On song


IT’S a big de­but con­cert week­end for a new choir called Val­ley Rock Voices Llanelli.

The choir’s first con­cert will be at the Stradey Park Ho­tel, Llanelli, on Satur­day evening.

The choir is a branch of the Val­ley Rock Voices pop choir founded by Cerys Llewellyn-Be­van three years ago in Neath.

Cerys ex­plained: “VRV, as the choir has be­come af­fec­tion­ately known, has es­tab­lished it­self as a fun-filled com­mu­nity choir that en­cour­ages all mu­si­cal abil­i­ties, par­tic­u­larly those who haven’t sung be­fore.

“I started the choir with just 12 friends back in Fe­bru­ary, 2016, as an an­ti­dote to feel­ing rather down af­ter my son’s se­cond open heart surgery.

“I needed to get out and find some joy again, and go­ing back to my mu­sic-mak­ing seemed to be the ob­vi­ous path as it had brought me much joy pre­vi­ously. It cer­tainly did the trick!

“Since then, the choir has grown to more than 200 singers.

“The suc­cess of VRV lies with its mod­ern reper­toire and its courage to at­tempt pop mu­sic not usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with Welsh ladies choirs! (PS: We do have four men, too!)

“We’ve got ev­ery­thing from The Bee Gees, The Killers, Katy Perry, Pri­mal Scream, and even a bit of rap!”

Cerys added: “My main aim in set­ting up VRV was to pro­vide a choir that would ap­peal to ev­ery­one – not just those with mu­sic read­ing skills.

“My back­ground is in classical mu­sic and I stud­ied at the University of Wales, Cardiff, where I gained my Bach­e­lor of Mu­sic de­gree as a pi­anist and classical singer. I then con­tin­ued my stud­ies as a Post Grad­u­ate and later be­came Head of Mu­sic at Coed­cae School, Llanelli, Pon­tard­du­lais Com­pre­hen­sive School and Ffynonne House School.

“I’ve al­ways had a strong in­ter­est in drama and per­for­mance, as I was also a mem­ber of The Na­tional Youth The­atre of Wales, so it is vi­tally im­por­tant to me that my choirs fo­cus not just on the mu­si­cal­ity of the songs, but also the whole per­form­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We have reg­u­lar Choir Boot­camps, where we re­hearse for full days at a time; mostly our re­hearsal time is just two hours a week at Neath Rugby Club on a Thurs­day and the Stradey Park Ho­tel on a Tues­day.

“I have a magnificen­t sup­port crew that make VRV the huge suc­cess it’s be­come. Our ac­com­pa­nist, Phil Or­rin, is an ex­cep­tional mu­si­cian and pi­anist and is also Mu­si­cal Direc­tor of the sub­lime Mum­bles A Cap­pella. They will be per­form­ing as our spe­cial guests in all our sum­mer con­certs. Siani Mul­li­gan as­sists me with the day-to-day run­ning of the choir. As you can imag­ine, there’s quite a bit of plan­ning and prepa­ra­tion that goes into ev­ery­thing we do. Siani’s sup­port is ab­so­lutely vi­tal to our suc­cess – she’s also an amaz­ing so­prano and puts our so­pra­nos through their paces in re­hearsals!

“Sam Be­van does all our sound and me­dia work. Sam takes video footage and pho­tog­ra­phy of all our events and re­hearsals; he also ac­com­pa­nies ev­ery re­hearsal as our re­hearsal drum­mer. He’s also my son and the rea­son I started VRV three years ago. His heart is go­ing strong!

“The best thing about VRV, though, is the com­mu­nity that we’ve cre­ated. Friend­ships have been made and prob­lems have been shared and solved to­gether.

“Our motto of #to­geth­er­stronger res­onates through ev­ery­thing we do. We are a huge melt­ing pot of ev­ery kind of woman - moth­ers, grand­moth­ers, doc­tors, lawyers, farm­ers, wid­ows, can­cer sur­vivors, ac­coun­tants, peo­ple strug­gling with mental health prob­lems and de­pres­sion, di­vorcees, mil­lion­aires, din­ner ladies, nurses, teach­ers, po­lice, shop work­ers, bankers, housewives, car­ers, of­fice work­ers, stu­dents . . . the list goes on and on. There is al­ways some­one on hand to chat to and meet for a cof­fee – we are a very so­cia­ble bunch!”

You can find out more about the choir on their Face­book page – https://www.face­book.com/val­ley­rock­voices/

Look­ing ahead to the au­tumn, Llanelli con­cert pro­moter Cerith Owens is busy or­gan­is­ing his pop­u­lar an­nual Gala Con­cert of Loud Ap­plause Pro­duc­tions.

The con­cert is at Ffwrnes The­atre, Llanelli, on Oc­to­ber 12. Tick­ets will be avail­able very soon.

Shar­ing the stage with the tal­ented Loud Ap­plause Ris­ing Stars (LARS) singers will be the very pop­u­lar Ken­fig Hill and District Male Voice Choir, a group of young stu­dents from the Royal Welsh Mu­sic and Drama ‘Melo­dy­namic’ fronted by LARS mem­ber Cal­lum How­ells, and the de­light­ful sounds of the Half­way Pri­mary School Choir.

Host­ing the con­cert for the first time will be Sa­muel Wyn-Morris. Sup­port­ing ac­com­pa­nists to the LARS singers will be Ca­trin Hughes and An­drew Pike.

LARS is fast becoming a recog­nised home for highly tal­ented singers

Cur­rently it has 14 singers aged be­tween 14 and 23 years old per­form­ing all gen­res of mu­sic.

In its short his­tory, LARS has given op­por­tu­ni­ties for its mem­bers to per­form not only at home but also in­ter­na­tion­ally. Of­ten its mem­bers are heard on S4C pro­grammes, ra­dio and as guest artists at a range of mu­si­cal events from big gala con­certs to pri­vate func­tions.

This month, there’s an op­por­tu­nity to hear Men­delssohn’s Eli­jah.

Côr Glan­du­lais, Pon­tard­du­lais, will be stag­ing the or­a­to­rio at Siloh Chapel on Satur­day, May 18 (7pm).

The per­for­mance will also fea­ture Llan­gen­nech Pri­mary School Choir and Mold and District Mixed Choir.

Guest soloists will be Gail Pear­son, so­prano, Su­san Thom­son, con­tralto, Richard Allen, tenor, and Gary Grif­fiths, bass.

The guest or­gan­ist will be Huw Tregelles Wil­liams

OBE and the con­duc­tor will be Alun Tregelles Wil­liams..

Tick­ets, start­ing at £10, are avail­able from Côr Glan­du­lais mem­bers and Mar­garet Thomas on 01792 883117.

Writ­ten by Felix Men­delssohn, Eli­jah pre­miered in 1846 at the Birm­ing­ham Fes­ti­val. It de­picts events in the life of the Bi­b­li­cal prophet Eli­jah, taken from the books 1 Kings and 2 Kings of the Old Tes­ta­ment.

May will also see a new Welsh ver­sion of Beethoven’s only opera Fide­lio.

OPRA Cymru will be stag­ing Fide­lio at the Lyric The­atre, Car­marthen on Tues­day, May 7 (7.30pm).

The opera is told through the words of Mererid Hop­wood, the first woman to win the Bard’s Chair at the Welsh Na­tional Eisteddfod.

If you have news about the choral scene in Llanelli, email [email protected] waleson­line. co.uk or rl­loy­[email protected] bt­in­ter­net.com

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