They say ‘West is Best’ and Côr Meibion Pontarddulais Male Voice Choir have certainly proved that with a record-breaking win at the Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales at Cardiff.
The ‘Bont’ choir took the Blue Riband prize for large male voice choirs for the 17thtime.
If you want to hear what all the fuss is about, then the choir has three upcoming concerts –
- Friday 21 September, St. Agnes Church, Port Talbot.
- Saturday 6 October, Crwys Chapel, Three Crosses.
- Saturday 27 October, Coventry Cathedral.
It is worth taking the achievement as the trigger to reflect on the choir’s proud history and their achievements.
Their Royal National Eisteddfod wins came in the following years –
1963 Llandudno, 1965 Newtown, 1968 Barry, 1970 Ammanford, 1972 Haverfordwest, 1974 Carmarthen, 1976 Cardigan, 1978 Cardiff, 1981 Machynlleth, 1982 Swansea, 1994 Neath, 2003 Welshpool, 2004 Newport (also awarded Côr yr Wŷl (Choir of the Festival)), 2006 Swansea (also awarded Côr yr Wŷl), 2008 Cardiff and 2014 Llanelli.
The choir’s early achievements can be firmly attributed to the legendary musical director Noel Davies, who held the baton at the choir from 1960 to 2002.
Clive Phillips, who was the choir’s accompanist, became a worthy successor as musical director when Noel Davies retired.
He continued with the principles established by his predecessor in emphasising a new diversity in the repertoire, ranging from the light in nature to contemporary classical music.
Other key values for the choir are the importance of singing in the Welsh language (as well as other languages) and an unequivocal commitment to the principle of competition.
The choir continues to welcome new members of all ages, and if you are interested in joining, the first step would be to attend one of the twice weekly rehearsals at the Primary School, James Street, Pontarddulais, on Mondays and Wednesdays between 7 and 9pm (except August or bank holidays).
Musical director Clive Phillips is worthy of special mention for his leadership of the choir.
A native of Murton, Gower, Clive John Phillips was born in 1959 and educated at Bishopston Primary and Gowerton Comprehensive schools.
He received music tuition from Professor John Edmunds LRAM, Brenda Llewellyn LRAM ARCM (Piano) and John Morgan Davies LWCMD FTCL LRAM ARCM (Organ).
Clive was first appointed as an accompanist to a local choir at the age of 12 and in 1977 became the accompanist and deputy conductor to Côr Meibion Llanelli Male Voice Choir, a position he held until he became the Musical Director of Aberavon Male Choir in February, 1983.
Following a short period as Associate Musical Director of the Dunvant choir, Clive was appointed the Musical Director of Burry Port Male Voice Choir, where he remained until he was invited by Noel Davies MBE JP, to become the accompanist of Pontarddulais Male Choir, a position he held from 1991 to 2002, when he was appointed Musical Director.
He was, for a number of years the Musical Director of the Black Mountain Chorus of Wales and a founder Musical Director of Llanelli Musical Players.
Clive has conducted concerts at many venues throughout the United Kingdom including The Royal Albert Hall, London, Chelmsford Town Hall, Oxford Town Hall, Lincoln Cathedral and Winchester Cathedral.
He has also conducted massed male choirs at the Richard Burton Memorial Concert, and the opening concert at the 2006 Swansea National Eisteddfod.
He also had the honour of conducting in concert a number of the famous military bands, including The Royal Marines, The Scots Guards, The Coldstream Guards and The Welsh Guards.
As an organist he has made more than 30 recordings with various choirs and has played at many venues including The Royal Albert Hall, The Royal Festival Hall, Central Hall Westminster, Coventry Cathedral, Birmingham Town Hall, St David’s Hall Cardiff and the Brangwyn Hall Swansea.
He has given organ recitals at various churches in the Swansea and Llanelli areas.
Clive was organist at the 1980 National Gymanfa Ganu of North America when it was held in Vancouver.
His pursuits as a solo accompanist have seen him accompanying many world famous singers, including Delme Bryn Jones, Bryn Terfel, Rebecca Evans and more recently Sir Willard White, Jason Howard, Alfie Boe and Elin Manahan Thomas.
He also accompanied the distinguished astronomer Patrick Moore, who was performing his own xylophone music at a concert at the Royal Albert Hall.
Clive is currently the organist at Tabernacle Chapel, Mumbles.
Clive is deputy muscial director to Haydn James at the WRU, leading the singing before numerous rugby matches at the Principality national stadium, with the ‘Bont’ and with many other male and mixed voice choirs.
In 2017, Clive received a well-deserved award from the Gowertonian Society for outstanding service to the community, namely for all his work with music and choirs in the area.
In other news, Côr Meibion Dinefwr Male Voice Choir will be holding their annual concert at Capel Newydd, Llandeilo, on Saturday, October 27 (7.30pm).
The special guests will be Côr Meibion Llandybie Male Voice Choir.
The conductor will be John Williams, the accompanist will be Sara Morgan and the chairman for the evening will be Eifion Davies.
Other special guests include tenor Osian Wyn Bowen, soloist Martha Harries and accompanist Gareth Wyn Thomas.
Admission is £8 and £3 for children and students.
Proceeds will go towards the choir’s funds.
Carmarthen baritone Mark Llewelyn Evans will be hosting ‘An Afternoon of Music at The Orangery’ at Margam Park on Sunday, September 2.
The event will feature the young up-and-coming members of the Llanelli-based Loud Applause Rising Stars group.
Youngsters performing at the Orangery will include Callum Howells, Lauren Fisher, Neve Summers, Jack Owens, Sydney Richards, Thomas Bytheway, Daisy Owens and Osian Clarke.
The special guests will be violin virtuoso Charlie Lovell-Jones and the Kenfig Hill youth choir Crescendo.
The concert starts at 3pm.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org