History of Chelmsford Male Voice Choir (Details taken from newspaper archives)

The original Chelmsford Male Voice Choir was formed at a meeting held in London Road Schools on the evening of Monday 13th August 1900, when about 30 gave their names in membership. Mr E Warhead was elected conductor; Messrs Bushell, Kevin, Seymour, Tanner, and Whybrow were appointed a committee; with Mr C G Nunn, hon sec. The choir hoped to give a series of popular concerts and entertainments during the winter months, also a concert for local charities at an early date.

The choir gave their first concert in the Corn Exchange, Chelmsford on Monday 26th November 1900. The profits were given to the Essex County Chronicle Shilling Fund for Essex Soldiers and their Dependents. It had been decided that ‘no better object could the initial venture have been than in support of the fund for the alleviation of want caused by the absence of the bread-winners, of many Essex families who have been engaged in loyalty battling for the freedom and rights of their fellow countrymen in North Africa’.

Their first concert was recorded thus:

During the half hour, in which the audience were taking their seats, the Mid-Essex Brass and Reed Band, under the direction of Mr Geo. Lee, performed selections of music. The concert proper opened with the National Anthem, which was heartily sung by the choir and audience, all standing, and accompanied by the band. The choir, which was under the able conductorship of Mr E Warhead, late of the Queen’s Hall Concerts etc, skilfully rendered the glee, ‘Comrades in Arms’, the singing of which was loudly applauded. Three part songs, ‘Banish, O Maluen’, ‘The little Church’, and ‘The Fame of Briton’s Ancient Glory’, were also rendered, as well as a chorus ‘Rule Britannia’, for all of which the performers were deservedly applauded. Their singing reflected great credit upon the conductor, showing, as it did, that no effort had been spared to provide a musical treat for a critical Chelmsford audience. It was a real pleasure to listen to the well-blended voices, the light and shade thrown into the work being very effective.

The concert was voted a big success, and nothing but praise can be bestowed upon the hon. Secretary and treasurer, Mr C J Nunn, who, assisted by the choir committee, made such satisfactory arrangements.

In 1927, William Bush founded the Chelmsford Singers, taking its members from the Male and Mixed Voice choirs which had previously existed under the conductorship of Mrs T.H. Waller. This was in order to compete in the Essex Musical Festival competitions. This the Singers did with great success over many years as well as presenting regular concerts in the Cathedral. At times the Singers entered two rival choirs into the competition, held in the Corn Exchange, which stood on the site of the present Chancellor Hall. The male voice choir was often commended on their singing, which was delightful to hear, voices being well-balanced and ably conducted.

The Chelmsford Male Voice Choir, having been amalgamated into the Chelmsford Singers, no longer existed as a choir in its own right.

Mr Gane, of Pontypool, Monmouthshire formed a choir of miners to tour England during the labour depression. Having visited Maldon, he decided to settle, which he did in 1928. Mr. Gane moved to Chelmsford in 1938 and in 1950 was made the conductor of the new Chelmsford Male Voice Choir which formed in April 1950 by its secretary Mr A A Campbell. ‘There were sixteen members and when satisfied with their singing, would perform for charities and in hospitals amongst other places’. Cllr Campbell, who was the secretary and treasurer was reported in saying ‘We hope to make this choir a credit to the town. It will be strictly all-male.

An advertisement was put in the local paper requesting singers for Chelmsford Male Voice Choir. Practice every Tuesday, which is still continued to this day.

As the previous Male Voice Choir had become part of the Chelmsford Singers, a letter of response was posted in the paper on 29th September 1950 stating:

In reply to Mr. Bush’s letter, under the heading ‘Male Voice Choir’, we, the committee of the present Chelmsford Male Voice Choir, wish to assure Mr Bush that we did not intend to mislead the public, or anyone else, when we appealed for singers for our choir.

This is a new organisation started by a group of young men who feel the need for a choir which will embrace any music-makers living in or near Chelmsford, and membership of which is not limited to people in Factory or Church groups.

We did not wish to appear as trespassers on any ground whatsoever, but feel we have the right, as citizens of Chelmsford, to start upon ground of our own.

On behalf of the Chelmsford Male Voice Choir Committee.
  1. A. Campbell (Hon. Sec.)

The current choir now consists of over 50 members and continues to meet on a Tuesday evening. They are fortunate in the fact that they are in touch with Mr. Ganes granddaughter and we hope to have a joint concert with the Welsh Choir to celebrate 75 years in 2025.

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