Living through the coronavirus-caused lockdown is a difficult time for everyone right now, and the members of Haydock MVC have been trying a number of things to keep each other going during this unprecedented time; if anything, we were on the front foot from well before lockdown was announced, due to the forward thinking of our MD Dan Craddock, who was putting ideas and decisions into place as early as our committee meeting at the start of March. We were prepared for what was coming, and that in a way made it slightly less shocking when it actually came.
For an institution such as ours that is used to being together at least twice a week, it was a concern for our committee than some of the men would struggle with no contact for an extended period of time. Methods were put in place by the committee as soon as lockdown began to minimise this asmuch as humanly possible; the committee began with a conference call, but we soon moved to looking at video conferencing apps, to get people face-to-face over the internet. Again, we began with just the committee, and once we were comfortable that this was working, Dan contacted the whole choir to set up the first HMVC Quiz Night!!! There were about 15 of us on that first quiz, and we were only on for about half an hour, but it was a lot of fun, and most members who came on said it was brilliant to see the other men and their families, and be able to talk to them face to face.
From there, it was time to try the big one, that we’d heard of other organisations trying – an online HMVC rehearsal! The first time about 30 of us were online, which I personally thought was a great accomplishment, and we were all muted except Dan, and of course Ruth who was playing the piano from her home for us! I can say it was a strange experience, singing on my own to Ruth’s playing, and I felt it took me a couple of songs to get into the swing of it. We’ve done three rehearsals like this so far, and by the most recent one last week it was beginning to feel more natural, and flow more like a normal rehearsal, and I feel it’s a massive help to the men as a whole to be able to do something we consider normal.
After this, we had another social encounter last Friday, when about 20 of us got together to play Brucie Blackburne’s Play Your Cards Right! This was a huge amount of fun, daft and exciting, and I think everyone who took part had a great time. It was especially heartwarming to see a number of people from the wider HMVC family coming online, families of members are always welcome at our online events.
Right now, we have no idea when we’ll be able to meet as a choir again in person. When we do, it will be a great occasion, and the committee already has ideas on how to mark that, but for now I think we can say that our efforts to keep the men together during lockdown have been amazing, and a great success! In addition to the rehearsals and social meetings using video conferencing, members of the committee have been phoning the men to see how they’re getting on, and our longstanding choir WhatsApp group is going strong as ever, as a source of merriment and chat for the gents, and one or two big ideas to keep the choir entertained going forward have come out of the group; dare I say Great HMVC Bake Off?? Watch this space for news of that one! But seriously, it has been said many times in the past that Haydock MVC is more than just a choir, it’s a family, and it warms my heart to say that during this strange new world we find ourselves in, we’ve stuck together as only a family can.
By Phil Thornton, Second Tenor.Announcing the passing of Derek Fordham
Yesterday the family that is HMVC received a call to make us aware that Derek Fordham had passed away in hospital.
Derek has been a member of the HMVC family since 1983 after being introduced to Haydock by Derek Parr and he has been a mighty fine member for all of those years.
Most will know Derek as our Ram Sammy man singing either second or first tenor parts in falsetto. Derek’s ear for music was second to none and would listen out for those basses who weren’t quite where they needed to be often giving the conductor at the time the shake of his head when things weren’t right.
Derek hasn’t been able to join us in recent months due to Ill health. Derek was over joyed this year when Pilgrims Chorus had been added back in to our repertoire and was looking forward to joining us once more.
Derek was also a member of Just Midnight who were due to join us at the joint concert with Rossendale.
Derek your time with us is sadly over however, keep that ram sammy going in the sky. You will be forever missed my friend
Here the choir sings And Can It Be with a tribute to Derek at the end.
Yesterday the family that is HMVC received a call to make us aware that Derek Fordham had passed away in hospital. Derek has been a member of the HMVC family since 1983 after being introduced to Haydock by Derek Parr and he has been a mighty fine member for all of those years. Most will know Derek as our Ram Sammy man singing either second or first tenor parts in falsetto. Derek's ear for music was second to none and would listen out for those basses who weren't quite where they needed to be often giving the conductor at the time the shake of his head when things weren't right. Derek hasn't been able to join us in recent months due to Ill health. Derek was over joyed this year when Pilgrims Chorus had been added back in to our repertoire and was looking forward to joining us once more. Derek was also a member of Just Midnight who were due to join us at the joint concert with Rossendale. Derek your time with us is sadly over however, keep that ram sammy going in the sky. You will be forever missed my friendHere the choir sings And Can It Be with a tribute to Derek at the end.
Posted by Haydock MVC on Sunday, 12 April 2020
📢📢 ANNOUNCEMENT – REHEARSALS POSTPONED 📢📢
Rehearsals are now postponed until the 21st April 2020. The committee will continue to hold weekly calls to review the situation. We hope that you understand. Any concerns, please contact our Musical Director, Dan Craddock at email@example.com
📢📢 ANNOUNCEMENT – VOICES TOGETHER CONCERT POSTPONED 📢📢
With the growing concern of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) we have taken the decision to POSTPONE the joint concert Voices Together concert with Rossendale Male Voice Choir on Saturday 4th April at St Helens Townhall.
This not a decision the committee have taken easily however, to protect both choirs and the public we have no other choice.
If you have any queries please feel free to get in touch via the Facebook page or via email- firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, please see attached letter below.
Christmas Wishes from our MD
Our MD is making the most of his (well deserved) down time as he celebrates Christmas in Lanzarote this year! ✈️🌍🏖️
Our MD is making the most of his (well deserved) down time as he celebrates Christmas in Lanzarote this year! ✈️🌍🏖️
Posted by Haydock MVC on Sunday, 22 December 2019
Marking 5 years of service for our MD
Tonight marked the end of a very successful year for the choir as they celebrated their final Christmas concert amongst family and our friends of Haydock. Our success this year is solely down to the hard work of the men, our two fabulous accompanists Ruth Webb and Iwan Owen and finally our Musical Director, Dan Craddock. Dan joined Haydock 5 years ago. A lot has changed since then! Through sheer passion, determination and hard work, Dan has brought and continues to bring out the best in us. A plaque was commissioned by the men and was presented to Dan thanking him for all that he has done and continues to do for the choir. From all the men at Haydock, thank you!
A different perspective
Curious to find out what it takes to conduct HMVC? Watch Dan as he conducts the choir at the Isle of Man Festival of Choirs Competition. This performance of Ose Shalom (The one who makes peace) is part of our contest winning performance and is performed in Hebrew. The accompaniment was performed by our Principle Accompanist, Ruth Webb.
Another Conductor Cam special from the Isle of Man Festival of Choirs OseShalom (The one who makes peace) sang in Hebrew by the men. The amazing accompaniment by our Principle Accompanist Ruth Webb.
Posted by Haydock MVC on Friday, 13 December 2019
When I joined Haydock Male Voice Choir in October 2017, the choir had just a week earlier returned from the bi-annual Isle of Man Festival of choirs, where they had finished second in the Male Voice category. For a long time, there was an air of unfinished business about the choir where the Isle of Man was concerned, a determination amongst the men to go back and win the category. Early this year, the decision was made between the MD and the choir to return to the festival in 2019, and preparations were begun. More than six months of intense rehearsals took place, learning and perfecting four songs for the Male Voice category performance on the Saturday, and a further four for if we got through to the Sunday performance. Early on Friday 18th October, we finally set off, some by air, some by sea. As a first-timer to the Isle of Man at all, let alone to the Festival, as soon as we set off on the ferry I felt a sense of excitement for what was sure to be an amazing weekend.
The Friday evening was a welcome evening at the competition venue, the Villa Marina, for the choirs and their supporters where, after a fine buffet, each choir performed a song in front of all the others present. It was the first chance we got to see what we were up against. The choir performed ‘American Trilogy’ powerfully and admirably, and watched while many others performed. There were a lot of raised eyebrows for the performance of the EAGA Gospel Choir, who performed a medley for more than ten minutes. This choir were very good, and the bar had been set.
On the Saturday morning, there was an air of nervous tension amongst the men. This was everything we had been waiting, planning for, all year. We walked the stage, and rehearsed a number of songs. The nerves were showing. When we reconvened in the beautiful surroundings of the hotel atrium two hours before the competition, our MD Dan went to great lengths to get us relaxed and focused on what was ahead. Harold Bentham, a longstanding second tenor, suggested we practiced just the opening of our first song, ‘Danza!’ as it hadn’t sounded its best in our earlier rehearsal. This was a great idea, and made us feel we were ready to go. As one last preparation, Dan made us all shake hands with each other, to celebrate how far we’d come just getting to the competition.
The Male Voice Category was the third of four that afternoon, and we were the last of the three Male Voice Choirs to perform. First was Lon Dhoo Male Voice Choir, a local choir from the island itself, who did their home proud. Next came Macclesfield Male Voice Choir, who we knew were going to be difficult to beat; they had a rich history of strong performances, and were coming ready to win. We finally took to the stage. We couldn’t know our four songs better than we did. First was ‘Danza!’ A powerful opener, switching in tempo throughout, which really got the crowd excited and paying attention. Next came ‘Were You There?’ This is an unaccompanied piece describing the Crucifixion and Resurrection, starting quietly with a solo from bass chorister Dave Lee, building to rousing finale that electrified the whole of the Villa Marina. Following this came ‘Ose Shalom,’ which the choir performed in Hebrew, another powerful piece which really showed our versatility. The last piece was ‘We Rise Again,’ a modern piece that the choir has performed for a few years, a powerful, emotional song, that all of the men love singing, and which had the crowd joining in with our clap in the last chorus, and cheering loudly once we had finished.
After our performance, we knew we had done everything we could, given as much as we had. We had the chance to sit and watch the Open category, where the EAGA Gospel Choir performed superbly, as expected. Once all the choirs had performed, we were all waiting with heightened anticipation for the adjudicator’s results. When it came to the Male Voice Category, we listened tensely as he gave his marks. Lon Dhoo received 84 points, Macclesfield got 86. We’d done it. We’d done what we’d set out to do, the whole reason we came to the Isle of Man; we received 90 points, and won the Male Voice Choir category! To say we were happy is an understatement. Jubilant would be a better description. For the rest of the Saturday every single man, and everyone accompanying the choir that weekend were in buoyant mood. It was mission accomplished, anything else now was putting the gloss on an already successful trip.
After a fantastic evening meal, some entertainment from our MC John Peet, and a well-rested night’s sleep, we were all ready on the Sunday morning for one last rehearsal. The Sunday performance was a little different from the Saturday, no points were on offer, it was slightly more relaxed, more of a concert performance. The four winners of the categories from the previous day each performed a number of songs, only one of which could come from their category performance. As well as the EAGA Gospel choir, who won the Open Category with 93 points, we were up against Valley Aloud, who won the Mixed category, and Rodillian Singers, who won the Ladies Category. As we rehearsed in the atrium once more, Dan told the choir just to go out and enjoy themselves, whatever happened was a bonus.
We sang third, after Valley Aloud and Rodillian, and before EAGA. There was a tense, almost comedic moment as we began, when our MC went to introduce us, and discovered that the man in charge of the soundboard had gone for a coffee! He eventually got talking, and introduced our first song of the afternoon, ‘Grace.’ This is an arrangement of the hymn ‘Amazing Grace,’ which the choir perform with great emotion, and have practiced for a number of years. Again, it was the perfect opener for our performance, and showed the crowd – and the adjudicator – our heart. We followed this up with ‘How Soon?’ Another emotional piece about lost love, which the choir dedicated to our former MD Alan Herbert, who passed away earlier this year, and who was well known in the Isle of Man. Our next piece was one that we felt had a lot riding on it; ‘And Can It Be?’ Another piece with religious connotations, which the choir had learned as a tribute to our late member Jimmy Foley. I can personally say this is one of my favourite pieces that we sing, and shows the choir at its very best. We followed this with ‘We Rise Again’ once more, which was just as popular as it had been the previous day. Our final piece was a fitting closer, ‘New York, New York,’ bringing the curtain down on our performance in fitting fashion. After yet more great applause from the crowd, we waited nervously once more, during EAGA’s performance, until it was time once more for the adjudicator’s verdict.
I can honestly say, the nerves, the anticipation waiting for the result, was excruciating. A lot of the men were convinced we hadn’t done enough, that EAGA had run away with it. And then the adjudicator began to speak. He told us that when he had gone backstage after the last performance, he hadn’t decided who the winner was. This comment made me hold my breath. We had a chance. It wasn’t clear cut. He was building up the tension, making us all wait. ‘And the winner, of Choir of the Festival is….’ I closed my eyes, crossed my fingers, and hoped to hear four words.
‘….Haydock Male Voice Choir!’ It was like time stood still for a moment, and then this euphoric yell emitted from where we were all sat. Utter, total joy, men hugging and yelling, almost crying tears of joy. We’d never even considered we might win the whole thing!
The rest of the Sunday is something of a blur. Photographs, a LOT of cheering, the odd drink or two, and a celebratory redo of our winning set back in the hotel before dinner. For those of us who were travelling back on the ferry on Monday there was chance to relax in the morning before the boat, and as we returned to Haydock on the coach we got to watch a short snippet of ourselves on the local news!
Its difficult to explain what it means for HMVC to have been named Choir of the Festival, but it is a moment I will never, ever forget. I feel so honoured, so lucky, to be a part of such a fantastic group of men, who have shown me nothing but kindness and a great welcome since I became part of their number, just a few short weeks after their previous disappointment in the Isle of Man. Well that is now unfinished business no longer. We went back. We performed, to our very, very best. And we won. Who knows, maybe the choir will go back again in two years, as defending champions. I have no idea if that will happen, and how the journey will go if it does, but I can’t wait to find out!
Phil Thornton, second tenor.Ceremony of Remembrance
It was an honour for the men of Haydock to join the Ceremony of Remembrance at St Helens Cenotaph along with our friends from Valley Brass.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning.
We Will Remember Them.
Heald Farm Court 10th Anniversary
Haydock were delighted to have taken part in the Heald Farm Court 10th Anniversary Celebrations. They performed a mixture of traditional and contemporary repertoire including, Let There Be Light and We Rise Again.
The performance was used recorded as part of a short video to document the 10th Anniversary Celebrations of Heald Farm Court.
Click here to watch the video