Switch to Shirley church gets choir all back under one roof


For some of the borough’s music groups, there is the beginnings of a return to “normality”, however slowly.

On song: Roger Pinsent directs the Croydon Male Voice Choir, rehearsing indoors for the first time in 16 months

The Croydon Male Voice Choir has managed to get back to indoor rehearsing.

After months when only a handful of choristers managed to sing together – over a pint at the Royal Standard pub on Friday evenings – last Thursday a larger group gathered to sing at St John’s Church in Shirley, its first indoor rehearsal following 16 months of covid lockdown.

CMVC normally rehearses at Sandilands Sports Club, and has been holding outdoor rehearsals there this year. It has temporarily moved to the Shirley church because it allows for better indoor social distancing and ventilation, pending an eventual return to more normal conditions.

During a two-hour session, led by its music director Roger Pinsent, the choir practised some half-dozen pieces from its current repertoire, ranging from Bring Him Home to the Soldier’s Chorus.

Choir members agreed that the church’s high roof provided a splendid acoustic, particularly effective for Nessun Dorma, with its rousing final chorus. “It felt as if we were in an opera house,” one said.

Memorial: the choir at the service in Wimbledon for Bernard Weatherill, the son of the former Speaker

The choir’s indoor rehearsal followed its performance at a memorial ceremony in Wimbledon last week with strong Croydon connections.

The memorial, at St Mary’s Church on July 30, was for the late Bernard Weatherill QC, the son of the former Croydon MP and House of Commons speaker, Lord Weatherill, and it continued the family’s link with CMVC.

In 2007, the choir sang at the memorial service for Lord Weatherill at Croydon Minster. In 2013 it sang at the wedding at St Margaret’s, Westminster, of Julia Weatherill, Lord Weatherill’sgranddaughter and Bernard’s daughter.

On those occasions, the choir sang the Finlandia Hymn by Sibelius and the American piece, Battle Hymn of the Republic. Before he died, Bernard Weatherill especially asked for the choir to perform those two pieces at his memorial. The choir duly delivered powerful and moving renditions which drew applause from the mourners.

The choir is now provisionally planning for a return to concerts in the autumn.

It will announce details as soon as it can, boosted by its rehearsal on Thursday. “It feels great to be back,” one member said.

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