Richard's farewell

JULY 9: Over an emotional weekend in Exeter, Richard Hoyle ­– after conducting his 186th concert – retired as music director of Croydon Male Voice Choir.  Richard gave a farewell speech in which he hailed the choir as “the most wonderful organisation I have ever been associated with – one that changed and enhanced my life”.

Kim presents Richard to Richard (JWT)

Richard’s final concert was at St Margaret’s church in Topsham on Saturday July 7 – the last of three performances during the choir’s Exeter tour, following appearances at South Street Baptist Church and Exeter Cathedral.   The choir then repaired to Topsham Rugby Club, where Richard was presented with a portrait of himself in the act of conducting. 

Choir chair Kim Ormond, who made the presentation, thanked Richard for his immense contribution over 27 years, including 18 as music director, during which he took the choir from a group of around 30 singers to its current size of nearly 70, with a lively, ambitious and eclectic repertoire and an immense reputation both locally and further afield.  “From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.”

In his reply, Richard recalled that he had first joined the choir as page-turner for the current pianist – showing that “even from humble beginnings you can rise to greatness”.  When he became pianist in 1991, there were no choir tours, no patrons, no massed choir concerts and no recordings – all measures introduced during his spell with the choir.  When he joined, Richard remembered, “The biggest topic of the day was whether members should continue to wear bow ties or switch to ties.”

CMVC lines up at Exeter Cathedral (JWT)

As MD, he had sought to choose music "that I thought would be liked or would stretch the choir - it was sometimes quite a challenge."  And sometimes, when he introduced one of his own arrangements, “I’ve had my heart in my mouth - some have been hits and some have quickly disappeared without trace."  But, Richard added, "You've loyally taken them on board, the good, the bad and the downright indulgent and performed them well even if they weren't your cup of tea."

He thanked past and present choir chairs – singling out Kim and Gerry Upjohn – as well as committee members and pianists “for their tremendous help, support and encouragement”, and above all Darren “for being my assistant for 17 years.”   

As well as changing his life, the choir had helped Richard develop as a musician and “brought me so many satisfying moments both creatively and socially and it will be strange to think it won’t be an active part of my life any more.  I wish the choir as a body and each of you individually the very best for your future….Thank you so much Croydon Male Voice Choir – for everything.”

Standing ovation for Richard at Topsham (JWT)

Richard received a resounding  ovation from the 100-strong assembly, who included choir members, family and friends taking part in the tour.  The portrait of Richard was painted by Sebastian Ward Turner (

Richard and Richard by Darren

In other awards, Paul Binge received the Alan Shield, presented to choir members who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in assisting the choir, for his work in digitising the choir’s most recent CD so that it can be accessed on the internet or purchased from the choir website.

The Alan Shield for Paul (JWT)

As for the remainder of the tour, the choir opened to an enthusiastic audience on Friday July 6 at South Street Baptist church. There was a sizeable crowd to see it sing at Exeter Cathedral at midday on July 7, where both choir and audience enjoyed the superb acoustics. 

Richard’s final concert at St Margaret’s in Topsham was in a stunning location, with sunset views across the River Exe and down to the sea.   After the final number and encore ­– You’ll Never Walk Alone – Richard was serenaded with The Soldier’s Farewell.  He then walked down the nave to a standing ovation from choir and audience alike.

CMVC has now completed its 2017-2018 season. It resumes rehearsals  on Thursday September 6, conducted by the new MD, Roger Pinsent.