Annual Concert - 23rd June 2018This was a wonderful evening – probably the best yet! We were fortunate to have the fantastic ‘Bella Voce’ with us, who had only 5 weeks earlier performed at the Royal Albert Hall, London, with the massed male choirs. They are a ladies group of 16 members, formed in 2013 by their musical director Sarah Benbow-Thomas and Lisa Shelmerdine Richards and come from South Pembrokeshire. They boast around a dozen music degrees and have over 30 instrumental and vocal Grade 8’s between them and, together with their accompanist Seimon Morris, make a brilliant sound.
The concert was held at All Saints, Oystermouth and we opened the evening with ‘Morte Criste’ to a tremendous ovation from the packed church. This set the scene for the rest of the concert. We followed this with our 2 Italian items, ‘Ave Maria’ and ‘Nella Fantasia’ and finished the first section with ‘How Great Thou Art’. This is becoming a very popular item and, considering all the key changes and the fact that it’s unaccompanied, we performed it really well. Bella Voce then started their first set with ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing, If It Ain’t Got That Swing’ and followed this with ‘Cwlwm Cariad’ by local composer Alan Llewelyn Thomas. Other items in this section included an arrangement of a song made famous by the Flying Pickets, ‘Only You’ and their last item was ‘Who Will Buy’ from ‘Oliver’. We then sang 3 Welsh items, ‘O Gymru’, ‘Ar Hyd Y Nos’ and our rousing setting of ‘Cwm Rhondda’ to end a fantastic first half. Both ‘Morte Criste’ and ‘Cwm Rhondda’ featured Steve on the organ, together with our accompanist Rhian.
Following the interval we sang the lively ‘Hey Look Me Over’ and then we sang some more modern popular sings. First was a new item to our repertoire ‘Hard To Say I’m Sorry’ which is the lovely song written and performed by ‘Chicago’ in the early 1980’s. We followed this with ‘God Only Knows’ and finished this section with the Elvis Presley number ‘If I Can Dream’. Bella Voce returned and delighted the audience, once again, with their items. They started with a delightful arrangement of ‘Three Little Maids’ and followed this with ‘Pure Imagination’. They finished this set with an arrangement of the lovely song by Snow Patrol ‘Run’ and their final item was a new upbeat arrangement of ‘Calon Lan’, with a terrific accompaniment, brilliantly played by Seimon. This was truly a memorable performance by the ladies, full of beautiful phrasing and musicality and deserving of their huge ovation.
Our final section started with ‘He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother’ and one of our favourites, Robbie Williams’ ‘Angels’. Our last piece of the evening was Alwyn Humphreys’ arrangement of ‘An American Trilogy’, again with Steve on the organ, which brought the very appreciative audience to its feet. We then introduced Bella Voce back to the stage and the concert closed with everyone singing our National Anthem. A number of presentations were made by our President, Geoff Wheel including one to our Ladies Committee Chairwoman, Linda Lewis, who works tirelessly throughout the year, with her fellow members, to raise funds for the choir and steward the ‘annual’.
This was, surely, our best ever ‘Annual’ and thanks must go to our MD Nick, brilliant accompanist, Rhian and organist Steve, who also played harmonica for ‘He Aint’ Heavy’! The wonderful All Saint’s Church proved a great venue again and there were many others who contributed to the success of the evening. We were sponsored by the Swansea Building Society and thanks must go to Alun Williams and his team for their financial support. Adrian Crowley arranged the writing and printing of the programme and arranged for the concert to be recorded by Ken Geen, from Cardiff, and also a video has been made, by Tom and Jenna of Cardboard Donkey, of some of the items and, hopefully, both of these will be released soon. Ticket sales were again looked after very efficiently by Walter Jones.
June 2018June is always a busy month with our Annual Concert coming closer. However, this year our minds were taken off the concert for a while, as we were asked to sing at a 90th birthday party on Wednesday 20th June, at Dewshall Court in deepest Herefordshire. The venue was a bit difficult to find, as we had to negotiate some rather narrow lanes which were not always recognised by the ‘Sat Nav’. However, eventually, we found the hall, via the old fashioned way of a sign in the hedge! Although we were small in number we gave a rousing performance which was enjoyed by all the family members and friends. We sang a varied programme to suit all the ages present and had to sing an ‘encore’ after receiving a standing ovation following our last item. We were treated to sandwiches and a ‘pint’ at Dewshall Hall and then went to the Clytha Arms near Raglan on the way home for further chips and beer.
May 2018On Friday 11th May we sang at St Peter’s Church, Newton, for the Rotary Club of Mumbles. The church was full and we started with ‘Cwm Rhondda’. In the first half we included ‘Nella fantasia’ and ‘How Great Thou Art’ and finished with ‘Morte Criste’. The second half was a bit more modern, singing classics such as ‘Angels’, ‘God Only Knows’ and ‘Delilah’. We finished with ‘An American Trilogy’ with Steve joining us on the organ. The evening was interspersed with solos from Alexander Iles and Ewan Forrest, who are both members of the Ariosa Singers. They both sang well known items with Alexander singing ‘If I were a Rich Man’ from ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ and Ewan ‘My Name is John Wellington Wells’ from ‘The Sorcerer’ by Gilbert and Sullivan. During the second half they sang the duet ‘Ave Verum’ by Karl Jenkins. Their accompanist on each occasion was Lisa Mears. This was a great night organised by Doug Camp and Phillip Rogers, from the Rotary Club, and all money raised went to ‘Ty Olwen’ and ‘Rotary’s Polio Eradication Campaign’. We, of course, gave our services free of charge.
April 2018On Friday 20th April we sang at the wedding of Shaun Sturgess and Aimee Jones at St Hilary’s, Killay. It was a beautiful day and we sang the happy couple out with ‘All You Need is Love’.
The following night we had a joint concert with Newquay Male Choir, from Cornwall. They were on a short tour to Wales and had sung with Tonna Male Voice Choir, in Neath, the night before. The concert was held at St Mary’s Church, in the centre of Swansea, and this proved to be a great venue. There was a large audience and they were well entertained by our visitors who started with ‘When the saints go marching in’. Although they were a small choir they made a great sound and were very disciplined. During the evening they sang a number of well known pieces and a few Cornish songs. We also sang items from our normal repertoire but a highlight was the singing of ‘How Great Thou Art’, which we have been learning over the last few months. This is a new setting and the wonderful acoustic in St Mary’s helped to make this item, with its terrific climax, a huge success. The concert was very kindly sponsored by Tomos Watkin Brewery and Liberty Homes and we thank them for their tremendous support. We finished with ‘American Trilogy’ and then the two choirs joined to sing ‘Morte Criste’, which was a fitting end to a lovely concert. We all then adjourned to the ‘Cross Keys’ where a buffet had been prepared for us.
On a sad note we learned of the passing of one of our stalwarts, Vernon Simons, following a long illness. Vernon would have completed 50 years service this year, and had previously taken a very active part in the choir where he had sung many solo items, with his beautiful tenor voice. He was also Chairman some years ago. He also served on the committee and his wife, Althea, had given so many years commitment to the Ladies committee. We were very happy to be asked to sing at his funeral at Bethlehem Chapel and at Llanelli Crematorium, where we sang Robat Arwyn’s ‘Benedictus’. He will be sadly missed.
On Thursday 26th April we sang at the Liberty Stadium for the AGM of the Swansea Building Society. The Building Society has been very kind to us by sponsoring our annual concert this year and we are very grateful for their support. This will, hopefully, lead to a long term relationship.
We held our AGM on Tuesday 6th and it was well attended. Our president, Geoff Wheel, opened the meeting and our chairman, Clive, thanked all the officers for their hard work and also the musical team for their energy and commitment. Our MD, Nick, then pointed out that 2017 was a record breaking year. We had our biggest ever choir at our annual concert (56), our biggest ever attendance at a rehearsal (56 on 2 occasions. However, this has already been broken this year with 57 attending a rehearsal in February!) and also the largest number of choristers on our European tour (43).)This is a magnificent achievement by everyone, especially at a time when male choirs’ numbers are considered to be in decline.
On Saturday 24th March we sang at Langland Bay Golf Club for the charity ‘Forget Me Not’. This charity runs Dementia Day Clubs, which aims to help people with all types of dementia. Club captain, and former International Gymnast, Lee Jones, introduced us and we gave a lovely concert which was well appreciated by the small audience. This was followed by cheese and wine.