There was a near capacity audience at Chelmsford Cathedral on 8 June for the 52nd Annual Concert of Chelmsford and District Welsh Society, given by Bridgend Male Voice Choir, Serin, a close harmony trio of young ladies, and organist Scott Williams.
The choir opened with Llanfair, followed by Schubert’s Heilig in German, John Rutter’s Down By the Sally Gardens, and the hymn tune Builth, showing an excellent mastery from pianissimo through to fortissimo throughout. Scott then played R Vaughan William’s lovely arrangement of Rhosymedre. Serin followed with California Dreaming, an inspirational Tri Aderyn Cymraeg (Three Welsh Songbirds), a powerful Bridge Over Troubled Waters and concluded with a tender traditional Calon Lan (A Pure Heart) to the tune The Rose. The choir continued with the spiritual Ride the Chariot. A very moving song remembering the American Civil War followed, with Peter Morgan’s masterful recitation of the Gettysburg Address followed by a song Tell my Father, which recounts a letter written just before he died in battle by a slave to his father. Alwyn Hughes’s arrangement of the popular American Trilogy followed, with organ accompaniment at the climax. The first half ended with another poignant reminder of those who were killed in battle during WW2, The Fallen.
After the interval, during which the choir sold all their CDs, the choir sang What Would I Do Without My Music, Rhythm of Life and Singin’ in the Rain. Scott played Bach’s Nun danket alle Gott. Serin sang a haunting Cwsg, Osian Cwsg (Sleep, Osian Sleep), Can you Feel the Love tonight from The Lion King, a Medley of Folk Songs and ended with a magnificent Andrew Sisters Boogy Woogie Bugle Song. The audience rose as one and called for an encore. The ladies responded with a beautiful rendition of an arrangement of Salm 121 (Psalm 121). Finally the choir sang three well loved Welsh songs, a gentle and rather sad Myfanwy, surely the most beautiful love song ever written, J Howard’s arrangement of Davey Davies’s Y Darlyn (The Picture) and finally (Almost!) Gwahoddiad with its wonderful crescendos of Amens, enhanced by organ accompaniment. They were not allowed to leave, however, without an encore, and obliged with Gounod’s Christus Salvator, with its bonus of another crescendo of Amens.
The audience also had an opportunity to exercise their lungs, which they did admirably, joining the choir for an enthusiastic rendering of Unwaith Eto’n Nghymru Annwyl (Once Again in Dear Wales) at the commencement of the second half, and Calon Lan at the conclusion. One of the prerogatives of being the President of the Society is to choose which choir and soloists to invite to give the concert.
Ivy Price was deservedly proud and delighted with the wonderful concert we had all experienced, and rewarded the Musical Director, Ryan Wood, the accompanist Stephanie Bailey, Scott Williams the Organist, the compare Gareth Davies, and the members of Serin, Rhianna Davies, Caitlyn Hudson and Joanne Griffiths, with gifts of thanks. Finally, the audience and choir raised the roof with a joyful rendering of the National Anthem, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.