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 statement. As the 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 ‘Llanfair’, the 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 Do Without My Music’ – 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 Miserables. The soloists were joined by Sarah Board who gave a fine performance as Cosette. The 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.
Musical Director, Bridgend Male Choir