Friday 09 March 2018
Birthday Celebrations at Capel Tabernacl, Pontycymmer
Tabernacl Chapel in Pontycymmer was the venue for the 100th Birthday Celebration Concert for Mrs Lena Charles, B.E.M.. who has given a lifetime of service to the Garw Valley. The Compere for the evening was Bridgend born, BBC news anchor; presenter & journalist, Huw Edwards, who made a welcome return to Pontycymer. Huw had saved his greatest praise for Garw Valley native, Lena Charles who had been honoured by the Queen for her service to the community. After acknowledging a genuinely warm applause, Lena set about a quite lengthy recitation, without reference to her notes, reliving her Eisteddfodau successes of the past.
The masterful Huw Edwards, on his return to Pontycymmer, regaled those present with a brief history of Lena's contribution to the Garw Valley with a humour which is impossible to reveal very often in his newsreader “day job” at the BBC. Keeping the content flowing, he was genuinely in praise 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 were timeless classics such as 'Calon Lan' and Cwm Rhondda, along with 'Tell My Father' and 'Casatchok' and the uplifting 'Christus Salvador'. 'Tell my Father', a story of a father and son relationship at the American Civil War, was preceded by a narration of the Gettysburg Address by chorister, Dr Peter Morgan. This was the Choir at its very best.
Interspersed between the male choir’s contributions were the Blaengarw Primary School Choir and Angharad & Meinir, a versatile harp and vocal duo. The school content was really well delivered with Huw Edwards commenting on the clarity of diction and musicality of this group of 20 pupils. He praised the content choice and teased the choir as to his favourite 'Can you feel the love tonight', tho’ it was hard to choose. Teachers and pupils had clearly put in a lot of practice to achieve the standard on the evening and fully deserved the promise of an Easter Egg each from Huw. The duo of Angharad & Meinir was a joy to hear and also received much praise: “Just what was needed to bring contrast” were Huw's comments. The content was extremely varied with the haunting 'Anfonaf Angel' alongside Handel's ' Rinaldo', 'My little Welsh Home' and 'Bill (from Showboat). The harp playing was wonderful with vocals both lyrical and quite beautiful. Before the Choir was allowed to leave, Huw insisted that it sang Gwahoddiad (a song of 'invitation') as an encore with 'Penblwydd Hapus Lena' and 'Hen Wlad Fy’n Hadau' bringing a great evening's entertainment to a close.
Huw is a Patron of Bridgend Male Choir and also of Cancer Research Wales, one of the leading cancer charities in Wales who will benefit from the proceeds from the evening.