When we entered the Truro International Competition in 2009, we were asked to provide a 500-word history of our choir.  Here it is, brought up to date as at May 2013.

The Croydon Male Voice Choir has been singing for nearky 40 years. From modest beginnings, it has become a choir that is firmly established in the local community, benefits a range of local and national charities,  and aspires to the highest musical standards. Yet it has always retained a sense of sociability, enjoyment and fun.

The choir at Bath Abbey, 2011

The choir grew out of a schism in the Croydon musical world. In 1975, David Neal, a member of the L.J. Singers, led a 12-strong breakaway group which set up the David Neal Gentleman Songsters. Mr Neal died two years later to be succeeded as leader by Phil Ratcliffe, and the choir was promptly renamed the Croydon Male Voice Choir. It secured sponsorship from the local South Suburban Cooperative Society and rehearsed in the Co-op HQ canteen. It sang ballads and pop songs, and performed in dinner jackets, raising money for causes such as local hospices and homeless charities.

The choir lost its sponsors when the Croydon SSCS closed down. It found new premises in a pub, the Cherry Orchard. It replaced the dinner jackets with vee-necked pullovers (think Val Doonican) and recruited members by advertising in local newspapers and newsagents. Its musical renown was spreading and in 1990, at the third attempt, it won the prestigious Morriston Orpheus prize, awarded in competition for the best choir in southern England.

The 1990s brought further change and growth. The choir adopted its current uniform, silver/blue jackets and a maroon tie with a Croydon motif. It moved to its current rehearsal rooms at Sandilands, home of Addiscombe Cricket Club (happily equipped with a bar). It acquired a new musical director, Ozzie Arnold, and staged a mass choir concert - the first of many - at Croydon's Fairfield Hall. It embarked on further tours, to Cornwall and South Wales and continued its fund-raising work on behalf of local and national charities.

In 2000 the choir acquired its fourth director, Richard Hoyle, previously the choir pianist. Under Dr Hoyle's dedicated and exacting leadership, our standards have continued to rise and our repertoire has become still more varied and eclectic. We sing English and Welsh hymns, spirituals, British and American folk songs, songs from the great musicals, and classic opera pieces. We renew our repertoire constantly in order to surprise our audiences and present our members with fresh challenges.

We have regularly supplied singers for the choir at the Remembrance Day concerts at the Royal Albert Hall, in the presence of H.M. Queen. We have toured to Wales, Cornwall, Yorkshire and notably Lille, where we performed before French and Belgian audiences.   In November 2007 we sang at the memorial service for Lord Weatherill, former Croydon MP and Speaker to the House of Commons.

In the spring of 2008 we conducted a successful tour of Yorkshire and in the autumn we attracted an audience of around 500 for our Foyer performance at the Royal Festival Hall.  We took part in the International Choir Competition and Festival in Truro in 2009, achieving a creditable fifth place in the main competition.  We toured to Holland in April 2010 and have conducted further tours to UK venues.  We have more than 70 members and have just recorded our seventh CD, a delightful selection of secular and religious songs and carols for Christmas.

In June 2012 we hosted a 400-voice mass choir Jubilee concert at Croydon's Fairfield Halls that was widely acclaimed as a triumph.  Since then we have staged joint concerts with choirs from Canada and Australia.  We feel that we are going from strength to strength and have concerts booked through 2015 and into 2016.  We look forward to exicting challenges ahead!

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