Review: Côr Meibion Llanelli Gethin Hughes Annual Memorial Bursary Award at Ffwrnes Theatre, Llanelli.
Gethin Hughes would have loved every minute of it!
An evening which put the spotlight on young up-and-coming singers fitted perfectly with Gethin’s musical philosophy.
The much-missed pianist and organist, who was known as Llanelli’s ‘Mr Music’, would have been overjoyed to see such a wealth of talent on show.
As the evening came to a climax with the classic Superstar medley from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar, the audience was able to reflect on the fact they had seen six ‘stars’ of the future.
The winner of the £750 Gethin Hughes Memorial Bursary prize was 15-year-old Ysgol y Strade pupil Lauren Fisher.
She was the final contestant to take the stage at Ffwrnes (the running order having been picked independently to give the singers a level playing field).
And Lauren took full advantage of her prime position to show her dazzling vocal range on Maybe I Like it This Way from Andrew Lippa’s musical The Wild Party.
That had the crowd whooping and hollering, but there was more, much more to come.
Her second song was a true show-stopper, the classic And I’m Telling You – the belter made famous by Jennifer Hudson in the musical film Dreamgirls.
It was, literally, breathless stuff.
Lauren, who won the Llanelli Rotary Club Young Musician of the Year competition earlier this year, was delighted at the win as she received her cash prize and certificate from Côr Meibion Llanelli’s musical director Mr D Eifion Thomas.
The competition was of the highest standard, giving the three judges – Meinir Richards, D Huw Rees and Allan Fewster MBE – a very difficult task.
The other five competitors and their chosen songs were –
Osian Clarke, who sang O Del Mio Dolce Ardor and Stars, from Les Miserables.
Neve Summers, Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man and Handel’s Lascia ch’io Pianga.
Daisy Owens, I’m a Star and Morricone’s Nella Fantasia.
Jack Owens, Run Away With Me and Sychwn Ddagrau.
Joseph Cavalli-Price, Handel’s Total Eclipe and Schumann’s The Lotus Flower.
All six contestants were members of Loud Applause Rising Stars, the charitable group which works hard to nurture young musical talent in South Wales.
Côr Meibion Llanelli kept the evening moving along in their own supremely entertaining style, filling in the programme around the main Gethin Hughes Bursary competition and during the judging process.
They opened the first half with Cri Yn Y Nos, Y Fedwen Arian and the very technical Baba Yetu.
Côr Meibion Llanelli closed the first half with an Elvis Presley tribute – Return to Sender, Peace In The Valley (featuring soloist David Williams) and American Trilogy.
Half-time saw the choir recognise two of its longest-serving choristers, John Davies and Denzil James, who were presented with commemorative badges to mark, respectively, 25 and 50 years with Côr Meibion Llanelli.
The choir resumed the second half with Nikosi Sikele Le’I Africa before the competition returned for its conclusion.
As the judges left the auditorium to deliberate, the choir continued to entertain with The Fields of Athenry (featuring debut soloist Aan Owen), Oh Danny Boy, Wade In The Water and A-men.
The grand finale of Lloyd Webber’s Superstar was entirely appropriate.
The choir’s accompanist throughout was Aled Maddock, while all six of the Gethin Hughes bursary competitors were accompanied on the piano by Jeffrey Howard.
Special mention goes to Catrin Hughes and Cerith Owens of Loud Applause for their help in preparing the contestants and their work back-stage.
The joint comperes for the evening were Richard Christopher (Gethin’s second cousin) and Robert Lloyd.
Lauren Fisher with D Eifion Thomas and Richard Christopher of the Gethin Hughes Memorial Bursary Fund.