Gwalia Singers

(Swansea)
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Cantorion Gwalia

(Abertawe)


 
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Mumbles RugbyMarch 2022

On Sunday the 6th March the Gwalia Singers performed their first concert of the year at Mumbles Rugby club.  This was a concert to celebrate St David’s Day and was the first event for our new conductor, Matthew Sims. We also a welcomed the return of our accompanist Rhian Stone. The concert was a resounding success as the choir performed to a capacity crowd, singing some traditional Welsh items, together with items from our repertoire. It was a wonderful afternoon crowned by a final standing ovation.  We had a collection for the ‘Ukraine Appeal Fund’ which was generously supported and raised £350.  Our thanks go to Mumbles Rugby Club and their Chairman Simon Evans for their invitation and hospitality. We hope to make this an annual event in the future.

Peter Jacobs


It is with very great sadness that we have to report that Peter Jacobs, one of our First Tenors, passed away on the 11th March.  He died in hospital having been fighting against cancer for a long time.  He will be greatly missed by all of our choir members especially for his lovely tenor voice and his great sense of humour. Our thoughts go out to Rae and his family.

 

At our rehearsals we are learning a new version of “Calon Lan” by John Hughes and arranged by Jeffery Howard.  We are looking forward to learning “To Where You Are”, arranged by Alwyn Humphreys with Words and Music by Richard Marx & Linda Thompson.


February 2022

This month we met our new Musical Director, Matthew Sims.  Matthew is an enthusiastic and very capable musician/conductor and he has exciting plans to help to develop the choir and move us forward.  He took two rehearsals with us and then on the 22nd of February the choir unanimously voted him in as their permanent MD.  It was also very pleasing to see Rhian, our accompanist, back after a long break.  She will continue playing at our rehearsals on alternate weeks and at our public performances while Stephen will continue on the other weeks.  We are very fortunate to have such a strong Music Team.  We are very pleased to announce that Ian Bengeyfield (2nd Tenor), Barry Jones (Baritone) and Neil Lewis (Bass) have passed their voice test with Matt and we welcome them as full members of the Gwalia Singers.

January 2022

In the New Year we returned to rehearsals after our Covid/Christmas break with Nick still running the rehearsals and Stephen on the keyboard.  We spent the time polishing the songs we had learned since July and some of our past repertoire.

December 2021

Sandra Knight’s tenure as our Musical Director came to an end in early December.  Sandra has been with us throughout the pandemic and we thank her for all she has done for the choir during that time.  We are very fortunate that our former MD, Nick Rogers has agreed to step in while we search for a replacement.  Our permanent accompanist, Rhian, is unable to be with us at the moment so we are very grateful to Steve Wilson and Gareth Widlake who have stood in to fill the gap, we are very fortunate to have such talented musicians in the choir.

We were very disappointed that our first Christmas concert at St Hilary’s Church had to be cancelled due to coronavirus restrictions.


Maggie's 21                            
Maggie's Logo 21
Our second concert went ahead in All Saints Church on the 16th December in Oystermouth and it was a great success.  We, along with the soprano Ross Evans, sang to raise funds for Maggie’s, a local Cancer support charity.  We were able to christen our new staging that we had purchased before the pandemic.  We sang a mixture of music including some new songs from our repertoire and well as some of our traditional Christmas songs (see the programme).





During the concert ties were presented to some choristers in recognition of their long of service to the choir, this should have been done before but lack of formal concerts, again due to Covid, has caused a build-up of recipients.
35 Years - Clive Walters.        25 Years - Nick Rogers and Mike Williams.        20 Years - Des Criddle and Steve Wilson.        15 Years - John Morgan.
10 Years - Peter Jacobs and Craig Thomas.        5 Years - Clive Dowell, James McCarry, Carl Sullivan and Phil Withy.
Dewer NeillBrian Warwick (5 Years) and Geoff Wheel (10 Years) will have their ties presented at the next opportunity.  We congratulate them all and thank them for all they do for the choir.

It is with sadness that we have to report the news that Dewer Neill passed away on New Years Eve. He died peacefully in Brynfield Manor where he had been for three days.  Dewer had been struggling with painful arthritis for several years.  He had been a very loyal choir member for 15 years since January 2007, and had attended nearly all choir concerts and tours in that time.  We send our sympathy to his wife Patsy, a valued Gwalia supporter, and to his family.

October - November 2021

We have now started rehearsing our Christmas repertoire ready for our December concerts.  We have been very pleased to see our probationers becoming full time members of the choir, we welcome the following members into the choir and wish them all a long and happy association with the Gwalia Singers.

Top Tenor - Richard Lewis.  Second Tenors - David Lloyd, Phil Renowden, Roger Spring and Robert Walters.  Baritone - Gordon Reed.  Basses - Robert Parker and Phil Webster. 
Ed Parton

It is with very great sadness that we have to report the passing of Thomas George Bowen - ‘George’.  He was one of our Choristers and passed away peacefully in his sleep, after a long illness, on the 21st October 2021.  George joined the choir in March 2007 and served as a reliable and conscientious chorister until the Coronavirus pandemic closed the choir down in February 2019.  He had a lovely baritone voice and seldom missed a rehearsal, concert, wedding or concert tour.  Towards the end of his time with the choir he would sing from his wheel chair as he could no longer stand or walk.  George will always be remembered for his entertaining stories about his time in the Royal Navy and the Police Force and for his deep booming laugh.  He will be greatly missed by all his friends in the Gwalia Singers.

September 2021

September was a busy month for the choir, having being invited to sing at two weddings and also at The Mumbles Festival of Music and the Arts 2021.  The successful festival concert, alongside Swansea Soprano Ros Evans, was an excellent platform for the Gwalia Singers to introduce three pieces of work from their new repertoire. During the evening we were able to present Gareth John and John Haslam with their 10 year service ties, congratulations to them.  It is very encouraging to see the choir numbers growing and over the last few months the choir has welcomed nine new probationary choristers. 

July 2021

We are very pleased to welcome Cliff Gapper into the choir as a full-time singer with the second basses, we wish him a long and enjoyable time with the Gwalia Singers.

June 2021

An announcement was made by the Government that Choirs would be permitted to sing together again, face to face under restrictions with Risk Assessments, Health and Safety Procedures, Social Distancing and the wearing of masks becoming the norm.  What great joy to finally rehearse and to sing together face to face!  There had never been a greater time to appreciate being a chorister and that special feeling of belonging to "a Choir Family".  The Gwalia Singers took up the mantle of further widening their repertoire in rehearsals, enjoying the benefits of singing together again .
Emyr Price left the choir as he moved away to Burry Port.  He will be missed after 15 years as a second tenor and as committee member.  We thank him and Mandy, who was treasurer of the Ladies Committee, for all they have done for the choir and wish them all the best in their new home.

March 2021Ed Parton

It is with great sadness that we have lost one of our Choristers - Raymond Pelzer who passed away on 9th March 2021. 
Tony Brooks (from the Bass Section) has written the following tribute to Ray.
"Whenever I think of Ray I always smile, he had a wicked and infectious sense of humour and was always laughing and telling stories, so much so, you just couldn’t help but laugh along with him."  Ray was a gifted singer with a beautiful Top Tenor voice, he will be especially missed in the Top Tenor section and significantly by the Gwalia Singers as a whole.  Ray joined the Gwalia Singers in January 1992 and soon became a valued chorister, his attendance at Rehearsals and Concerts was exemplary. Ray remained with the choir for 29 years, playing an active role at Concerts and the Afterglows wherever the Gwalia Singers performed around the world. -  "Rest in Peace my Friend."


It was very pleasing to see Dr Carl Sullivan returning to the choir.

March 2020 - June 2021

Sandra Knight
Sandra Knight was appointed as the new Musical Director of the choir starting in March.  She was appointed from several applicants and we are very lucky to have found a person with her qualities.  She gave her first full rehearsal with the choir in preparation for a concert at the Brangwyn Hall, Swansea for the Young Singer Bursary Winners with West Glamorgan Youth Music. However, unprecedented events took over.  Toward the end of March, the Coronavirus Pandemic came into being.  As a result, "lockdown" throughout the UK was brought in by the government with self-isolation and gathering of people strictly banned.  Government rules were to "Stay at home and Stay safe".


This had a profound effect on all choirs- unable to meet and rehearse!  2020 was to be a very busy year for the Gwalia Singers.  All future concerts were cancelled.  This included a retirement dinner in honour of former MD Nick Rogers, a combined concert with the Kronshagen Choir from Germany, a choir tour to Cornwall as well as singing at several weddings and at other events.


With the new MD eager to commence her appointment and no choir rehearsals, technology came to the forefront.  Regular monthly newsletters from the Chairman, Clive Walters and the Music Team were forwarded to choristers along with new pieces of music to add to the choir's repertoire.  This was important so that sectional parts could be learnt in readiness for when rehearsals could resume. (Also to keep everyone busy during lockdown). Zoom has come to our aid – we had a committee meeting, a social gathering and a quiz, thank you Gareth John for being our Quiz Master.  Sandra also met with the four sections of the choir over a period of weeks via "Zoom". A new chapter had begun.......

Dr Carl Sullivan, who sings with the second tenors and a former committee member, is leaving the choir.  He was a doctor at Morriston hospital and is now taking up a promotional position in Sheffield.  He leaves with our thanks and good wishes.

Ed PartonUnfortunately, a very loyal and participative member of the Gwalia Singers – Edwin [Ed] Parton passed away on 20th March this year.  He had been unwell for some time with lung cancer and was having regular treatment in hospital where he contracted the coronavirus. 

He was a very much loved and intelligent member of the choir which he joined in May 2008. His potential was soon recognised when he was elected to the committee at the AGM in 2011.  In the same year he took on the role of Patron’s Secretary, communicating regularly with all those many individuals who support the choir. In 2013 the choir Chairman at the time – Clive Walters, invited him to be Vice Chairman which he gladly accepted and was elected Chairman in 2015.  He added a special mature and hard-working dimension to this role which he held for the normal two years.  On completion of his chairmanship he continued to serve as an experienced committee member.

He will be greatly missed by all the choir, especially the second tenors and certainly by the many golfers who played with him.  Our deepest sympathies are with his wife Janet.

February 2021

Our first performance of the year was at the Three Lamps, on Saturday 22nd, to provide entertainment for the Wales v France rugby match. We sang for about half an hour before the game and managed to squeeze in a few items at half time. After the game we moved around the various floors singing a few songs to each group of people, including a hen party on the top floor! The response we get from these is amazing and most of the partygoers are youngsters who would probably never hear a male voice choir singing.


On Saturday 29th we were back at All Saints, Oystermouth for a fundraising concert for the choir and a local charity ‘Therapy for Swansea Kids’. The concert entitled ‘March into March’ feature d the choir and the newly formed ‘Rock Choir’, which comprises members of choirs from Swansea, Mumbles, Neath, Carmarthen and Llanelli. The concert started with Roger Gadd presenting a cheque of £2000.00 to the charity which has established a Therapy Centre at Hill House and is entirely run by volunteer parents, therapists and friends. We opened the concert with ‘Cwm Rhondda’, with Steve joining Rhian on the organ, and also performed ‘Pacem’. This is relatively new to our repertoire and is accompanied by Rhian and Gareth Widlake on viola. During this set Nick presented our service ties to Geoff Jones, for completing five years, and Adrian Crowley and Anthony Marmont for ten years. There was also a tie for our youngest member who was actually celebrating his 18th birthday! Mike Phippen received his tie for five years’ service and we all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to him. We finished our first set with ‘The Impossible Dream’. The Rock Choir then sang and started with ‘Since You’ve been Gone’ and included ‘Super Trouper’ and ‘Don’t Stop me Now’ in their first set. The first half finished with a terrific solo by Lee Ellery who is the ‘Special Ambassador’ for the charity. He sang ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ from ‘Les Miserables’ and received a deserved standing ovation at the end. The Rock Choir started the second half with Justin Timberlake’s ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling’ followed by ‘Only You’. Their performance is always very lively and are well directed by Dan Rogers, who’s enthusiasm is affectious. They finished their second set with ‘Shut Up and Dance with Me’. We finished the concert with our second set, and we started with our ‘Abba Medley’. It was great to see our previous MD, Simon Oram, in the audience, who arranged this medley for the choir. We sang a number of our favourites and finished with ‘An American Trilogy’ to a standing ovation from the packed audience. This was possibly Nick’s last concert and it was a fitting end to all his hard work over the past 13 years. Special thanks must go to the sponsors of the concert Swansea Building Society, Liberty Homes, Designer Outdoor Lighting, RDM Electrical and Mechanical Services, and Morganstone. Also, to our Ladies Committee who looked after ‘front of house’ and CD sales. Lastly to our fundraising committee who put the concert together. Following the concert, we all adjourned to the West Cross Inn, arranged by Meirion Howells, and they provided a lovely buffet for us.

Nick Rogers, our outstanding MD for the past 14 years, had announced that he would be standing down after the concert at the end of February.  Nick is staying with the choir and has joined the second bass
section.


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