The day we went to Aber…

Sunday 27 February 2005

Having been successful in the Male Choir Final of S4C’s Cor Cymru Competition just 3 weeks ago, the Bridgend Male Choir were invited back to Aberystwyth to compete against stiff opposition.

Included in the Choir at the Male Choir final was talented tenor and real character, Arwyn Hughes who took great pleasure at winning the prestigious event. Sadly after a long illness borne with fortitude typical of him, Arwyn passed away just 48 hours before this further event. With a tinge of sadness, the Choir set off for the day determined to do well for him and to enjoy the day out.

Arwyn, known for his sense of humour, would have had a chuckle when the bus left Bridgend without the accompanist, Rhiannon Williams, only to have to return a short journey to pick her up! Choristers were understandably muted during the journey, although there was some excitement when reflecting on Wales’ heroic rugby success in France the previous day – former WRU referee Arwyn would have enjoyed that one.

Descending on the White Hart at Llandeilo for a pre-arranged Sunday lunch the restaurant staff were kept busy with the demands of the 70+ strong Choristers. After a first class lunch the journey continued by bus and by car to Aberystwyth’s excellent Art Centre venue. Upon arrival, some choristers diverted their journey to throw red roses into an ebbing tide at the sea front – Arwyn’s favourite song after all was Ar Lan y Mor, mae rhosyn cochion.

Afternoon practice went well for the Choir with a minute’s silence observed. There was a real buzz around the Art Centre foyer afterwards when it was S4C’s turn to conduct their practice in a very lively environment, necessitating several retakes. This gave all four competing Choirs confidence for their own performances.

Down to the dressing rooms the Choir went to find them set up with bright lights and mirrors, no problem so far. The surprise was to find them all occupied by the ladies and mixed choirs and a real scramble to don shirts, bow ties and suits. On balance, the Male Choir looked the more embarrassed, but the hilarity was a tonic and removed any remaining tension. After all, the Choirs will have been suffering the same live television trepidation

Choirs taking part were: representing the Youth Choir (aged under 25 years) Cor Aelwyd CF1, mostly students and former students from the Cardiff area. Following them onto the exposed stage and representing the Ladies Choir Competition wearing glittering outfits, was Lleisiau’r Cwm from Rhydamman. Taking the stage in number three order was the Bridgend Male Choir, followed by the final performance from the Mixed Choir, Serendipity. This latter Choir was also from the Cardiff area and made up of the talents of music students and graduates from music and drama colleges.

Each Choir assembled in turn in the foyer and were able to view the performances of their competitors on a large screen television. Certainly, we from Bridgend were very impressed with the talents displayed and felt that we were joining a really good competition. After all these four Choirs had been whittled down from an initial 21 entrants. Then the moment came for the winners to be announced.

All four Choirs stood together knowing what it was like to win. Each had won its own section. The International panel of judges commended every chorister for having the bravery to take part and dwelt on the high standards displayed. Unusually on the day, this was the one occasion when you could not hear a pin drop, such was the anticipation. As soon as the name Serendipity was announced as winners, the whole area erupted with jubilation from the winners and genuinely warm applause from all others who had participated.

After a quick change of clothes, all descended to the Bar. After a day of virtual abstinence, everyone was ready for a drink or two! Impromptu singing was the order and after an entertaining afterglow, it was time for the journey home. The day had started at 11am and some 12 hours later after a day of all kinds of emotions, coaches and cars left Aberystwyth for the journey home.

Many comments were made about what Arwyn would have thought of it. After all, although Bridgend Male Choir did not win, many accolades were received and we were told that we had picked up our standards even further from the previous round of the competition. Yes, he would have been proud.