Gwalia Singers

(Swansea)
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Cantorion Gwalia

(Abertawe)


 
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March 2017

We sang at Fulton House, Swansea University, at lunch time, on March 1st to celebrate St David’s Day. This has become a regular date in our diary and there was a good audience, many of whom, stayed for the entire performance. We were also treated to a lunch afterwards, even though Les Carmichael, the former catering manager at the University, has now retired. In fact, many of the choristers passed comment about how the catering has improved!! Only joking, Les. The following day we sang at The Core, at the Swansea Bay Campus of the University, again at lunch time, where another meal was provided after the concert. Thanks to the catering staff at the University, for looking after us so well.

We were pleased to welcome another chorister to the choir. Meirion Howells passed his audition and has joined the first bass section. Meirion is a well known member of Swansea Rugby Club and sang with Morriston Orpheus many years ago. We hope he enjoys his time with us.

We were very pleased to be asked to sing at All Saints, Oystermouth, on Friday 17th. There was a small commemoration service to start where further names of local people, killed in the First World War, were added to the existing plaque in the church. We then sang our medley of First World War songs and further items and we were joined by Ros Evans, who also sang a few items. The highlight of the evening was when Ros and the choir ended the evening by singing ‘The Holy City’ together. We also had Steve on the organ for the last chorus. A great sound!

We held our AGM on 22nd, where all officers were re-elected and it was great to have our President, Geoff Wheel, at the meeting. We were also pleased to have Carl Sullivan join our committee. Carl is one of the newest and youngest members of the choir and we hope he enjoys his time on the committee.

February 2017

On Wednesday 15th we were delighted to sing at the funeral of Terry Osborn at St Paul’s Church, Sketty. There was a small congregation in the church and one of our former choristers, Howard Phillips, spoke about Terry’s life. Cremation followed at Swansea Crematorium.

January 2017

Following our very busy December, we started the year very quietly. Our MD was away for the first two rehearsals, but Steve ably stood in to take them and we were also delighted to welcome back Gareth Staddon to the second tenors. Gareth has found it difficult to attend rehearsals for the past few years, but he is now in a position to attend regularly. We also had a number of new probationer choristers at the rehearsals, which is excellent news. It has also given us a chance to add some new items to our repertoire and we have started to learn a new arrangement of ‘The Holy City’.

We were very sad to learn of the passing of Terry Osborn following a long illness. Although Terry was unable to attend rehearsals for a few years he had been a long serving member of the choir and was a past Chairman, having served on the committee for many years. He was also our representative for the South Wales Association of Male Voice Choirs. He is survived by his son Charles and daughter-in-law Kate and we send our sympathies to them. Terry will be greatly missed by us all.

Terry Osborn

It was with great sadness that we heard of the passing of Terry Osborn at the age of 89.  He was a very long standing choir member who sang with the baritones and was their part steward.  He served as a Committee Member for very many years and was a Past Chairman.  He was also responsible for organising very many choir tr ips both home and abroad, adopting the role of choir “transport officer”.  He will be greatly missed by all his family, friends and especially by the choir members.

December 2016

We had a very busy period this December. Our first concert was at Clyne Golf Club on Saturday 3rd, where we were introduced by club captain Ken Dent. We sang a number of Christmas items including ‘Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town’ and an arrangement of ‘Silent Night’. Added to these were ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’, ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ and one of our favourites ‘Merry Christmas, Everyone’. We also sang a number from our normal repertoire interspersed with community singing of Christmas carols. We had a small but very receptive audience and it was a good start to our busy programme.

On Tuesday 6th we held our annual Ladies Committee Christmas evening at the Scout Hut, Brynmill. Once again there was a packed audience and again we sang a variety of Christmas items and items from our normal repertoire. We have added a few new items since our annual in June and include ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’ and our own arrangement of ‘God Only Knows’ by Brian Wilson. Following the concert we had a lovely buffet supplied by the Ladies and everyone joined in by singing a number of carols.

On Thursday 8th we sang at the Vivian Hall in Blackpill, where we were pleased to see a full house again. There was a great atmosphere in the hall and we sang our usual concert bolstered by a great rendition of ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’, with audience participation. A real highlight!

On Saturday 10th we sang at the wedding of Katy Smith at St Hillary’s Church, Upper Killay. We sang our usual requests before the bride arrived including ‘Somewhere Only We Know’, ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ and ‘Stop The Cavalry’. The bride had requested that she walk in to the choir singing ‘Silent Night’ and there were a number of people from ‘over the border’ present so we were requested to sing ‘Calon Lan’ and ‘Delilah’ at the signing. We have been told that all our English friends present had never heard a male voice choir at a wedding before and they were so impressed that they now want a choir at their own weddings. We are available!

The following week we sang at Fulton Hall, Swansea University on Tuesday 14th and the next day we were in ‘The Core’ at the University Bay Campus. These were lunch time recitals, with community carol singing and the choir were treated to a lovely lunch provided by the university catering staff after singing. Thanks very much to them.

One of the highlights of our Christmas programme is the Community concert at St Thomas Church, which, this year, took place on Thursday 16th. This involves the choirs of Danygraig Primary School, St Thomas Community Primary School and Cefn Hengoed Community School. It was great to see so many children singing and there were well over 100 on stage between all the choirs. Each choir was introduced by their respective Head Teachers and were prepared and accompanied by their own staff members. There was a great mix of items and the evening finished with the children’s’ choirs, and us, singing ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’. It was wonderful to see the old church almost full and thanks must go to Rev Steve Bunting for organising the event again. We were also treated to mulled wine and mince pies at the end.

Our final Christmas concert took place at the Pier Cafe, Mumbles on Tuesday 20th, and this was to prove a wonderful evening. This was a new event for us and the cafe was packed to the rafters with people standing everywhere and even standing outside and looking through the windows and doors! Again we interspersed our regular concert items with carols and our Christmas repertoire, which proved a great success. Thanks must go to Hannah Cannon for organising the event and to the many people who turned out to support it. I’m sure it will become a permanent feature in our programme of events. Following this, we went to the Commercial Inn, Killay to have a social evening with carol singing and a short performance of some of our items. We were provided with a lovely buffet provided by Gareth and Nova.

On 31st we sang at the wedding of Rhys Jenkins and Ritu at St Peters, Newton. Sadly there was a mix-up with the start time by half an hour, but we were still able to sing the bride in, as requested, with ‘This Is The moment’, which proved a great choice. Considering it was New Year’s Eve we had a great turnout with 43 singers, and we sang ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and ‘Calon Lan’ at the signing. We then sang the bride out with ‘All You Need Is Love’ with all the guests joining in the chorus making it a great ending to the wedding.

This has to be one of the busiest Christmas programmes we have ever undertaken and a huge thanks must go to our musical team Nick, Rhian and Steve for their loyalty and support and to the choristers who turned out time and again in good numbers to make these events so special.

November 2016

We were really pleased to have two new members pass their audition during the month. We welcome Clive Dowell to the baritones and Phil Withy to the second tenors, although Nick may be ‘promoting’ him to the 1st tenors in the New Year!

On 30th November we sang at the Tower Hotel for a retirement function for the person running ‘Cardiac Rehabilitation’. This is a course run for people who have had heart surgery or who are being treated for heart problems and was originally arranged by Cliff Prosser. Sadly, as previously recorded, Cliff passed away earlier in the year but we still carried out the engagement. There was a great atmosphere in the room and many of the diners were joining in with the choruses. We wish them all a complete recovery and, hopefully, someone will step up to take over the running of the courses.

October 2016

Our engagement on 1st October was to sing at the wedding of Jonathan Clewett, the son of our hard working secretary Alan, and Aleisha, who hails from Scotland.

The wedding took place at Norton House, Mumbles and, there was a large contingent from Scotland present. We, somehow, managed to squeeze 52 singers and 2 keyboards into the small area left for us and, as a surprise to his new wife, Jonathon had requested that we sing the Proclaimers’ song ‘I’m Gonna Walk (500 miles)’.
It was left to Steve Wilson to
do an arrangement to which, he added a multi-track accompaniment on his keyboard, and this proved a tremendous success, with everyone joining in the chorus with great energy!


We held our 50th anniversary dinner on 22nd at Morgan’s Hotel. The dinner was arranged by Rob Smith and our hard working chairman, Clive. The evening was a great success with 120 choristers and friends attending. A new special award was given for the person who had worked tirelessly throughout the year to ensure the success of the choir.  It was won by Adrian Crowley who does a tremendous amount of work on the committee and is always prepared to help out by taking on additional workloads. He also ensures that our wheelchair user, George, is brought to choir practices and concerts. Many thanks, Adrian, and well deserved.


September 2016

On Saturday 24th September we sang at the wedding of Rachel Wilson at St Catherine’s, Gorseinon. When Rachel and her family visited us at rehearsal we were learning ‘A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square’ and her mother liked it so much that we were asked to sing it. This was, therefore, the first time we sang it in public and it went well.

August 2016



The Ladies Committee organised a social afternoon on Sunday 7th August. We were very lucky with the weather and the event took place at Ed and Jan Parton’s
house and garden in the Mayals. There were many stalls and a raffle, and also a number of games had been set up in the garden. We were also fortunate that Ed had heated his swimming pool and many of the men took advantage with a ‘quick dip’. All monies raised went to the choir funds.

We sang at the wedding of Henry Bell and Ruth Henning on Saturday 20th at St Paul’s Church, Sketty.  There was an excellent turnout and we enjoyed singing in the fine acoustic.



July 2016Cliff

Following our anniversary concert we were quiet in July. However, we had one sad piece of news in that Cliff Prosser passed away peacefully at Singleton Hospital. Cliff had been a member of the choir for nearly 40 years and sang at our anniversary concert last month. His health had been failing and he did not come back to the choir following the concert, having spent almost the entire time in hospital. We sang at his funeral in Reynoldston and he is survived by his daughter Ruth and her family. Affectionately known as the ‘late’ Cliff Prosser in his latter years, Cliff had become legendary for being late, or right on time, for many events and rehearsals. This resulted in him leaving his car in, shall we say, some inappropriate places. On one occasion we were singing at a wedding in Salem Chapel, Rhydypandy, and we were waiting for the bride. A message came that the lane outside was blocked, as a bus could not get through causing a traffic jam, that included the bride.  The registration plate of the offending car was announced, only for Cliff to leave the performance to move his car! On another occasion, we were half way through our items before a wedding in St Peters, Newton, when Cliff strolled down the centre aisle to take his place in the front row of the second tenors, without batting an eyelid! He will be sadly missed by the choristers, and his family and friends.

50th Anniversary Annual Concert, 18th June 2016

Following more than eighteen months of hard work and organisation, we held our 50th anniversary concert. The committee had worked tirelessly and the evening was a spectacular success.

We performed at the marvellous Brangwyn Hall and we had an audience in excess of 600 people. The compere for the concert was BBC’s Roy Noble, who did a fantastic job in making the evening flow so well. He told a number of humorous anecdotes and welcomed the choir and artistes on to stage with a great knowledge of the items being performed.

We were resplendent in our new uniforms and opened the concert with ‘Sanctaidd Ior’, the great Welsh Hymn, which was arranged by our musical team, and accompanied, by Rhian, and Steve, on the organ, and, indeed, it was a wonderful sound. We followed this with Robat Arwyn’s ‘Benedictus’ and Malotte’s emotional arrangement of ‘The Lord’s Prayer’. We finished our first section with the spiritual ‘I’m Gonna Walk’. Roy welcomed our first guest, Shan Cothi, to the stage. Shan is a well known Welsh personality and is a versatile performer in both classical and musical theatre. She is also an experienced actress, television and radio presenter in Wales. Shan has also performed outside Wales and played ‘Carlotta’ for fifteen months in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s West End production of ‘Phantom of the Opera’. On coming to the stage Shan had picked up the great atmosphere that had been created in the hall and her first item was Dvorak’s ‘Rusalka’s Song to the Moon’ finishing  her first set with ‘Think of Me’ from ‘Phantom’. A beautiful performance.

Our other guest, Trystan Llyr Griffiths then came to the stage and started with ‘La Donna e Mobile’ from Rigoletto by Verdi. Trystan was named the ‘Voice of Wales’ in 2012 by Decca records and was also the first recipient of a study award from the Bryn Terfel Foundation. This year he made his professional operatic debut performing ‘Ferrando’ in ‘Cosi Fan Tutte’ for Scottish Opera. He then sang two Welsh items ‘Bugail Aberdyfi’ and ‘Arafa Don’. For his final item, the choir joined him for the wonderful ‘Morte Christe’ with Trystan singing the 3rd verse. We stayed on stage to complete the first half singing ‘Prayer’ from ‘Lohengrin’ and ‘Light A Candle’, arranged by our former MD Simon Oram, who we were so pleased to welcome back from Pontypool for the concert. Our final item was our own arrangement of songs from the First World War entitled ‘Memories of the Great War’ which finishes with the choir and audience singing ‘Pack up your troubles’.

The second half opened with our Chairman, Clive Walters, giving a short talk about the choir and thanked numerous people for their hard work and commitment in putting the concert together. We then sang ‘Rhythm of Life’ followed by ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ by ‘Keane’. Among our guests for the evening were nine people from Mannheim, Germany, as, for many years, we have had a connection with GV Teutonia 1862, a male voice choir from Feudenheim. On one of our visits in 2007 they wanted to present us with a gift and asked what we would like. They very kindly bought a set of copies of ‘You Raise Me Up’ arranged by Alan Simmons, and this was the next item we sang with three of our baritones, Gareth John, Craig Thomas and Rob Smith, taking the solo line. We ended this section with our own arrangement of the wonderful Earl Brown song ‘If I Can Dream’. Trystan then came back to sing ‘Anthem’ from ‘Chess’, Morricone’s ‘Nella Fantasia’ and ending with the famous ‘Granada’. Following this Shan sang ‘I feel Pretty’ from West Side Story and Puccini’s ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’. Her final item required a bit of support from a couple of people!
She asked Roy Noble to join her and also Craig, from the choir to perform ‘Laughing Song’ fro m Die Fledermaus. This was a great end to Shan’s items, which showed off her wonderful performing ability, and she had a tremendous ovation. The choir then joined with Shan to sing the atmospheric ‘O Gymru’, a very patriotic Welsh song, to a brilliant new arrangement by Jeff Howard.

Shan sang it with terrific power and emotion and the ending, with the choir, was superb. It was also great to have the arranger, Jeff Howard, as accompanist to the soloists for the evening. He was a wonderful addition to the evening and, of course, was a member of ‘Only Men Aloud’ and is the present MD of Treorchy Male Choir.

Sian and Trystan then sang the wonderful duet ‘Time to Say Goodbye’, which brought to an end a wonderful contribution by our guests and they received a great ovation.

We then completed a memorable evening with Huw Rees’ arrangement of ‘This is the Moment’ and the haunting and powerful ‘You Are So Beautiful’ culminating with ‘Wind beneath My Wings’. The final item of the evening was Alwyn Humphreys’, now classic, ‘An American Trilogy’ which was accompanied by Rhian and Steve, and was a fitting climax to a tremendous evening. The audience were on their feet in appreciation of a great programme and performance by the choir.

During the concert we presented ties to several members of the choir who have reached another milestone in their life with the choir. Alan Short and Roger Burrell were given 5 year ties, Emyr Price, John Morgan, 10 year ties, and Emil Jones and Des Criddle received their 15 year ties. John Davies has made it to 25 years and our hard working chairman Clive Walters has been in the choir for 30 years. The special award on the evening went to Chris Shaw, who is the only surviving original member of the choir, so was presented with a 50 year tie. Well done to them all. Another special presentation went to our wonderful President, Geoff Wheel, who has now been with the choir for 5 years. Geoff is tremendously proud to be involved with The Gwalia Singers, and we hope he will continue his role with us for many more years.

This was, indeed, a wonderful evening and it certainly doesn’t happen on its own. There are so many people to thank and probably some will be left out. Thanks to the Ladies committee for attending to the front of house and selling programmes. They also handed us a cheque for £5,000 towards the cost of our new uniform. A huge ‘thank you’ to Linda and her fellow committee members. The uniforms were supplied by Aidan Sweeney from Brecon and Aidan deserves a special mention in taking so much care and diligence in ensuring they fitted so well. Thanks to Adrian Crowley, Len Fuge and Glyn Williams for collecting and returning the flowers, which were kindly supplied by Wyevale. Thanks to Tony Brooks for the work in putting together our celebration programme and to all the businesses that provided adverts for us. Thanks to Terry Green for taking the photos and Ken Geen for recording the concert. Thanks to our hard working committee, especially Alan Clewett, secretary and Laurence Sutton, treasurer and also to Walter Jones who took care of the ticketing. Lastly thanks to Nick, Rhian, page turner Carl, and Steve for their hard work and dedication in putting together such an enjoyable programme of music.

June 2016

We sang at the wedding of Claire Thomas and Owen Smith on Saturday 4th, once again returning to St David’s Church, Morriston.

On Wednesday 15th June we sang at the Great Hall for the Swansea U3A, who were celebrating 30 years in existence. There was a full day of events including the Ukulele Big Band which grew out of the U3A ukulele group and another choir ‘Singing For Pleasure’. The guest speaker was Wynne Evans, one of the UK’s leading tenors and probably best known for his character, Gio Compario, in the series of adverts for ‘Go Compare’. He has also made many TV performances and hosts his own daily show on Radio Wales. This gave us a great opportunity to sing some of our new items for the upcoming ‘Annual’, which we sang really well to a very appreciative audience.

On Saturday 25th we sang at the wedding of our baritone Craig Thomas who married Christine Mylan at St Thomas church, St Thomas. This was a lovely occasion and we cannot remember the last time we sang at a chorister’s wedding! Craig was really pleased with everything and said that the guests were very impressed with the choir and that we were an integral part of the day for him and Christine. We wish them a long and happy life together.


May 2016

We had a quiet May but the Ladies had organised an ‘Italian Night’ at the Linden Centre in West Cross. A good number of choristers, wives and friends turned out and a good time was had by all. We had a 4 course meal, prepared by ‘Wendy’, followed by coffee and a raffle and the evening was hosted by our Ladies Chairperson Linda Lewis.

We are pleased to welcome Carl Sullivan to the choir. Carl had his audition and, although during his probationary weeks, he spent his time with the baritones, Nick has ‘promoted’ him to the second tenors, where he feels Carl will be a great asset. Carl is a Radiologist at Singleton Hospital and has some musical background, so he will be able to pick up the new part quickly.

April 2016

On Thursday 7th we sang at the 100th Theology Public Lecture at the Great Hall, Swansea University Bay Campus. This is a new venue in Swansea and we were the first choir to have the privilege of singing here. These series of lectures have included such speakers as BBC newsreader Huw Edwards, The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr Rowan Williams and The Right Honourable Ann Widdecombe DSG. The main speaker this time was The Most Reverend Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States (The Vatican’s Foreign Minister) and he was supported by comedian Don McLean. We opened the evening with ‘Cwm Rhondda’ and we soon realised that this will become a very popular venue in which choirs will want to perform. The sound of the choir, piano and organ in full flow was superb. Thanks to Reverend Nigel John, the University Chaplain for inviting us to the event.

We are also very lucky to have moved our rehearsal night to this wonderful venue.

We sang at St David’s Church, Morriston on Sunday 17th, once again supporting the excellent charity ‘Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline’ which allows children from Belarus to visit Britain, to have time away from the contamination that still exists in their country. We were joined by Cwmrhydyceirw Primary School choir. There was a good audience and it gave us the opportunity to sing our new arrangement of the great Welsh hymn ‘Sanctaidd Ior’.

On Friday 22nd we sang at Holy Cross Church, West Cross to raise funds for the church. On this occasion we were joined by Mayals Primary School choir, which was formed especially for this occasion. Also performing was Hywel Evans, former organist for the parish, who played a number of items on organ and piano and, as ever, he was brilliant.

March 2016

We sang at lunch time in Fulton House, at Swansea University, on Tuesday, March 1st. This has become an annual event to celebrate St David’s Day. This always goes down well with the students and staff alike, who regularly stay during their lunch to listen to us. We followed this with another lunch time concert at ‘The Core’ at the Swansea University Bay Campus on March 4th. Again it was well attended by the lunch goers and was well received. On both occasions we were supplied with a fantastic lunch organised by the catering manager at the University, Les Carmichael, who also happens to sing with the choir. Huge thanks to you, Les.

We held our AGM on Tuesday 15th March where Clive Walters took over as Chairman from Ed Parton after two very successful years.  We were sad to see Terry Osborn and Jim Lamb leaving the committee and wish to thank them for so many years of good service.  We are pleased to welcome Mike Phippen and Robert Smith onto the committee to take their places.

Keith Davies

It was with great sadness that we heard of the passing of Keith Davies. Keith has been a member of the choir for 25 years and was a great and faithful chorister. He rarely missed a rehearsal or concert until the last few months of his illness, which he fought with great courage and humour. He leaves his wife Sue, and will be missed not only by her, but by all his friends and colleagues, especially with the choir

February 2016

It was great to welcome a new chorister to the fold. James McCarry has passed his audition and has taken his place with the first tenors. Well done James.

On Sunday 21st we sang at the wedding of Daniel Kirten and Rebecca in the lovely Clyne Chapel. We were able to sing ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ by ‘Keane’ for the first time. This has taken a long time to learn and has a very tricky opening section, but we got through it well.

January 2016

We have had a quiet start to the year. We sang in the early evening at the School of Management in the new Swansea University Bay Campus on Monday 25th. This was part of the prize giving ceremony that started earlier in the day at the Brangwyn Hall in Swansea. It turned out to be a wonderful place to sing with a great acoustic and was enjoyed by a very attentive audience.

Although we have been quiet on the singing side, we have been working very hard on our 50th anniversary concert at the Brangwyn Hall on Saturday, June 18th. We have now finalised our line-up and it will be compered by the inimitable Roy Noble, and the soloists will be the wonderful soprano Shan Cothi and the young tenor Trystan Llyr Griffiths. This should be a memorable occasion and tickets will be on sale shortly.

To read more of our news from the last 48 years please click here.