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.