It’s time for one of the highlights of the West Wales concert calendar – Côr Meibion Llanelli Male Voice Choir’s annual festive special.
‘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.
“It promises to be a very special evening,’ said Côr Meibion Llanelli chairman Tony Crossman.
“It’s been another busy year for the choir and the Christmas concert is regarded as our grand finale for 2018.
“The choristers are in fine voice and we are looking forward to being joined on stage by our guests.”
Côr Meibion Llanelli probably need no introduction for followers of the concert scene in West Wales.
It would take a fairly hefty book to summarise the achievements of the choir over a history spanning 54 years.
But there are some keynote events . . .
Côr Meibion Llanelli was formed in the village of Bynea under the baton of the late Denver Phillips BA. in 1964.
The choir’s longest-serving music director is the present holder of the baton, D Eifion Thomas, who has helped the choir grow in stature and strength to become one of the leading male choirs in Britain.
They have been successful at all the major choral competitions that Wales has to offer. The honours list includes five National Eisteddfod first prizes – at Lampeter in 1984, Fishguard in 1986, Llandeilo in 1996, Bridgend in 1998 and Llanelli in 2000.
The roll-call of wins also records seven firsts at the Miners Eisteddfod at Porthcawl, six firsts at Cardigan and three Pontrhydfendigaid Eisteddfodau. The choir was successful in winning the Corwen Choral Competition at its first attempt in 1987.
The Llanelli Male Choir has graced many leading auditoriums and concert halls in the land – London’s Royal Albert Hall and Festival Hall, Birmingham’s Town and Symphony Halls, Oxford Town Hall, Plymouth’s Guild Hall, The MacRoberts Centre at Stirling, as well as Cardiff’s St David’s Hall and Swansea’s Brangwyn Hall.
Cathedrals have also featured high on the choir’s touring list – Coventry, Bury St Edmunds, Wells, Brecon, Gloucester, St David’s and Llandaff cathedrals have been concert venues, as well as Westminster Abbey.
The choir has travelled extensively throughout the world – Germany, Canada, USA. France, Ireland, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand. The choristers have raised thousands of pounds for charities such as Cancer and Leukaemia Research, The Red Cross, Heart Foundation and Tenovus as well as local charities and school groups. The choir’s future is secure and their motto of “Ymlaen Llanelli” will surely hold the choristers in good stead for another 50 years! The choir rehearses twice weekly on Monday and Thursday evenings at Furnace Community Hall, 7pm start. Visitors and new members are welcome.
This year, the choir’s musical director, D Eifion Thomas, has celebrated 43 years as Music Director of Côr Meibion Llanelli, having initially served as Accompanist to the Choir from 1965 until 1974 under the direction of founder-conductor Denver Phillips.
Mr Thomas has had the honour also of conducting the North American Welsh Societies National Gymanfa Ganu on five occasions – Vancouver (1980), Victoria, Canada (1990), Seattle (1994), and San Jose (2001).
His expertise in the field of choral performance has been recognised by the National Eisteddfod of Wales by inviting him to be one of three music adjudicators at the 2003 Eisteddfod in Meifod, and the 2011 Eisteddfod in Wrexham.
As a result of his work in the sphere of music in the community, Mr Thomas has been awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship from Rotary International and been inducted into the highest level of Wales’s Bardic Circle in 2007.
In 1998, Mr Thomas was the guest conductor at the London Welsh Festival of 1000 Male Voices, and was guest soloist at the Festival in 1994, 1996, 2000, and 2002.
In 2000, Mr Thomas was the conductor of the National Eisteddfod Choir when that Festival was held in Llanelli, and the Eisteddfod Choir’s singing under his direction at the Gymanfa Ganu of the anthem “Dyn A Aned O Wraig” still remains as one of the most memorable occasions in the Eisteddfod’s history.
Mr Thomas is a fine tenor soloist in his own right, and has appeared as soloist in performances of Handel’s “Messiah”, Haydn’s “Creation”, and “Mass in Time of War”, Stainer’s “Crucifiction”, Maunder’s “Olivet to Calvary”, Coleridge-Taylor’s “Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast”, and Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” and “Lobegesang”.
The choir will be accompanied on stage by pianist Aled Maddock.
Mr Maddock attended Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera before graduating in Music at Bangor University. He is a former pupil of Madame Eileen Gethin-Jones and the Czech pianist Jana Frenklova.
After graduating in 1990, Mr Maddock was appointed as Musical Director of Craig y Nos Castle where he was responsible for arranging numerous musical events held at the famous Patti Theatre. During this time, he also began his association as accompanist with Neath and District Ladies Choir, Côr Meibion Onllwyn who performed with Côr Meibion Llanelli at the Brit Awards at Alexandra Palace and Bryncoch Male Voice Choir.
He was appointed Musical Director of Tonna Male Voice Choir in 1998 a post he held until 2002 forming his own mixed choir “Côr Al” in the Swansea Valley.
He has conducted the popular S4C religious programme “Dechrau Canu Dechrau Canmol” on several occasions from Ystradgynlais, Resolven, Ystalyfera and the Christmas service broadcast from St David’s Church Neath in 2015.
After obtaining his PGCE in 1994, Mr Maddock was appointed to his current post as Head of Music at his former school Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera. He is particularly proud of the musical achievements of many past pupils, some of which grace our TV screens and concert halls throughout the world. He has toured extensively with the performing arts faculty visiting Canada, South Africa, Malaysia and Singapore and has been Musical Director for two Urdd National Youth Productions, the most memorable being the revival of the Rock Opera “Jiwdas” which was performed in the open air in the ruins of the former Gnoll estate in Neath.
Tickets for Saturday’s Côr Meibion Llanelli concert are available from the Ffwrnes Theatre box office or from the Theatrau Sir Gar website.
In other concert news, here are a few of the events coming up in the next few weeks –
- Ammanford and District Choral Society, conductor Mrs Indeg Thomas, are celebrating Christmas at Christian Temple Chapel Hall in Ammanford on Sunday, December 9, at 7pm. Soloist Huw-Ynyr Evans, presenter Mr Edwin Williams and accompanists Mrs Gloria Lloyd and Miss Catrin Edwards. Admission £5.
- Llandybie Male Voice Choir and Dinefwr Choir are presenting an evening of Carols and Readings on Friday, December 14 (7pm) at Llandybie Parish Church. Entry is Free, but a collection will be made at the end. By the way, Llandybie Male Voice Choir are in need of a Musical Director. Anyone who can help is asked to email Howard Beynon – firstname.lastname@example.org
- On Saturday December 15 Cor Merched Tybie will be holding their Christmas concert at Llandybie Rugby Club from 7pm.
- The Hywel Girls’ Choir and Hywel Boy Singers and Angelicus Celtis are staging ‘The Magic of Christmas’ at 7pm on Saturday, December 8, at St Catherine’s Church, Gorseinon. And the following week (Saturday, December 15) they will be staging ‘Christmas Fantasia’ at Llanelli’s Ffwrnes Theatre (curtain up at 7pm).
- Llandyfaelog-based Côr Meibion Dyffryn Tywi are looking forward to their Christmas events. They include – Tuesday 11th December, Glanmorfa Care Home, Kidwelly, 6.30pm. Thursday 13 December, Towy Castle, 6.30pm. Tuesday 18th December, Red Lion, Llandyfaelog, 7pm. Thursday 20th December, Gwernllwyn Care Home, 6.30pm.
- There’s a special concert coming up in December to raise funds for Burry Port Lifeboat Station. ‘Christmas by Candlelight will feature Elin Manahan Thomas, Gary Griffiths and Osian Wyn Bowen. It is being held at St Mary’s Church, Burry Port, on Saturday, December 22 (7pm). Tickets for the Burry Port concert are £15 and are available from Cadno Travel or from the following phone numbers – 07795415411 and 07900893150.
- Llanelli District Music and Drama Club have a special evening at the Lliedi Suite, Selwyn Samuel Centre on Friday, November 30 (7.30pm). They will be presenting A Fine Romance, with Tony Jacobs and Catherine Sykes and Jim Barry at the piano. The evening will feature music and songs by George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin. Tickets are £10 (students £5) and are available from Barrie Lewis, Market Precinct, Llanelli, phone 01554-772594 or at the door.
- Crwbin Silver Band Christmas Concert will be at Pontyberem Hall on Friday, December 14 (7pm). The concert will also feature Ysgol Maes y Gwendraeth choir and wind band. Tickets are £8 (children £5) and will be available at the door or from band members.
- The West End At Christmas will be at The Lyric Theatre in Carmarthen on December 18.
- The Kidwelly Festival Ladies Choir will be performing at a Grand Christmas Concert and Vintage Fashion Show at Carmarthen Museum, Abergwili, on December 15 (6pm). Tickets are £10 adults and £5 children.
- On Saturday, December 9, Burry Port Town Band will be holding their annual Christmas concert the Memorial Hall in Burry Port, 7pm start. The concert will also feature Burry Port Junior Band, Father Christmas and special guests. Congratulations are also due to the band for winning the 2018 First Section Welsh League Championship title and the Ruby Protheroe Memorial Trophy at the SEWBBA Cardiff Contest.
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