County’s coup from Classic Brit winner

The Military Wives Choir
The Military Wives Choir

On the night that the nation’s telly addicts watched the Military Wives Choir win a Classic Brit Award for best single, members of the choir performed the song live in Derbyshire.

They were guests of honour of Tideswell Male Voice Choir at a sell-out concert in Buxton Opera House.

The choir, composed of wives and girlfriends of military personnel serving in Afghanistan, won the Classic Brit for its Christmas number 1 - Wherever You Are. This debut release from the choir was the fastest selling charity single, boosting funds of the Royal British Legion and the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association.

Kelly Leonard, who sang the solo part of the song at the Opera House last night (Sunday, October 7), said: “The Royal Albert Hall was an amazing experience but the Buxton concert was much more intimate and we got a chance to mingle with people afterwards.

“I think it is really important to do these community events to give back to the people who have supported us.”

The night was a coup for Derbyshire fans who were treated to the first public performance of the choir’s new single - Fix You, a cover of the Coldplay song - which will be released on November 5,

Spectators at the Opera House sang along to the top ten hit Sing, written by Gary Barlow and Andrew Lloyd Webber and performed by the choir for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Edwina Currie, president of Tideswell Male Voice Choir, said at the concert: “We are immensely privileged to have the Military Wives Choir with us. Lasses, we know what you do and we thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.”

The choir was entertained to a weekend of singing and sight-seeing by their Tideswell hosts, whose principal conductor and musical director Dennis Kay said: “It has been a privilege to have the opportunity to meet the choir, to chat to them, sing with them, laugh with them and cry with them. We have enjoyed putting this programme together.”

Patriotism and military service was reflected in the selection of songs by both choirs and soloists. Eighteen-year-old Erin Alexander sparkled as brightly as her jewelled evening gowns in seven stunning solos, including I Vow To Thee My Country and Air Des Bijoux from Faust.

Erin’s sensational singing earned her the accolade of “the next Lesley Garratt or Katherine Jenkins” from Edwina Currie.

In his last concert with Tideswell Male Voice Choir before he goes to Oxford University to study English Literature, baritone singer Phil Rigley, of Bakewell, gave a confident and mature performance of Tell My Father from the American musical Civil War.

Tideswell choir launched its repertoire with a trio of seafaring songs which reflected versatility and clever arrangements. The choir brought fun to the show in What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor? with swaying and occasional ‘hics’.

Other highlights of Tideswell’s programme included Anthem, from the musical Chess, and Bohemian Rhapsody, with superb accompaniment from pianist Christopher Ellis.

Donations on the night were for the newly-formed Military Wives Choirs Foundation which offers guidance and support to similar choirs at home and abroad, of which there are now 50.

In keeping with the spirit of the evening, Ben Hope, of Buxton, was congratulated by Edwina Currie for his charity fundraising campaign in which he had collected £7,000, with Help for Heroes the main beneficiary. Ben’s fundraising will continue on his 18th birthday next month when he attempts the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge in ten hours.

His fundraising earned him a nomination from Buxton Park Bowls Club to be the Olympic torchbearer for the Darley Dale to Chatsworth leg. Ben returned to the spotlight last night when he proudly carried his torch onto the stage at Buxton Opera House.