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.