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Saturday 14 February 2015

When every ticket is sold, it usually leads to something special and Saturday’s charity concert at Bethlehem Church, Cefn Cribwr was exactly that. Bridgend Male Choir had invited the Rhondda’s Parc & Dare Brass Band to share the concert & it turned out to be an inspired choice. David Burt writes...

The Choir started with a Welsh selection, which included a rousing performance of John Guard’s “Men of Harlech” and moved into an Opera & European Selection, which admirably included Verdi’s “Bandit’s Chorus” & Kurt Lisman’s “Aus De Traube”. These items were amongst those performed when winning the male voice section at Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod. The appreciative full house applauded well all evening. Under its Musical Director, Andrew Jones, the Band proceeded to entertain with its opening selection, the highlights being Andrea Lewis’ flugel horn solo from “Over the Rainbow” and the uplifting Shostakovich’ March from “Suite for Variety Orchestra No 1”. The Band completed three more items, including Stephen Bulla’s symphonic highlights from the hugely popular Disney’s “Frozen”. The first half drew to a close with the Choir & Band coming together to perform, “Llanfair”, which was later considered a triumph by both Musical Directors.   

Starting the second half, charismatic compere, Gareth Davies explained the connection between Choir & Band, with the Choir’s valued Musical Director, Rhiannon Williams-Hale & chorister husband, Terry also being members of the Band. The talented couple are respectively percussionist & cornet player. This time the choristers entertained with modern classics including Cy Colman’s “Rhythm of Life” from Sweet Charity and the always requested “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables. Showing its versatility, the choristers then entertained with the rousing “American Trilogy” (an opportunity to show accompanist, Stephanie Bailey’s musical prowess); Handel Parker’s haunting “Deep Harmony”; the catchy “Amen” and “Bui Doi” from Miss Saigon, featuring tenor soloist, Paul Carter, which song could have been arranged for him.   

In between the vocal harmonies, the musicians from Parc & Dare again entertained with aplomb. Gareth Maidment’s euphonium solo from Welsh great, Karl Jenkins, “Benedictus” from the Armed Man was worth the entry money alone, as was Jerry Herman’s popular “Hello Dolly”, when the musicians sang along, as well as playing one verse. Well done – the audience reaction said it all. Despite the enjoyment thus far, the author’s favourite items were still to come. The Armstrong & Snodlaigh “Gwerzy” arr. by Brendan Breslin was fantastic with its building to a musical crescendo, followed by another treat. Many had never seen the very large and complex marimba (a xylophone type instrument), which was played by teenagers, Alex Maxted & Nathaniel Alcolado in their rendition of Evelyn Glennie’s “Little Prayer”. The standing ovation which followed seemed to last forever, before the Band & Choir closed proceedings jointly with the ever popular “Gwahoddiad”.   

Compere, Gareth Davies, had earlier acknowledged the work of chorister, Tom James, a Cornelly resident & Choir President, Paul Porter in pulling this concert together. In turn, Paul, a Prostate Cymru ambassador, had expressed his delight with the evening’s fund-raising and entertainment quality. Choristers wish the Bandsmen & Ladies every success at the Welsh Open Brass Band Competition at Porthcawl next weekend. In turn, the Band committed to a joint concert again, perhaps next time in the Rhondda. Post concert, the choristers & band members retired to Cefn Cribwr Rugby Club and are grateful to the Club for its generous hospitality.   


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