THERE is a special weekend ahead for the singers of Skelmanthorpe Male Voice Choir and its supporters.
The choir is delighted to be singing in Huddersfield tomorrow at St Paul’s Hall with no less a group of musicians than The Mastersingers as their guests.
The combination is a fitting tribute to the Skelmanthorpe choir’s endeavours as it notches up its 75th anniversary.
The choir has much to look forward to. It has a new musical director, the highly respected local singer Jane Hobson, and exciting plans for the future.
Those plans include collaborating with local schools to share the choir’s passion for singing and perhaps to encourage new young voices to join them.
The choir is also keen to renew its bonds with other local musical organisations such as Skelmanthorpe Band.
But tomorrow’s concert is top of the agenda. The choir will doubtless be displaying its wide concert repertoire which includes music of all styles from stage shows, folk, blues and jazz as well as oratorio and opera.
These singers thrive on hard work and are working with Jane, the choir’s first female conductor, to develop their repertoire and their singing technique.
They could not have chosen better masters of both to share a concert platform with than their guests tomorrow, The Mastersingers.
This ensemble, formed by Alan Simmons, is a byword for excellence.
They broadcast regularly and have recorded a number of CDs. Alan Simmons taught music in secondary schools for 20 years, then became music adviser to Kirklees Council, where he stayed for a further 10.
He now works as a full time composer, specialising in music for schools and choirs, often leading workshops for adults and children.
For years The Mastersingers have been singing as a backing group for singers such as Cleo Laine and Anthony Newley.
With the experience gained through that work as well as their vast experience of a cappella choral music, The Mastersingers have developed a concert repertoire second to none.
They have performed twice at the Proms In The Park in Manchester and the presence of a number of talented writers in their ranks makes this a rare ensemble indeed.
James Morgan, another of the area’s best known musical talents, will conduct The Mastersingers who will sing a programme ranging from traditional music to that of Irving Berlin via Leonard Cohen and Elmer Albrecht.
But a highlight for many may well be when Alan Simmons steps up to conduct the two groups of singers in his much loved arrangement of Softly.
For the Skelmanthorpe Male Voice Choir this will undoubtedly be a memorable concert to add to 75 years of proud history.
They were formed by a group of men from the village of Skelmanthorpe but these days recruit from a wider area.
The choir has established connections with choirs both in this country and abroad and last year visited a choir in Germany with which it has been enjoying exchange trips since the Sixties.
The singers have taken part in many competitive music festivals with winning performances at the International Eisteddfod at Llangollen and at the UK National Championships held in Huddersfield in the Nineties.
New conductor Jane hopes that the competitive spirit will be rekindled among choir members as they look forward to many more years of singing.
Tomorrow’s concert begins at 7.30pm and the Skelmanthorpe singers will be accompanied by new accompanist Craig Schofield.