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Singing is a serious business for Wessex Male Choir
ON a cold winter’s evening in Abbey Meads, a group of around 60 men kept their vocal chords warm as they prepared for their last concert of the year.
Bankers, gardeners, solicitors and accountants all leave their day jobs behind them to perform as part of the Wessex Male Choir at Abbey Meads Church.
The choir was formed in 2001 by its musical director, Rob Elliott, and started with just 25 choristers, but now boasts more than 60 members and perform throughout the year all over the UK, normally for charity.
There was good banter between the singers but Rob was taking no prisoners as he aimed for the highest standards.
Rob, of Royal Wootton Bassett, said: “There is a lot of banter, and it is really good fun – I am of the philosophy that you work hard and you play hard.
“When I started the choir it was all prior to when they became popular, but what we wanted out of it in terms of standard is the same as the likes of Only Males Aloud, who are a professional choir.
“We have guys here from all sorts of backgrounds, from bankers to gardeners to solicitors. You’ve got a whole mixture here and that is what makes our choir.
“To stand up in front of the choir at the places where we have performed it is fantastic.
“It is like you have the most expensive system at your fingertips and you have total control – it’s a fantastic experience.”
Choirs sometimes have the reputation of attracting the older generation, but that is not true for Tom Beach, 18, is preparing to study music at university next year.
Tom said: “After leaving school I wanted to carry on my music and I thought this was a good place to learn.
“I like the range of music that you get to perform and I get quite a lot from it.”
Steve Jones, of Malmesbury, works in IT during the day but joined the choir when it first started as a way of switching off from work.
He said: “I started at the beginning and I had every confidence that Rob would build the choir and get more singers.
“We do attract people and few people leave.
“It is the community that is the best part of all, it gets people together from all backgrounds and there are some real characters.
“It is quite nerve wracking when there is a large audience but you do get a buzz from it.”
2012 was certainly a busy year for the choir on a sporting front.
In February they enetertained a sell-out crowd at Twickenham with renditions of Swing Low Sweet Chariot and Jerusalem ahead of the Six Nations rugby clash between England and Wales.
And in August it was the turn of rugby league, performing before a 79,000-strong crowd at Wembley for the Carnegie Rugby League Final between Leeds and Warrington.
Versions of Delilah, Hey Jude, Shine and Angels were performed before the choir led the National Anthem ahead of the match.
The choir rehearses on Tuesday evenings between 7:30pm and 9:30pm at the Abbey Meads Church. To find out more email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Rob Elliott on 07939 249021.