Left click on images to enlarge. Many Thanks to Martin Routh and Lyn for photos.
Through the picturesque, Wye Valley villages of Itton, Devauden and Trelleck, more than 50 choristers and the Musical Team made their way to Catbrook Memorial Hall, perched high on the wooded slopes above the River Wye. As we travelled on the coach through pitch black, narrow, winding country lanes, choristers were heard flexing their vocal chords like seventy year old teenagers, with cries of ‘Where the’ ell are we; never been this way before; are we there yet? Pity it was dark and we couldn’t enjoy the views, but nevertheless we always get a wonderful welcome at this venue.
Supporting some 80 seated villagers and following introductions by Jeremy Creasy, the capacity filled hall resounded to a stimulating, varied and entertaining programme of our favourites including the rousing Welsh hymn, Llanfair, (this always makes the audience sit up), the theme song of the animated Don Bluth 1986 film An American Tail, composed by James Horner, words by Barry Mann, Somewhere Out There, a Cole Porter medley including appropriately Another Opening, Another Show and the romantic Welsh melody, Lleucu Llwyd. These were followed by the equally romantic theme from the Lion King, Can You Feel the Love Tonight beautifullysung by the Choir’s Musical Director Siân Hatton, accompanied by the Choir. Continuing the romantic theme, close to Valentine’s Day, a favourite of the Choir. Yfory, tells of a Welshman’s longing to meet up once more with his loved one, Tomorrow. Once sung, probably inapropriately, by the Choir in a Funeral Parlour in Bargoed, the choir included a song made famous by Westlife, You Raise Me Up. Interspersed into the programme were the melodic lullaby by Wilfred Shaw, ‘An Evening’s Pastoral’ first sung by the choir soon after its foundation in 1963, and the moving hymn, originally written by J Richards and sung to a special arrangement by Stephen Berry, ‘He’. A change of mood was introduced by the foot tapping Alexander’s Rag time Band to close the first part of the performance. Tribute must also be paid for their outstanding contributions to the evening; Assistant Musical Director, Shirley Anne James and our two talented accompanists, Stephen Berry and John Nicholson, without whom none of our concerts would be possible.
Following suitable refreshment and a chance to join up with old friends, the choir lifted the audience to its feet with it’s unique choral rendition of Queen’s Somebody to Love in which, backed by the choir, Siân once again demonstrated her versatility by emulating Freddie Mercury as the soloist. The Choir’s varied repertoire was once again demonstrated by the inclusion of African Trilogy, which contains a song sung by African rail and road workers, Shosholoza, the spiritual We are Marching and the South African National Anthem ‘Nkosi Sikeleli, Afrika’ including soloist Jason Dawe. The wish of all choirs, May You Always Have a Song was included and it is always a delight to include ‘O Gymru’ extolling the virtues of Wales, in which Tommy Hole nervelessly, sang the solo verse.
While this is a small venue in our concentrated 50th Anniversary programme, it remains a pleasure for us to entertain small, local communities in this way, especially when we get such a warm and enthusiastic welcome. We believe that it brings the joys of Welsh Male Voice singing to an audience who may not otherwise have the opportunity to experience this uniquely wonderful aspect of Welsh culture. The fact that such events help to raise funds to support village activities and local charities, brings added delight. We have been made welcome at Catbrook many times in the past and we are sure to continue this traditional bi-annual concert.
Following, probably our longest ever ‘Afterglow’, in which the villagers enjoyed over 2 hours of unaccompanied, informal choral singing, the Choir left our friends, Catbrook and the Wye Valley, still echoing down its wooded slopes, to the Rock sounds of Find Me Somebody to Love. Hope we didn’t cause any landslides onto the Tintern Road!