Latest On Song column from the Carmarthen Journal and the Llanelli Star –
THERE’S a big charity concert coming up in Burry Port at the end of the month.
It’s being organised by the Rotary Club of Pembrey and Burry Port in aid of the Marie Curie cancer charity and takes place at 7pm on Saturday, April 29, at the Memorial Hall in the town.
The concert will feature the much-admired Burry Port Male Voice Choir and the award-winning Burry Port Town Band.
The concert will also feature young up-and-coming performers from the Llanelli-based Loud Applause Rising Stars team.
Burry Port Male Voice Choir will be under the musical direction of Ryan Lee.
The choir has a colourful history.
The rebirth of the Burry Port Male Choir took place in September 1962 when a meeting was called at the Memorial Hall inviting along any persons interested in reforming the choir to attend – 30 people turned up.
The meeting concluded with Mr. Raymond Morris being appointed as the first conductor. The objectives and aims of the present choir are still founded on the foundations set more than 60 years ago.
Ryan Lee, the present conductor, is only the seventh in the choir’s history.
The reputation of the Burry Port Male Choir has extended under his leadership to many parts of the British Isles, Europe and the United States of America.
Over the years, the choir has supported local charitable events and competed at eisteddfodau at both National and International levels.
It has twice visited Holland, Canada once, and has been to America on three occasions. The choir has also visited and performed in Paris and at The Albert Hall, London in the Thousand Voices Concerts.
The choristers rehearse every Monday and Thursday 7.00 – 8.45 (except for bank holidays ) in the Memorial Hall, Parc Y Minos Street.
New members always welcome, any age, no experience required. There is an open invitation to attend any rehearsal.
Musical director Ryan Lee was born in Llangennech and now lives in Burry Port. Before his retirement, he was a headmaster by profession and had been teaching for more than 15 years in English schools, where he gained valuable experience as a conductor of choirs and operatic societies.
Ryan came to the notice of Burry Port Male Choir in 1980 when he returned to live and work in the area.
Members of the Burry Port Male Choir who were also members of the Burry Port Operatic Society immediately recognised his musical talent and when the position of Musical Director of the choir became vacant he accepted the invitation to take over as conductor.
Ryan has arranged many of the songs sung by the choir – the music set to Psalm 121 was composed by him and part of the current repertoire was arranged by him.
Many other choirs have benefitted by receiving copies of his arrangements.
Ryan is also the Musical Director of the Burry Port Operatic Society, one of the very few Operatic Groups performing grand Opera in Wales.
Burry Port Town Band, meanwhile, also 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, and 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 performance throughout the 80s and 90s winning a host of prizes in the 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st Sections and in 2000, the band was promoted to the elite Championship Section. Since 2001, the band has seven times claimed the title of “Champion Band of Wales”, four times won the National Eisteddfod of Wales and three times 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.
In addition to competitions, the band also remain very active on the concert stage and in recent years have enjoyed performing alongside Paul Potts, John Owen Jones, Richard Allen, Timothy Richards, Cor Meibion Llanelli, Lleisiau’r Cwm, Cor Curiad, Twrw Tawe, Cor Aelwyd y Waun Ddyfal, The Tenovus Cancer Care Swansea Sing With Us Choir and S4C Cor Cymru Champions Parti Llwchwr.
Tickets for the April 29 concert are £10 each and available from The Ashburnham Hotel, Nik The Greek, Portobello Inn and The Ticket Hut.
Finally, Côr Meibion Llanelli Male Voice Choir are continuing their search for a new musical director.
The successful candidate will have to follow in the footsteps of Alex Esney, who was the first woman to take on the role.
Alex has decided to relinquish the role to concentrate on her other duties as musical director of Llanelli-based ladies choir Côr Curiad.
Anyone interested in the Côr Meibion Llanelli post should contact choir secretary Fred Elias, Tir Na Nog, School Road, Pwll, Llanelli, SA15 4AL, phone 01554 741027, email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find out more about the choir on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CorMeibionLlanelli