This land of cliffs and moors,
of streams and granite tors........
The inspiration for the formation of the Loveny Male Voice Choir came from a Cornishman from St Neot working in the Far East – Alan Pascoe. Let us trace the early years of the Choir through his words....
“The idea that it might be possible one day to form a male voice choir in my native village of St Neot Cornwall was inspired by the singing of Cornishmen of all ranks from the aircraft carrier HMS Bulwark, at a party in my house, when she visited North Borneo in 1963. It made me realise that good voices were to be found all over Cornwall, and not exclusively in the China Clay and mining districts”
“The idea refused to go away, In 1969 I was back in the UK, and as an act of faith, I had the first music for the Choir (a selection of Cornish Carols) prepared in my office in Birmingham, and later that year I returned to Cornwall”.
“The first discussions took place in the London Inn St Neot in 1971 between Jack Haley (the then landlord), Fred Best (an old school friend) and myself. Another old friend Arthur Sweet was then consulted, and he helped me to list and approach known singers in the area”.
“That Autumn, the Choir in embryo, first gathered at my home Carnglaze St Neot under the leadership of Reg Bennets, a very experienced and talented musician. Our philosophy was simple – to sing together just for our own enjoyment by making music in harmony. The long term hope was that one day we might be able to give pleasure to other people as well”.
Sadly, Alan Pascoe died in 1995, but he will always be remembered through his dream and inspiration which still 'sings on' in every concert given by Loveny Male Voice Choir. In Alan's words: "Our music has enabled us to create a vital new force within our Community and, in enriching the Community we have enriched ourselves”.
Later when the Choir needed to buy further music, they decided to pass around a hat to collect money, which enabled them to purchase just one sheet of music for the pianist – who was Alan's wife, Pamela. Music for choristers was laboriously written out into strips of wallpaper and secured with bamboo canes and clothes pegs over the Carnglaze fireplace for rehearsals.
The first Officers of the Loveny Male Voice Choir were appointed in February 1972, and in March of that year the Choir began to hold practices in St Neot Institute, where they can still be found today on Thursday evenings.
Reg Bennets was unable to take the Choir for long and in 1972, Alan was fortunate in being able to persuade another experienced musician, Tom Pickard to take over, and he organised the Choir on a sure foundation. Under his baton, we gave our first public performance on May 7th, 1972, at Warleggan Chapel. The Choir first met the talented pianist Elizabeth Tamblyn at a concert in St Luke's Methodist Chapel, Bolventor, on October 27th 1972, where she was accompanying the soloist Marshall Tamblyn, who was her Brother. Once Pamela Pascoe had heard Elizabeth play, she suggested that the Choir invite her to be their permanent accompanist.
“I wish I could express or indeed explain the remarkable motivation of the Choir in those early days.In November 1972, for example, the Choir gave no less than seven concerts in one month – at St Neot, Liskeard Public Hall, Trevadlock, Cardinham, Hocking's House (St Cleer), Roche and Helland. Together with supporting practices, just imagine the commitment which such a programme called for. This is how the foundations were laid – with total dedication. With so few members (less than twenty at the time), no one could say “they won't miss me tonight.” Every man depended on the presence of the man standing beside him at practice. A high level of self – discipline was necessary, and was freely given”.
Sadly, Tom Pickard collapsed at a Concert in Morval Village Hall in 1976 and never recovered. Mrs Thelma Tucker, accompanist of the Millpool Trio, who were soloists at the Concert, valiantly took over the conducting of the Choir and continued as Musical Director until Nick hart was elected in 1978. Nicks energy and expertise invigorated the Choir, he not only doubled the membership within a year but he led it to success at Music festivals at Wadebridge and Indian Queens early in his tenure.
Nick developed a facility for finding new and original music for the Choir from classical music, from modern “pop” sources, from foreign lands – from anywhere so long as it had an interesting, imaginative and entertaining melody. The Choir, whose repertoire had previously consisted of simple sacred songs and stalwart “old faithfuls”, cheerfully forsook the old and the new, and the refreshing innovative choral sound which became to be identified with Loveny was developed, gaining it a reputation for providing sheer entertainment.
The success of the Choir soon attracted members from far afield, and we felt the need for a name, not restricted to the village itself. We chose the name of the river which flows through St Neot Parish to join the Fowey just above Trago Mills i.e. The River Loveny – pronounced “LO-VEN-NEE” There is no certain English equivalent of this beautiful Cornish name. The verb “LOWENHE” meaning “to rejoice, to make or be glad or to comfort”
The Choirs badge was designed by Gwen Case, the wife of a Choir member. It is a blue ribbon laid across a green oak leaf, and has special meaning in the Parish of St Neot. The blue ribbon represents the river Loveny, and the oak leaf represents the oak bough which has been hoisted to the top of St Neot Church on May 29th each year since 1660. This ritual commemorates the restoration of King Charles II to the throne. The oak leaf reminds Cornish Royalists of Charles escape after the defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651, when he hid from his enemies in the branches of an oak tree. The colours of the Choir uniform were inspired by the colours of the slate produced at Carnglaze Caverns, and known as “St Neot Blues”
In 1982, Loveny Male Voice Choir joined the Cornish Federation of Male Voice Choirs, and choristers have represented Loveny at the Federation's Concerts in the Royal Albert Hall in 1983, 1986, 1988, 2000 and 2013.
The Choir has sung in venues as varied as Bristol, Wales, Brittany, High Wycombe, Abbots Langley, Prague, and The Hague, to a raft in the middle of Fowey Harbour with Peter Skellern, In Truro Crown Court and on board HMS Cornwall and HMS Hermes. It has enjoyed special relations with Tonna MVC in Wales, Kanerien Quimperle in Brittany, High Wycombe Orpheus Choir and the Royal Male Voice Choir “Die Hague Sanghers” from Holland.
In 1983 the Choir was signally honoured to be invited to sing as guests representing East Cornwall at the first Cornish Esethvos, followed by a repeat performance of that programme in the Theatre Royal Plymouth, the first choral concert in the then new venue. Competitive singing, which has done so much to raise standards, began with modest festivals at Wadebridge and Indian Queens, leading on to participation in the Cornwall Open Choir Championships, which Loveny won in 1986; 1988 and in 1991. The Choir competed at the Welsh Eisteddfod in Llangollen in 1988 and 1994.
All the hard work put into the Choir, especially by Nick Hart over the years as M.D. has produced a Choir with a reputation second to none in Cornwall. He took the Choir 'nation-wide' through participation in two television broadcasts for Christmas 1991. These were the Esther Rantzen programme 'Hearts of Gold' on the BBC network, featuring a prestigious and well deserved tribute to Nick himself; and a Grand Christmas Concert on ITV organised by Visual Music, with Benjamin Luxon as the celebrity soloist. 'Zambia Sunset' which appears on the Choir's recording “World of Loveny” as part of the 'African Moods' trilogy, was written specially for Loveny as part of the musical backing to a wildlife programme about the painted Dogs of the Serengeti Plain.
Under successive Musical Directors , the Choir has continued the good work of Loveny, entertaining audiences and raising funds for good causes, year after year, at home and abroad. In May 2015, under the baton of Richard Braebrook, the Choir entered the Cornwall International Male Voice Choral Festival , in both competition and concert, at the Hall for Cornwall. The Choir was awarded the 'St Stythians Trophy' for best Cornish Choir of 40 voices and under.
In 2016, during a very successful tour to Brittany in France under the Directorship of our founder member, Colin Arthur, the Choir entertained audiences in Benodet, Douarnenez, and finally in Pont Croix, where the Marie (Mayor) presented the Choir with honorary citizenship of the town.
Musical Directors of Loveny since its formation have been:
1971 Reg Bennets
1972 Tom Pickard
1976 Thelma Tucker
1978 Nick Hart
1994 Gerry Hillman
1997 Michael Johnston
1998 Mike Kempster
2000 Nick Hart
2001 Rosemary Cole
2006 Dorothy Andrews
2012 Richard Braebrook
2016 Colin Arthur
2017 Marcus Alleyne