In the beginning...
Discussions with volunteers and other participants within the men’s support network showed that there were other men who, likewise, were also interested in singing. Through a friend who had attended a "Hear You Male Voice" vocal workshop, held on the Sunshine Coast, Peter first heard of the name Brian Martin, the facilitator of the workshop. Subsequent contact with Brian and his enthusiastic support led to his appointment as the Musical Director of what was envisioned as a permanently established all male choir for the SE Qld/Northern NSW area.
Brian Martin - Singer/Composer/Teacher/Musical Director.
Musical Director of Ancestral Tones: 1999 to 2003
For more on Brian, go to: www.brianmartin.com.au
Brian's initial attraction to becoming the musical director of a permanently established all male choir was the uniqueness of such a project. Having previously participated and directed several mixed choirs, and conducted many singing workshops, the opportunity to develop a group of men singing in harmony on a regular basis would be something new.
Secondly he saw it as a challenge! “I wanted to see if I could do it.” As it transpired when the group had gown to around 25 in number, apart from Brian, only one other participant could read music and none of the members had any musical or singing experience.
Thirdly, Brian saw it as an opportunity to teach men to sing. It was apparent, and probably still is today, that with most choirs and singing workshops the women outnumber the men by a large majority. Brian believed that more men would become involved by creating a safe, friendly and supportive singing environment.
Now with willing participants and a competent Musical Director the next step was to secure a suitable venue for rehearsals. Following up on various leads eventually the St Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Florence St, Tweed Head, was secured and the first of the fortnightly rehearsals, of what was then known as "Ancestral Tones", was conducted on the 16th of February 1999.
The initial 15 willing participants were:
Brian Martin - Musical Director
Peter Whitcombe, Andrew Hogg, Michael Beatty, Bill Lee Emery, Neville Brown, Chris Walton, Marty Rubenstein, Craig Pickstone, Grant Griffin, Adrian White, David Tweed, David Morgan, Peter White and Murray Sutton.
St Peter's Anglican Church, Coolangatta
Naming the Choir…
The initial naming of the group came about from a suggestion put forward by one of the founding members, Andrew Hogg. Most of the songs that the group first rehearsed were traditional songs from various cultures, particularly African and American Indian. The name Ancestral Tones was adopted because of its link to tradition and sound.
In 2006 it was decided that as the group was heading in a new direction that a new name was required to reflect this change. After about eighteen months of not being able to collectively agree on a suitable name and even performing one concert under the name of ‘Thundershed’ it was finally decided that the group would now be called ‘Men Wot Sing’ and so began their meteoric rise to fame...