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Fabulous review of our Gala Concert on Friday 4th May by Nick Wayland-Evans of Only Men Aloud

Saturday 5th May 2018 – Review by Nick Wayland-Evans

Pendyrus Male Choir Annual Gala Concert

Special Guests Sioned Gwen Davies, Luke McCall, Cor Y Cwm and Charlotte Lewis

Compere: Shelley Rees-Owen

Friday 4th May 2018 at Rhondda Fach Sports Centre
An evening spent in the Rhondda celebrating Welsh talent

The range of performers on stage at the Rhondda Fach Leisure centre yesterday evening can only be described as first class, and worthy of the international stage.

An abundance of talent, including choral and solo voice, and instrumental repertoire, combined with expert compering and strong musical leadership, can only strengthen what I consider to be one of the best evenings in recent years of celebrating Welsh culture.

Pendyrus Male Choir have been in existence for nearly a century, and this is testament to the strength of leadership and musical excellent of their superb musical teams past and present, namely, in this instance, Stewart Roberts (MD) and Gavin Parry (Accompanist).
Stewart and Gavin, ably assisted by Ryan Wood on the organ, guided us through an evening of thrilling, rousing, gentle, nostalgic, and thoroughly entertaining programme of choral music. The skill and high level of musicianship of this talented team is reflected in the precision, musicality and dynamic of this excellent choir.

The evening started with a rousing performance of Laudamus, arranged by Daniel Protheroe. Then came a Welsh translation of the Janacek piece Orani (ploughing) – called Aredig – with strong lines and excellent dynamic range; and, finally in this first section by the choir, Men of Harlech (arr. John Guard), performed with strong determined phrases and emphasis on the text of this classic piece of Welsh choral tradition,  and showing the diverse range of music this choir are capable of performing to a very high standard.

This really was an evening to suit all musical tastes. The guest artistes performed a range of music from opera and classical to contemporary choral music and musical theatre.

Welsh mezzo-soprano Sioned Gwen Davies delighted us with Bizet’s ‘Habanera’ from Carmen, Meirion Williams’ beautiful piece ‘Y Cymro’, followed by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Pie Iesu’ (with cello accompaniment by Stewart Roberts) showing how versatile a singer needs to be to perform on the concert platform as well as the opera stage. Sioned showed off her acting skills and created an inviting atmosphere, drawing in the audience to her various dramatic roles and creations.

Luke McCall is a celebrated young Welsh musical theatre performer currently performing in the West End in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. He didn’t fail to impress the audience with performances of Music of the Night from Phantom and Tell My Father from Civil War, bringing home to Wales taste of the skill and high standards required to be in the West End.

The Rhondda has a strong tradition for nurturing young talented musicians and a great number of performers past and present work in the profession on the international and world stages. The other guest artists performing in the concert have promising futures ahead of them.

Charlotte Lewis, from Treorchy Comprehensive, gave an impeccable performance of the 2nd movement of Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez on the Flugel Horn.  The award-winning choir Cor Y Cwm demonstrated strong musicianship skills and sensitive performance ability in their musically challenging pieces.
A highlight for me was their performance of Ola Gjeilo’s Ubi Caritas, a piece I distinctly remember them performing for the 2016 Choir of the Year, which they won in the category of Youth Choir. The Choir was led by Elin Llywelyn-Williams (MD) and Gavin Ashcroft (Accompanist).

Being in a choir is like being part of an extended family. All families have their ups and downs, happy times and sad times. The choir performed a very touching tribute in memory of two choristers – David Thomas and John Wiggam – with the Matt Monro classic ‘Softly as I leave you’. This warm performance was a particularly beautiful moment which I know was appreciated by the capacity audience.

This Gala Concert had everything! The second half brought more delights from all the performers including joint items between the choir and soloists and a full company rendition of ‘Unwaith Eto Nghymru Annwyl’ as the finale – all linked together professionally and charismatically by Welsh actress and compere for the evening, Shelley Rees-Owen.

Thank you Pendyrus, I look forward to the next one!

Nick Wayland-Evans
5/5/2018

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Pendyrus on Radio 3 – Sat 5th May 2018 12:15 pm

Radio3Rarely if ever does a Welsh male choir appear on the BBC’s rarefied Radio 3 channel. However, on Wednesday 25 April Pendyrus were visited by Richard Dennison (producer) and Kate Molleson (presenter) of R3’s weekly ‘Music Matters’ programme. They recorded the choir singing (they were overwhelmed) and interviewed Carl Bowen, Joshua Kelland and Gareth Williams. The item, on ‘Music and Language’, will be broadcast on Radio Three on Saturday 5 May at 12.15 p.m., repeated on Monday 7 May at 10.15 p.m.

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Choir awards Dr Haydn James with Vice-Presidency Of Pendyrus

Choir awards Dr. Haydn James with the Vice-Presidency of Pendyrus in recognition of the tremendous help and support he has given to the Choir over many years. The award was presented to Dr. Haydn James by Pendyrus  Musical Director, Stewart Roberts.

HaydnJames

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Eisteddfod News from 1928

Thanks to Cyril Jones for providing article from his Archive.
In 1928, 80 years ago, the National Eisteddfod was held in Treorchy. The competition for male choirs in excess of 100 choristers attracted 10 competitors and was performed in front of an audience of 20,000. The test pieces; Songs of the Spirits over the Waters, (Schubert) sung in eight part harmony, and Cán I’r Eos, (J. Owen Jones).
Pendyrus preparation for the competition was interrupted by them having to prepare for a prestigious 2 day concert event in Cardiff Castle, it was the occasion of the coming of age of the Earl of Dumfries, The son of the Marquis of Bute.
They were joined there with the band of H.M Welsh Guards, the party was attended by some 2,000 guests.
Although then being in their infancy, and of course their first ever National Eisteddfod attempt, they came a creditable 3rd. behind, Swansea & District and Morriston United who were joint 2nd with Dowlais.
The photograph is of the 1928 choir.

Eisteddfod 1928

Anthony Gabriele

World acclaimed musician travels to Pendyrus to provide a master class

Cyril Jones
12 February at 18:04

World acclaimed musician travels to Rhondda tonight Monday Feb 12th. to provide a master class for Rhondda’s own Pendyrus Male Choir. Having secretly attended their 2017 Gala Concert, he expressed his desire to take of their rehearsal.
Pendyrus will have a guest conductor to take rehearsal this evening and they don’t come much more high-profile than this gentleman, Maestro Anthony Gabriele!
Anthony Gabriele has established an international reputation for conducting with tremendous passion born of a profound knowledge and understanding of the repertoire. He was awarded 2nd Prize in the 2011 biennial Blue Danube Musik Impresario (Vienna) International Opera Conducting Competition, hosted by the Bulgarian State Opera (Burgas).

Anthony studied conducting, composition, piano and voice at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and since 1993 has amassed a prodigious variety of operatic and musical theatre credits as a Music Director, Conductor, Chorus Master, Language Coach, Vocal Coach and Accompanist.

He works extensively as a freelance conductor, arranger and orchestrator. He made his debut with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 2011 and conducted the British Philharmonic Orchestra in a concert of popular classical works, as part of the 2009 London Tower Music Festival. Anthony conducted at the National Theatre of Opera & Ballet Sarajevo and the Bulgarian State Opera Ruse during the 2011/2012 season. In January 2012 he conducted an Opera Gala at the Opera House in Almaty (Kazakhstan) with the internationally renowned Italian tenor, Fabio Armiliato.

His operatic repertoire includes La Traviata, Don Giovanni, Madama Butterfly, Il Barbiere di Siviglia, La Bohème, La Cenerentola, The Magic Flute, Orpheus in the Underworld, The Little Mermaid, The Moonrakers Opera and The Happy Prince.

As Music Director, he has conducted South Pacific, Blood Brothers, Ken Hill’s Phantom of the Opera, A Grand Night For Singing, Chess, CATS, Grease, The Wizard of Oz, Bye Bye Birdie, The Lion King (London’s West End, Sydney, Melbourne and Shanghai) and the West End production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera.

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Pastures New …

Basilica of St. Mary, KrakowEarly on Monday morning, 70 Pendyrus choristers will travel from South Wales to Krakow for a concert tour of 🇵🇱 Poland.

This will be a first visit to Poland for this choir who have toured USA, Australia, NZ, Canada, Scandinavia, Russia, France, Ireland, Scotland, England and many more destinations. We will be giving four concerts, one in the magnificent Basilica of St. Mary, Krakow (pictured). We are delighted to be taking soprano soloist, Sophie Gregory with us and organist Scott Williams. Ni’n edrych ymlaen! We’re very much looking forward to it!

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Cardigan Semi National Eisteddfod 2017 – Message of Congratulations

 

 

Many thanks for the message from our friends Côr Meibion Pontarddulais

Pontarddulaiscongrats

 

 

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Live Facebook Videos

Pendyrus has recorded a number of live videos on normal rehearsal nights including:-

‘Bring Him Home’ from Les Mis

‘Myfanwy’ – Joseph Parry

‘What would I do without my music’  arr. Dr. Alwyn Humphreys

To view, please visit Pendyrus Male Choir Facebook Page and select favourite song from the many Pendyrus recordings available.

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A feast of music making at Pendyrus Gala Concert

 

Pendyrus Male Choir present 2 T’s and a Cothi with Côr Meibion Pendyrus Male Choir

Friday 28th April 2017 at 7.15pm – Rhondda Fach Sports Centre

Visiting Wales is always a joyous experience and last week’s visit was no exception. I had the pleasure of being a guest at “2T’s and a Cothi” with Côr Meibion Pendyrus Male Choir, a concert at the Rondda Fach Sports Centre. And what better way to celebrate a choir’s 93rd year than by having 93 choristers on stage doing what they loving what they do. Add to that the wonderful vocal talents of soprano Shân Cothi, tenors Rhys Meirion and Aled Wyn Davies, the Treorchy Comprehensive Senior School Choir, and you have the line-up for a great evening of music-making!

The concert opened with was a beautifully-passionate and strong performance of Tydi a Roddaist by Arwel Hughes. The choir’s phrasing and musicality was of the highest order – firmly setting the tone for the evening ahead. This was followed by Aredig (Ploughing) by Leos Janaçek, a difficult piece, performed a cappella. The choir’s performance of this concert rarity was clean, heartfelt and beautifully in tune – making it clear to everyone listening that here was a group of singers who is developing and refining the craft of ensemble singing. The polished singing continued with Hiraeth – the choir displaying a real mastery of dynamic shape and tonal colour, before bringing this first section of the concert to a close with a great performance of the ‘heraldic’ concert favourite, Men Of Harlech.

And so it was time for “2T’s and a Cothi” to grace us with their presence, kicking off proceedings in a joyous fashion with L’ibiamo (Brindisi) from Verdi’s ‘La Traviata’. What followed was a little journey through Italy – Rhys Meirion and Aled Wyn Davies performing traditional, well-known Italian songs with great style, flair and vocal aplomb – I particularly enjoyed Aled’s soaring, lyrical tone with Non ti scordar di me. Shân Cothi delivered a beautiful, unaffected interpretation of the Puccini classic, O mio babbino caro. However, it was the wonderfully-moving, stirring and exquisitely-sung trio versions of Myfanwy and a Welsh setting of the Ave Maria which drew the strongest responses from the audience. The guest soloists then invited us to join them in singing one of the greatest (and most popular) musical theatre songs ever written, You’ll Never Walk Alone from ‘Carousel’.

Music plays a vital role in my life, it is therefore always an uplifting experience to be amongst an audience of like-minded people, all gathered together to celebrate music-making and music-makers. I am especially uplifted when I hear young people sing. I applaud the work Nick Bristow does with Treorchy Comprehensive School Choir – fostering and nurturing a love of singing. His passion for what he does results in a ‘Glee’-like sense of camaraderie among the ensemble, which clearly comes from a supportive musical environment. This choir, made up of very talented teenagers, sings with passion, conviction and skill.

Pendyrus Male Choir brought the first half of the concert to a strong close with a set of three songs – a sparkling and rhythmically-exciting performance of Brian Hughes’ Bywyd Y Bugail; a beautifully-sung Yfory by Robat Arwyn; and the wonderfully-haunting hymn Morte Christe by Emrys Jones. For this final item the choir was joined by the three guest soloists, bringing with them a sophisticated, lush vocal colour which soared above the choir.

Before talking about the rest of the evening, I want to take this opportunity to mention the extraordinary man at the helm of Pendyrus Male Choir, their Musical Director, Stewart Roberts. I have experienced Stewart’s work over the last number of years and I recognise and acknowledge him to be one of the finest musicians I have had the pleasure of knowing. He is a lovely cellist; an accomplished piano soloist; a beautiful, sensitive accompanist; and when he stands before his choir, his skills as an interpreter and communicator of the music are masterful – vital, essential qualities in any conductor. Stewart Roberts’ work with the choir is evident by their confidence, musicianship and musicality, and understanding and sensitivity to dynamics and phrasing – wonderful attributes which are all a testament to his stewardship of the ensemble. Bravo!

The choir’s performance of the Ride the Chariot provided a rousing start to the second half of the concert, with strong, vibrant interjections by tenor soloist Gareth Rees. What followed was some very beautiful, sensitive singing, with particular care being given to storytelling. Bring Him Home from Les Misérables (a song I always enjoy listening to when sung by a Male Voice Choir) and What Would I Do Without My Music? – a concert programme stalwart.

What followed was an unexpected surprise – a young lady by the name of Sydney Richards delivered a focussed, considered performance of one of Stephen Sondheim’s most iconic songs, Losing My Mind from ‘Follies’. Sydney’s performance was mature beyond her years and her vocal production reminded me of a young Bernadette Peters. This young lady possesses what I refer to as an ideal ‘Musical Theatre’ voice and has real career potential.

Our trio of soloists returned to the stage with an engaging mix of repertoire. They launched themselves into an adorable Welsh rarity, the Love Duet from Joseph Parry’s 1878 three-act opera ‘Blodwen’ – on this occasion, performed to great comic effect as a trio, with Shân Cothi coming out as the clear ‘winner’ with her lush soprano voice soaring above her male protagonists!

Romance continued as a theme with the crowd-pleasing Love Unspoken from ‘The Merry Widow’ before Shân Cothi performed a wonderfully-haunting Jeff Howard arrangement of O Gymru with great passion and class. Anfonaf Angel is one of my favourite songs and Rhys Meirion’s beautiful rendition (with it’s many key changes) certainly gave me cause to smile.

Treorchy Comprehensive School Choir made a welcomed return to the stage, winning the audience over with their stellar performance of Nick Bristow’s arrangement of No One Mourns The Wicked from the Broadway and West End smash hit musical ‘Wicked’.

Pendyrus Male Choir brought the evening to a emotionally-stirring close with an eclectic trio of items proving just how musically versatile and proficient this ensemble is. Anthem from the musical ‘Chess’; Gwahoddiad – a traditional Welsh hymn (of American origin); and choral favourite Christus Salvator by French opera composer Charles Gounod.

For the ‘encores’ the choir was joined on stage by “2T’s and a Cothi” and the Treorchy Comprehensive School Choir for Cymru Fach and Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.

The choir’s long-serving accompanist (since 1973) is Gavin Parry – he provided strong, reliable support throughout the evening and played with great aplomb. The other accompanist of the evening was the immensely-talented Caradog Williams. His skills as an accompanist are well known throughout Wales, having played an enormously-diverse range of repertoire with a huge array of artists. Also on the music staff was the lovely Ryan Wood – bringing grandeur to some of the sacred, choral music and the traditional Welsh hymns, with iconic organ accompaniments. Ryan is a talented, respected musician, well-versed in the ways of the Welsh choral tradition.

Friday evening’s concert was thoroughly enjoyable, adroitly compèred with great charm, personality and wit by the delightful Tony Mullins. I certainly look forward to many more evenings such as this, in particular next year’s Gala concert and the choir’s 100th Anniversary Gala concert in about 7 years time – but I’m getting ahead of myself…

I shall leave you with this quote by Martin Luther – German theologist, composer, priest and monk – which sums up my feelings about music:

“Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.”

Anthony Gabriele

Musical Director / Conductor

Pianist / Vocal Coach

Orchestrator / Arranger

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“We are Pendyrus!”

There seems to be much talk of male voice choral singing being in decline at the moment – the gentlemen of Pendyrus Male Choir are here to dispel that statementAthe largest of the five male choirs in the Rhondda Valley alone, they travelled from their Tylorstown base to rural mid-Wales to give a sell-out concert at China Street Chapel, Llanidloes for the Rotary Club.  The last time the choir performed at this venue was in 1959 and four members of the choir from that concert made this return visit. This concert raised over £3000 for the Rotary Club Of Llanidloes. 

Choir compère and much respected author and historian, Professor Gareth Williams opened proceedings with a series of witticisms and introduced a wealth of musical offerings which included the rousing Llanfairthe beautifully atmospheric ‘Hiraeth’ and the epic ‘The Prayer’ from Lohengrin by Wagner.  Special mention must be made of the sublime solo singing from Bill Richards who soared above the choir in a stunning rendition of ‘Lily of the Valley’.  The Welsh hymns in the programme were given added sparkle with the inclusion of Scott Williams on the organ – a great addition to any male voice choir!

A number of new additions to the repertoire were given an airing including a Welsh translation of a folk song by Janacek called ‘Aredig’.  This year, the choir hopes to repeat their 2010 & 2012 success in the Gwyl Fawr competition in Cardigan and if they sing as well as they did in this concert, success should surely be coming their way!

The second half of the concert continued in lighter vein with selections from the choir’s ‘lollipop’ repertoire – a phrase used by Pendyrus’ Glynne Jones – a previous Musical Director of the choir.  A notable inclusion in the programme was a stirring rendition of Alwyn Humphreys’ of ‘What Would I DWithout MMusic’ – the exposed opening was delivered with accuracy and was pitch perfectfollowing the a cappella introduction.  

The performance from the choir was punctuated with a number of excellent soloists.  Nick Wayland-Evans gave a tranquil performance of ‘Caro Mio Ben’ by Giordani followed  by Ivor Novello’s beautiful ‘My Life Belongs ToYou’.  

Sydney Richards belied her youth with her mature delivery of ‘Losing My Mind’ (Follies; Sondheim).  At 15, she certainly shows considerable promise – a name to watch in the future.

A regular soloist with the choir, Tom Richards exclaimed in declamatory fashion that he was “in love with another man’s wife” in his rendition of ‘Proud Lady’ (The Baker’s Wife; Sondheim).  This was followed by the beautiful ‘Till I Hear You Sing’ (Love Never Dies; Lloyd Webber).  It is easy to see why Tom has enjoyed recent success on the Asia Tour of Les Miserables – this young man has a very bright future ahead!

The finale of this fantastic gala concert saw all of the ‘forces’ joining together for a selection of hits from Boublil and Schonberg’s Les MiserablesThe soloists were joined by Sarah Board who gave a fine performance as CosetteThe controlled singing from the choir in ‘Bring Him Home’ was particularly beautiful and Jordan Davies (from the choir’s first tenor section) gave a commanding performance of ‘Stars’.  The final chorus of ‘One Day More’ brought the capacity audience to its feet – and the praise was wholly deserved!

Stewart Roberts, the Musical Director, can feel justifiably proud of his boys after this concert and the choristers can feel lucky to have a man of this calibre at the helm.  Together with stalwart accompanist, Gavin Parry, Pendyrus surely has one of the bet music teams in Wales.  

Ryan Wood

Musical Director, Bridgend Male Choir