Annual Concert Review, 2006

Friday 06 October 2006

Associate Musical Director, Marcus Hopkin of Blackwood writes...

Once again, the hugely successful Bridgend Male Choir delighted the packed audience at St Mary’s RC Church, Bridgend. This year’s annual concert proved to be a veritable gala variety performance as the Bridgend boys teamed up with guest choir, Côr Merched Cwm Llynfi, to provide the concert-goers with a feast of entertainment.   

Under the expertise of maestro John Jenkins, the men opened proceedings with robust renditions of Russian Picnic, Hiraeth and Comrades in Arms. The ladies choir then provided some lovely contrasting vocalization with the ‘Vicar of Dibley’ theme tune, The Lord is My Shepherd. The ladies’ performance went down a real treat with full credit to their young and talented conductor Paul Deenik-Bradley, ably assisted by their accompanist Huw Morgan.   

The men then regaled with Plaisir d’Amour, featuring the wonderfully blended trio of Leon Evans, Gareth Reese and Marcus Hopkin. They then portrayed a hauntingly beautiful arrangement of Ar Lan Y Mor, followed by a favourite crowd-pleaser with the swinging spiritual The Gospel Train.    The male choir’s baritone soloist Marcus Hopkin was then warmly received with Oscar Rashbach’s ‘Trees’ and Schubert’s ‘Ständchen’.

The first half of the concert was concluded with performances of the male choir’s National Eisteddfod winning repertoire including the a cappella setting of the motet ‘Domine, Non Sum Dignus’, sung in Welsh to ‘Arglwydd Da, Nid Wyf Deilwng’, composed by the 16th century Spaniard, Tomás Luis De Victoria.  

The second half witnessed even more intense variety as the Bridgend boys roused the appreciative audience with Dashenka, followed by a special arrangement of the Austrian carol, ‘Still, Still, Still’, and for what must have been one of the evenings’ highlights, a magnificent portrayal of Rutter’s For the Beauty of the Earth.    

The men then paid tribute to Rheinallt Evans, a much loved chorister who passed away suddenly mid-week. Baritone, Rheinallt had sung with the Choir for 44 years. In his honour they sang with great sensitivity, Si Hei Lwli Mabi and Gwahoddiad, while Marcus Hopkin soloed with Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn.  

The ladies’ choir then shifted in to ‘up-tempo’ gear and wowed everyone present with finger-clicking numbers including All That Jazz from Chicago. The men closed the evening with a selection of  Mozart and Wagner, and of course all rose for the rousing Welsh National Anthem.    Throughout the evening the entertaining compere Gareth Davies guided the audience through with admirable ease whilst the very gifted pianist Rhiannon Williams-Hale, accompanied the choir and soloists with great dexterity and musicality.