REVIEW – MERLYN MADDOCK, MBE, MEMORIAL CONCERT & CYMANFA GANU – 23rd SEPT 2016

Sunday 25 September 2016

Eileen Price, Secretary at Capel Tabernacl, Pontycymer & her small team do a marvellous job of maintaining this wonderful place of worship and were worthy of the huge praise lavished upon them by Concert compere, Huw Edwards, BBC newsreader, journalist & presenter who has strong family links with the Garw Valley. David Burt writes......
Octogenarian, Eileen, a former pupil at the grammar school in the village, prior to the arrival of a certain school-master, Hywel Teifi Edwards (Huw’s father), found herself among other retired teachers and pupils in the congregation and amongst the choristers, all with stories to tell!.   

The masterful Huw Edwards, on his return to Pontycymer regaled those present with a brief history of the late Merlyn Maddock’s contribution to harp  making and flight particularly and in a demeanour and humour which is impossible to reveal very often in his newsreader “day job” at the BBC. Keeping the content flowing, he was genuinely praiseworthy of all contributors during the evening, revealing his pride in his Welsh heritage throughout.   

The sell-out Concert opened with the award winning Bridgend Male Choir, under the baton of musical Director, Ryan Wood and support team of Stephanie Bailey (Piano) and Scott Williams (Organ). The Choir entertained with both robust and quiet singing, revealing a diversity in content and sound, which found favour with an appreciative congregation. Included in the content were two items  recently taught to choristers, “Tell My Father” and “What Shall I Do Without My Music”. The former item, a story of a father and son relationship at the American Civil War, was preceded by narration of the Gettysburg Address by chorister, Peter Morgan and followed by the ever popular, “American Trilogy”. This was the Choir at its best.   

Interspersed between the male choir’s contribution was the School Choir of Ffaldau Primary and Eos, a harp and vocal trio of local members from the Garw & Llynfi Valleys. The school content was really well delivered. Compere, Huw Edwards commented on the clarity of diction and musicality of this group of 20 pupils. He praised the content choice and stated his favourite was “Count on me”, tho’ it was hard to choose. Teachers and pupils had clearly put in a lot of practice to achieve the standard on the evening. The trio, Eos, was a joy to hear and also received much praise from compere, Huw. “Just what was needed to bring contrast” were his comments. The harp playing was wonderful & harmonies from the vocalists, both lyrical and quite beautiful. All four items were exquisite, but, if the author had to chose, Robat Arwyn’s “Benedictus” was the choice for its haunting melody and note clarity. The congregation joined the choirs to sing together Cwm Rhondda and Calon Lan and it will have been a while since such a rousing choral contribution will have been heard in Tab!.   

Huw had saved his greatest praise until last, when he introduced the 98 years young, Lena Charles to all present. Garw Valley native, Lena had recently been honoured by the Queen for her service to the community. After acknowledging a genuinely warm applause, Lena set about a quite lengthy recitation, almost without reference to her notes, telling a story of long past, but which is still hugely relevant today. The evening ended with officials of the Bridgend branch of the charity, Parkinson’s acknowledging a donation of £1,000 towards its considerable financial fundraising objective to help find a cure for the disease. “Hen Wlad Fy’n Hadau” brought a great evenings entertainment to a close, with many comments during leaving wishing for the next one.   

Bridgend Male Choir can next be heard at All Saints Church, Porthcawl on  Saturday, 8th October raising funds for an equally worthy charity, Marie Curie Cancer Care. BMC will be accompanied by Cornwall’s Four Lanes Male Voice Choir and soprano, Rhian Hughes from Maesteg. Tickets are available at the door prior to the 7.00 pm concert start.