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Choir Sings in Three Choirs Concert at the Castle

Photos by Colleen Gauntlett.  Left click to enlarge

 

It was unusually splendid, sunny afternoon in the grounds of Caldicot Castle on June 18th when three Male Voice Choirs from Monmouthshire took part in the Choirs in the Castle Concert to raise funds for the National Eisteddfod in Abergavenny in August.

Caldicot, Chepstow and Monmouth got together for the first time ever in their histories to take part in a fabulous concert of wonderful Welsh Male Voice singing to entertain a large crowd picnicking in the Castle grounds.

Opening with the classic Rachie, over 130 voices, conducted by Gareth Whitcombe and accompanied by Sara Humber of Blaenavon Male Voice Choir the audience were then entertained in turn by each choir.  Caldicot sang a mix of Llef, A Miner’s Song, What would I do without my music?, The Impossible Dream from the Braodway musical Man of La Mancha and finalising with the Welsh Hymn Aberystwyth conducted by Siân Hatton and Shirley Anne James and accompanied not only by John Nicholson and Stephen Berry but by a cacophony of the local birds enthusiastically joining in from the trees.

Chepstow’s seven items, conducted by Frank Jones and accompanied by Rosemarie Lewis and Kirsten Sondergest-Watson included the iconic ‘Calon Lan’ loved by so many choirs and audiences alike as well as This Little Light of Mine and Alexander’s Ragtime Band.

Monmouth Male Voice Choir has only been in existence for three years but gave a remarkable concert which included Divine Brahma, You Raise Me Up, Anfanol Angel and a medley of Welsh Hymns conducted by Ian Russell and accompanied by Helen Stidolph.

We were delighted to see guest artist Welsh tenor Wynne Evans again, who entertained us not only with Granada, O Sole Mio and later ‘With a Song in my Heart’ and together with the delightful compere Alex Jones from the BBC’s ‘One Show’ kept us amused with a humorous repartee and concise introductions throughout.  A highlight of the evening was when Wynne Evans surprisingly invited Gareth Whitcombe  to sing a part of the ‘Pearl Fisher’s Duet’ on stage.  Fortunately Gareth has a formal training as a singer.

The concert finalised with the choirs combining to give incredible renditions of An American Trilogy and the well known, beautiful hymn ‘Gwahoddiad’ and closing with a rousing rendition by everyone of ‘Hen wlad fy Nhadau’, the National Anthem.

This was a unique occasion, organised by Monmouthshire County Council events team with special thanks going to Dan Davies and Tim Lewis for all their hard work in putting this together.  Let’s hope we can do more joint events together.

 

 

Soaring Sounds Sent to St John

 

 


Press Release

 

A Look through the Viewfinder:

 

The magnificent Church of St. John the Evangelist, Maindee, escaped the devastation of a Luftwaffe land mine in nearby Kensington Place in 1941 only to suffer major destructive fire damage in 1949.  Many years of dedicated restoration work has resulted in a beautiful building which welcomed us on a freezing January Saturday night to help to raise Church funds.  The voices of about 60 choristers from Caldicot, controlled immaculately  by Siân, reached up into the furthest and deepest recesses of the high vaulted ceilings and down into the audience to warm their hearts with a wide variety of music from our varied and extensive repertoire.

 

 

 

Our opening number of the Cole Porter Medley (Another Opening, another Show!)  showed our versatility and variety of style, bringing the audience to the edge of its seats, in eager anticipation of what was to follow.  They weren’t disapointed!  The Choral renditions included a mixture of four Welsh songs, from romantic Myfanwy, Lleucu Lloyd and Yfory to the rousing Llanfair and then on to two pieces made famous by Elvis Presley, the quintessentially romantic ‘Can’t help falling in Love with You’  (arrangement by Stephen Berry) to the rebel rousing ‘American Trilogy’ made even more  memorably thrilling by the wonderful accompaniment on the Church organ.  The first half closed with our tremendous rendition of ‘Nidaros‘, all the more appropriate since the words tell of a Nun silently and despairingly praying out to St. John the Beloved Disciple and the conquest of Love over Anger and Good over Evil.  The resonant sound of our voices and the accompaniment of the fabulous organ in his own Church must have reached up to him in his Heavenly heights.

 

Guest Artistes for the evening were the husband and wife team of Joyce and Graham Rickards.  Well known locally for the charitable performances as ‘Music for You’ and their work with Cwmbran Operatic Society, and accompanied by our own Stephen Berry they delighted us all with glorious presentations of ‘Waltz in my Heart’, ‘Ol’ Man River’ from Showboat, ‘Bless this House’ , ‘Count Your Blessings’ and duets of ‘All I Ask of You’ from Phantom of the Opera and ‘Thanks Be to God’.  Many thanks to Joyce and Graham, friends of Caldicot Male Voice Choir for many years, for their support.

 

Following our haunting version of ‘Fields of Athenry’ (piano arrangement by John Nicholson), the concert appropriately finalised to the fabulous words of Isaac Watts’  ‘When I Survey the Wond’rous Cross‘ sung to the tremendous harmonies and musical cadences of  Morte Criste which again shook the highest reaches of this wonderful Church.

 

Many thanks to Siân for leading us so well in your own unique wayand to Steve and John for your superb accompaniments on both piano and organ.

 

Light refreshments were taken by the choir at the nearby Conservative Club, Maindee where we continued to entertain the local clientèle with rapturous and rousing renditions of our favourites.

 

Footnote:

 

Sadly, we’ve learned that Shirley Ann wasn’t at the concert due to the death of her father in law on Saturday morning.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to Shirley Ann, Gareth and their family at this distressing time.

 

 

Lyn

 

 

Photos by Lisa Hodge at the Church and Lyn

 

 

 

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