A MALE voice choir celebrating its 50th anniversary is on the hunt for new members — particularly budding bases and baritones.
South Anston Male Voice Choir is one of the last remaining groups of its kind in the area and said to be still going strong thanks to firm friendships and fun.
Secretary Mike West said: “A lot of our members are in their 80s — there must be something in it or they would not keep coming back, if not just for the friendship.”
The choir’s 35 members have been keeping in touch online over the past year and hope to meet up outside soon.
“What we need is a balance,” said Mike (73).
“Male voice choirs are made up of four different sections.
“If you end up with a choir not in balance, it’s difficult to find songs to sing.
“We have an abundance of bases and baritones, but we’re short of tenors and top tenors.”
Mike, who has been part of the choir for ten years, said he had joined by chance.
“I knew the musical director as he lived on the same road as me,” he said.
“One evening he knocked on my door and said: ‘We need more singers’.
“It was something I always fancied doing — I was in the school choir when I was a youngster — but I hadn’t done any choral singing for the best part of 60 years.
“It’s a community choir — I don’t read music and we don’t do competitions.
“We exist primarily for fun and to raise money for charity.”
This year is also the 250th anniversary of the South Anston Methodist Chapel, where the group rehearse.
Mike encouraged men to get involved, adding: “If you like singing but are not sure of your voice, come along and give it a try.
“I’d encourage people to come along and sit in with us to see what they think of it.
“The whole point of a male voice choir is that it is divided into four parts, so we all sing a different part — the difficult bit is not singing all of the melody.”
The choir sing a mix of modern music and Welsh hymns and are currently learning Mr Blue Sky by the Electric Light Orchestra.
“There are a number of members in their 80s — there’s lots of evidence around singing being good for people in terms of breathing and health,” added Mike.
In normal times the choir meets once a week along with a monthly concert and a busy Christmas period.
To celebrate this year’s milestone the choir had been due to tour Wales, but this has been postponed until next year.
“When we get back together we’ll be a bit rusty as it takes a while to get back into concert mode,” said Mike.
“We think anything we had planned this year will get pushed back into next year — I can’t see us doing any major concerts this year.”
Bob Poad (88) is the only original founding member left in the group, which has shed a few members over the past year.
“We have got members from Worksop, Sheffield — anybody can join,” said Mike.
“There are very few male voice choirs left now — they were originally linked to the coal mining industry.
“I’m not aware of many others in the area apart from Bolsterstone in the north of Sheffield, although there is a ladies choir in Anston.”
Mike said he believed the close-knit choir had boosted members’ mental health over the pandemic and kept friendships burning.
“We have continued to meet throughout and had 30 people on a Zoom practice,” he said.
“Every week we set up a telephone rota to keep checking in on members.”
Anyone interested in joining should contact Mike on 07948 448617 or email email@example.com.