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The latest ‘On Song’ column from the Carmarthen Journal and Llanelli Star

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

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The latest ‘On Song’ column from the Carmarthen Journal and Llanelli Star

Posted By Robert Lloyd

As one year comes to a close, it’s time to start looking at what’s in store for 2019.

There will be plenty of concerts scheduled around St David’s Day, March 1, and details of events will appear here, in this newspaper, as and when they land on the ‘On Song’ desk.

It’s timely, to insert a reminder here to all concert organisers – please send news of your concert dates to the following email address – rlloydpr@btinternet.com

Advance notice of concerts helps other concert organisers avoid embarrassing clashes and helps readers to plan their concert-going calendars.

Ffwrnes Theatre in Llanelli always stages a hugely-popular St David’s Day concert.

This year it will be held on Saturday, March 2.

The concert will feature the world-famous Morriston Orpheus Choir, conducted by Joy Amman Davies, and Côr Lleisiau’r Cwm, under the baton of Llanelli’s Catrin Hughes.

Sharing the spotlight will be two highly-talented young singers from the Loud Applause Rising Stars stable – mezzo soprano Nikkila Thomas, from Llanelli, and tenor Osian Clarke, from Tycroes. 

The host for the evening will be radio and television personality Garry Owen.

Tickets are on sale now from the Ffwrnes Theatre box office and on the Theatrau Sir Gar website.

The Morriston Orpheus hardly need an introduction . . . 

But, for the benefit of those of you who don’t known their history and reputation . . .

The choir was formed on April 23, 1935, by Ivor E Sims and in its early days concentrated primarily on competitions and local concerts.

In 1937, the choir achieved its first success at the Royal National Eisteddfod in Machynlleth, going on to win at the ‘National’ on six further occasions. The choir does not presently sing in competitions, preferring to concentrate on concert performances.

Over the years, successive Musical Directors have developed and broadened the repertoire.

Variety is now the hallmark of the choir’s performances, which include arrangements by Alwyn Humphreys MBE, Musical Director from 1979 to January 2005 and now the Choir’s Conductor Emeritus.

The choir enjoys an international reputation as a leading exponent of male choral singing.

Within the UK, the choir is in constant demand, with around 25 engagements a year, including concerts, TV and after-dinner performances.

The choir regularly undertakes concert tours overseas and in 2004 undertook two tours to Taiwan and to Abu Dhabi and Oman.

In April 2007, the choir returned to the UAE, performing in Dubai en route to a concert tour of Australia and New Zealand.

In October 2008 the Choir visited Geneva to perform a charity concert. During their stay they also visited and sang in the control room of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN).

Highlights of previous overseas tours have included four appearances at British Military Tattoos and Concerts in the former West Berlin, participating at the International Choral Festivals in Nancy, France, and Toronto in Canada, representing Wales at Expo ’92 in Seville, Spain, and becoming in 1996, the first British choir to perform at the International Choral Festival in Bydgoszcz, Poland.

The choir has performed in all the major cities of Australia and New Zealand and received standing ovations at their appearances at the world-famous Sydney Opera House.

In October 2001, the choir received five standing ovations at the Carnegie Hall in New York City.

In the spring of 2018, the choir conducted a week-long tour of Vienna and Krakow, singing in St Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna, among other venues.

The choir features regularly on TV. It has produced more than 50 recordings and has featured in more than 100 compilation albums. Successful ventures into the pop world have included recordings with T’Pau, the Welsh group The Alarm and, most recently, Howard Jones.

In 2005, the choir appointed its first female Musical Director Sian Pearce to replace Alwyn Humphreys, who had decided to retire after serving the choir since 1979.

Sian left the choir in 2007 and Joy Amman Davies (who, in 2004, had been made a Life Member of the choir in recognition of her outstanding contribution and commitment as accompanist) was appointed Musical Director.

The big concert this weekend is the Christmas By Candlelight special being held at St Mary’s Church, Burry Port, on Saturday, December 22 (7pm).

The concert will raise funds for Burry Port Lifeboat Station.

It will feature acclaimed soprano Elin Manahan Thomas, Gary Griffiths and Osian Wyn Bowen.

Tickets are £15 and are available from Cadno Travel or from the following phone numbers – 07795415411 and 07900893150.

Elin Manahan Thomas is one of the most exceptional sopranos of her generation.

Since releasing her début album ‘Eternal Light’ in 2007, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, she has performed at many of the world’s most prestigious venues and festivals, and with leading orchestras and conductors.

Perhaps most famously known for her performances of baroque masterpieces – such as Handel’s Eternal Source of Light Divine at the London 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony – Elin is equally at home performing classical and contemporary works.

Elin has performed across Europe at major venues and festivals, including: the Edinburgh, Canterbury, Three Choirs, Llangollen, Mostly Mozart and Lufthansa festivals, St John’s Smith Square, Wigmore Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Birmingham Town Hall, Bridgewater Hall, Casa de Musica in Porto, Zurich Tonhalle, and the Concertgebouw Amsterdam.

In May 2018 she was honoured to perform at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Baritone Gary Griffiths is a Burry Port boy.

He made his Royal Opera House stage debut in 2017 singing the role of Solanio in Keith Warner’s WNO production of The Merchant of Venice. He also made his Teatro di San Carlo (Naples) debut in concert, singing Arthus in Le Rois Arthus.

The winner of the Welsh Singers Competition in 2012, Gary Griffiths was a finalist representing Wales in the 2013 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where, in 2009, he won the prestigious Gold Medal Competition.

A committed recitalist, appearances include the Oxford Lieder Festival with Joan Rodgers and Sholto Kynoch in a recital of Russian Song, the Cowbridge Music Festival with Joseph Middleton, King’s Place with Iain Burnside, the Ludlow English Song Weekend with Simon Lepper and the Wigmore Hall with Malcolm Martineau.

Tenor Osian Wyn Bowen is also a Burry Port boy.

Currently Osian is an undergraduate student, studying under the tutelage of renowned tenor Adrian Thompson at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff.

Osian has already performed in concert with Sir Bryn Terfel, soprano Rebecca Evans and tenors Aled Hall and Rhys Meirion.

In addition to his busy schedule, Osian is a patron of the charity Welsh Hearts and is an active volunteer crew member of Burry Port Lifeboat Station.

During the course of his short singing career, he already has a number of awards to his name – 2017 and 2018 – Minnie Morgan Scholarship Recipient; 2018 – Douglas Rees Young Opera Singer of the Year – Finalist; 2018 – Geraint Morris Memorial Award – Winner.

In other concert news, here are two more events coming up before Christmas– 

  • Llandyfaelog-based Côr Meibion Dyffryn Tywi are looking forward to their Christmas events. They include – Thursday 20th December, Gwernllwyn Care Home, 6.30pm.
  • The West End At Christmas will be at The Lyric Theatre in Carmarthen on December 18.

Finally, a diary date for next year . . . 

There’s early notification of performances of The Passion Of The Christ, to be performed on Good Friday, April 19, and Easter Saturday, April 20.

The acclaimed voices of the Hywel Girls’ Choir and Hywel Boy Singers, Angelicus Celtis and friends will present The Passion of The Christ, a blend of varied choral and vocal works, blended with narration and theatre to be held in South Wales over Easter weekend 2019.

This unique performance will present a dramatic retelling of the story of the life and crucifixion of Christ bringing together associated choir and vocal ensembles blending music and poetry from Bach, Barber, Jenkins, Mozart, Webber, Telemann, Dylan Thomas, Elizabeth Browning, Emily Dickson, Langston Hughes and Mary Oliver to name but a few.

The passion will include opportunities for solo singers, duet, trios, small group chorale and main choir and different roles associated with the life and crucifixion of Christ.

Auditions for these singing opportunities will be held in in the Llanelli area during the weekend of January 19.

Singing auditions for will be open to the general public, both young and adult voices (soprano, alto tenor, bass) and open to both choristers of the Hywel choir and singers beyond.

If you are interested in learning more about the auditions for The Passion of the Christ, please register your interest by contacting Jeremy Williams at jeremywilliams@me.com

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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