34th Annual Concert, 20/5/2017
A huge amount of work goes into arranging the most important concert of our year, so it is extremely gratifying when we take our places on the balcony in Tabernacle Chapel and see a sea of faces before us. This was one of those nights!
Conducted by our MD D. Huw Rees and accompanied by Hywel Evans (piano) and Huw Tregelles Williams (organ), our programme included several pieces that we had been working on for some time but which we had not performed before in public. Judging by the audience’s appreciative reaction, our hard work had paid off. Our Bass soloist Huw Roberts sang Anfonaf Angel.
It was a poignant and emotional evening for us because we were without two long-standing stalwarts of the Choir, Alan Phillips and Layton Watkins. We were delighted to see a whole row of twelve of Alan’s family and friends, and as a tribute to Layton, who had served for many years as our tireless Secretary, we sang The Lord’s Prayer, and Y Darlun which has special significance for his family. There was much sniffing among the choristers as we managed to finish singing these two!
Our Deputy MD Helen Wyn plays an important part in adding polish to our performances, so we were delighted to be conducted by her in the Mansel Thomas arrangement of Fantasia On Famous Welsh Airs, which we shared with our guest soprano, Gwawr Edwards.
Gwawr has an impressive musical CV which includes many operatic roles, foreign tours, and recordings. We last sang with her in Margam Orangery at an RAF function last year, and we will meet again in October in Carmarthen for a British Legion concert. Her well-chosen programme included I Believe, I’ll Walk With God, and traditional Welsh and Italian songs. The Choir joined her in singing The Holy City, and we joined forces with Gwawr and Huw Roberts in the finalé – O Gymru – which was greeted with tumultuous applause.
Gwawr was accompanied by Annette Bryn Parri, who is one half of Piantel which, as its name implies, is a piano and harp duo (‘telyn’ being Welsh for ‘harp’). The harp half of the duo is Dylan Cernyw. Many of us had not heard Piantel perform live before, but we and the audience greatly enjoyed their choice of music which varied from Gershwin’s Summertime and Pachelbel’s Canon to Agustín Lara’s Granada, with a couple of Scott Joplin’s rags causing much swaying in the audience. They were joined by Gwawr in their version of Calon Lân to the tune of The Rose (made famous by Bette Midler).
Our President, Huw Tregelles Williams OBE, had written a touching tribute to Layton in the programme, and we are due to celebrate his life in a concert in Neath on 16th June. In recognition of his work and the support given by his wife Gwen, we have invested her as a Life Patron of the Choir. During the course of the evening three choristers were presented with their certificates for 25 years continuous membership: Paul Baker, Roy Seaborne, and Huw Williams.
Our compère for the evening was Beverley Humphreys, well known for her singing, writing, and as a BBC presenter. Beverley had done her homework, and gave backgrounds to some of the songs, adding her natural charm to the concert. She also made a good job of trying to connect two Australian visitors in the audience – one upstairs and one on the ground floor!
This was a concert to remember and was generally considered to be one of our best, as the many comments on social media and personal messages have shown.
There is a selection of photos HERE. A couple of videos have been added to our YouTube page.