Swindon’s multi award-winning Wessex Male Choir returned from the 10th International Krakow Choir Festival triumphant once again, taking first place in both the Male Choir and Senior Choir categories against stiff international competition.
This feat was made even more remarkable as they were sadly unable to take their Musical Director Rhiannon Williams to Poland and their principal accompanist Tom Graff and Tenor Section leader Grahame Jones jointly picked up the baton to lead the 50 strong choir to success. This was the first time Tom, a highly accomplished concert pianist in his own right, had conducted the choir at this level.
On the opening night of the tour the Wessex sang to a capacity audience alongside choirs from Wales, Lithuania the USA and Norway in the beautiful Bazylika Mariacka in Krakow’s huge Rynek Glowny main square. At their final concert in the stunning 17th Century Piarist Church, they received a standing ovation from the audience after singing a heartfelt rendition of Dan Forest’s ‘And Can It Be’ and ‘Io Resto Qui, Addio!’ by Georgio Susana. According to one of the organisers of the festival, they are the only visiting choir to have ever received this honour. In contrast, the Choir also performed in the cool surroundings of the world famous Wieliczka salt mine 160 meters underground while taking in a tour of this world heritage site.
Wessex Male Choir entered three classes at the Mid-Somerset Festival in Bath, and won all three!
Wessex Camerata (our Chamber group) were also awarded a Distinction in the Chamber Group class.
The classes won were: Male Voice Choir class, Popular/Show Song “open” class, Sacred Song “open” class. Details of the adjudication can be read on our Competitions page.
Members of Wessex Male Choir taking part in the London "Big Half" Marathon on 4th March 2018, raising more money for Parkinsons UK.
They finished a long way behind Sir Mo Farah, but it should be pointed out that Sir Mo did no singing along the route, unlike our boys!
Norman Smiles (right), a founder member of Wessex Male Choir, being presented with an award of Life Membership of the choir by Chairman Simon Warren.
Norman joined the choir at its inception in September 2001, and has been a stalwart ever since, including serving as choir Chairman.
He has now decided to retire from concert singing, but remains a baritone at heart!
In July 2017 the choir said goodbye to Principal Accompanist Jon Driver, but welcomed his successor Thomas Graff.
Thomas was born in Cardiff and began to play the piano at the age of four. He gained a scholarship to the Junior Department of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama at the age of nine, and went on to study music at the University of Bristol, winning the University Concerto Competition in his final year.
Thomas is a licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music as a pianist, and is active in music teaching, instrumental and choral accompanying, and performing chamber music as well as solo repertoire. He has performed at a range of venues including the Welsh Millennium Centre and Colston Hall. Thomas is also a violinist and a keen marathon runner.
Mary New, the choir's Principal Accompanist during it's formative years, was presented with her Life Membership Certificate recognising her longstanding dedication to the choir. Mary was Principal Accompanist from its founding in 2001 until 2008, and included highlights such as top 3 places at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in 2004 and 2006. Her support and loyalty to the choir continues today.
She is pictured being presented with the award by the choir Chairman Guy Edwards, together with Rick Dixon and Grahame Jones.
Wessex were proud to take part in the launch of the RBL Poppy Appeal before the NFL match between the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals.
The choir, conducted by Haydn James, sang in front of a crowd of over 84,000 people, and was televised worldwide.
Watch the video below...
WMC is delighted to announce the appointment of a new Musical Director - Rhiannon Williams-Hale.
Rhiannon's passion for vocal solo and choral music began at a young age with many competition successes, culminating in being named British & Welsh BET Choirgirl of the Year by Sir David Willcocks and panel in London in 1989.
Her conducting career began in 2002 as Musical Director of the Ynysybwl Ladies Choir, a position she held for ten years. During her tenure, the Choir achieved competition wins at the Abergavenny and Hereford festivals. In 2008 Rhiannon became the Musical Director of Bridgend Male Choir, and during her four years they received many plaudits at concerts and competitions, culminating with her guiding Bridgend to first place at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in 2014.
Wessex Male Choir took part in the Alta Pusteria International Choir Festival , South Tyrol, Italy. Over 80 choirs from around the world spent four days singing in both indoor and outdoor venues, including mountain locations which had to be accessed by cable car.
Wessex Male Choir entered two classes at the Cheltenham Festival of Performing Arts ('Male Choir' and 'Songs from the Shows') and won both categories.
In addition, the choir were awarded the coveted Gold Cup for 'Most Memborable Performance'. The choir previously won this trophy in 2008 and 2013.
Members of Wessex (and a few extra friends) spent a day entertaining the crowds at the London Marathon, singing a few songs to raise money for Parkinsons UK.
The group collected over £1400, bringing the Wessex total to more than £60,000 over the past 10 years.
If you are male and 16 years or over, why not come along to one of our rehearsals for a listen, and make up your own mind whether to join or not?Learn more »
Wessex prepare for the concert with Rutgers University Glee Club at Oxford in May 2015...
...and later the Afterglow!