Choir pays homage from Catalonia

Dore Male Voice Choir outside Cologne Cathedral
Dore Male Voice Choir outside Cologne Cathedral

If you happen to be in Catalonia in Spain this month, those voices wafting from the restaurant, cafe or bar may sound familiar.

Dore Male Voice Choir is on tour again. As it approaches its 50th anniversary, it is singing in Cathedrals in Girona and Barcelona, with a date inbetween in the mountains, at Montserrat Monastery.

As well as the concerts, members of the choir can expected to strike up in less formal surroundings.

“We have a lively team, all built around singing,” says chairman David Heslop. “ If you go into a restaurant or cafe in the evening, where the choir has been singing, we entertain the people dining. Among the coffee and drinks, somebody will start up and the others will join in. We get quite a crowd turning up and we get a good reception.”

The Sheffield choir is one of the biggest of its kind in the country, currently with just under 80 members.

Setting off for Spain next Thursday will be a group of 97, of which just over half are singers, the rest being family, friends and other followers.

Since being formed in 1964, the men have been successful in many national music festivals, and have sung at Llangollen International Eisteddfod six times. They have just won two cups at Worksop Music Festival.

Overseas concert tours have included visits to Germany, Austria, Paris, Amsterdam, Belgium, Cyprus and Jersey. They were invited to sing at the Last Post ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres.

Thousands of pounds have been raised for charity through performances, donations and CD sales.

Numbers have been buoyant since 2000, and a recent workshop attracted 18 potential members. Elizabeth Hampshire became music director in 2010.

“It’s one of the biggest male voice choirs in the country, probably in the top 20,” said David, a former Lord Mayor of Sheffield. “But we have to keep at it. You can’t slack.”

There’s a mix of material, from the traditional songs more commonly associated with Welsh mining communities to numbers from musicals such as Les Miserables to something which David describes as a little more “jazzy”.

Locally, the choir holds two Christmas concerts in Dore Church to satisfy demand, and its annual gala concert at Ecclesall Church also sells out.

Next March there is the added spice of a 50th anniversary performance at the City Hall with Lesley Garrett.

“People tend to think it’s a lot of old fellas, but when they hear them invariably they are impressed,” says David.