Epsom choir performing at the Royal Albert Hall
A choir described as "a band of brothers" is warming up for a record year which will culminate in a performance at the Royal Albert Hall in October.
Epsom Male Voice Choir (EMVC), based at the United Reform Church Hall in Ewell, established in 1963, has been growing in recent years and is now 60-strong group and is welcoming new members, many as a result of impact of TV star choirmaster Gareth Malone.
Next month it is performing at Epsom Playhouse, in June it will help celebrate the borough's 75 anniversary, and in October it is one of only two English choirs invited to sing alongside Welsh choirs at the Royal Albert Hall.
EMVC chairman, Malcolm Brown, says: "Gareth Malone has really raised the profile of performing in choirs and in the last three years we have had a surge in membership because more people have realised that singing in a choir is not as hard at it seems and that it is fun.
"We sing a real range of songs, from rock to typical male choir hymns, and we have sung in Welsh, Zulu, Latin, and Japanese to name a few languages. With such a variety of songs we can satisfy anyone’s musical talents.
"You don’t need to have any musical skills or be able to read music. There are no auditions for the choir, it’s all very informal.
"Nearly everyone can sing, but nine out of the ten people you ask on the street would probably say that they can’t.
"The realisation you get when you join a choir is ‘I can sing’ and that’s the barrier we are trying to get over."
Mr Brown, a singer in the choir for 17 years, believes that with a high-profile performance at the Royal Albert Hall approaching, this would be a fantastic time to join the choir.
The biennial festival of male voice choirs, A Thousand Voices Sing, will see the EMVC tackle a lot of new material, including a new arrangement written by Brian May, the Queen guitarist.
Mr Brown says: "We are very excited about the performance at the Royal Albert Hall. We have been invited to sing by the London Welsh Male Voice Choir, along with 12 other choirs, and are one of only two choirs which have been invited from England."
Neil MacKay, the choir’s musical director and conductor, says EMVC’s other attraction is the strong bond members form.
He says: "The choir was 18-strong when I took over as musical director 17 years ago and now there are 60 members. It has grown and developed over the years and there is a sense of satisfaction of being part of a group that achieves so much together.
"There is a group bond. My wife describes the choir as a band of brothers. They help one another and there is a real sense of camaraderie."
Mr Brown added: "You are striving towards a common goal and if anyone is struggling we help them out. The choir is a part of my life which I can’t imagine being without. There is such a sense of achievement when we perform."
The choir will be joined at its annual performance at the Playhouse next month by two talented young musicians - pianist Ursula Perks, 14, who attends the Yehudi Menuhin School in Cobham, and Oliver Parker, 13, a student at Box Hill School who plays the trumpet and trombone.
It will perform a wide variety of songs reflecting its diverse repertoire - from Brian May’s Who Wants to Live Forever and When the Saints Come Marching In, to Some Enchanted Evening from hit musical South Pacific and Hell Mary Lou.
The EMVC will also be performing at Croydon’s Fairfield Halls on June 2, and will be joining in with Epsom and Ewell’s 75th anniversary celebrations this year at a gig which aims to bring together all the choirs in Epsom on September 28.
It is available for bookings at weddings, charity concerts and other fundraising events. Epsom Male Voice Choir, Epsom Playhouse, Ashley Road, May 5, 7.30pm, call 01372 742555 or the choir's box office on 0208 393 1004 for tickets EMVC rehearses every Wednesday at 8pm at the United Reform Church Hall, London Road in Ewell. For more information visit www.epsomalevoicechoir.org.uk/