California Dreamin’

Monday 01 August 2005

Playing to a full house at the OCLP Club in Bryntirion, the Bridgend Male Choir hosted a joint concert with the Orange Community Chorus from Southern California on Monday night.

It was the Welsh leg of the American choir’s tour of Great Britain, having already performed in Edinburgh, York and Stratford-upon-Avon.

Compere Gareth Davies welcomed the 32-strong California choir to Bridgend and outlined the programme for the evening before an expectant audience touching the 200 mark.

This versatile and accomplished US choir performed a variety of pieces in the first half. They began sweetly with ‘A Welsh Lullaby’ (Suo Gân) arranged by the notable American composer K. Lee Scott, moving on to Robbie Burns’ ‘A Red, Red Rose’ and that most famous of American folk songs ‘Shenandoah’ featuring soloist Diane Patton. One of the highlights of the programme was the Jimmy Joyce arrangement of Pete Seeger’s hit ‘The Bells of Rhymney’. The poignant words here from the Idris Davies poem bemoaning the ills of the coal industry struck a chord with the Welsh audience, and the use of orchestra bells added to its intensity.

It was then the turn of the local boys to charm the audience at a venue never used before by the choir. A rousing start with Rachie ‘I bob un sydd ffyddlon’ was tempered by the next piece ‘Eli Jenkins’ Prayer’, narrated emotively by the choir’s John Jones and sung lyrically by soloist Graham Collins to great applause. Derek Jones’ arrangement of the spiritual ‘Every Time I Feel the Spirit’ had the Orange county singers cheering, as they did once again following the rendition of that perennial No. 1 hit ‘Unchained Melody’. The first half was