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  • Mick Anstice

Choral excellence in Cornwall


This years 'Cornwall International Male Choral Festival' was a cracker! Choirs from as far distant as Australia, South Africa and Canada performed in concerts all across Cornwall alongside choirs from Russia, Finland, Croatia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and of course those of us somewhat nearer to home. Congratulations to Festival Director Gareth Churcher and his team for an extremely well managed festival of music, attracting great choirs from around the world, providing us with music that was quite simply, outstanding.

Loveny hosted a concert in St Neot Parish Church on Friday 3rd May, and it was a superbly entertaining evening of great music variety. Loveny were joined by Peterborough Male Voice Choir with their MD William Prideaux, Seer Green Singers from a village near Beaconsfield Buckinghamshire under their MD Jane Smith, and the Dubna Boys Choir from a specialised music school in the Moscow region of Russia with their MD Olga Mironova. Each choir gave us a glimpse of their own particular style, Peterborough showing their ability to perform complex arrangements with great ability, an animated Seer Green reminding us that 'having a great time' is part of what it is all about, and the immaculately turned out Dubna Boys displaying something quite special, and possibly unique to Eastern Europe. Greatly anticipated, the boys almost didn't make it, as the coach conveying them had broken down earlier in the afternoon. Thankfully for us all, a replacement coach was despatched, and they arrived albeit a little late, but with enough time to enthral us with a stunning performance.

As is our way, all our guests were 'fed and watered' with traditional Cornish pasty's and saffron cake which was greatly appreciated, and just a little afterglow singing took place, not wanting to strain voices before the competition the following morning.

An early-ish start on Saturday morning in Truro saw us assembling at 9.30 for a warm up and last minute practice before the competition (40 and under). Running with military style precision, we were ushered from holding room to practice room and across to the Cathedral for our performance at 10.30. I am convinced that every one of us thoroughly enjoyed the experience....the packed nave, the grandeur of the building, the belief in ourselves and the work we had dedicated to our preparation for this occasion, the respect we have for Marcus and the desire to perform our best for him....so many emotions...a massive buzz. Our chosen repertoire of 'Tibyay Payom', 'And can it be?', finishing with ''I'll fly away' was very well received, the latter with 4 hand accompaniment provided by extra hands from Mel's sister Rebecca, who had only practiced the piece with us twice.

After doing 'our bit', we all had the opportunity to return to the cathedral to listen to other choirs and enjoy the high quality performances of varied music and delivery style that continued until early afternoon. Left in no doubt that we were up against very stiff competition from small and 'tight' semi professional ensembles and larger well polished choirs, we nevertheless eagerly awaited the results from the Adjudicators. Of the 17 choirs in the 40 and under section, only the top 6 were announced, and disappointingly we were not amongst them. However, Marcus had agreed with us that our 'end game' was to do our very best, and enjoy ourselves, and those terms were absolutely met! A full adjudication report will be sent to us in due course, and we will take note of the comments and learn from this great experience.

To our delight, we learned later in the day, after conclusion of the 41 and over choir competition, that Marcus had been awarded the Ellen Winser trophy for 'Best Overall Conductor'. This news certainly brought a positive spin on the day, sadly he wasn't there to receive the trophy, which was collected with great pride by our Chairman Dave Williams, and presented to Marcus the following Tuesday. The competition Marcus faced overall was very very strong, and we are all so incredibly proud of him, and this significant achievement....Congratulations Marcus !

This was a very busy weekend for us, starting from practice on Thursday to end of play on Saturday, and there are many people to thank for making it work. So a big 'thank you' to Lorena and the Ladies who worked tirelessly to ensure everyone was looked after on Friday with customary Loveny hospitality, to our MC John Ead for more than just skilfully getting his tongue around the Russian names, and to Chris Howarth and Rebecca Mayall who provided much needed extra hands for 'I'll fly away' at rehearsal, and in concert and competition. To Jo Alleyne also for providing the delightful flute accompaniment for 'Danny Boy' on Friday, to Mel for providing our beautiful accompaniment, and finally Marcus who has worked so extremely hard to get us to where we are today.

The full recording of the 40 and under competition is available on the YouTube below. We begin at around 2 hours 10 minutes into the recording:

#LovenyMaleVoiceChoir #LovenyMVC #MarcusAlleyne #CIMCF2019 #TruroCathedral #GarethChurcher

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