Into Our Second Century!

Bob Davies retired in 1993 to be succeeded by school music teacher Roger Pilgrim. Things didn’t work out as anticipated and by early 1995 the search for a Musical Director was on once more. The answer was found in the choir’s Second Tenor Section in Terry Moore, another teacher who had been MD of Mansfield and District Male Voice Choir for five years in the 80s. Terry had occasionally deputised for Bob Davies but did not seek the role permanently. He agreed, however, to see the choir through rehearsals and concerts for ‘the rest of the year’ (1995) which in fact turned out to be twenty one years! Within months Terry led the choir at the Theatre Royal and Royal Concert Hall Nottingham, Southwell Minster and Sint Joriskerk in the Netherlands. This was a baptism of fire but it immediately became clear that the choir had found the ideal man to build on the legacy of Bob Davies.

Festival 1995 (Theatre Royal)

Terry's first Festival concert held at the Theatre Royal in 1995. Pictured in a joint rehearsal.

Under Terry, the choir flourished on the back of thoughtful choice of music and successful recruitment of a new generation of singers. Brief forays into competition produced awards at Nottingham, Biddulph and Selston but Terry’s main focus was to entertain audiences with good quality concerts featuring a varied repertoire with more than two hundred songs rehearsed and performed under his direction. These ranged from traditional male voice standards like Martyrs of the Arena and By Babylon’s Wave to ‘pop’ numbers such as Bohemian Rhapsody and Bridge Over Troubled Water, as well as numerous hymns, folk songs and songs from the shows. The choir’s annual April Festival Concert became the focal point of the year. At Terry’s first Festival at the Theatre Royal Nottingham in 1995 the choir’s singing strength was 57, yet by the 2008 Centenary Concert it boasted a record 86 choristers on stage.

In 1996, the Festival Concert moved to the splendid refurbished Nottingham Albert Hall, which has become like a second home for the choir with the ‘new’ repertoire for the year unveiled before audiences of up to 700. It was also an opportunity to promote and share the stage with many talented emerging young musicians, often in ensembles whether brass, string, saxophone, percussion or vocal, all selected for their entertainment value, particularly in combined items with the choir! Following a tour to Galway and Dublin in 1998 the choir had launched the Carlton Music Makers Trophy designed to support gifted young vocalists and instrumentalists. The award winners’ cameo performances became another highlight of the Festival Concert with audiences treated to the exciting talents of the likes of Jennifer Adams (soprano), Laura Roberts (mezzo), Isata Kanneh-Mason (piano), Matt Glendening (clarinet) and Braimah Kanneh-Mason (violin).

Terry’s first decade had seen the choir forge friendships with choirs in Greece, Germany and the Czech Republic, all of which resulted in exchange visits with enjoyable concerts and ebullient afterglows! It’s hard to exaggerate the importance of these ‘tours’ in strengthening the choir both musically and socially as well as bringing the sound of Carlton to wider audiences. The same has also been achieved by the release of four CDs – Songs We Love So Well (for the 90th anniversary in 1998), Songs Of Freedom and Hope (the first ‘themed’ CD in 2003), Give Thanks and Sing (to mark the Centenary in 2008) and How Can I Keep From Singing? (in 2014, for the first time featuring ‘live’ concert tracks).

2008 was a significant year with an ambitious recruitment drive to coincide with the choir’s centenary. A long and proud history was celebrated with a new composition, ‘A Song For Mattie’, a tribute to the choir’s founder Mattie Mann, whose granddaughter Jean Hancock is a choir Life Vice-President. Under Terry’s guidance the choir returned to the Royal Concert Hall for the first time in fourteen years for a Centenary Concert starring the internationally renowned soprano Rebecca Evans. The evening attracted an audience of nearly 1,400 and contributed substantially towards a choir donation of £12,324 to D.A.R.E, a major local charity working to educate children about resistance to drug abuse. This meets one of the choir’s long-standing avowed aims – to raise significant sums of money in support of good causes. The choir’s major concerts alone have generated in excess of £70,000 for charities, in addition to countless sums made through concert appearances for other groups and organisations.

Singing at the United Nations memorial dedication service in the Mayo Peace Park Garden of Remembrance in Castlebar, Republic of Ireland.

After the Centenary Year, links with other choirs became increasingly popular, particularly journeys away, with the choir regularly travelling with a coach load of singers and another coach full of supporters. Some magical moments will live long in the memory – singing Nessun Dorma in Italian in the Piazza Anfitreatro in Lucca on a visit to Tuscany, the honour of being asked to sing at the United Nations memorial dedication service in the Mayo Peace Park Garden of Remembrance in Castlebar, Republic of Ireland, and raising over £3,000 for the local Macmillan Cancer Support group through concerts in Perth and St Andrew’s in Scotland. Nearer to home, a visit to the Cornwall International Male Choral Festival including a public performance in the Mediterranean Biome at the Eden Project and singing with 1,500 other choristers in the Festival of Brass and Voices at the Royal Albert Hall. The final tour under Terry Moore was to the Netherlands in a renewal of a friendship forged in Terry’s first few months as MD with Amersfoort Male Choir, preceded by the great privilege of singing at sunset at the moving Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Belgium.

In 2016, with the choir still around 80 strong, Terry decided to ‘retire’ after a lengthy and busy tenure of more than two decades. He nevertheless continued to retain a lively interest in the choir as its Conductor Emeritus (only the second after Bob Davies) and a Life Vice President, adding his expertise to website development, producing publicity materials, attending social activities and major concerts, as well as occasional guest appearances as pub conductor! A ‘Carlton man’ through and through, Terry handed the choir over in an arguably better state than the one he’d inherited in 1995, still around 80 strong and with a secure and healthy base for his successor to build on. Carlton was about to start a fresh chapter in its long history with a careful and thorough search for another new leader with the right qualities to take the choir further.

Page edited July 2017