“We love music. ALL music!“
The Wessex – Male Voice Choir
“The Wessex”, formerly Wessex Male Choir, is a Swindon, Wiltshire based men’s amateur choir. Founded in September 2001, we currently have around 50 members across 4 sections; Top Tenor, Second Tenor, Baritone and Bass. Our aim is to differentiate ourselves from “traditional” male voice choirs and we pride ourselves on being a relevant, contemporary and innovative ensemble.
We are proud to have an amazing Musical Director, Thomas Graff, whose skills and expertise has brought a new level of excellence to the Choir over recent years.
The Wessex is a registered charity and our performances have enabled many charities to raise thousands of pounds, locally, nationally and internationally, not to mention the smiles that we have brought to our audiences’ faces! We are always happy to hear from organisations keen to raise funds and will work with you to ensure your event is a success.
We perform songs of different genres to a high standard, there is a good mix and something for everyone in our performances. If you would like us to attend your event, please get in touch on our Contact Us page.
We typically perform 7 or 8 concerts each year, two of these being our ‘home’ concerts in Swindon at Christmas and in the summer, the others being in other venues around the country.
In 2019, we performed with Barry Male Voice choir in Llandaff cathedral, South Wales and with the Brize Norton Military Wives Choir at their Christmas concert in Carterton.
In previous years, been privileged to have sung, pre-match at 6 Nations and other Rugby and NFL matches on the pitch at both Twickenham and Wembley to audiences of up to 80,000 people.
The Wessex also occasionally enters regional and international choral competitions, often with very pleasing results indeed, we are one of the most successful male choirs of the 21st century with over 12 Prizes won – for example:
- In 2016 the Wessex won the coveted Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival for best choir in all competitions (a prize we also won in 2008 and 2013).
- More recently, in June 2019, the Wessex won two classes (including the Male Choir competition) at the Krakow International Choir Festival, Poland in 2019, beating choirs from across Europe.
We are proud to be supported by our Patrons:
DR HAYDN JAMES (Musical Director and Arranger)
A scientist by training and profession, Dr Haydn James has also devoted himself to choral music as a conductor, arranger, musical advisor and adjudicator. For thirty years, Haydn was Musical Director of the London Welsh Male Voice Choir, performing in numerous countries throughout the world, and in most of the UK’s major concert venues. During this period, he directed nine massed choir festivals (the ‘1000 Voices’) at the Royal Albert Hall, as well as similar events in Sydney Opera House, New York’s Carnegie Hall, Cardiff Castle, St David’s Hall and the Wales Millennium Centre.
Since 2000, Haydn has been Director of Music for the Welsh Rugby Union, conducting the pre-match singing and National Anthems at more than 130 games in Cardiff’s Principality Stadium as well as at international and other games in Paris, Edinburgh, Cape Town, Twickenham and Wembley, where he had the pleasure of conducting The Wessex at an American NFL game in front of more than 80,000 supporters.
Haydn has taken choirs on four British & Irish Lions tours to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, and had the privilege of spending three evenings with the Lions squad at their two training camps, teaching them a number of musical items ahead of their tour to New Zealand.
Rhiannon Williams – Former Musical Director
A native of Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan, Rhiannon’s formal training began at the Royal Academy of Music, RWCMD, and Cardiff University before achieving her Fellowship from the London College of Music and Licentiate and Associate diploma (with distinctions) in Piano Accompaniment, Piano Solo and Solo Singing (LRSM, ATCL, LLCM, ALCM, LGSMD, LTCL). Rhiannon’s passion for vocal music began at a young age, achieving the title of British and Welsh BET Choirgirl of the Year during the London finals of 1989. As an Honorary Lady Member of Treorchy Male Choir, her professional accompanying career began in 1998 and included full time posts and overseas tours with the MVCs of Treorchy, Bridgend, Pontarddulais and Llanelli, before progressing as Musical Director to the Ynysybwl Ladies Choir (2002-2012) and then Bridgend Male Choir (2012-2016), the former, under her leadership, were awarded first prize at the Abergavenny and Hereford festivals, and with the latter went on to win the MVC class at the 2014 Llangollen International Eisteddfod. From 2016-2019, Rhiannon took up the baton with the highly successful Wessex Male Choir and during her three-year reign was proud of a further six wins at contests both nationally and internationally. She is now a Patron of Wessex. Rhiannon joined Cowbridge Male Voice Choir in September 2017 after leading them on a successful tour to Southern Spain.
Howard Goodall CBE
Howard Goodall CBE is a composer of musicals, TV and film scores, orchestral and choral music, and a music historian and broadcaster.
His TV and film work include Mr Bean, Blackadder, Red Dwarf, Q.I., Johnny English, and The Vicar of Dibley. His score for the HBO film Into the Storm won him a Primetime EMMY award for Original Dramatic Score in 2009.
His music has been commissioned to mark many national ceremonies and memorials and his choral works The Lord is my Shepherd and Love divine are amongst the most performed of all sacred music, featuring on several platinum-selling CDs. His Eternal Light: A Requiem has had over 700 live performances throughout the world since its première in 2008 and won him a Classical BRIT Award for Composer of the Year. His 2009 Enchanted Voices, a setting of the Beatitudes, was no.1 in the Specialist Classical CD chart for 6 months, winning him a Gramophone award. In June 2012 his Rigaudon formed part of the New Water Music that accompanied Queen Elizabeth II on her Diamond Jubilee Regatta and he was musically responsible for Rowan Atkinson’s memorable performance at the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. On 4th August 2014 his choral work Sure of the Sky-Des Himmels sicher, specially commissioned for the occasion, was performed by an Anglo-German choir at the St Symphorien Military Cemetery to mark the start of the First World War. Other large scale choral works include Every Purpose Under the Heaven: The King James Bible Oratorio (2011), Invictus: A Passion (2017), Never to Forget (2020-1), for the London Symphony Chorus, paying tribute to health and social care workers who have died in the covid-19 pandemic, and Unconditional Love: A Cantata of Gratitude & Remembrance (2021), which received its world première in Houston, Texas in November 2021 and its UK & European première by the BBC Singers on 13th February 2022, both conducted by the composer.
In the past 20 years Howard has written and presented his own TV documentary series on the theory and history of music. For these he has been honoured with a BAFTA award, an RTS Judges’ Prize for Outstanding Contribution to Education in Broadcasting and over a dozen other international broadcast awards. In recent years he has been England’s first ever National Ambassador for Singing and Classic FM’s Composer-in-Residence.