Recent Years 1991 - 2007
Birmingham Icknield Male Voice
The history of the oldest choir in Birmingham. 1900 - 2007
The committee were asked to draft an advert for
a new Musical
Director, after the absence of Steve Roche who had left to go to Dunlop Music
Society. On the 27th April a concert was held at St. Mary’s
Church Hall, Hamstead Rd, Handsworth. Icknield were invited to perform in the “Opening Ceremony at
the International Olympics Committee’s Annual Meeting on 13th June,
attended by the Queen. It is recorded that the Secretary put in a claim for £510
expenses for the I.C.C. concert. Not known if he received it! Brownhills
Festival was mentioned this year, and we gained third place. Icknield Choir attended at Newtown Anniversary Oct 27th
1992 This year was an “Annus Horribilis” for the choir with a
“probable loss of £500 on year’s trading". It was reported we had lost many
choristers, now 33, (31 singers). Dave Ward mentioned Cardiff concert and the past ICC
appearance. The World Choir at Cardiff was in May with Tom Jones as the
artiste and we shared a coach with WMPVC(Police) to Cardiff. We decided to
purchase a new choir uniform. Steve Roche returned to the choir and
recommenced in April as MD. The choir in the past were very proactive in forming
groups within the choir and Steve conducted the Royles. His ambition was to see
Icknield as a 50 strong choir. One of his first concerts since returning was
the Elmwood concert on Tuesday 19th May with Don Beach as Assistant
MD. Also a deputy pianist was sought, and the choir had 33 members (but
only 31 singers). A new photo was to be obtained of choir. The choir
also decided we should change our image and purchase new choir jackets with Bow
The choir attended a
President's Party at
the MASU in Cregoe Street. The President Les Bailey being a past member of the
1993 To reinforce our strong ties with our friends the West
Midlands Police MVC we shared their coach as we did in 1992 for the
World Choir at Cardiff with Shirley Bassey appearing
on the 20th May. On
a press cutting it
was noted Icknield had 40 members, although only 25 travelled to Cardiff. A concert with the Warley MVC was taken part in, their 50th
Anniversary, “Men in Concert” with other massed choirs, and with guest singer
Willard White. Also proposed was a tour by ourselves in Atlanta USA in April 2nd
1994. Interest in the history of the choir is not new, a member
“Ernie Tuckey spoke about the formation of the choir and said it could be 1896
as he had found references to a choir from Hamstead giving a concert at the Town
Hall in that year”. The death of our President Alf Dawson aged 87, was on July 2nd.
He had sung with the choir for 69yrs and and even rejoined the choir after
having a serious illness and a leg amputated. Such commitment is rarely seen but
through the fellowship of music it is encouraged. See "Choir
Personalities" Also Tom Daffon died from Cancer this year.
The new uniform, with green blazers and black trousers was mentioned. Previously the
choir colours were blue. The Autumn Concert featured “No Strings” with our ex
conductor Mike Adams.
We undertook a tour by ourselves in Atlanta USA on April 2nd 1994.
choirs have various ways of governance, and Icknield is one of these. The role
of the MD and pianist come to mind. These had always been members of the
committee but a change was brought about to remove them from the constraints
of the committee, but of course Icknield having a Music Sub Committee this was
possibly a better avenue for their talents. In May the choir were 40 strong
(38 singing). A concert was held at the Blackheath Methodist Church on the 5th
November. A letter was received from the Midland Adult School Union at Cregoe
Street offering to loan the Cadbury Shield to us. We regrettably declined, not
realising that it would become our property in 2003 due to the MASU
donating it to us. Shield Web Site: Les Beach was elected as Choir President.
The Annual Concert was at Church Hall, Elmwood, on 24th September.
Icknield Choir attended at Newtown Anniversary Oct 23rd
The Choir finances this
year were stated to be very healthy with over £5000 in the bank. One of the
reasons for this was sponsorship from companies. One member, Dave Barson
raised £600 in this way. We went to a concert at Much Wenlock, and a visit to
Dublin in Ireland was planned for September. One of the youngest members
Steve O’Reilly was proposed as Assistant Pianist. It was noted that we had 36
singers at present. The West Midlands Police MVC asked us to join them at
their 40th Anniv concert at Symphony Hall, 8th October
1995. On the 14th October we performed in Cannock at a mass MVC
Concert with Cannock Chase Orpheus . Our Annual Concert on the 28th
Oct. was the first with our new green uniforms which was held at the Church
Hall, Elmwood, this included the Royles.
It was mentioned that in April we had 24 - 26 members. A future influence in
the choir, pianist David Rosser was mentioned, and played at his first Annual
Concert at Church Hall, Elmwood, on 12th October, because Les
Beach was unwell. We attended a concert at Longbridge Methodist Church. In May
we travelled to Malta with Northampton MVC.
Still at Elmwood Church House. It was noted that this year there was an
“increase in membership” But only a small amount of concerts were undertaken.
The Annual Concert was at Church Hall, Elmwood, on 20th September.
David Rosser was asked to look at an electric piano.
An Electric Piano was purchased for £890, this gave the choir more flexibility
in accepting concerts. The number of venues that have a quality piano and also
tuned to concert pitch were decreasing. The choir now had 39 singing members. 34
regularly attended. The piano was reported to be in a bad state now being ten
years old. We made enquiries with other choirs for the disposal of our previous
blue blazers. We did a concert for “Cruse” Bereavement care, at Carrs Lane
Church on 21st March.
Even though the choir’s
financial state was in good order it was disturbing that concerts were
lacking. The ones this year that were mentioned were St. Andrews (Handsworth
Wood) in 10th July, Church of the Holy Name (Great Barr) 31st
July, Dorrington Rd School (Perry Barr) 9th September, and taking
part in a show on May 16th at the New Repertory Theatre with
Dr Carl Chinn (now
Professor) the Birmingham Historian to raise money for the
Birmingham Town Hall
restoration. We now had a
Choir Website, due to the efforts of one of our
members Stuart Edwards.
Choir supported a joint rally in Cannon Hill Park to help the Rover Car
workers keep their jobs.
The choir also decided
to “cast the bread on the waters” and apply for Lottery funding. Unfortunately
the application was refused. It was now decided that the Elmwood Church
rehearsal facilities were not very satisfactory and other venues would be
considered. One of which was hiring a room at St. Chads Cathedral because of
Steve Roche’s connections with the Catholic Church. The choir recently
travelled down to Ilfracombe to appear with them. Don Beach who had been with
the choir for 49
years, and emigrated to Australia at the end of next year and due to
this Steve O’Reilly was asked to be deputy pianist/conductor. We attended the WMPMVC 40th Anniversary concert on 17th June. Ernest
Albert Tuckey died this year 22nd August.
Icknield commemorated their 100th
anniversary by staging a concert at the Birmingham Symphony Hall in aid of
charity on Saturday 4th October, with massed Male Voice Choirs (304
Aldridge School, and soprano Lesley Delo. The compere was Dr Carl Chinn, (now Professor).
The choir it was reported were in “Urgent need for new
members”. The Annual Concert was as usual at the Adrian Boult Hall the date
October 20th, and the Artiste Katy Bingham Best. Steve O’Reilly
agreed to be Assistant Conductor in June. It was reported that Wilf Gregory (former member) may
return to the choir. Don Beach the Assistant Conductor was now emigrating to Australia. His last concert at
was at St. Andrews Church Handsworth Wood, on 8th September. Icknield have always had a keen interest in supporting
Remembrance day and in partnership with WMPMVC will supported this in Birmingham.
A need for concert promoter was identified and a new member
Stewart Bissell agreed to this as Concert Secretary. At the 25/4/02 AGM on 25th April an important
change for the choir was suggested by the Chairman Dave Ward who proposed that
we change the choir name to incorporate “Birmingham” This was agreed and we
moved forward into our second century with a new name. He also proposed that the Chairman’s post
should only be for three years with a break of one year. Steve O’Reilly is
decided would not continue as Assistant Conductor. Also concerts would be the second Saturday in each month
apart from exceptional circumstances.
Coloured Business Cards were
designed by Stewart Bissell and a
quantity of 1000 obtained at no cost to the choir. There were
36 members this year,
excepting MD & pianist. Special concerts were
Ilfracombe on the
5th October followed by
the Adrian Boult Concert held on the 12th. In October a meeting was
arranged with community representatives and choir reps from Icknield and the
West Midlands Police Male Voice Choir,
with Professor Carl Chinn to decide on an appropriate celebration for St.
Georges Day in Birmingham. The group formed a committee and a concert at the
Symphony Hall was organised for 2003.
2003 40 members this year, excepting MD &
Jan there was a distribution of about 30 choir sweaters.
In February we tried to find another
supplier of blazers as the previous supplier Sharps Freeman cannot deliver!
March the Welsh National Opera used our rehearsal rooms for two half days. We
got a FOC tuning of our piano! On Saturday March 8th a concert at Ounsdale
School provided a photo opportunity. Choir Picture
An inaugural concert for St. George's Day
April 23rd was performed at Birmingham
Symphony Hall which was a sell out and an outstanding success. The MD for this
concert was Steve Roche, the MD of Icknield, and Stewart Bissell was the Concert
Secretary. A CD of the performance was done. The group formed was the
Birmingham St. George's Day
Association, and it finally obtained charitable status.
concert on Sunday 13th July at the Millenium Stadium Cardiff was cancelled. Not
sufficient tickets had been sold, but the price of tickets, nearly £30 was
considered to be the reason!
This year there was a fear that
Churches would be charge for entertainment under a proposed bill would call for
the licencing of all premises where public performances take place. This would
include churches and it is feared that this could lead to a reduction in the
number of concerts staged at such venues.Fortunately common sense prevailed.
Letterheads were designed by Stewart
Bissell and a quantity of 500 obtained.
Neville Hughes a choir
member died in April.
2004 44 members this year. excepting MD &
& Activities LIST .
September 13th we supported the
Friends of Key Hill Cemetery open Day.
The Friends are raising money to refurbish the cemetery where a number of
important Birmingham personages are buried. See
Friends Web Site:
Using monies kindly donated for that purpose by Stan
Phillips who was suffering from a serious illness,
was proposed on 6th January that we purchase a second hand Yamaha UX piano in
ebony black approximately 20 years old from Broughton Pianos, near Belbroughton.
In addition a robust, high quality made to measure cover is to be purchased and
special castors are to be fitted to the instrument in view of the amount of
movement the instrument will be subjected to. In addition a high quality
piano stool is put forward for consideration.
finally purchased with extras for
arranged a fixing of a small commemorative plaque to the underside of the
keyboard cover which acknowledged this gift.
The balance with Stan Phillips
agreement was spent on an upgrade to our sound system.
Phillips died later this year and missed by all those that knew him.
On the 10th
November an order for Fleece Jackets with the choir logo was ordered
by Stewart Bissell from Scottish Woollen Mills, who were eventually unable to
were arranged by Stewart and 100 were ordered on November 12th
from Fattorini in the Hockley Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham.
applied on behalf of the choir
to Birmingham City Council to be allowed to adopt the Forward Coat of Arms on
letter heads but we were turned down by Birmingham City Council Business
Management Committee 14/12/04. No reason was given,
but we were granted the use of same on a once only basis for the
American Choir (Purdue) from Indiana for the concert souvenir programmes at
Sutton Town Hall in May 2005.
December an application was made by the choir to
Birmingham City Council
respect to funding available for Art projects and organisations. No reply was
received. On the 7th December an idea was mooted of launching a “Friends of Birmingham Icknield MVC”
and ex. Councillor Ron Whitehouse a lifelong supporter of the choir and Mac
Joseph a local historian was sent a choir badge.
In September we joined the
English Association of
Male Voice Choirs (info from Cotswold site), which
comprise; Warley, Kidderminster, Gentlemen Songsters, Cotswolds,
Worcester, Churchdown (Gloucester). and Cradley Heath, ,who
performed at Tewkesbury Abbey, and will again next year.
Each year, by rotation, one of the choirs "hosts" the event, supported by the
host choir for the following year.
2005 45 members this year. excepting MD &
Activities LIST .
In January it
was suggested by
the Choir committee that the choir visited 3-4 working men’s clubs on a Saturday
night to perform 3-4 numbers in an attempt to recruit more members.It was felt that 2, would be an ideal
number.Also suggested were church choirs. It was felt that uniforms would be
appropriate. The main stumbling block was the provision of a piano. We have to take our own
keyboard which meant at least 30 mins. ‘set up’ & the same to remove ready for
transport to next venue. One of the reasons why this has not been attempted to
date. At a rehearsal at
Elmwood Church on the 15th February which we
hired as the Grimshaw Room was not available we had as our guest, Khalid Mahmood
Member of Parliament for Perry Barr.
Choir members & Shield, and
Choir members group.
On Mon February 21st
at a rehearsal at St. Pauls in the Jewellery Quarter, for the St. George's Day a
choir member from Solihull Mr Fred Gibbs passed on to Stewart Bissell, Reel to
Reel tape recordings of the choir of some years ago. These were transcribed by
him onto CD. On the next night a new CD of the choir was recorded at the same
venue. Choir Picture.
On Friday May 20th we
with the Purdue Varsity Choir from Indiana who were on a golfing and singing
tour (not at the same time!). Our guests were also the Second City Ladies Barber
Shop Sounds. We presented Purdue with a
Plaque as a gesture of
friendship between the two choirs, and in turn they presented us with gifts.
Monies from the concert were donated later in the year to the
care home, and to the
School, for the music facilities
2006 48 members this year. excepting MD &
another 19 choir jumpers were ordered at £14.50 to accommodate the new members.
For the same reason we needed more Blazers. On March 23rd this web site created
by Stewart was launched. At a Birmingham Council meeting on the 5th May, the
choir was granted the use of the Birmingham Coat of arms. With his
researches on finding that a recording was done of the choir on 19th June 1982
at Hatherton Church in Walsall, Stewart Bissell contacted them for more details.
It appeared that they then had celebrated their 100th Anniversary and by strange
coincidence they were considering contacting a MVC to perform at their 125th
Anniversary this year. We were happy to accept for the 8th July! A DVD
recording of this concert was produced by the organiser who had also produced
the sound recordings in 1981/2/3.
On December 12th the choir minute book 1961 -
2002 was lodged with the Archive Department of Birmingham Central for future
research by those in the future.
Icknield's membership in the English Association of Male Voice Choirs it was
agreed that they would be the host choir at a Mass Male Voice Choir Festival at
the Birmingham Town Hall in June 2008. The Town Hall is due to be opened in
October 2007 after being closed for 10 years for major refurbishment.
50 members this year. excepting MD &
On January Sunday 21st,
choir members travelled to Worcester to attend an EAMVC committee meeting. On
Monday 12th Feb Stewart Bissell presented a talk with slides to the Atherstone
Womens Club on the choir history. Stan Moulsdale also attended. On Feb Sat 24th
a social night was held at the Hollyfields Centre Club Erdington. On Feb Weds
28th choir members attended the Lord Mayors Suite, and the Lord Mayor Councillor
Mike Sharpe, presented the members with a plaque showing the coat of arms of
Birmingham. We also were granted the right to display same on our correspondance.
Fri March 23rd there was a choir meal at the Fairlawns in Aldridge. On Saturday
April 21st the choir took part in the St. George's Day concert at the Birmingham
Symphony Hall. Among the concerts this year we did two weddings, one at St.
Stephens Church Edbaston, and the other with the West Midlands Police MVC at St.
Peters Church Hall Green. Other details on concert list. We appeared with the
White Russian Band at Walsall Town Hall on Mon November 12th.
A bound minute book was
obtained by Stewart Bissell in November 2007. This was an old format book, but
unused offered by a Mr Tom Bishop who had offered it on FreeCycle a web service
giving things free. On the back of this however a choir member, Gordon Lawton
who had offered to buy one for a £100, still gave a donation to the choir.
52 members this year. excepting MD &
The English Association of Male Voice Choirs
held a Mass Male Voice Choir Festival at
the Birmingham Town Hall on June 28th 2008. This was the first MVC concert for
10 years because of the Town Hall being closed for 10 years for major refurbishment.
Items & Artiste List 1989 - 2002
by the choir as at 2004. Excel File.
Messer’s W. Hall,
L. Mathews (2 periods),
L. Bailey (2 Periods)
Phone No. 07985041167
Webmaster: Icknield Choir History
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