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Bridgend Male Choir with Da Capo & Crescendo Youth Choirs: January 2024

It was a joy to witness three choirs singing in harmony at the glorious Pisgah Chapel at a charity concert in aid of Cost of Cancer.

The evening started with Bridgend Male Choir (BMC) singing one of their favourite pieces Builth which won them best individual piece at Truro’s Choir Competition. With the organ coming in to support the harmony, the piece ended in no less than seven Amen’s, the last of which was nearly drowned out by audience applause.

After two more pieces from BMC, it was then the turn of Crescendo who sang a variation of Calon Lan which delighted the audience. This was followed by a moving rendition of Bring Him Home from Le Mis. Ti a Fi written by Fronwen Lewis, a Welsh singer-songwriter and The Prayer were equally moving and much appreciated by the audience who again came in with thunderous applause.

Now it was the turn of the younger Da Capo Choir, who entertained us with renditions of The Lord’s Prayer from African Sanctus followed by A Million Dreams from the Greatest Showman, and finishing their spot with Lost boy which was sung with great composure and humility.

The mood changed with BMC’s Deputy Musical Director Stewart Roberts giving a heart-rending performance of The Swan from carnival of the Animals on his beloved cello. You could hear a pin drop; such were the mellow and sensitive tones emanating from Stewart’s cello. It didn’t take any time for the applause to come in once more after such a spellbinding performance.

The last set of pieces in the first half started with BMC singing the well-known Welsh hymn Gwahoddiad by Hartsough which is synonymous with funerals, but brilliant in its own right. Only three Amen’s this time, and again applause coming in very quickly. Next was My Lord What a Mornin’ starting pp (very soft) through crescendo and back to pp with unison and close harmony emphasising the different passages. Last in the set was An American Trilogy written by composer Mickey Newbury and popularised by Elvis Presley in the 1970’s. Before the choir started, its own Dr Peter Morgan narrated the famous President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address of 1863 with rich feeling, leading into the first quiet notes of the piece. A heart-rending medley with so much variation showing off the choir’s ability to sing as softly as they could loudly, and benefitting again from the great notes from the organ.

Opening the second half of the concert, BMC lightened the tone with You Make Me Feel So Young with a light-hearted rendition of a favourite of Frank Sinatra. Next was Tell My Father from Civil War arranged by our own MD Ryan Wood. The singing changed the mood of the audience to a tear-jerking feeling of sadness. Last in the set was I Write the Songs; an easy listening piece performed perfectly, and which many of us remember Barry Manilow performing in the 1970’s.

Stewart was back on stage with a performance of Love Theme from Cinema Paradiso, written by the famous film music composer Ennio Morricone, also known for Gabriel’s Oboe, and writing for the popular tenor Andrea Bocelli. Again, Stewart was at his best with his beloved cello serenading the audience with the soft notes of this lovely theme.

Da Capo were on stage again singing the bouncy Seasons of Love with lyrics of measuring love in minutes. Next was their rendition of We Go Together from Gease which had us all foot-tapping with shoobop sha wadda wadda yippity boom including dance routine. Just brilliant!

Crescendo were now back with a performance of the melodramatic A Thousand Years which was sung beautifully and followed by Never Enough from The Greatest Showman with the choir giving a very poignant rendition of a well-known classic. The choir finished their set with The Rhythm of Life from Sweet Charity, which is a piece BMC have also sung over the years. It’s a very tongue twisting piece of music which the choir performed with aplomb and which the audience acknowledge by their ready applause.

First of BMC’s last two pieces was Anthem from Chess with its rich tones in a major key sent shivers down one’s back, with close harmony and a grand finale. The last of the choir’s individual pieces was Finlandia by Jean Sibelius. It was written in 1899 as a covert protest against increasing censorship from the Russian Empire. The choir performed this work with great gusto and a final great Amen to an ever-indulgent audience, who again reacted with their usual applause.

The last piece of the evening brought the three choirs together for the lovely Welsh piece Anfonaf Angel (Guardian Angel) written by Robat Arwyn as recently as 2008. With voices now ranging from bottom base through to soprano, the full choir sang the piece with feeling, beautiful harmony and intonation wowing the audience to new heights. The performance culminated in the whole audience giving a richly deserved standing ovation to the choirs and music staff for a glorious evening of music.

The brilliant music staff for the evening were BMC Musical Director Ryan Wood, Accompanist Stephanie Todd, Deputy Musical Director Stewart Roberts on organ and cello solo, Narrator Dr Peter Morgan and Compere Chris Jones. For Da Capo and Crescendo Youth Choirs, Musical Director Kathryn Blight, and accompanist Diane Wright, all of whom made the extremely successful concert possible.


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