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!