Tideswell Male Voice Choir’s long awaited cruise to Scandinavia became reality on the 8th September. The group consisted of 15 choir members plus their wives and partners, our music director Nick Montague, accompanist Alison Wheeldon and some loyal followers who came to support us. Edwina Currie Jones, our president, also travelled with us and gave three talks during the cruise.
The adventure began at Andrews depot in Tideswell, where we set off for Newcastle to join the cruise ship “Balmoral”. As well as performing for the passengers we were there to enjoy the different venues which the ship visited in Norway, Sweden and Denmark and to enjoy the hospitality on board.
Day two soon came round when the Choir was scheduled to sing in the Lido Lounge. This was the smaller of the two theatres on board and was designed to seat an audience of approximately 145. All seats were taken well before the show started with people queuing outside the theatre and others standing in the aisles. The repertoire covered an eclectic mix of songs including Male Voice Choir standards, Musicals and other genres. The Choir performed wonderfully. Our soloists Kevin Gill, Stuart Gordon and David Torrington all gave excellent renditions of their chosen songs. Given the success of the show, the Entertainments Director scheduled a repeat performance the next day. On this occasion we again performed well to a near capacity audience. This was impressive considering that a large number of people had already seen our performance the previous day.
Members of the choir were now being recognised on the ship and enjoying their celebrity status. A member of the Choir was approached by a passenger at the Opera House in Oslo politely enquiring, “Are you one of the choir on the Balmoral?” Fame indeed.
All too soon our trip was coming to an end and our final concert neared. This again was to take place in the Neptune Theater. The night prior to our concert we ran into heavy seas and gale force 8 winds. This continued into the following day and at our practice in the afternoon we found it impossible to stand on the stage due to the movement of the ship. As a result, the Entertainments Director decided to cancel our scheduled performance, but said “he would review this decision later in the day”.
Passengers and the Choir were beginning to feel the effects of the storm. However, with a slight improvement in the sea conditions, our final concert was given the “green light”. We performed a new set of songs from our repertoire and two new soloist took to the floor, Billy Hesp and, Malcolm Bennison, our chairman. In difficult circumstances we again acquitted ourselves well, even though we could only stand by using the back of our chairs for support. Our efforts were greatly appreciated by the audience as evidenced by their resounding applause.
Finally, as a surprise to both the Choir and the audience, we were treated to a wonderful rendition of “Baby Love” by Wendy, Christine and Jeannie. This went down brilliantly with our audience and made a superb end to our concert.
In summary, we had a great time, made many new friends and proved that there is still a place for male voice choirs in this modern world. The cruise Entertainments Director said ”the Choir had enhanced the cruise with their singing and friendliness. All in all a very successful venture for Tideswell Male Voice Choir.