Wales is a musical nation. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Caerphilly constituency. The area is blessed with an abundance of male voice choirs, one of which I am the president of, ladies’ choirs, a mixed choir and an award-winning brass band, which even starred in a television Christmas advert in 2019.
But this rich and distinctive music culture has had a hard time over the past two years. Covid put a stop to concerts and called a halt to rehearsals. Attempts were made to hold virtual practice sessions and events, such as the Musical Soirée which was organised by volunteers in the Miners Centre for the Community. However, the truth is the musical experience is never the same when there is an over-reliance on technology.
Valiant efforts were also made recently to hold male voice choir rehearsals in local rugby grounds, but the cold weather and dark nights put a stop to these. Now, some indoor rehearsals are being held, with the choristers socially distancing and often wearing face coverings.
I have no doubt that when things return, slowly but surely, to as close to normality as possible, the wide variety of music groups and ensembles will rediscover their enthusiasm. Rehearsals will, undoubtedly, be held regularly across the length and breadth of the Caerphilly consistency. But we should be under no misapprehension about the challenges that will have to be faced.
Two of these will be immediate. Because many concert-goers have lost the habit of going to concerts, huge efforts will have to be made to attract audiences back to concert venues. Also, especially with male voice choirs, as a number of elderly choristers have passed away during the two years of the pandemic, recruiting new choristers will need to be a priority.
But I have no doubt that the challenges will be met. Caerphilly is a musical constituency and will continue to be for a long time yet. Music making helps to define our identity and make us who we are.