In 1943, a group of wardens gathered around a piano to while away the time between air raids. From such humble beginnings was born the West Smethwick Male Voice Choir. Over the years the choir grew in numbers and in reputation, and the name changed to reflect the growth of the organisation, first to Smethwick Male Voice Choir and finally Warley Male Choir.
In all of those years the choir has only had three music directors. The first. Bernard Martin, was one of the original wardens but he quickly made way for W.O. (Bill) Jones MBE, who served as MD for over fifty years and played a large part in building up the choirs reputation for fine singing.
Lifetime president Bill Jones, MBE.
Special appearance at the 70th Anniversary Concert, 11th May 2013.
Stephen Allen (who joined the bass section of the choir in 2001) took over from Bill and has worked very hard to update the choirs repertoire and maintain singing standards, ably assisted by accompanist and deputy MD John Barber and associate accompanist Helen Vaughan, both accomplished musicians in their own right.
The choir has performed at many venues in the UK, including London's Royal Albert Hall, Birmingham's Symphony Hall and also in the presence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip and Princess Anne at a meeting of the international Olympic committee. In addition to extensive tours in Great Britain, the choir has also performed concerts in Germany, Holland, France and Belgium.
In addition to its regular commitments, the choir is a member of the English Association of Male Voice Choirs and in 2006 accepted the task of organising the associations Annual Charity Concert at the Great Hall, Birmingham University, raising £3000 in aid of the Birmingham Children's Hospital.
In 2012 the choir again were asked to accept responsibility for organising the Charity Concert, this time at Dudley Concert Hall, providing the audience with a memorable evening of the best in traditional male voice music. Raising £2800 shared between Air Ambulance and Burnaid.
The choir performs about 16 concerts a year the highlights being " Men In Concert " and the Annual Concert when a cheque is presented to the charity the choir has chosen for the year. Alongside concerts, the choir has had numerous successes at music festivals. In the prestigious BBC 'Sainsbury Choir of the Year' competition, the Warley Male Choir reached the final 16, out of over 350 entries. The choir has also entered the 'Llangollen International Eisteddfod' on two occasions, achieving encouraging results, and has twice participated in the '1000 English Voices' festival at the Royal Albert Hall.
Over the years the choir has amassed a repertoire of over 470 pieces of music, ranging from Mozart to the Beatles, arrangements of popular songs and items from such shows as Oliver, Miss Saigon, Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables.
New members are made very welcome and given every encouragement to make the grade and become a part of a group that has given pleasure to many people over the years. Led by a young team of enthusiastic musicians, the Choir has introduced a more dynamic and modern approach to its music. We have welcomed several new members and look forward to an Exciting Future.
WHY NOT JOIN US?
You may think you don't have a good enough voice to become a member, but surprisingly, there are few people who, with practice, can't hold a tune. Many of the choirs members joined with very little singing experience and only a basic knowledge of music.
The Warley Male Choir is always looking to encourage men who may think they would like to have a go, so do just that, you may just suprise yourself!
We meet for rehearsals at 7.30pm on Thursday nights at Warley Woods Methodist Church, Abbey Road, Smethwick. You will be made very welcome, so come along and try it out.
Our ladies are not forgotten either, as we have a thriving ladies' section that meets once a month.
Over any twelve month period we travel to all sorts of venues to give concerts and raise money for charity with our singing. Above all, we believe that we have a wonderful and satisfying hobby, and we would like to share it with you.
For more information on joining, please visit our Contact Us page.