About Warley Male Choir
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.
Stephen Allen (who joined the bass section of the choir in 2001) took over from Bill and worked very hard to update the choir's repertoire and maintain singing standards, ably assisted by accompanist and deputy MD John Barber and associate accompanist Helen Allen, both accomplished musicians in their own right. Stephen Allen stepped down as Musical Director in 2017 after many years of dedicated service to the choir. In the interim period, John Barber is working hard with the choir to help us fulfil our commitments and is driving standards ever higher!
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 association's 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.