as the star soloist of the evening. In France, the Dax Festival Entrevoix, Bordeaux, Saint Medard and the Basque city of San Sebastian were the venues for our southern European tour in 2013.
 

John Hollyman Jan 2017.
 
 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Singing at the Eden Project Cornwall 2015