Music lovers are spoilt for choice this weekend, with two big concerts taking place on Saturday night in West Wales.
Burry Port Town Band stage their annual summer concert (July 21) at the Memorial Hall in Burry Port, while Côr Meibion Dyffryn Tywi have their ‘annual’ down the road at the Princess Gwenllian Centre in Kidwelly.
Burry Port Town Band has a long and colourful past, with the first historical mention of the band, originally named the Elliots Smelting Works Band, dating back to 1896.
The band grew from this humble, industrial beginning and established itself as a community favourite, playing at local fetes and marches and raising money to support both itself and worthy causes.
One such worthy cause came at the turn of the century when the band organised a march for the destitute and unemployed of Kidwelly, which raised the princely sum of £8, a very worthy sum back in those days.
This, first, band had wider ambitions than the local stage, and during its first period the lifeblood for the band quickly became the contest stage. Indeed, a major highlight during this time was the band’s performance at the Crystal Palace in London.
Sadly, just before the outbreak of World War Two, the band’s fortunes took a turn for the worse and it disbanded.
Gone but not forgotten, decades later, in 1972, a group of local enthusiasts held a meeting with the aim of re-establishing the band.
Old instruments and a library of music were discovered, and these, together with some new purchases, a place to rehearse and a keen group of volunteers, sowed the seeds of the band’s renaissance.
The band continued to grow in terms of its level of performance throughout the 80s and 90s winning a host of prizes in 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st Sections and in 2000, the band was promoted to the elite Championship Section.
Since 2001, the band has six times claimed the title of “Champion Band of Wales”, four times won the National Eisteddfod of Wales and three times represented Wales at the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain at the Royal Albert Hall in London, competing against the country’s top 20 bands.
In 2005 the band also claimed victory in the British Open Senior Cup competition at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool, beating off the challenge of 20 other bands from across the United Kingdom.
In 2010, after 11 consecutive years competing as a Championship Section band, the band was relegated to the First Section.
However, following a sustained period of building, 2012 saw the band being promoted back to the Championship Section following their victory in the First Section at the Welsh Regional Championships.
That victory formed part of a purple patch of success between October 2011 and February 2015 which saw the band awarded 20 overall performance prizes, 14 “best instrumentalist” prizes and promotion to the British Open Grand Shield.
The band were delighted to start their 2015 campaign with a victory at the Welsh Open Entertainment Championship in February at the Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl.
In addition to competitions, the band also remain very active on the concert stage and in recent years have enjoyed performing alongside Paul Potts, John Owen Jones, Richard Allen, Timothy Richards, Côr Meibion Llanelli, Côr Lleisiau’r Cwm, Côr Curiad, Twrw Tawe, Côr Aelwyd y Waun Ddyfal, The Tenovus Cancer Care Swansea Sing With Us Choir and S4C Côr Cymru Champions Parti Llwchwr.
The band members are keen to ensure that future generations of young players enjoy the opportunity of playing a brass instrument without any financial pressure on their families.
To this end, they run, without any cost to the young brass and percussion players, a Junior Band which rehearses on a Thursday evening from 6pm to 7pm, again in the bandroom on Morlan Terrace, Burry Port.
At Saturday’s annual concert, the band’s special guests will be Tenovus Cancer Care Swansea Sing With Us Choir and the Burry Port Junior Band.
Curtain up is at 7pm on Saturday, July 21, with tickets £10, under 16s free.
The Burry Port Town Band will perform an entertaining programme featuring popular classics and music from the stage and screen.
They will also feature their Eisteddfod programme ahead of the Royal National Eisteddfod at the Wales Millennium Centre on Saturday, August 4.
It has been a successful year for Burry Port Town Band, reaching the semi-finals of S4C Band Cymru and again qualifying to represent Wales at the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain taking place on September.
The compere for the Burry Port concert will be Robert Lloyd.
On the same night, Côr Meibion Dyffryn Tywi have put together an exciting line-up for their annual concert on Saturday, July 21, at the Princess Gwenllian Centre in Kidwelly.
The evening will feature the popular North Wales act Piantel.
Piantel are pianist Annette Bryn Parry and harpist Dylan Cernyw. They are described as ‘a magical musical experience not to be missed!’
Annette Bryn Parri and Dylan Cernyw have been performing as soloists on piano and harp for many years.
In 2005, Annette and Dylan decided to combine their musical talents to form Piantel.
Both Annette and Dylan are extremely well known throughout the land for their individual style and performances, accompanying and performing alongside some of our biggest stars – Bryn Terfel, Katherine Jenkins, Hayley Westenra, Rhys Meirion, Shan Cothi and Gwyn Hughes Jones, to name just a few.
Between the two of them, they have recorded five solo albums with their record company Sain and three Piantel albums and they have both appeared on many more recordings as accompanists.
One of their most popular recordings is Un Enaid (One Soul).
Engagements have included recitals at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2005, 2006 and 2007 and performances alongside Hayley Westenra in June 2006 at Venue Cymru, The National Eisteddfod of Wales Pavilion on many occasions and The Royal Albert Hall in London.
As well as stage performances, they have appeared on many BBC broadcasting TV programmes as well as live radio shows.
The duo’s Scott Joplin Medley has become a signature Piantel piece and is often played at the end of a concert or recital much to the enjoyment of the audiences
Dylan Cernyw performs on a Lyon and Healy Silver Silhouette Electric Harp, a Salvi Aurora Harp, a Venus Paragon Gold Harp, Folk and late Erard Gothic Harps, depending on the occasion and recital mood.
Originally from Llandudno he now resides in Colwyn Bay. He was educated at Ysgol Y Creuddyn School in Llandudno and received tuition from many recognised harp tutors in Wales – Gwennant Pyrs, Dafydd Huw and Robin James Jones.
Dylan has won at the National Eisteddfod in 1989, 1991 and 1994 and was also a winner at the Cerdd Dant Festival in 1992.
Dylan is the resident Harpist for Bodnant Gardens in North Wales, The Imperial Hotel in Llandudno and at Plas Tan y Bwlch Maentwro – three very popular and award-winning venues.
A well-known concert entertainer in Wales and further afield, he has also travelled abroad, playing in France, Germany, Holland, Canada, Prague, Switzerland, Paris and Ireland as a harp soloist and accompanist.
Dylan has appeared in the 1,000 Voices Festival at the Royal Albert Hall where he was a guest soloist in 1997, and shared a platform with Soprano Rebecca Evans.
Dylan has also accompanied soprano singer Kathryn Jenkins and X Factor star Rhydian Roberts at concerts around the UK.
The Côr Meibion Dyffryn Tywi concert will also feature the much-acclaimed Tywi Valley musical duo, the husband and wife team of Aled Edwards and Eleri Owen Edwards.
They are already two of the most popular and successful singers in Wales.
Last year, Aled and Eleri launched a new CD of uplifting and inspirational duets, “Dau fel ni” (Two like us).
Home for Aled and Eleri is in Cilycwm, Llandovery, on a farm well-known for its pedigree herd of Limousin cattle.
Balancing a busy farming life in the picturesque Tywi Valley and their musical careers is now second nature to the couple.
“We love singing – and we love entertaining,” said Eleri.
The mezzo-soprano and baritone are both Blue Riband (David Ellis Memorial Prize) National Eisteddfod winners.
Aled triumphed at the National Eistedddfod held at Bala in 1997 and Eleri in 2013 at the National Eisteddfod at Denbigh.
They are the only married couple to have both gained the coveted Blue Riband.
Eleri is originally from the renowned cultural village of Llangernyw in the Conwy Valley.
A former bank manager in Conwy and a keen supporter of the local and national Eisteddfod throughout Wales, she now shares responsibility for the running of the family farm, while she also teaching children and youngsters to sing.
Aled’s development of the family’s prized herd of Limousin cattle is recognised internationally. Aled served a eight-year term as President of the International Limousin Congress.
The CD was recorded at the famous Acapela studio in South Wales, a venue made famous by harpist Catrin Finch and her husband.
Both Aled and Eleri have praise for their vocal coaches.
Aled has studied singing with Ken and Christine Reynolds, of Aberystwyth, and Eleri’s voice coach is the well-known composer and musician Brian Hughes, of Gresford. Brian has also composed two songs for the CD “Cariad Cyntaf” and “Mae’n Wir”.
The couple both started singing individually as children in chapels and village halls.
They have since travelled extensively as guest soloists to countries all over the world, particularly Europe and North America.
Further afield, Eleri was invited to Melbourne, Australia as guest soloist at the St David’s Day celebrations in 2014
The compere for the Côr Meibion Dyffryn Tywi concert will be Eirian Wyn, the celebrated Welsh wit and raconteur who is a Baptist Minister in Morriston and Chaplain to Swansea City AFC Academy.
Robert Lloyd works as a media consultant – www.rlloydpr.co.uk
If you have any news about the choral scene in Llanelli, the please contact him on 07777 683637 or email firstname.lastname@example.org