on song with ROBERT LLOYD
CÔR Meibion Llanelli Male Voice Choir believe in planning ahead.
They have started arranging a trip to Germany next year.
The choristers have scheduled a visit to their ‘twin choir’ in Laudenbach, Germany, at the end of May and the beginning of June.
The German choir is Singverein 1870 and, as the name suggests, they have a rich history dating back to the 19th century.
“They are a little bit older than us,” choir secretary Fred Elias said with a smile.
“We have only been going 55 years, since 1964!”
Mr Elias added: “The two choirs signed a formal partnership agreement back in 1979 and we have paid previous visits to Germany - and they have come to perform here in Wales.
“In 1996, we helped arrange a very special occasion for Singverein 1870 by making sure they were invited to sing at the Royal Welsh Festival of Male Choirs in the Royal Albert Hall.
“The friendships and the bonds between the two choirs are very special, so we are looking forward with great enthusiasm to touring Germany next year.”
There is now a new team in charge of music at Côr Meibion Llanelli.
Côr Curiad conductor Alex Esney has taken on the baton of musical director.
Jane Jewell, already widely known throughout south Wales as an accomplished pianist, is the accompanist.
And the team is strengthened further by the addition of Stephen Hopkins, from the Llanelli Citadel Salvation Army, as deputy conductor.
Stephen sent in his biography to help On Song readers get to know him better . . .
He explained : “I was born in Llanelli and have lived here all my life. Married to Janine for 30 years and have three children and one granddaughter.
“I learned to read music at 16 years of age and started to play a brass instrument and sing the choir at Llanelli Citadel Salvation Army.
“At 21, I became leader of the youth band and Deputy Bandmaster of the Llanelli Citadel Salvation Army Corps Band, progressing to the position of Bandmaster for a 10 year period.
“I also conducted Llanelli Salvation Army Songsters (mixed choir) for seven years.
“I have sung with local choirs such as Cor Glandulais and have performed a number of times in venues such The Royal Albert Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall and Colston Hall Bristol.
“Since 2017, I have also been part of Ammanford Town Silver Band, playing in the Trombone section and the Bass (Tuba) section and on occasions conducting the band.
“Music has always been a major part of my life and I gain great pleasure and enjoyment from it.
“I am employed in the office of a small local company that supplies dairy products to residential homes and day centres in Carmarthenshire, Swansea, Neath/Port Talbot, Bridgend and school milk to children at more than 400 schools in those four counties.”
In other news, here is another date for your diary -
There will be a Cyngerdd Mawreddog (Grand Concert) in Neuadd Sant Iago (St James’ Hall) in Cwmann, Lampeter, on Friday, September 6 (7pm).
The concert will feature soloists Ellen Williams, Cardiff, and Kees Huysmans, Lampeter.
It will also feature Plant Ysgol Carreg Hirfaen and Côr Meibion Cwmann a’r Cylch.
The president for the evening will be Twynog Davies, of Pentre-Bach. Tickets are £8.
Bass baritone Kees Huysmans is something of a folk hero in west Wales.
Kees moved to rural Wales from Holland in the 1980s.
He insisted on learning Welsh and embraced all the Welsh traditions that surrounded him, and he was advised to join a local choir to help him learn Welsh.
During this time he found his singing voice and was introduced to the world of the Eisteddfod.
His interest peaked when he won the Blue Ribbon at the National Eisteddfod in Abergavenny in 2016.
He turned to his business career through necessity and turned to the treats of his native country – waffles.
The business called Tregroes Waffles has been an amazing success and has taken the name of the village Tregroes throughout Europe.
Kees has also published his autobiography - and it’s a good read!
Soprano Ellen Williams completed her studies in opera in 2017 at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) where she studied with Suzanne Murphy and Michael Pollock.
Ellen has been praised for her “poise and promise, her voice agile with silvery charm” (The Guardian), and has been described as singing “with heart-piercing sweetness” in The Times. Ellen has given performances in Cadogan Hall, Royal Concert Hall Glasgow, Bridgewater Hall, the Wales Millennium Centre and St. David’s Hall, where she was a finalist in the Welsh Singers Showcase 2018 and performed with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Gareth Jones.
During her studies at the RWCMD, Ellen was awarded the Aneurin Davies Memorial Prize and the Elias Soprano Prize and was fortunate to sing the role of Nannetta (Falstaff) conducted by Carlo Rizzi, Barbarina and cover Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro), Emmie (Albert Herring), and Cinderella in Massenet’s Cendrillon.
Ellen was delighted to perform Baroque favourites with Rachel Podger in the Dora Stoutzker Hall, as well as scenes as Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier) and Lakmé with the Welsh National Opera Orchestra under the baton of Simon Phillippo.
In 2016, Ellen was honoured to perform the final fugue in Verdi’s Falstaff as Nannetta in a celebratory concert for the RWCMD to HRH the Prince of Wales at in Buckingham Palace.
Ellen is also an alumna of Tibor Varga Music Academy in Switzerland, Dartington International Summer School, and COSI Opera Festival in Italy, gratefully supported by the Arts Council of Wales and the Elizabeth Evans Trust.
Festival performances include recitals at Fishguard International Music Festival, Bangor Music Festival, Cowbridge Music Festival, and the Royal British Legion Wales Festival of Remembrance, and concert works include Handel’s Messiah in St. David’s Hall, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana in Gloucester Cathedral, conducted by Adrian Partington, Bach’s Magnificat, and Christmas Oratorio in Llandaff Cathedral.
Ellen has won numerous awards at the National Eisteddfod of Wales including an Eirwen Griffiths Jones Scholarship and a Violet Mary Lewis Memorial Scholarship, has been a finalist in the W Towyn Roberts Scholarship competition and in the Llangollen International Voice of the Future competition. She appears regularly on Welsh TV and radio with highlights including appearing as a soloist in the British premiere of The Bards of Wales conducted by Karl Jenkins.
The choristers from Llandyfaelogbased Côr Meibion Dyffryn Tywi are getting ready for their annual concert. It will be at the Princess Gwenllian Centre in Kidwelly on Saturday, October 12, 7pm. The choir will be joined by Gwendraeth Valley’s Côr Meibion Mynydd Mawr.
The members of the Hospital Notes Choir, based in Llanelli, are getting ready for a big concert in September. Hospital Notes will be joined by Cor Meibion Llanelli Male Voice Choir for ‘The Greatest Show’ on Friday, September 6 (7.30pm) at The Diplomat Hotel, Llanelli.