The market town of Malton – mid way between York and Scarborough - has long boasted a wealth of musical and performing groups inproportionate to its small size. The absence of a male voice choir however was seen as a major gap by local musical theatre performer and former male choir singer Tom Todd.
Armed with the idea he approached singing teacher and former professional singer Chris Holmes, who became the choir’s first MD. The response to an appeal for members was immediate and the choir held its first meeting on September 21st 2007 – and many others afterwards - in the Kirkham Henry Performing Arts Centre thanks to the kind support of that venue.
“From day one, we had a group of enthusiastic and dedicated members, many of whom are still with us today. Some have sung with choirs or were (and still are) singing with other local churches or groups. But others had no singing history at all”, said Tom.
Since then the choir, with members currently ranging in age from 20 to 95, has performed across the region from Helmsley to Stamford Bridge. It has joined other choirs in Bridlington and Scarborough, performed as distantly as Newcastle and Scunthorpe and has sung with Lesley Garrett and Gareth Malone .
“It has been a hectic but exhilarating and rewarding experience and we have been given a warm welcome wherever we have sung, said Tom Todd. “All we need now is to cement the success, expand the repertoire and recruit more members. We must also convince people that there are so many benefits from belonging to a cheerful and vibrant group like ours”.
Some of the original choir members in the Kirkham Henry Performing Arts Centre just three weeks after the choir was formed in September 2007. Many are still with us.
Viv Wilcock, Conductor & Musical Director
Vivien’s musical career began as a child with piano lessons for seven years. At primary and secondary school she took part in musical shows and was often called on to play at school prayers. As a piano-playing primary school teacher later she was also much in demand. After marrying and having two daughters, Vivien joined the local Operatic Society in Lutterworth, Leicestershire. She performed and played with the society for 14 years. After moving to Durham she became accompanist to the Durham Police Male Voice Choir. Eleven years ago Vivien joined the then new Malton District Male Voice Choir as accompanist and after several years was appointed its conductor and musical director. Since then she has expanded the choir’s repertoire, continuing its traditional and classic male voice repertoire while introducing a wider range of modern and popular music. She has also encouraged solo singing within the choir and has hosted regular choir events at her home, aided and abetted by husband Dennis, a former Director of the School of Engineering at Sunderland University.
(Photo: Vanessa Wilcox)
Moira Gray, Accompanist
Moira only joined Malton District Male Voice Choir in 2016 but her competence, patience and friendliness have already made a big impression and won her many admirers. She studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London, specialising in accompaniment and chamber music and won awards during her time there. She taught in the Limerick School of Music in Ireland for many years and was accompanist at the Irish World Music Centre at the University of Limerick. She was also Assistant Organist at St Mary’s Cathedral in Limerick where her husband Stuart was Organist and Choirmaster. Together they formed the Limerick Festival Choir and Orchestra and other ensembles. She composed choral music for the choir and, as a clarinet player, music for wind. Moira has also performed extensively as a soloist and accompanist for instrumentalist, singers and choirs both in Ireland, England and abroad and has worked with many eminent musicians. She now lives near Malton and performs, teaches and works as an examiner for the London College of Music.