Cwmbach Male Choir

Founded in the Heart of Aberdare - Queen of the Valleys


Review of 2013

What a night 2nd March was! The Choir was joined once again by Rhiannon Llewellyn (with whom we had the pleasure to sing last October in Hereford). She certainly entertained the very enthusiastic audience with a variety of songs (including French and of course Welsh songs)...

 What a night 2nd March was! The Choir was joined once again by Rhiannon Llewellyn (with whom we had the pleasure to sing last October in Hereford). She certainly entertained the very enthusiastic audience with a variety of songs (including French and of course Welsh songs). Cwmbach aired songs from a traditional Welsh repertoire while including some new material in the form of "Wherever You Are", "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and also "Finlandia". It gave the Choir another chance to sing and "move"(well some did) to Dirty Dancing! All in all a great night!

The annual concert in support of Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research in Rhiwbina, Cardiff proved once again to be a great success with the attentive audience enjoying a spirited performance from the choir. Following the win over Scotland earlier in the day the performance started with an old favourite in Tydi a Roddaist, and the first quarter concluded with a rousing rendition of Men of Harlech. The guest soloist was the highly talented harpist Llewellyn Ifan Jones. A native of Aberaeron, the 22 year old has achieved national success winning many competitions and in June 2010 won the Nani Richards Scholarship. Now a student at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama he performed flawless renditions of Yr Hydref and the Overture from Suite with Harp by Britten. The choir continued the first half with an American section concluding with the famous Elvis song An American Trilogy. Following a short interval the audience was entertained by an eclectic mix of tunes ranging from a Dirty Dancing medley to the old Welsh hymn Gwahoddiad before closing with Hen Wlad fy Nhadau. Many thanks to our Musical Director, Andrew Quick and accompanist, the legendary Jayne Thomas for their ever present support and direction. The concert was compered by the incomparable Mr Brian Williams, the Choir Chairman who proved to be as entertaining and informative as ever. The after concert reception was hosted at Rhiwbina Rec Club who again were fabulous hosts. An informal sing along was interspersed with drinks and curry and chips and our thanks go to all involved.

The AGM was well attended this year with a large proportion of members contributing to a sometimes lively debate. The Registrar (Mr Alan Davies) and Treasurer (Mr Richard Rosser) gave their reports for the year, and took questions. The Chairman, Mr Brian Williams, gave a detailed report of the choirs' activities over the last year and we took time to remember those members, their family, friends and supporters who sadly passed away during 2012/2013. Brian also passed on thanks to the numerous individuals, committee members etc who contributed to the success of the choir. A written report from the musical team was distributed to attendees, and the election and re-election of committee, officers and vice-presidents took place. We then looked forward to a full and exciting programme in 2013/2014 with a growing membership and continuing expanding musical programme. On the 11th of April we delivered many congratulations to our fabulous second tenor, Mr Jack Palmer on his 90th birthday! Believe it or not Jack has been singing with the choir for 63 years, a fantastic achievement, we are all very proud of him.

We started our comprehensive summer programme with our 8 day tour to Costa Blanca, and venues that we visited in previous years. Hosted by Calpe and Benissa Lions Club we enjoyed our stay at the Hotel Torre Dorada and took full advantage of the facilities there. The two groups arrived over two days for our first concert at Teulada situated in the mountains around 30 minutes away from our hotel. We enjoyed performing for a packed and enthusiastic audience. The following evening our second concert took place at the stunning new concert facility in Calpe, where we were joined in song by Costa Blanca Male Voice Choir with their Musical Director Claire Post and accompanist Heather Butcher. After a rousing programme that spurred the audience to a boisterous standing ovation at its conclusion, we had raised over 2500 Euros for local charities. The following day the choir enjoyed a trip to wine tasting at Jalon, followed by a Paella Picnic at Moraira. To see what else went on in the relaxing and enjoyable tour please visit our facebook page.

June saw us get back on the coaches to perform at a wedding in Duffryn Gardens, the Festival of Music at Evesham and a concert at The Forum Theatre, Malvern. The end of June saw the biggest concert of the year with The Choir joining with our admittedly younger (but less good looking) and talented friends – Only Boys Aloud. On a warm mid-summers’ evening a packed Coliseum was lifted to new heights as the combination of youth and enthusiasm blended perfectly with age and experience to deliver a stunning performance to a rapturous audience. It’s fair to say the evening was a great success and many thanks go to the Boys.

In July, we started with a concert in aid of St John Cymru Wales and the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital. This very special event brought us together in song with International Star and local boy Jason Howard. In the wonderful surroundings at Llandaff Cathedral we enjoyed a fabulous evening of entertainment and our thanks go to our sponsors Sheppards Pharmacy and Stephens & George Print Group.

St Margaret’s Church, Mountain Ash was the venue for a long delayed concert in conjunction with Llwydcoed Band. On a very warm evening we delivered an enthusiastically received programme that reflected well on all the performers.

The Ty Newydd Hotel in Penderyn saw a very happy event on 20th July when we helped our Secretary Kevin Lewis-Jones celebrate his marriage to Johanna. It was very emotional to see Kevin well for this memorable occasion and he blessed it with his usual sense of humour. We wish you both well for the future and look forward to Kevin having a sustained recovery from his recent set-backs.

In what has become an annual pilgrimage, we travelled to Caerleon College for the Writers Conference Concert. This less formal setting gives the Choir chance to relax but still deliver a first class performance. We are never received with anything less than huge enthusiasm at this event and although it moves to Fishguard for 2014 we will still enjoy performing for this audience.

August 2013 saw The Choir travel to Europe once again. The Festival Interceltique de Lorient (or Inter-Celtic Festival of Lorient in English), is an annual Celtic festival, located in the city of Lorient, Brittany. This annual festival takes place in the heart of the city every August and is dedicated to the cultural traditions of the Celtic nations, highlighting Celtic music and dance and also including other arts such as painting, photography, theatre, sculpture, traditional artisan as well as sport and gastronomy. Participants come from Brittany, Ireland, Scotland, Cornwall, Wales, Cumbria, the Isle of Man, Cape Breton Island, Galicia, Asturias, Acadia, and the entire Celtic diaspora. Every afternoon hundreds of performers appear in folk and traditional music concerts and dance displays, and again in the evening there is a choice of several major events, including orchestral concerts, rock concerts and the not to be missed “Nuits Magiques”, spectacular displays of pipe bands, dancers, choirs and fireworks. This marathon event places many demands on the choir with performances during the day and every night into the early hours over a period of 7 days. Given the average age of the performers it is astonishing that despite the challenges, The Choir delivers fantastic performances on every occasion. It is belived that the liberal application of free local beverages may help with this process. We look forward to re-visiting this wonderful event again in the near future.

December saw The Choir perform for patients and staff in a lunchtime Christmas celebration at Ysbyty Cwm Cynon, Mountain Ash and out thanks go to Joan Jenkins for organising this. The Coliseum was again full for our traditional Concert at Christmas on the 14th of December. We were partnered this time by a choir from Aberdare Girls School who treated us to some lovely songs both tradional and modern. As in previous years the finale of ‘O Holy Night’ was completed to a standing ovation and a wonderful evening drew to a close.

In these times of austerity, theatres are struggling to survive, and indeed our planned programme for the latter part of 2013 suffered as a result of dwindling audiences and reduced budgets.

The cultural hubs in The Valleys could be sacrificed as Rhondda Cynon Taf council considers proposals to save £3.7m a year in order to bridge the £70m budget gap over the next four years. Part of the proposals, which aim to save £400k per year, would see the Muni Arts Centre close and a “balanced but reduced” programme centred around the two remaining theatres in the county borough - the Coliseum in Aberdare and Treorchy’s Park and Dare. So of the three entertainment venues serving the people of Rhondda Cynon Taf it could be a case of one down, two diminished. The American writer Ray Bradbury once said “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” Or in the case of RCT, you just close theatres. We would urge all our follwers to continue to use these valuable resources as often as possible and to support the local arts community. 


Looking ahead to the latter part of 2014 and into the future The Choir aims to recruit new members to sustain our numbers. In fact over the last few months we have seen nearly half a dozen enthusiastic new choristers join us at rehersal and they are looking forward to their debut performances later this year. This has reduced the average age of The Choir substantially and will secure our future. Don’t forget that we rehearse every Monday and Thursday 7.00pm at Cwmbach School and all new recruits are welcome. The most common comment we get from new starters is “I wish I’d done it years ago !”, so don’t delay – join in the fun !