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The Recent Years      1981 - 1990

                   Birmingham Icknield Male Voice Choir   


                                The history of the oldest choir in Birmingham. 1900 - 2007

1981 A Spring Concert 1981, was held with suggested artistes, Pat Nixon & John Layton at Lyttleton Theatre, Midland Institute. Icknield attended at Newtown Anniversary Oct 18th  In the summer on the 11th July a  Concert & recording was done at Hatherton Church Walsall, Hatherton Rd. Frank Roberts proposed Steve Roche our present MD as Deputy Pianist & Deputy Conductor. Festivals mentioned were Bournville and Brownhills. and performance. As with all churches we needed financial help so a concert was proposed to help Elmwood  Church with their £3000 repairs to drive and a donation of £50 was given. With regards to Blazers (Bernard Cupples) he stated that “buying blazers for members from choir funds.” .Members: mentioned were Tommy Daffon, Phil Ward, John Stokes, George Wilmott. The Spring 1981 Concert was mentioned. It was noted that  “Choir had 43 full members”.


1982 The Spring Concert this year was 17th April at the Lyttleton Theatre, in the Midland Institute a very popular venue. The choir sang at the MASU Centre Cregoe St., on the 13th June at their Annual Rally. In the summer on the 19th June a  Concert & recording was done at Hatherton Church Walsall, Hatherton Rd for the occasion of their 100th Year Anniversary. At the Autumn Concert present were the Icknield Ladies Choir, obviously the ladies were a force to be reckoned with, plus “The Royles Harmony Group” were mentioned. This was a male octet who were formed by a previous chorister (a very good English tenor) named Royle Drew who also inspired Mark Evetts to do monologues.  It initially comprised Steve Roche as nominal conductor, Royle Drew, John Stokes, Dave and Brian  Ward, Dennis Ferguson, Alistair Campbell all from IMVC and a singer called Malcolm Clark who was in Erdington Operatic Group of which some of IMVC were also members, and after an appearance in the Mikardo.  They rehearsed on Sunday evenings in a studio rented from John Stokes' singing teacher who was  was quite well known as a teacher above the fish and chip shop on the corner of Bristol Road and Smallbrook Queensway.  After rehearsal the singers used to end up in the White Swan around the corner where there was a piano – thirsty work!!  Royle Drew retired to Norwich where he still lives and Mark Evetts took his place. They did a number of small concerts in various old people's homes, singing for blind persons, and also appeared at at least in one IMVC Autumn concert, and Royle also managed to arrange concerts at the Midland Institute in Margaret Street. It was formed probably around 1980 or so, Steve Roche left it after a number of years and Stan Phillips took over for a while and then a professional musician Andrew Grace took over. A concert at Birmingham Town Hall 26th Nov 1983 was proposed. Life Members: created this year were Alf Dawson, Les Bailey, Harry Harrison, Bernard Duffield. Choir uniforms were discussed, and a member Bernard Cupples said would contact Rackhams. It was proposed that dark blue blazers should be obtained with an emblem on the pocket, showing a music clef, with the “Hands of Friendship” clasped in welcome with Grey Flannels, and a Blue Tie with music clef and initials “I.M.V.C”. completed our uniform. In 1924 a hand said “Welcome”, and it did in 1982, and it continues until the present day.  A concert was held on October 18th at The Church of St. Stephen the Martyr, Rednal. A performance was given in  the Lyttleton Theatre, Birmingham Midland Institute, which included the Royles and the Icknield Ladies Choir, on Oct 30th.


1983 January 16th our President Alf Kirby died. A Spring Concert on Sat 16th April was held at the Lyttleton Theatre, at the Birmingham Midland Institute and on August 27th. the choir attended at the Newtown Anniversary on Oct 23rd .  A festival was mentioned on the 23/8/83 but the location was not stated, possibly Brownhills. It was mentioned that the choir were considering buying a new piano. To raise funds car stickers were proposed and also the sale of choir diaries. A Concert & recording as in past years was done at Hatherton Church Walsall, Hatherton Rd.  It was agreed that the next Autumn concert should be dedicated to Alf Dawson, who had spent an amazing 60 years in the choir. The choir ever mindful of raising standards made enquiries about dates of the Leamington & Tamworth Festivals. The Autumn Concert was on 22nd October.


1984 On Saturday 13th Oct at the Brownhills 40th Annual Competitive Festival  we were awarded a 1st with 88 pts in the Test “B” “Marching Song”, with Don Beach Conductor. 86 pts to Alcester MVC, 84 pts Vaughan Singers Sutton Coldfield. In Test “B” “The Song Of The Jolly Roger” 82 pts were awarded to Pyehill and District MVC Derby.  Results from Programme.  Picture of Choir at Elmwood. A presentation clock was obtained and inscribed for Alf Dawson. 26th February, who was 75yrs of age and presented at the choir annual dinner to commemorate his 60 yrs with the choir. A member George Gilles resigned from the Choir.  Icknield Choir attended at the Newtown Anniversary Oct 21st. A concert was taken part in at Trinity Road Church, Handsworth on the 27th October.


1985 A Spring Concert 1983 Sat 27th April at the Lyttleton Theatre. A combined choir concert was mentioned at the Birmingham Town Hall. Prize money of £50 from Brownhills Festival was mentioned, and the Dudley Music Festival on the 30th March. With progressive ideas it was felt that a music committee should be formed. The Methodist Central Hall was suggested as a venue for a joint choir concert. A concert was performed at the Birmingham Midland Institute on 8th June 1985 of songs by Norman Thornton including his song "Birmingham". A Police MVC Concert was held to celebrate their 30th Anniversary,  on 12th October at the Birmingham Town Hall, with massed male voice choirs. Icknield Choir attended at Newtown Anniversary Oct 27th


1986 The Autumn concert at the Adrian Boult Music Centre on 12th Sep would be held with musicians from the Birmingham School of Music (2 Instrumentalists & one pianist). This was the first concert held at this venue. The Annual Concert at the Adrian Boult Hall, on Sat 6th December. The song by Norman Thornton “Birmingham” was performed at this concert. The Lodge of Hope was mentioned  and Mr Frank Roberts said we had sung for them for 25yrs. It was proposed that we always sing the National Anthem at concerts as we used to do. The Burton Festival was mentioned, and travelling costs were £60. Don Beach was to conduct at New Street Station complex on 9/12/86 (It is  assumed that this was a Christmas concert)


1987 On July 11th we sang with Canoldir to celebrate their 21st Anniversary with other choirs from the Midlands and Wales at the NEC. The combined choir numbered over a 1000 voices and sang to about 8000. Quite an experience. A piano repair was discussed, which was finally resolved with a member Dave Ward presenting a second hand piano to the choir, and it was repaired for £50. The other piano was to be sold to the piano tuner. Unfortunately the piano tuner informed us that the instrument we have is scrap!, and not repairable. A replacement quote was obtained of £899. It was decided that the choir needed an identity for casual appearances and blue choir sweaters for £10 and £12 would be purchased and the choir would pay for a logo, at £55. This were finally bought in 1988.  The choir travelled to the Morecambe Festival but it was poorly attended. Jack Roberts a long standing member died this year. Icknield Choir attended at Newtown Anniversary Oct 18th


1988 The replacement piano cost £685 not as suggested £899 due to a member John Stokes negotiating,  and selling the old one for £90. The Spring Concert was held at Elmwood. The Brownhills Festival to be entered, on the 8th Oct. A Piano was finally obtained for £785. We could not have an MD without a music stand, so one was purchased for £75. It was arranged that we would perform with Rolls Royce MVC for a combined concert at the Adrian Boult Hall 22nd Oct, with Hazel Wibberley the Conductor of the Rolls Royce Choir,  and Lesley Delo the soloist, (possibly this was  the joint Rolls Royce concert?) and of course a “return match” had to be arranged, this at Derby next year on the 18th November. Icknield Choir attended at Newtown Anniversary Oct 23rd. The Lichfield Festival to be entered 19th Nov.– “Evening Pastorale” to be sung.  A joint proposed concert at West Bromwich Town Hall 2nd December (Charity Concert) believed to be with K& J Male Voice Choir. Also Christmas music from Cannock Chase MVC was given to Don Beach to consider. All in all a busy year!


1989 The choir entered the Burton on Trent Festival on 1st April and Icknield brought back the silver! gaining 1st Place and awarded the Bass Worthington Silver Cup the songs were “The Old Woman” and “Shortnin' Bread” - we beat Burton on Trent choir (only 2 entrants) in the class that Steve Roche conducted, and lost to them in the class which Don Beach conducted. A birthday party for Alf Dawson was held. More concerts were planned, including Witton Rd URC 8/4/89, the Annual Concert on 30th September, and a  concert with the  West Midlands Police MVC on 14th Oct. at the Birmingham Town Hall to celebrate Birmingham’s Centenary.  A song called  “Birmingham” was suggested at the Autumn concert specially written for the choir by choir member Norman Thornton, which in the event was not performed. Not only was the Brownhills Music Festival mentioned, but a combined concert with Brownhills MVC. We also appeared on the 28th October with Bournville MVC and John Heddle Nash as guest artiste. Icknield Choir attended at Newtown Anniversary Oct 29th. Also a concert with the Rolls Royce MVC at Derby on 18th November, and participation proposed for a carol concert at the NEC.


1990  The  Burton Competition on the 21st April featured  Items “Waltzing Matilda”, “Kym Ba Yah” and  “Gwahoddiad” – “Evening Pastorale”, and Don Beach to conduct.. “Gwahoddiad” was also sung at the next Elmwood Concert in dedication to the late member Frank Roberts and the music at the Adrian Boult concert to be dedicated to the Robert’s brothers. See “personalities”  A concert was held on Sat 15th September at Wilton Road URC. A combined MVC concert was held at Bournville on  6th Oct. with guest soprano Lesley Delo, who was well known in the Midlands and “No Strings” who a previous Icknield conductor, Mike Adams was part of. We received a request to perform at St. Theresa's Parish Church Jubilee Celebration on the 19th Oct. Steve Roche our Assistant Conductor unfortunately had plans to move on, and as a gesture from the choir was presented with a baton. This left us with a vacancy for an assistant pianist which was filled by pianist Keith Airyes. Clive Humpage the Chairman suggested an advertising banner for use on choir trips. A suggestion was made by Stan Philips about obtaining an Electronic Piano.  Icknield Choir attended at Newtown Anniversary Oct 28th




                                            This brings the choir to the late 1980s.





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