After 35 years Gareth Whitcombe, the Choir’s current Musical Director, has decided to hang up his musical baton and retire. 

During this period Gareth has guided the Choir with typical  Welsh passion to the heights of Male Voice excellence and forged a distinctive quality sound  that has set the standards for excellence across Wales and the UK. His own exceptional  baritone voice has often featured in solo pieces in concerts. 

Under his directorship, the Choir has spread its wings and its voices from Blaenavon to other  parts of the World including three journeys to the U.S.A, France Spain and many other  countries. 

There have been many competition wins - along with being crowned “Best British  Male Choir” at the prestigious “Cornish International Choral Competition” in 2015. 

Gareth will be handing over the baton to the very safe and experienced hands of yet another  Blaenavon local, Andrew Protherough Jones, who last year was appointed as the choir’s  Deputy Musical Director. 

Andrew - Head of the Expressive Arts Faculty at West Monmouth  School - was musical director of Coro Cantabile for 21 years and has worked with numerous  musical organisations throughout the UK. He is equally at home working with choirs - traditional as well as more contemporary musical styles, instrumental ensembles and in the  theatre where he has served as musical director for many diverse productions. 

Andrew has worked tirelessly since January with the choir’s accompanist Jackie Charles to  lead the them to a new first; singing with the world-renowned Welsh National Opera in their  production of “Blaze of Glory” in the Bristol Hippodrome - a performance which prompted a  long and heart-warming standing ovation and subsequent five star reviews in the media. 

 Chairman Daniel Davies said “Gareth has set standards to which other choirs aspire, and he  respected the importance and  eputation that Male Voices bring to Welsh communities, but  of course, especially here in Blaenavon. Retirement is never an easy decision and can lead to uncertainty, but our proactive succession planning has enabled the committee to quickly  appoint Andrew to lead the choir into the next truly exciting era.” 

 Gareth Whitcombe said “My time at Blaenavon has been very special for myself, my wife  Kath and our family. Over the years we have had so many highlights. It would be wrong to  single out any particular event, person, concert or tour, but they have all added enormously  to our life experience and we are all the better for it. 

“Music has that effect on people, and I  am very proud to be a resident of Blaenavon and to have worked with the choir to successfully  promote our home Town, our heritage and our Choir across the UK and beyond. Blaenavon  Male Voice Choir is unique, and it is the people, a very special group of people, that have  made it so. I extend my very best wishes for the future under Andrew’s experienced baton”. 

On his appointment, Andrew said “I am delighted to become the Musical Director of  Blaenavon Male Voice Choir and to build on the fine legacy that Gareth leaves. I am in no  doubt that this choir deserves its place among the great choirs of South Wales. 

“No more has  this been evidenced than in the  ecent collaboration with WNO and the outstanding feedback  from the opera company and wider public alike. I look forward to an exciting musical future with the choir.”  

Following Andrew’s appointment, the choir has also announced it will be moving to a new  rehearsal room – the Constitutional Club in Blaenavon - and has already begun welcoming  new members, including Irishman Gerard Cunningham who is loving singing with the choir -  even though his first major project involved singing in Welsh! 

Exciting times lie ahead for Blaenavon Male Voice Choir and anyone thinking of joining them  on the journey are most welcome. Come along and listen at the Club on Tuesday or Thursday  at 7:30, where you will be greeted by the musical team and meet a great bunch of choristers  who will go the extra mile to make you most welcome. 

Equally you can keep an eye out the  Facebook Live sessions which will be starting shortly when you can get a taster of how the  choir practices. 

The choir can also be contacted direct on Facebook / Instagram / Twitter or rmail the  Secretary Mike Tanner via [email protected]