This web site promised you a fabulous evening of Welsh Male Choir singing at its very best and those who were privileged to be at our Gala Concert on September 8th were not disappointed in listening to two of Wales’ finest male choirs.
Caldicot Male Voice Choir was delighted when Bridgend Male Choir accepted our invitation to join with us in a festival of music and together we provided examples, with a diversity of repertoire, style and virtuosity delivered with consummate singing skill by both choirs to delight and entertain an enthralled audience.
Compère Huw Edwards, former MP for Monmouth introduced very welcome and special guests John Griffiths AM, Welsh Assembly Minister for the Environment, Jessica Morden MP for Newport East and Councillor John Higginson, Mayor of Caldicot together with Councillors David Evans and Pauline Watts, all being long and loyal supporters of our choir. Following further introductions of Caldicot Choir’s music team, Siân, Shirley Ann, Steve and John, Caldicot opened the evening by lifting the roof of the Leisure Centre with the rousing Welsh hymn Llanfair followed by a première performance of the beautiful melodic hymn He. There could not be a greater contrast than to follow this with the choir’s popular versions of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, African Trilogy (soloist Jason Dawe) and Alexander’s Ragtime Band.
Our guests, choristors of Bridgend Male Choir then took to the stage, led by their talented team of new Musical Director Rhiannon Williams-Hale and accompanist Laura Smith to give a wonderful rendition of a Welsh trilogy beginning with, in soft lilting tones, Gwahoddiad. The first half concluded with the contrasting melodies and harmonies encompassed in the classic Comrades in Arms.
Bridgend opened the second half to an expectant audience with a special programme of contrasting themes of American Trilogy, through the marching rhythm of En Route, beautiful love song The Rose, written by Amanda McBroom and first made famous in 1976 by Bette Midler and later West Life, the appealing Bring Him Home from the long running musical, Les Misérables and finally who amongst us will forget their lively, hand clapping, foot tapping performance of the Jewish wedding song Hava Nagila.
Caldicot roused the ghosts of the 18th century with Vivaldi’s Gloria, then reminding us perhaps of more romantic times with the Welsh love song, Lleucu Llwyd. For only the second time in its’ performance history, Siân took Freddie’s part and the choir proved beyond doubt that male voice choirs can sing anything, by rocking the hall with a fabulous, John Nicholson arranged version of Queen’s Somebody to Love expertly conducted by Shirley Ann. This brought the house down and Rhiannon commented later, astounded and full of admiration, that this was the highlight of the evening. The audience, expecting to be brought back to earth, were lifted even higher with Nessun Dorma and it’s tremendous tenor finish and then were reminded of the wonders of Wales by the choir’s final piece, O Gymru in which Tom Hole sung the solo second verse.
There can been no greater accolade for a Male Voice Choir than to receive a standing ovation from an audience except for one given spontaneously by another Welsh Male Voice Choir. When all of Bridgend Male Choir stood up to applaud us then there cannot have been a chorister amongst us who could not have felt more proud. ‘And choristers in Caldicot now a-bed will think themselves accursed they were not here’ to misquote Shakespeare.
As if this was not enough, both choirs combined with almost 150 voices to render those wonderful classic hymns, Deus Salutis (Llef), with its stirring Amens at the end, conducted by Rhiannon, followed by Morte Criste, ‘When I Survey the Wond’rous Cross, conducted by Siân. Truly ‘Singing Together!’ With their audience ears still ringing, deserving presentations and thanks to both Music teams and choirs were made by Caldicot’s President, Richard Evans and Chairman, Leon Jones. The audience can be left in no doubt that they were thoroughly entertained by two amazing choirs who both categorically demonstrated that Welsh Male Voice Choirs are continuing in the very best traditions of Wales.
Following the singing of the National Anthem, Hen Wlad fy Nhadau, both choirs retired to the Choir Hall for welcome refreshments and further examples of informal male voice singing in the afterglow. Very reluctantly, to calls of ‘The bus is waiting’, Bridgend Choir left with promises and hopes to return following a night to remember. We’ll look forward to it and ‘Diolch yn fawr’
Finally, congratulations to baritone David Hennesey and tenor Spencer Dowse for surviving their baptism of fire in their first concerts. Well done both.
Photos by Coll