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Centenary for Chapel en le Frith Male Voice Choir

A chance remark would have far-reaching consequences for Bert Longson and a group of First World War veteran friends as they gathered to sing outside Town End Methodist Church one Sunday Evening in 1918. With the war drawing to a close, servicemen were returning to the area from the battlefields of the Western Front. Reunited, the friends began to sing, as they had done in the trenches for morale in the face of the Great War's well-documented horrors. Hearing them, a passing schoolmaster remarked: “With voices like that, you chaps should form a choir.” So they did. And the Chapel-en-le-Frith Male Voice Choir (CMVC) celebrates its one hundredth birthday this year.

Originally known as the Chapel Ex-Servicemen's Choir, the name was changed to allow a wider membership and they began to surge in popularity. By the time of their fiftieth anniversary in 1968 they were performing as many as thirty concerts a year, often alongside some of the most famous singers of the day. Member numbers have waxed and waned over the years: the 1970s saw a slight decline but by the end of that decade interest started to return. Since the turn of the century there has been a real resurgence and the CMVC begins its centenary year in fine health.

Last year the singers travelled to the Italian Tyrol for the Alta Pusteria Festival, an international celebration with over 1000 choirs in attendance. They gave three concerts over the event's five days and took a cable car high into the Dolomites to sing from the top of a mountain.

Due to the nature of their origins, it was somewhat inevitable that their anniversary would be tied-in with national commemorations to mark one hundred years since the Armistice. Last year they were awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant under the 'First World War: Then and Now' programme, enabling CMVC members to research their history and the area's connections with the war. They will be presenting their findings at a series of open days and producing a digital resource for future reference.

Over the course of the next twelve months they will be holding three free concerts at New Mills, Glossop and Chapel with a fourth very special event to be held next Remembrance Day. On 11th November 2018 they will be performing at Buxton Opera House with Lesley Garrett as their special guest in an evening to be presented by the poet Ian McMillan.

One of the oldest male voice choirs in England, they meet each Monday at Dove Holes Methodist Church. Membership currently stands at about forty, with ages ranging from the early twenties up to eighty-seven years old. All are welcome, even those who don't know what sort of voice they have. With a hundred years of experience, they'll know exactly where to fit you in. They can be contacted at www.chapelmalevoicechoir.co.uk  - don't forget to keep an eye on the 'what's on' section of our website for details of all their upcoming performances.