Bridgend Male Choir goes from strength to strength

Saturday 13 May 2006

Believers that competition sharpens concert performance, Bridgend’s choristers took to the stage at Cheltenham Town Hall in the 80th Festival of Performing Musical Arts Competition…

Entered into the Ethel Salisbury Folk Song Challenge Cup, Bridgend competed against other Male Choirs, Ladies Choirs and an exceptional school choir, the Bristol School Chamber Choir Senior Girls. In a close run competition, two choirs were awarded marks in the excellent category by Adjudicator, Alan Padmore. He commented that to find two choirs scoring over 90 marks was very rare. He described Bridgend as providing a polished and professional performance just pipping the girls by one point to win the Cup. Accompanist Rhiannon Williams-Hale also drew praise for her fine piano playing.

In the Sacred Music Category, afternoon competition was again very strong from another variety of choir types. Adjudicator, Padmore was again critical and praiseworthy where appropriate, only the latter applying to the Bristol Girls and the Bridgend Choirs. In his summing up he praised the Male Choir for its powerful presentation, confident singing with good balance and much assured varied programme. This time however it was the Girls Choir who pipped Bridgend to deservedly win the Lily Ames Memorial Challenge Cup with Bridgend generously applauding their success.

After a couple of hours break, the target now for Bridgend was the evening Male Voice Choir prize, where it competed against Tenby Male Voice Choir, Four Lanes Male Choir from Cornwall and Swansea’s Morriston Rugby Choir, now one of the largest in Wales. In each competition Bridgend Male Choir had been drawn to compete last. Its dynamic start in Heriwn Wynebwn Y Wawr drew much praise from Alan Padmore who commented favourably upon the musicality and well chosen tempos and phrases. The Choirs ability to switch from the dramatic to the expressive and sensitive requirements of Lisa Lan and Calm Is The Sea drew further positive comment. Back into exuberant mood for This Little Light Of Mine, Alan Padmore commented on the energy, excitement and real sense of enjoyment of Bridgend’s ever improving Choir under the baton of its outstanding Musical Director, John Jenkins and with the evening competition support of yet another fine pianist, Cheryl Jones. The Choir was clearly overjoyed to be awarded the Cheltenham Orchestral & Choral Societies Challenge Cup. It was proving to be a very good day, but even better was to come.

The Music Festival had been run over several days and it was for the Adjudicator, Alan Padmore, who himself had won the Male Voice Choir section in 1976 to announce the Gold Cup Winners. This was to be awarded to the Choir of any category which had given the most memorable performance throughout the Festival. When Mr. Padmore stated that it had been a pleasure to adjudicate with music sung so well, he announced Bridgend Male Choir as winners of the “Cheltenham Gold Cup” in the packed Town Hall. Resounding applause from the audience and other competitors all but drowned out the announcement. The Choir would have liked to bring the magnificent trophy home, but with a value of £23,000 it settled for some photographs and left it in the safekeeping of the Competition Trustees.