There’s a concert with a difference coming up in the Gwendraeth Valley next month (November).
It will manage to combine the launch of a book about a modern-day Welsh hero with a musical evening showcasing some of our finest singers.
A new book, called ‘The Stories of Grav’ and compiled and edited by the celebrated tenor Rhys Meirion, is to be launched on Friday, November 9, in Pontyberem Hall.
The Welsh language version of the book, called ‘Storis Grav’ was published last month.
The subject of the book is, of course, Ray Gravell, the legendary Welsh rugby player, broadcaster and actor.
Ray, who played 23 times for Wales, had a long career with the Llanelli Scarlets and captained the club between 1980-1982. He was a member of the British and Irish Lions team that toured South Africa in 1980.
‘Grav’, as he was affectionately known, died suddenly on October 31, 2007 – 35 years to the day when Llanelli chalked up that historic 9-3 victory over the All Blacks at Stradey Park.
After retirement from the game of rugby, Ray concentrated on a broadcasting career and numerous acting roles.
His genial and exuberant personality endeared him to a wide-ranging audience, not only in Wales but beyond as well.
He was a member of the National Eisteddfod’s Gorsedd of Bards and was entrusted with the safe keeping and the carrying of the bardic sword.
His untimely death left a chasm in Wales, but the memories of his larger-than-life personality live on.
They have found a suitable home in the new book by one of his friends, Rhys Meirion.
The singer has faithfully recorded stories about Ray, as told by friends and acquaintances.
The book is also being recorded by Llyfrau Llafar Cymru / Talking Books Wales for people who need the audiobook experience.
After the book launch, Rhys Meirion will be the star player in a concert at Pontberem Hall, starting at 7pm.
The concert will also feature Elin Fflur, Aled Wyn Davies and Theatr Ieuenctid Menter Cwm Gwendraeth Elli.
Rhys Meirion probably needs no introduction to West Wales concert audiences. He is a member of The Three Welsh Tenors.
He has enjoyed international success in opera and recording and national success in broadcasting.
After two years on the Opera Course at The Guild Hall of Music and Drama in London, he joined the English National Opera Jerwood Young Singers Programme and was subsequently a Company Principal before becoming a freelance performer.
His roles include Rodolfo in La Boheme, Pinkerton in Madam Butterfly, Alfredo in La Traviata, Nemorino in L’Elisir d’Amore, Nadir in The Pearl Fishers, Marcello in Leoncavallo’s La Boheme, Duke in Rigoletto, Tebaldo in Capuletti e Montecchi, Tamino in The Magic Flute, Ernani, Sailor in Tristan und Isolde, Faust, Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Rinuccio in Gianni Schicchi, Italian Singer in Der Rosenkavalier, Froh in Das Rheingold, Zinovy in Lady Macbeth of Mtzensk and more.
Concert highlights include The Karl Jenkins 70th Birthday Celebrations Concert at The Carnegie Hall New York, a gala concert at the Royal Albert Hall with Bryn Terfel, his BBC Prom debut at the opening night of the BBC Proms (televised on BBC 2), Desert Island Discs Anniversary Concert at London’s Royal Festival Hall, a live BBC recording of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony conducted by Richard Hickox, and Verdi’s Requiem at the Royal Albert Hall .
Rhys has an extensive catalogue of recording work, including a duet album with Bryn Terfel (‘Benedictus on the SAIN label’) which was nominated for a Classical Brit Award.
He has also released two albums for the Australian label Stanza AV (‘Bluebird of Happiness and Awesome Wonder’), and four solo CD recordings for the SAIN label, the most recent being Llefarodd yr Haul. He has also released two albums with The Three Welsh Tenors.
Rhys was a regular presenter on the television programme Dechrau Canu Dechrau Canmol for S4C and had his own radio show on Sunday mornings on BBC Radio Cymru. He has also performed on BBC’s Songs of Praise on numerous occasions.
He had two hugely successful series of “Deuawdau Rhys Meirion” (Rhys Meirion’s Duets) on Welsh TV Channel S4C in 2016 and 2017 and presented a series called “Dewch am Dro” on BBC Radio Cymru. He has been an adjudicator for the Bryn Terfel Scholarship as well as many competitions in the Urdd and National Eisteddfods.
His charity work has included three 200-mile walks to support the Wales Air Ambulance for whom he is an ambassador.
His autobiography for Welsh Publishers Y Lolfa was published in 2014 and became the No 1 Best selling book in Wales.
Elin Fflur (or to use her proper name, Elin Fflur Llewelyn Jones) sprang to prominence when she won the Cân i Gymru (Song for Wales) contest in 2002.
Fflur’s musical roots began with her mother Nest Llewelyn Jones (née Howells), who was the lead vocalist of popular Welsh-folk band Bran in their early, prog-rock releases.
Just as Fflur would do 24 years later, Bran became known for winning Cân i Gymru in 1978.
Fflur also took inspiration from her father’s favourite artists, who included Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and her personal favourite, Janis Ian.
Fflur began taking part in local Eisteddfodau from the age of three and became a familiar name in National Eisteddfodau thereafter.
Fflur had success in the bands Carlotta (with her brother Ioan) and Y Moniars.
Fflur has also worked as a presenter on S4C, the Welsh-language television channel.
Aled Wyn Davies is a classical tenor from Llanbrynmair, in Powys, Mid Wales. He is a member of the Three Welsh Tenors with Rhys Meirion and Aled Hall.
Aled Wyn has performed in venues all over the world.
He was awarded the prestigious “David Ellis Memorial Prize” – The Blue Riband awarded to the best classical soloist at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in Swansea in 2006 following a hat-trick of wins in the tenor solo over 25 in 2004, 2005 and 2006.
Concerts include tours to New Zealand and Australia in 2003, Y Wladfa, Patagonia, Argentina, in 2007, Los Angeles, United States in 2003 and 2004, and Saint David’s Day concerts in Johannesburg, South Africa in March, 2008.
In August, 2008 he travelled to Chicago, USA as a guest soloist at the North American Festival of Wales.
In February, 2015 he was invited to sing the Pearl Fishers duet with Bryn Terfel in a celebratory concert in Machynlleth.
He has shared the stage with many other established international performers including the Froncysyllte Male Voice Choir; Rebecca Evans; Gwyn Hughes Jones; Jonathan Lemalu; David Kempster; Shan Cothi and actor, William Roache.
The Pontyberem concert is being sponsored by Castell Howell, the Carmarthen and Cross Hands-based food business.
Tickets for the concert are £15 and £5 for children.
Ticket outlets include:
Neuadd Pontyberem 01269871075
Menter Cwm Gwendraeth Elli 01269871600
Swyddfa Llyfrau Llafar Cymru 01267238225
Siop y Pentan Caerfyrddin 01267235044
In other news, this year’s Night with the Stars event in Llanelli celebrates the fifth anniversary of LARS – Loud Applause Rising Stars.
The evening features 10 talented singers from the Loud Applause stable and top choirs The Richard Williams Singers from Tonyrefail, Côr Y Cwm from the Rhondda, Callum Howells and Friends from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff, trombonist Rhodri Thomas from Llanelli and compère Garry Owen.
The Rising Stars performing will include: Callum Howells, Stephen Davies, Nia Rees, Osian Clarke, Lauren Fisher, Keely Morgan, Neve Summers, Jack Owens, Daisy Owens and Sydney Richards.
The concert is at Ffwrnes Theatre, Llanelli, on November 10 (7pm).
Meanwhile, Loud Applause Productions is once again supporting the Royal British Legion in their Charity Gala Concert at the Lyric Theatre in Carmarthen on October 27 (7pm).
This year, 2018, is a significant year for our Armed Forces, marking the centenary of the end of The Great War and also commemorating 100 years of the Royal Air Force.
This prestigious annual Royal British Legion Concert has become one of the landmark events in the calendar of South West Wales, providing a platform for the Royal British Legion to pay tribute to the fallen of current and past conflicts.
The event helps the Royal British Legion launch the Poppy Appeal in South West Wales.
The concert features one of our leading sopranos, Shân Cothi, the popular broadcaster.
It also features one of Wales’ premier choirs, Dunvant Male Choir, the highly popular Carmarthen based mixed youth Côr Seingar, the stirring sounds of the City of Swansea Pipe Band and the unforgettable Corps of Drums of the 215 City of Swansea Squadron.
The compére will be Brian Sullivan and the guest accompanist will be Jeffrey Howard.
The evening ends with the poignant Tribute to the Fallen and a Service of Remembrance.
On Saturday, October 20, at 3pm, Crwbin Silver Band will be taking part in a Parade and Service in Llanarthne for the statue unveiling of World War Two hero DT Davies.
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.
This week, Carmarthen will see a 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.
Côr Meibion Llanelli Male Voice Choir members are looking forward to Christmas.
‘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.
The West End at Christmas
Also in December, The West End At Christmas returns to The Lyric theatre with their brand new concert for 2018!
Stars from the West End present a magical evening of entertainment featuring hits from the musicals and the best of Christmas songs. The talented cast have starred in many West End productions and national tours including Les Miserables, We Will Rock You, South Pacific, Singing in the Rain, Starlight Express, Phantom Of The Opera, Wicked, Godspell, Joseph and Cats . . . to name but a few!
The West End At Christmas will at The Lyric on December 18.
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 email@example.com