Photos by Colleen Gauntlett. Left click on images to enlarge.
Last Thursday 30th June the choir travelled down the M4 to Cardiff to sing at the beautiful St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Roath, Cardiff with the 1oo strong, mixed voices of the American Tapestry Choir. The M4 signs warned us of heavy traffic due to a concert and we thought we were going to sing to a packed house. We soon realised these were a warning for the Beyoncé concert on the same night at the Principality stadium. Never mind.
The Tapestry Choir consists of over 100 voices drawn from all over the USA who arrived in Ireland on 26th June. Although they have been preparing for this tour for several months, many met for the first time and rehearsals started almost as soon as they step off the planes. On their 12 day tour, organised by UK Travel Designers in conjunction with American based Harmony International, they had already performed in Dublin and were appearing with Caldicot Male Voice Choir in Cardiff before moving on to London, Normandy and Amsterdam. The choir is conducted by composers Joe Martin, Lloyd Larson and Nancy Price and features members of the incredible Manassas Chorale from Virginia, including their director Becky Verner. Their repertoire includes many popular and traditional choral pieces largely composed by Joe and Lloyd.
Caldicot Male Voice choir conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James, accompanied by Stephen Berry and John Nicholson opened proceedings with a selection of Welsh hymns including Rachie and Gwahoddiad interspersed with American musical pieces ‘The Lady is a Tramp’ and ‘Memories’ from the film of the same name and the popular ‘A Miner’s Song’ by Dan and Laura Curtis. This was followed by The Tapestry Choir giving superb vocal arrangements of gospel pieces and traditional spirituals including Beautiful Saviour, Bring Him Home, ‘Tis a gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free’ and ‘Praise the Lord’ a medley of compositions conducted by Lloyd Larson and a combination of Gabriel’s Oboe featuring Debbie MacDonald on flute before blending into the hymn ‘This is my Father’s World’.
The second half opened with the Tapestry choir giving once again fabulous musical arrangements of traditional American songs including ‘Down in the Valley to Pray’ as well as new compositions by Lloyd Larson and Nancy Price, who conducted her version of The 23rd Psalm and featured soprano soloist Sue Martin singing a delightful version of Pie Iesu. The Tapestry choir finalised with a roof-lifting ‘Summer version of Spirituals’ conducted by Joe Martin
The concert organisers deemed that all ticket sales at the door would be donated to the Choir’s 2016 charity appeal this year, the Motor Neurone Disease Association on behalf of whom an appeal was made by charity organiser Tannwen Saunders. Tannwen later announced that about £315 was raised for the charity.
Caldicot choir followed the Tapestry choir’s wonderful performances with items equally as entertaining and in particular ‘Ride the Chariot’ an American spiritual featuring soloist David Gould and Siân Hatton which was praised with yells of delight and a standing ovation from the Tapestry Choir and the audience. The rousing second presentation included the Welsh Hymn, Llef as well as The Impossible Dream from the musical Man from La Mancha and the romantic modern Welsh song ‘Yfory’ tomorrow. The Choir’s performance once again inspired the audience to a second standing ovation. The mix of items blended together perfectly to give the Americans a real taste of Welsh culture in glorious, inspiring surroundings
The invitation to sing with the American Tapestry Choir was triggered by Nancy Price the composer of the song ‘As long as I have music’. This piece was arranged by our own Stephen Berry for a four part male voice choir and was recorded by the choir on its 2010 album ‘One Moment in Time’, part of which is featured on our web site’s Recordings page. Knowing she was coming on tour to the UK with the Tapestry Choir, she particularly asked if we could join them in Cardiff so we could perform this song jointly with the male members of their choir. Although we had not sung this song for about four years, we, after a few run-throughs to remind us, were only too pleased to accept. After just one rehearsal we performed this as a climax to a wonderful evening’s entertainment and once again the choirs and audience were moved to give the accolade of yet a third standing ovation.
In a closing remarks Father George Puthoor from Kerala, India of St Peter’s Church will not mind me saying that he was moved to tears while praising both choirs for a remarkable and incredibly moving performance by both choirs. I’m sure both choirs and their musical teams will go along with that Father George.