Friday 08 December 2006
Review by concert goer, Carol Jones of Ogmore-by-Sea
This has surely been one of the finest years in the history of the Bridgend Male Choir! Following their National Eisteddfod success at Swansea, and their prestigious Gold Cup Award at the Cheltenham Music Festival as the best musical performance of all Choral competitors, this week saw the highlight of their year, in their appearance at the Millennium Centre as the guests of none other than Katherine Jenkins whom the Western Mail has described as’ our living National treasure’.
Katherine was supported by the National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Anthony Inglis and Bridgend Male Choir who filled the vast Millennium centre stage. Following the Orchestral overture Katherine entered to the rapturous applause of a packed Auditorium of two thousand people, opening with an exciting rendition of Grenada. ‘O Mio Bambino Caro’ best known as ’ Oh my beloved father’ by Puccini followed, ending with ’ I will always love you’ - a classical arrangement of the song by Dolly Parton sung on this occasion in Italian when Katherine became the first woman ever in the world to sing this song in a foreign language .
Gardar Thor Cortes, a contemporary of Katherine at the Royal Academy of Music was the guest tenor. His beautiful rich voice and his good looks found him many fans in the audience. It was then the opportunity for Bridgend Male Choir to enhance their growing reputation as one of Wales finest male choirs. They began with an exciting rendition of ’Russian Picnic’ followed by the evergreen Welsh hymn ’Gwahoddiad’ accompanied by the brilliant Rhiannon Williams-Hale. Their performance was acclaimed by the long applause from the delighted audience. The first part of the concert concluded with Katherine joining the choir in the favourite Welsh hymn ’Calon Lan’ which clearly met with loud approval of an enthusiastic auditorium.
The second part of the concert began with Katherine attired in a fabulous dress which caught the rapt attention of the audience singing the lead track from her album ‘Second Nature’ - ‘Time to Say Goodbye’. Habanera and Gypsy Dance from the opera Carmen followed. Katherine with yet another change of dress excited the audience with her rich, mellow tones.
Gardar Thor Cortes returned to the stage. He sang a mix of songs both well known and not so well known. One being a very emotional song about the life of Caruso culminating in the climatic rendition of Nessun Dorma. This was truly awesome. So great was his performance that the phrase ’stole the show’ came readily to mind.
The Bridgend Male Choir joined Katherine in closing the evening with ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘Be my Love’ best remembered from the film ’The toast of New Orleans' and featuring the tenor Mario Lanza. The excellent contribution by the Choir saw the evening reach a wonderful climax when Katherine was demanded back to the stage by the vast audience. The Choir joined with Katherine to present the latest recording of ‘The Green, Green Grass of Home’ - ending with Katherine dressed in combat gear, singing ’We’ll Meet Again‘ with the audience joining in.
The Choir can indeed be proud of the part they played in making this a memorable evening indeed. John Jenkins, their Musical Director, to whom this choir is deeply indebted, must have been a proud man.