Ken Heys

Ken Heys

By Geoff Whitehead

A true choir legend and friend to all, Ken Heys passed away peacefully this week.

Ken was made an Honorary Life member of the Choir last year, which gave me an opportunity to ask Ken about his life in the Choir which has spanned more than 60 years.  He has had the  dubious (Ken’s words!) honour of singing under every Musical Director since the formation of the Choir in 1924 including the great Fred Thomlinson ‘the silver haired maestro’ as Ken called him.

He was there at some of the RMVC greatest moments; winning at Llangollen International Eisteddfod in 1958 (a unique 4th victory) in front of over 8000 people (with 30000 more on the hills outside) when they were described as a world beating Choir by the Caernarvon Times. He remembers the Cork International Music Festival and the choir so big it took 2 DC 3 Dakota aircraft  in a stomach lurching flight – another victory followed and a pint or two of Beamish stout, the best Ken ever tasted;  the International Koorfestival in Holland in 1973 (and all the repertoire) when they were narrowly beaten by the Helsinki University Choir – made up of music graduates.

Ken remembers BBC TV and Radio appearances throughout his time in the Choir – getting time off work for rehearsals: Mahler’s symphony No8 in Liverpool Cathedral in 1964 stands out. Reaching the final at the Festival Hall in London of the BBC radio’s Let the People sing – robbed of victory as Ken remembers by Bromley the local choir!

And it goes on… Celebrity concerts at the Picture House in Rawtenstall, trips to Bocholt, sailing and singing down the Rhine to Cologne, his iconic solo Nothing Like a Dame at the Bridgewater Hall in more recent times and his last trip to Cornwall in 2017…it is difficult to sum up a lifetime of singing but what comes across powerfully, in speaking to Ken, is the importance of the music and the magic of the togetherness of the choir to produce great singing – to improve and be the best – an inspiration as important now as ever!

Ken, a top class baritone in his day, singing semi – professionally in clubs across the Northwest spoke highly of his fellow choristers and musical directors. He wanted to thank the RMVC for giving him, as a working man in Rossendale, opportunities and friendships he may not have enjoyed without it . We too thank you Ken for giving so much to the choir over the years!

Ken, by Paul Heaton

Ken, Ken who inspired the men and sang like a baritone should.
With tones that were mellow, this impressive old fellow made any old tune sound good.
A sad loss today, but as some folk will say, it’s important great singers pass on.
Up in heaven above, he goes with our love, where his voice will be second to none.

In April this year we had our third visit to the fantastic Cornwall International Male Choral Festival, performing with top-class choirs from the UK and around the world.

We were honoured to have been asked to sing at the opening Gala Concert in Truro Cathedral, and here are a few videos from the live stream of our performances that night.

Anthem From Chess

Seal Lullaby

Drunken Sailor

Sing Your Way Home

Seize the Day

Can I say how much I enjoyed the whole concert

Neil

We had the absolute pleasure of seeing you guys in concert last night…you blew us away!

Jenni

How amazing it is to be part of this choir! What a wonderful sound gentlemen!

Steve

The Valley of Song

…is how the Rossendale Valley in south east Lancashire is often described and it’s the home of The Rossendale Male Voice Choir.

Founded in 1924, by the late Fred Tomlinson MBE, who took a group of local singers and moulded them into one of the country’s finest male voice choirs. Winning many competitions and festivals, including the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen. Sharing a love of singing and music-making not only drives us to do our very best in the concert hall or in competition, but also generates strong personal friendships between members.

As you’ll have gathered, we’re nearly 100 years old!

If you want to be part of that very exciting milestone, please get in touch. Whether it’s for a concert which will have an extra special atmosphere, sponsorship, media interest (including radio & TV), or to be a member of the choir through that important anniversary, drop us a line.

Our Musical Team

Matthew Thomas

Musical Director

Joining the Rossendale Male Voice Choir as Musical Director in 2015, Matthew has injected a new impetus into the choir and won the award for top conductor at the Cornwall International Male Choral Festival in 2017

Liz Baker

Accompanist

Liz has been accompanying singers since she joined the junior section of Manchester Mecca Bands as a teenager. After thirty years of sharing her love and enthusiasm for music with her piano and vocal students, Liz brings her versatile talents and dynamic performance energy to the Choir

Charles Crowley

Assistant Conductor

Charles joined the choir in 1987, singing with the First Tenors ever since. He is also the lead conductor of the Rossendale Festival Choir which is a mixed choir formed from members of the RMVC and the Rossendale Ladies Choir.

CONTACTS

Secretary: Paul Lomax, secretary@rossendalemalevoicechoir.co.uk

REHEARSALS

Every Monday at 7.30pm

St Peters Church, St. Peters Avenue, Haslingden, Rossendale BB4 6NZ