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Latest ‘On Song’ column from Carmarthen Journal and Llanelli Star

Robert Lloyd PR, Media and Marketing Consultancy Blog posts Latest ‘On Song’ column from Carmarthen Journal and Llanelli Star
Robert Lloyd

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Latest ‘On Song’ column from Carmarthen Journal and Llanelli Star

Posted By Robert Lloyd

Côr Meibion Llanelli Male Voice Choir have announced the date for their popular Christmas concert.

‘Christmas With The Choir’ will be held at 7pm on Saturday, December 1, at Ffwrnes Theatre, Llanelli.

The choir’s special guests will be Burry Port Town Band and the St John Lloyd School Choir.

Choir chairman Tony Crossman said: “It seems strange to be thinking about Christmas while we are still basking in our summer heatwave.

“But we believe in planning ahead – and, believe it or not, there are only 20 weeks to go until Christmas!

“So, we are giving everyone a very early ‘heads-up’ on the Christmas concert date as we know tickets for our festive special always go well and many people will want to book their seats early.”

The Burry Port Town Band has a long and very successful association with Côr Meibion Llanelli.

The band has a long and colourful past, with the first historical mention of the band, originally named the Elliots Smelting Works Band, found in 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.

Sadly, just before the outbreak of the Second World War, 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. 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. Finally, in 2000, the band was promoted to the elite Championship Section.

Since 2001, the band has six times claimed the title of “Welsh League Champion Band of Wales”, four times won the National Eisteddfod of Wales, and three 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, while 2015 saw the band’s first victory at the Welsh Open Entertainment Championship at the Grand Pavilion, Porthcawl.

True to form, the band have enjoyed a successful start to 2018 by 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 in September.

The band remain very active on the concert stage and in recent years have enjoyed performing alongside Paul Potts, John Owen Jones, Richard Allen, Timothy Richards, Lleisiau’r Cwm, Cor Curiad, Twrw Tawe, The Tenovus Cancer Care Swansea Sing With Us Choir, Cor Aelwyd y Waun Ddyfal and former S4C Cor Cymru Champions, Parti Llwchwr.

The band has a new conductor in Gareth Robinson, who took up the baton in the spring.

It was back in 2000 that Gareth began his comprehensive school education at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun and it was soon after that his trombone career began. Under the tuition of Wyndham Williams, Gareth joined Treherbert Junior Band and later became a founder member of the Upper Rhondda Brass Band, competing at local competitions in the Fourth Section.

Around this time, he regularly entered and won solo competitions around the UK including the Welsh Open Solo Championships in 2005 and was placed 2nd at the Urdd Eisteddfod.

Gareth became the first musician to perform with the National Youth Brass Band, Orchestra, Wind Orchestra, Jazz Orchestra and Symphonic Brass ensemble in the same year and toured countries such as Canada, Luxembourg and Italy with these ensembles.

In September 2011, Gareth graduated from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama with a first class honours degree having received lessons from Donal Bannister (Principal Trombone of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales) and Kevin Price (Ex Principal Trombone of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra) as well as performing in masterclasses with visiting artists such as Wycliffe Gordon, Bones Apart, Don Lucas, Chris Houlding and Christian Lindberg.

Gareth played for a number of years with Tongwynlais, Flowers (then Polysteel) and Tredegar brass bands before joining the Cory Band in June 2009 under the baton of Dr Robert Childs.

Gareth was part of the band which won the World Championships and the British Open Brass Band Championships that same year.

As well as enjoying tours to Australia in 2013 and America in 2016, Gareth has also performed in many of Europe’s most famous concert halls with the number one ranked band in the world.

During his time at Cory, Gareth was a member of the band that won numerous titles and accolades including: The British Open (2009, 2011 and 2016), The National Brass Band Championships (2013, 2015 and 2016), The European Brass Band Championships (2010, 2013 and 2016), Brass in Concert Championships (2012, 2013, 2015 and 2016) and Band Cymru (2014).

Gareth is currently a primary school teacher at a Welsh medium school in Caerphilly and earlier this year decided it was time to relinquish his position with the Cory Band to concentrate on his teaching career and to take on some new and exciting ventures.

Gareth made his conducting debut with Burry Port Town Band at the SEWBBA Spring Championship in April this year where the band claimed Second Prize in the First Section Contest.

Côr Meibion Llanelli, meanwhile, are using their summer break to plan for a major recruitment drive in the autumn.

Chairman Mr Crossman said: “Just like many of the larger male voice choirs in Wales, we are always looking for new members to strengthen our ranks.

“This is a great time for people to think about joining a male voice choir. The camaraderie in a choir is something special and it’s been proven that singing in a choir gives you health benefits – improved breathing, a more active, challenging and stimulating lifestyle. It keeps the mind active and singing is good for the soul.

“So, if there is anyone out there thinking of joining a male voice choir, then please get in touch.

“We begin rehearsals after the summer break in September and anyone interested can pop along to our sessions at Furnace Community Hall at 7pm on Mondays and Thursdays.”

Mr Crossman added: “Now is a great time to join as we have a couple of away trips planned. The choristers are great ambassadors and always look forward to spreading the singing gospel to other parts of the country.

“On Saturday, September 22, the choir will travel to Brailes on the Warwickshire/Oxfordshire border.

“And, at the end of October and the start of November, the choristers will be embarking on a mini tour of the Isle of Wight.”

In other news, a brand new musical will premiere in Llanelli this week.

Age of the Geek is being staged at Llanelli’s Selwyn Samuel Centre from Thursday, August 9, to Saturday, August 11.

Age of the Geek is based on the book and lyrics by Elliot Alldridge, with music by Ryan Mellish.

The story goes like this –

Zack is an unpopular schoolboy, with braces, spots and asthma . . . but he’s also very dead!

Zack’s body was found in the park next to a suicide note, but things don’t add up.

Eli, an enthusiastic young journalist gets hold of the story and won’t let go until she finds the truth.

She goes undercover at the school where she meets Zack’s best friend Leo, a geek who lives at the bottom of the social food chain and someone who is struggling to survive without Zack.

Everyone is a suspect as Eli and Leo fight to find Zack’s murderer in Age of the Geek, a musical filled with laughter, emotion and mystery.

The tale follows the two heroes as they unravel the story of the untimely death of a teenage boy and find out which is more dangerous – hunting a killer or being a geek in school.

Tickets are £10 (£7 for students) and are available from www.ticketsource.co.uk or via the Selwyn Samuel Centre.

In September, at Ffwrnes Theatre, the famous Llanelli-based Academy Amateur Company will celebrate 35 years of performing great musicals.

They will be staging ‘Thank you for the Memories’ at Ffwrnes on Saturday, September 8.

This special celebratory concert will feature songs from their favourite productions over the years, promising a musical journey down memory lane that will leave you singing all the way home.

There will be songs from shows such as Singin’ In The Rain, Guys And Dolls, Anything Goes, The Full Monty and Jesus Christ Superstar.

Looking further ahead, to October, one of Carmarthenshire’s finest will be returning ‘home’ for two special concerts.

John Owen-Jones is a Burry Port boy who has gone on to be an award-winning West End and Broadway star.

He will play Ffwrnes Theatre, Llanelli, on Wednesday, October 3 and the Lyric Theatre, Carmarthen, on Sunday, October 7.

In October, Carmarthen will also see another big name singer roll into town.

Russell Watson will be performing his new show, Canzoni d’Amore, at the Lyric on October 19.

Having sold more than seven million albums worldwide, Russell Watson is firmly established as the UK’s best-selling classical crossover artist of all time.

To date, his illustrious career has included performances for Her Majesty The Queen, The Pope and two US Presidents.


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 rlloydpr@btinternet.com

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