Barbados Celtic Festival 2019
Well. What can we say?! This was the biggest and, surely, the most
exciting venture that the choir has ever undertaken. The Festival has
been running for nineteen years and has not had a male voice choir
since the very first event. We took 42 choristers, which was an amazing
achievement, and the party totalled more than 70 altogether with wives,
partners and friends. This was originally put to the choir over twelve
months previously and the dedication and financial commitment by the
choristers, committee, and musical team, was outstanding.
We left Swansea at 4.00am on Monday 20th and travelled to Gatwick for
our flight to Grantley Adams Airport where we were met by Carol
Anderson, the festival organiser. When we arrived, we had a quick
change and went to the opening party at the hotel, The Coconut Court
Beach, where we received some free cocktails and were entertained by a
local band. The following day was spent acclimatising and enjoying the
lovely weather. In the evening we were invited across the road to
‘Jake’s’, where we met the Minister of Culture and the Creative Economy
for Barbados, Mr John King. We were entertained by ‘Riddell Fiddles’,
from Selkirk, and lead by Sheila Sapkota, who were also taking part in
the festival, and there were more free drinks on offer.
On Wednesday we had our first concert at St Patrick’s Cathedral, and
met up with Sister Pauline, who was the head of St Patrick’s Junior
School. Sister Pauline was also from Scotland and had been playing
guitar with Riddell Fiddles, the night before. The concert was
scheduled to start at 1.00pm, and this was the first time that we
realised that Bajan time was fairly relaxed, as the buses to take us to
the concert didn’t turn up until 12.45pm…and then there were not enough
seats for everyone, so they had to make 2 journeys!! The concert
eventually got underway at 1.15pm. However, it was a lovely event where
the local school choir sang ‘Loch Lomond’, in a wonderful Scottish
accent, accompanied by Sister Pauline and they also did a few dances.
They then sang ‘Beautiful, Beautiful, Barbados’, which we had learnt
and were able to join in with them. We
then sang three items, but, because all the windows and doors were open
and a breeze was going through the cathedral, the acoustic was lost.
Rhian and Nick also had problems with their music being blown around!
The concert finished with the combined pipers from the Reading Scottish
Pipe Band and the Strathallan School Pipe Band, under their Musical
Director, Craig Muirhead. What a wonderful sound! The rest of the day
we had to ourselves, so it was back to the beach for more sun.
On Thursday we all made our own arrangements. Some of the party went on
the ‘Cool Runnings’ Catamaran and had a wonderful day swimming with
turtles and taking in the lovely coastline of West Barbados. They
stopped outside the Sandy Lanes Resort, where all the celebrities go,
and had lunch on the boat, followed by more swimming. Another small
group went on a trip around the island provided by ‘Dale’, a local
driver, and organised by Pete Beales. This was quite an experience
where Dale took them around several Rum Shacks, and they met with Nigel
Benn’s auntie! They also visited the oldest church on the island and
saw where Rihanna was brought up - and visited more Rum Shacks! Others
just stayed by the pool and beach and soaked up the sun.
Our main concert of the tour was held on Friday evening. It was at the
Walled Garden Theatre, which is a relatively new venue. We had a sound
check rehearsal at 4.00pm and everything was fine, except that there
was no staging for the choir to sing on. The event was organised by the
Rotary Club of Barbados South and started at ‘about’ 7.00pm. The
concert was opened by Donny Hughes, a well-known Scottish DJ and we sang
our normal items and included ‘Yellow Bird’ which we had learnt for the
tour. The concert also featured ‘Sing Out Barbados’, under their
director, Keith Squires. They were beautifully dressed in colourful
costumes and sung a variety of Caribbean songs, many being acted out
and very funny. They finished with ‘Beautiful, Beautiful, Barbados’, a
song which was far more popular than we thought, when we learnt it. We
were going to sing it as our penultimate item in this concert, so Nick
made a bit of a joke about the fact that we had learnt this song, had
been beaten to sing it, twice, already, and had travelled 4,000 miles!!
We were not going to leave without singing our version - so we did, and
the audience loved it. We ended with ‘An American Trilogy’ and received
a standing ovation from the large audience. Attending the concert was
the British High Commissioner to Barbados, Ms Janet Douglas, CMG who
enjoyed it very much.
For our last official concert, we travelled to St Thomas Church, in the
district of St Thomas, which was about 30 minutes away. We were
informed that the concert was to start at 6.00pm, but, again, we were
in Bajan time and we did not leave the hotel until 5.30pm! However,
when we turned up at the church there were only a few cars in the car
park, and we were informed that the concert did not start until 6.30pm!
We had a few problems when we arrived, as the keyboard did not have a
sustain pedal with it, and again, no staging. A pedal was located and
brought to the church, and at first did not work, but eventually this
was rectified. Singing with us were three combined church choirs who
opened the concert. We started with ‘Cwm Rhondda’ and blew the audience
away with our ‘Amens’, with the boys, Rhian, and Steve, on their church
organ, making a fine sound! Quite a few of the church choir’s members
were singing along with us as well. This was a lovely, intimate evening
with the locals lapping up the unique sound of a Welsh Male Voice
Choir, and the boys were on fine form. Rhian had further problems with
the keyboard later on, when it suddenly went ‘honky tonk’ halfway
through one of our items!
We had some more leisure time on Sunday to soak up the sun (boring –
isn’t it!) and in the afternoon we had the final party at the hotel.
Carol Anderson and Donny Hughes kept things under control and a few
presentations were made to the pipe band MD Craig Muirhead and to our
MD Nick. We gave a few more renditions and the pipers also played.
Further entertainment was provided by Riddell Fiddles and we lined up
around the pool to sing ‘Three Little Birds’ accompanied by them. We
then went down to the beach for a final ‘photoshoot’ and sung
‘Beautiful, Beautiful, Barbados’ accompanied by
our own ukulele band! (See the Youtube clip) We finished with our own National Anthem. This
just about brought our trip to an end, as the next day saw our party
break up, because about half were going home and the rest staying for another week.
We spent the morning around the pool on the last day and the ones that
were leaving were waived off and went to the airport. What happened
next was a flash of inspiration! In the corner of the departure lounge
was a piano and, after a few rums, Nick thought it would be a good idea
to attempt a ‘flash mob’. Not everyone was keen at first, but we did it
and immediately people were recording it on their phones. Of course, we
sang ‘Beautiful Barbados’, with Rhian on the piano and the locals loved
it. Before we knew it, someone had put it on Facebook and, after a
week, it had 30k views!! (See the Facebook clip) It has also appeared on many other Facebook
sites, including the main ‘Visit Barbados’ page. A great end to a
For those who stayed a second week, the highlight must be a visit to
the hotel by Sir Garfield Sobers, a true legend of West Indies cricket.
He is, of course, synonymous with Swansea, where he hit six sixes off
one over, by the luckless Malcolm Nash, at St Helens. He was a real
gent and spoke with the boys for many hours and even joined in the
The Celtic Festival, Barbados will be remembered for a long time to
come and we must thank Carol Anderson for inviting us and looking after
us while we were there. There are so many other people to thank for
organising this trip. Our hard-working chairman Mike Phippen, who was
not able to come, but turned up at 3.30am on the morning we left, to
see us off, and secretary Alan, who liaised with the travel company to
get us all there. Our treasurer Lawrence, who has handled an incredible
amount of money. Our new fundraising committee and established Ladies
committee who raised a substantial amount for the trip. Our sponsors
Swansea Building Society and Red Dragon Flagmakers, Clydach who loaned
us the Welsh flag. The choristers’ wives and partners and the
choristers themselves for making it such a success. Finally, to Nick,
Rhian and Steve for their commitment and enthusiasm to get the choir
ready for such occasions. The choir has come so far over the last ten
years or so and a trip of this magnitude was out of the question back
then. Where many other choirs are struggling, we keep on striving to
attract new members and will try to arrange more exciting trips in the
Following our concert at St Mary’s we have had another new member.
Rhodri Jenkins enjoyed the evening and came along to the next rehearsal
and has joined the baritone section. Well done Rhodri.
On Saturday 2nd we gave a concert to raise funds for our forthcoming
trip to Barbados. We held it in St Mary’s Church and our guests were
the Thomas Coaches Mid-Rhondda Brass Band and The Eclectics, from
Swansea. The evening was brilliantly compered by Paul Tabram, who is
often heard at the Liberty Stadium making the announcements at all
Ospreys Rugby matches and sometimes with the ‘Swans’. We opened with ’O
Gymru’ and sung some further items in Welsh, that we have rehearsed for
Barbados. We finished our set with ‘How Great Thou Art’. The Eclectics
sang next, and, as their title suggests, they sang a great mix of items
including ‘Set Me as a Seal’ and ‘Calon Lan’. They were a small group
of just seven singers but the lovely acoustic at St Mary’s suited them
well. The brass band finished the first half and played a medley from
‘Oklahoma’ and ended the first half with Tom Davoren’s ‘Pure of Heart’.
They were excellent.
The band opened the second half with Gordon Langford’s arrangement of
‘Men Of Harlech’ and their next item featured Bass soloist Jeff Taylor
in ‘Bass in the Ballroom’. They completed their set with ‘Sospan Fach’.
The Eclectics sang next and sung five items including ‘Danny Boy’, ‘Si
Hei Lwli ‘Mabi’ and finished with the energetic ‘I Got Rhythm’, to a
great ovation. In our last set we sang ‘Delilah’ and Chicago’s ‘Hard To
Say I’m Sorry’ and finished with our ‘Abba’ medley, which we have
brought back after many years. The concert ended with a joint item,
‘Morte Criste’, played by the band and joined by the choir.
This was a terrific evening well organised by our chairman, Mike
Phippen and our fundraising committee. We had a full church and thanks
must go to our Ladies Committee who looked after ticket and CD sales at
the church. Thanks also to St Mary’s church and especially Alan
Jenkins, who is so amenable to our requirements and to Swansea Building
Society for their generous sponsorship. Finally, to our music team of
Nick, Rhian and Steve who ensured that our performance was to its usual
Following the concert, we all went to the Three Lamps for refreshments
and we are pleased to announce that the Thomas Coaches Mid Rhondda
Brass Band will be joining us again for a Christmas concert later in
Saturday 16th saw us return to the Three Lamps to sing at the final
match of the Six Nations, with Wales going for the Grand Slam, against
much fancied Ireland. Again, we sang before and during the match and,
once again, the pub was full. The whole place erupted at the final
whistle, with Wales victorious by 25-7, far more comfortable than many
imagined. Once more, we went to the second floor to carry on with the
singing after the match. This has been a new venture for us, and we
know that the owner, Tim Evans, is keen to have us back to sing at
We are pleased to welcome another recruit to our ranks. Paul Hutin has
joined the second tenors where his uncle Ken once sang. Ken was a
terrific member of the choir and we hope that Paul will be just as
We welcomed Peter Beales to the choir, following his audition, and he
has joined the second tenors. Peter was at the Queens the previous
month and enjoyed the afternoon so much that he decided he would give
it a go! Well done SPeter and we hope you have a long stay with us.
On Saturday 23rd we entertained at the Three Lamps before, and during,
the Wales v England rugby international. Following a new renovation,
the pub now has four floors, with its own brewery on one floor. It was
great to see it full and there was a terrific atmosphere, especially
when Josh Adams went over in the corner, for Wales, to seal victory
21-13. After the match we went to the next floor to carry on the
singing, as there were various birthday parties and other celebrations
We had a quiet start to the year, but a good number of the choir
enjoyed a get together at the Queens on Thursday 3rd. This has become
an annual event and we were well looked after by the staff at the pub.
We started at 3.00 o’clock in the afternoon and carried on during the
early evening adjourning to the Three Lamps, where we had been booked
to sing at some forthcoming Wales Rugby International matches over the
Rehearsals commenced on Tuesday 8th and we were pleased to see that we
had attracted a potential new member following our afternoon in the
Queens. We also started rehearsing some new items for our forthcoming
trip to Barbados and, in fact, is was good to have a quiet period so
that we could concentrate on this huge undertaking.
On a sad note, Roger Burrell passed away following a long illness.
Roger had been present at rehearsals up to his death and will be sadly
missed by his family and the choir.
We had a very busy Christmas, as usual, and our first concert was at
All Saints, Oystermouth, in aid of ‘Maggies’, a cancer charity. The
church was full and the choir was directed by Gareth Widlake, who is
one of our baritones. Although he has only been in the choir for a
year, Gareth was formerly headmaster at Bishopston Primary School
and, as he says, he is used to dealing with children, and this is no
different!! The choir sung brilliantly and we were also fortunate to
have Steve playing his keyboard accompaniments to various items as
well. The soloist was Anwen Pike. We have been informed that £2500 was
raised for the charity and, again, our services were completely free.
next concerts were the same as last year, also, with the first being at
the Scout Hall, Brynmill. This is organised by our Ladies Committee and
a great buffet was provided by them. Their Chairperson, Linda, gave
presentations to the musical team and also a cheque for £2000.00 for
our forthcoming trip to Barbados, which was absolutely fantastic and
very gratefully received. The choir is going from strength to strength;
when other choirs are dwindling in numbers, and we staged our biggest
ever choir with 61 singers on stage. We had 8 new members during the
year and it is all to do with the work of the choristers encouraging
people to join. The evening also raised over £500 for Diabetes UK,
which is the charity chosen by Nick, in memory of Debbie.
Thursday 13th, we sang at the Vivian Hall, Blackpill, and again the
hall was full and a great atmosphere created. However, it is getting a
bit of a squeeze in the hall for the choir with our growing numbers!
The highlight for the audience, as ever, was the communal singing of
‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ and we also sang ‘One More Mile To Go’, by
Chris DeBurgh, again this year among our Christmas items.
sang at the Christmas Community Concert at St Thomas church on December
18th. This is definitely the highlight of our Christmas programme with
the old church absolutely packed. There was a tremendous atmosphere
with choirs from Danygraig Primary School, St Thomas Community Primary
School, and Cefn Hengoed Community School all taking part. All the
choirs sang a number of Christmas items and we finished the concert
with ‘Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree’ which brought the audience to
its feet. All the choirs then joined to sing ‘We Wish You a Merry
Christmas’. This was the last event in the church, as it is, because
work is starting on making the church into two floors with a community
hall on the ground floor and a church upstairs. We wish the vicar,
Steve Bunting, and everyone much success with this project.
Our last concert was held at the Pier Cafe on Thursday 20th. This is
the 3rd year we have sung at this event and, again, it was a great
success, although ticket numbers are now being monitored carefully.
However, there was still a lovely atmosphere in the Cafe and evening
was introduced by Siany Martin, from ‘The Wave’ radio station.
Once again we had a busy Christmas and all the effort to learn a good
number of Christmas items was well worth it. We also had over 50
singers at every event, which was a terrific achievement.
Our first concert following our tour to Kiel was held at Clyne Golf
Club on November 12th. The club was packed and we had a lovely evening.
The concert was in aid of ‘Save the Children’ and we raised £1100 for
the charity. Of course, we gave our services free of charge so every
penny went to the charity. The evening was organised by Joan Jory and
her husband, Jeff, introduced the concert. Jeff was a former member of
the choir and it was great to see him there.
We sang at the wedding of Amy Staddon and Liam Jenkins on Saturday 17th
November. It took place at St Thomas church and Amy is the daughter of
our second tenor, Gareth.
We were pleased to welcome 3 new members to the choir and we are really
lucky because all 3 are experienced choristers. Vernon Ward has moved
to the area from Cheshire and has joined the second tenors and Brian
Brent and Brian Miles have joined the first tenor section. We hope they
all have a long association with us.
We were sad to learn of the passing of Emil Jones, a wonderful top
tenor, who had been with the choir for over 20 years. He will be
greatly missed by all his family and friends and we sung at his funeral
at Llanelli Crematorium.
We also had the dreadful news that Debbie, our MD Nick’s wife, passed
away following a short illness. Debbie was a great support to Nick and
knew all about his passion for the male choir institution, having known
him for nearly 40 years. She was a regular on the choir tours and had a
great friendship with Rhian and many of the wives and partners. She
will be greatly missed and our heartfelt sympathies are with Nick.
Kiel, Germany - Sept 27th to Oct 1st 2018
Our European tour took us to Kiel, North Germany this year and had its
origins in Mannheim in 2012 when we sang with a mixed choir from
Kronshagen (a suburb of Kiel). We had kept details of their MD, Imre
Sallay, and asked whether they would accommodate us and they dutifully
obliged. Just by sheer chance they have an annual concert on the last
weekend in September! We had 42 choristers and a number of wives and
partners and arrived on Thursday 27th at around 7.00pm and went
straight to the ‘Alte Muhle’ (Old Mill) restaurant and had a lovely
On Friday we had a guided to tour around Kiel, by coach, which was very
interesting. Kiel is a harbour city and is on the north east coast of
Germany facing the Baltic Sea. We finished up by visiting the Laboe
Ehrenmals (Naval Museum) where, in the Great Hall; we sang 3 items and
laid a wreath at the memorial which has been set up for drowned and
fallen sailors everywhere. This was a very emotional time with many of
the choristers suffering from ‘lumps in throats’ and some were even
moved to tears. Many of our ladies were also overcome by the occasion
too. We then had a meal at the restaurant ‘Heimathafen’ (Admiral
Scheer) and many took a lift to the top of the tower of the Great Hall,
which gave splendid views of the Harbour and surrounding countryside.
In the evening we went to Rendsburg to sing at St Mary’s church. We
were joined by the Rendsburg male voice choir and ‘Liedertafel’
(another local male singing group), who joined together for the very
first time for the concert. The concert took a different format to what
we usually do as, following 2 sets by each of the choirs we went, with
the audience, to have the refreshments. After this we went back to the
church to finish the concert by singing another set each! It was great
to see that the audience returned too! We finished our final set with
‘An American Trilogy’ and the appreciative audience; together with the
other two choirs, got to their feet to give us a terrific ovation.
Indeed, the church was a lovely place to sing and we had given a
splendid performance. There were some presentations made at the end of
the concert and we then returned to our hotel much later than we had
next day we were up early and travelled to the small town of Plon and
went on a boat trip around Lake Ploner. This took a couple of hours and
we returned to the hotel to get ready for the evening concert. This was
the main event of the tour and we sang with Chor Kronshagen at the
Burgerhaus, Kronshagen. It was a very large hall and there were over
400 people in the audience with many local dignitaries there also,
including the Mayor. It was also 99th year of the existence of Chor
Kronshagen. It really was a special event and Chor Kronshagen sang a
very varied programme with music from all ages. They finished their
first set with ‘Ar Hyd Y Nos’ (They have had a long association with a
choir from North Wales) which they sang in Welsh! We then sang our
first set, which included ‘Sanctus’, by Schubert, which we sang in
German, and finished with ‘Cwm Rhondda’ which brought the 400 strong
audience to its feet in appreciation. We don’t remember having a
standing ovation in the middle of a performance before! Following the
interval it was pleasing to hear Chor Kronshagen singing some modern
songs and they included ‘Can you feel the love tonight’ and finished
with Michael Jackson’s ‘Heal the World’. A lovely performance, and the
50 singers in the choir made a very beautiful sound, and were well
directed by their MD, Imre Sallay. We then sang our final set and again
received a standing ovation where another item was demanded. We obliged
by singing ‘As Long As I have Music’, which was a fitting end to
performance by the boys. However the concert did not finish there as
both choirs joined together to sing the amazing ‘O Fortuna’ and
‘Fortune Plango Vulnera’ from ‘Carmina Burana’ by Carl Orff (Many will
remember ‘O Fortuna’ as the music from the ‘Old Spice’ advert many
years ago!). This was directed by Nick and accompanied by Imre, on the
piano, and Stefan Bihary on percussion. The choirs made a great sound
and did really well to keep everything together. Many presentations
were made to conclude a wonderful evening of singing, and hopefully, we
may all meet up again someday. The most sumptuous buffet followed the
concert and wine and beer flowed which was much appreciated by everyone
and many thanks must go to Chor Kronshagen for providing this. We even
managed to sing a few more items including ’Freunde Schenket Ein’ which
we sang in German to our hosts.
We had a leisurely start to Sunday and were even more delayed, as the
bus company sent the usual two buses to pick us up, but realised that
one of them was not big enough for our party! The problem was
eventually solved and we made our way to the beautiful city of Lubeck.
The old part was very interesting with a large cathedral and church and
the architecture of the buildings was quite stunning. When we returned
to Kiel, in the early evening, we all had a lovely meal together at the
Kiel Brewery and enjoyed their beer, which is brewed on the premises.
We then returned to the hotel and a good number of us then went back to
the ‘Alte Muhle’ and had a final afterglow. We returned to Swansea on
Monday and arrived at around 8.00pm.
This was another wonderful tour and there are so many people to thank.
The coach company was ‘Reisebyer’ and they had organised the hotel and
arranged for buses to carry us around to every event. Apart from the
one slight mishap, they were excellent. Our own secretary Alan Clewett,
as usual, worked tirelessly before and during the tour to make it such
a success. Lawrence, our treasurer, also worked so hard to collect
monies during the year and during the trip with his usual efficiency.
We had 2 of our ladies, Patsy Dewar and Jan Davies, to sell CD’s at the
venues, and they took nearly 300 Euros over the two concerts. Adrian
Crowley took charge of one of the buses and carried the CD’s around
with him. Thanks to our musical team of Nick, Rhian and Steve, who
never fail to bring the concerts together, and ensure a high quality of
performance. Lastly, to the members of the choir, who committed
themselves to the tour and sang so well.
Back to the grind now and rehearsals start for our busy Christmas period!
Thursday September 13th we sang at All Saints Oystermouth for the
Mumble Festival of Music. This is a series of concerts is held
annually, in September, at the church and we were delighted to take
part this year. We were fortunate to be joined by Ros Evans, who is
always very entertaining, We were able to sing a number of the new
items that we have learnt for Germany including Wagner’s ‘Prayer from
Lohengrin’ and ‘Freunde Schenket Ein’ which went down very well. We
also sung Schubert’s ‘Sanctus’ from his ‘Duetsche Mass’. Another
highlight of the concert was joining with Ros Evans to sing our
arrangement of ‘The Holy City’.
On Tuesday 18th we had some special visitors to our rehearsal. We are
in the early stages of arranging a tour to Barbados next year to sing
at their Celtic Music Festival, which is held annually. The Director of
the Festival, Carol Anderson and the Acting High Commissioner for
Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Alphea Wiggins came to give us more
details about the festival. This is a really exciting time for the
choir and we are hoping that we will be able to sing at the festival.
They have not had a Welsh male voice choir there since the first
festival 19 years ago! Watch this space for further updates.
Again, another quiet month but we continued to rehearse and have
welcomed 2 new members to the choir. John Barnett has joined the 2nd
bass and Rogers Gadd, the baritone section. We were also able to work
hard on the items that we will be singing in Kiel, Germany, on our
annual tour. We are learning a new item to the choir ‘Freunde Schenket
Ein’, a drinking song, which will feature a debut soloist in the choir,
We’ve had a quiet summer but on Sunday 29th we were asked to sing at
Stouthall (Carreg Adventure) for a group of students, who were visiting
Wales, from Kuwait. Having previously entertained foreign students at
Stouthall, we were looking forward to singing to them and, once again,
they were a very appreciative audience. They enjoyed our performance
and. as a special request from one of the students, we were asked to
sing ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’. Although not in our repertoire, it
is one we sing at our ‘afterglows’, so we did our best to sing it and
we were also joined by a number of the students!
Following the concert we stopped off at the King Arthur, Reynoldston
and ended up having a short ‘afterglow’. A few days later we appeared
in the ‘Wales On-line’ website, as, unknown to us, one of the staff had
recorded our singing and sent it to them. There was a small feature
about the choir and the video was included as well.
Annual Concert - 23rd June 2018
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.
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
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 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.
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.
On 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
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
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.
again, following on from our busy Christmas we had a quiet start to the
year. We also found that our new rehearsal room was not what we wanted
and, thanks to Walter Jones, we moved to Holy Cross Church, West Cross,
for a few weeks. On occasions, when we learn new items, we like to
split the choir into tenors and basses and use different rooms for
rehearsing. Unfortunately, this could not be done at Holy Cross and we
have now moved to the Linden Christian Centre, which is just down the
road. This appears to be a great facility for us, and will hopefully
become our base.
It is with great sadness that we report the death of Mal
Herbert who sang with the choir for over 30 years. He
had been Part Steward for the bass section and he taught new bass
members a tremendous amount. He was a committee member from the
very early days and became Secretary of the choir, a position that he
held for many years. He will be greatly missed. His wife Pat
worked hard for the ladies committee, and and we send her our deepest
We welcome Billy McCarley to our 2nd tenors. He had his voice test and
did very well, and we hope he will have a long stay with us. We have
also had a few other probationers with us and, hopefully, we will be
adding to our numbers in the next few months.
Our quiet spell has given us the opportunity to learn some new items.
We have been working hard on a wonderful arrangement of ‘How Great Thou
Art’ which has put us slightly out of our ‘comfort zone’. It has been
arranged by Jim Clancy, from the American chorus, Vocal Majority, and
is completely unaccompanied and has an amazing climax.
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