The Aberhonddu and District Male Choir has published their very first 'Sound of the Beacons' Podcast on Facebook and Youtube today (Wednesday 23rd June). In the First episode Marc Williams (Secretary) talks about how the choir is getting back to practices at last in person and is joined by Lyn Thomas (Musical Director) and Lynne Griffin (Deputy MD). You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the Youtube link below. Enjoy! https://youtu.be/Jvki8hAQJFM
Members of the choir had a very entertaining evening on Zoom recently with our President, Llio Evans as our castaway choosing her favourite discs. Our very own Marc Williams conducted the interview. Llio found it hard to select eight pieces of music, but went on to give us a varied and interesting choice, ranging from music from Disney’s - Beauty and The Beast, Queen (Don’t stop Me Now), Whitney Houston (I have Nothing) and Mozart’s Overture from The Marriage of Figaro. For her Welsh choice Llio selected Pan Fyddo’r Nos Yn Hir sung by Sir Bryn Terfel. Llio gave us a fascinating insight into her extensive music career to date, explaining how as a child she was not keen to enter Eisteddfod’s, but was persuaded by her parents by the offer of a hamster! Llio got her hamster and went on to do well in competitions. She gained a place at The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and studied for her degrees at Cardiff University, where she met her future husband, Eugene. Her musical career took off after she stood in for Lesley Garrett, who became unwell, Llio finding herself promoted from the chorus to one of the principal parts in the opera. Llio also reflected on her trips to Den Bosch. We were fortunate to meet up with Llio in Den Bosch in the Netherlands in October 2019, where she had been asked to sing for the third time as part of the commemoration events to mark the liberation of the town by 53rd Welsh Division in 1944. It was at this time she agreed to become our choir’s President. Llio told us she had been kept busy during lockdown (having lost a year’s worth of work), transforming a recently purchased house into a home via newly acquired DIY skills with Eugene. Also doing craft videos and children’s Eisteddfods on line. Llio is looking forward to performing to audiences soon, and believes that people will appreciate live music and opera more once lockdown is over. We certainly look forward to the time when we can sing with Llio again.
During the weeks leading up to Christmas, the Choir have been busy practising in an open sided marquee at The Barn at Brynich, Brecon, generously loaned to the choir on a Friday night or Sunday afternoon by the Jones family. Father Christmas hats have been donned, along with the odd pair of antlers and even a woollen Christmas pudding hat, not only to keep choristers in a festive mood but on occasions a little warmer. Singing with facemasks has proved a particular challenge especially for those wearing glasses! The result has been a series of 3 Virtual Christmas Concerts in aid of Shelter Cymru and Brecon Foodbank and have been premiered Live on Facebook. The concerts can be viewed below (YouTube Video) or via the Choir Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/breconmalechoir During this time of year, the Choir would be visiting Care Homes singing to the staff and residents. Unfortunately, we are unable to do that this year, but the Choir have recorded a number of Christmas Carols with the videos being sent directly to them. The Choir wanted to bring some festive cheer to everyone during these difficult times. Donations can be made on line for Shelter Cymru: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/aberhonddu-and-district-male-choir Or for Brecon Foodbank: https://Brecon.foodbank.org.uk/give-help/donate-money/
With the country back in lockdown the choir is now meeting up again over Zoom. We have had a treat for the start of 2021. The choir has been very fortunate to link up with our past president Dr Haydn James during January. Firstly, we were treated to an evening whereby choir members were invited to ask Haydn questions about his extensive musical career. We were given a fascinating insight into the nine occasions he has conducted massed choir festivals (1000 Voices’) at The Royal Albert Hall. There were so many questions and so little time via Zoom, that a second session is planned soon. We were much encouraged by Haydn’s positive response to a question regarding our choir’s attendance at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, for singing again at one of the future matches organised by The Welsh Rugby Union (of which, Haydn is The Musical Director). Our second session in January, he kindly agreed to play a selection of songs for us to sing (on mute) over Zoom, as these pieces had all featured during his past performances, and we were immediately taken back to our times at The Royal Albert Hall. The only frustration for Haydn was the inability of Zoom and the Internet connections to allow him to conduct us. Never mind, it paves the way for future events.
The Aberhonddu and District Male Choir hosted a very different concert this year – a virtual one! The Virtual Concert ‘Lockdown Melodies’ was streamed live on Facebook on Wednesday 29th July. As a Choir we have missed singing and performing together but with Zoom at our disposal we are still able to meet on a Friday night. During these difficult and uncertain times, the Choir wanted to connect with the audience to entertain along with supporting two fantastic charities – Brecon Foodbank and Ty Hafan. With limited fundraising events many charities are struggling to raise the essential money needed, but by embracing modern technology we have been able to bring a concert to the comfort of your home to help with the fundraising efforts. The concert featured artists and guests including the Archbishop of Wales, the Choir President Llio Evans, Sorela and Colonel Nick Lock. Lyn Bugler, Trustee of Brecon Foodbank, stated 'A huge thank you to the choir for choosing Brecon Foodbank as their local charity to support. We have been truly humbled by everyone in our community of offers of help, food and fundraising. Our charity is not possible, without us all working together. We wish the choir every success for the future.' James Davies-Hale, Supporter Care Manager commented 'Ty Hafan are so grateful to be one of the charities benefiting from the hard work of the Aberhonddu District & Male Choir. The funds raised following their virtual concert will quite simply, change lives for life-limited children in Wales, helping them and their families create precious memories together. Thank you to all those who have supported and taken part in the event. You're amazing!' Marc Williams, Choir Secretary, 'The concert is still available to watch for free on the Choir’s Facebook page or on YouTube, and a donation to the two worthy causes would be very much appreciated. We hope that you enjoy the concert, and we look forward to performing again soon'. www.facebook.com/breconmalechoir / https://youtu.be/6vUo31l6U1E
It is strange to think that this time last year the choir were fully engaged with practices, Weddings and concerts. We were unfamiliar with such terminology as social distancing, self-isolating, and the two meter rule. Nevertheless our choir practices continue albeit via Zoom. So now we have a choir quiz and even our A.G.M. can be held remotely from the comfort of our homes. It is pleasing to see how quickly everyone has adapted to this innovative form of technology Lockdown has meant that we now do things differently, for the present time anyway. However the choir spirit remains undaunted and in the words of the famous Vera Lynn song from a different sort of war ‘we’ll meet again’. This song was beautifully sung by our president Llio Evans, and reminiscent of a wonderful and moving time spent in s-Hetogenbosh last October. Choir members have had time to catch up with all those jobs which tend to stack up this time of year, with maintenance taking place in various forms e.g. houses have been painted, vegetables grown and gardens manicured to standard hitherto.
The choir were delighted to be invited back to sing at The Brecon Food Festival held in The Market Hall. We sang on the stage for two sessions to a packed hall conducted by Lyn and accompanied by Aysha. There was also a short additional performance promoting Welsh Brew Tea, you can see the video here.
The choir took part in The Welsh Concert at Brecon Cathedral on Monday evening (22nd July 2019) to celebrate King Goodwill Zwelithini’s visit to Wales. We were joined by Emily Pugh (Mezzo Soprano), in singing Anfonaf Angel and O Gymru. Emily Harris – Harpist, also gave a lovely performance. The choir were ably led by our Assistant Musical Director, Lynne Griffin and accompanied by the talented Becky Drysdale. On the Tuesday evening, Marc Williams (Secretary) was invited to a reception with the King, Queen and Royal Family at Theatr Brycheiniog. Marc presented a few CD's of the choir as a gift to the King on behalf of the choir.
Aberhonddu & District Male Choir are privileged to announce that Dame Shân Legge-Bourke DCVO has been made an Honorary Patron, along with newly elected President of the choir Llio Evans. For all the years’ service Dame Shân has given to the choir and the work undertaken in the local community it is a fitting tribute to make her our Honorary Patron. Dame Shân was President of the Choir for many years and was Lord Lieutenant of Powys for over 20 years. We are equally excited to have Llio Evans as our new President – welcome to the team! Llio is a Welsh soprano originally from Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. The first time the choir met Llio was at the Festival of Welsh Male Voice Choirs in 2018 where she made her Royal Albert Hall debut. Last October we sang with Llio in ‘s-Hertogenbosch for the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the city. We look forward to working with both these wonderful ladies in the future. https://www.llioevans.com/
The choir was very pleased to sing in Merthyr Cynog Community Hall at Upper Chapel Saturday evening, 13th July, for their church fund raising Summer Concert. Our very own soloists Harvey Cloke and Marc Williams performed individually and together. Marc gave an excellent performance of Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ at the piano. Also, Becky Drysdale (our accompanist) played her Bassoon. There were performances by the YFC Girls Choir, which made for a most enjoyable evening. We were grateful to the local community for providing the refreshment afterwards.
A.D.M.C. was delighted to join Talgarth Choir on Friday 21st June in St Gwendoline’s Church in Talgarth, as part of the celebrations to mark their 50th Year. The two choirs sang a varied programme on their own and then combined with 70 voices to a near capacity audience in the church. A total of £940 was raised for St Gwendoline's Church. Everyone enjoyed the excellent food provided after the concert in Talgarth Rugby Club.
Last weekend saw another busy time for the choir. It started on Friday night (3rd May 2019) where the choir performed at the Celtic Manor for the Care after Combat South Wales Region Spring Ball. Care after Combat is a UK based charity providing professional assistance for the well-being of Veterans and their family. The Spring Ball included an auction to raise money to continue supporting Welsh Veterans. Guests included Jim Davidson OBE, Sheri Hamilton-Shaw (X Factor), Kev Johns MBE (Swansea Sound) and Will Kevans (Caricaturist). On Saturday we were honoured to be asked to sing at Leanne and William’s wedding which was held at Llangynidr Church. It was a lovely day and the choir thoroughly enjoys performing at weddings and to be part of the couples special day.Members of the choir were delighted to be invited to sing at the Guildhall in Brecon on Sunday, for an event organised by the Saline Twinning Association. Representatives from Saline, Michigan, USA were present including Brian Marl, Saline’s Mayor. Manny Trailor, Brecon town Mayor, was also in attendance, together with members of Brecon Town Council and the Twinning Association. Here was a great opportunity for old friendships made during the previous choir visit in 1992 to be renewed. Only 3 original members and 1 past member were present from this time, as well as our MD and our accompanist, Aysha Waghorn. We will have to start planning to visit Saline again in the near future.
On Saturday 18th May 2019, the choir along with Lyn and Aysha enjoyed a weekend trip to High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, to join The Wycombe Orpheus Male Choir, for their annual concert in Wycombe Swan Theatre. The concert also promoted the very best of talent from the Orpheus’s Festival of Young Musicians and there were fantastic performances from the High Wycombe Music Centre Saxophone Choir and Borlase Barbershop. The singing then continued late into the night at the “Afterglow”. https://photos.google.com/share/AF1QipMDGm6DOWdPqWYN0__c1Ayi5td3lBQHt7DdMQeyLV5WbAbzzZsQqGLr0h7TTmu35g/photo/AF1QipPn6Ghq3deU3N74uR8b2B3kOWPVyOpWZC9N2oEA?key=dzZKMmp5TlRRREhvRFY5MUY4UENlaDRILXJkNXd3
The choir have had a busy time in the lead up to Christmas in 2018. Commencing with singing at Brecon Cathedral for their Christmas Tree Festival on 8th December (the friends of the choir suitably decorating a tree with a musical theme). The Brecon Three Tenors and Marc Williams (Tenor) also performed some Christmas pieces. After Choir Practice on 14th December we went to The Black Cock Inn, Llanfihangel Tal-y-llyn for the "Pub of the Month" singing some favourite Christmas and Welsh songs.We were then privileged to be invited by year 6 from Llanfaes School, to join them at St David’s Church for their Christingle on 18th December. The choir also sang carols at Morgannwg House in Breconon 21st December. Our festive engagements culminated, in carol singing in Bethel Square on 22nd December with Donkeys in attendance and a snow machine, not forgetting Santa Claus! This Christmas the choir were raising money for the local charity ‘Dial a Ride’, donations were given by choir members along with a bucket collection from Bethel Square. The choir would like to wish you all a Happy New Year and hope to see you in 2019. Blwyddyn Newydd Dda!
Members of the choir with Lyn and Becky, recently travelled to Warrington in Cheshire, to sing at the wedding of Mark Brian’s son at St Matthew’s Church in Stretton and afterwards at the reception held at Arley Hall. Mark is one of our top tenors, and we were delighted he was able to sing with us on this special occasion. Congratulations Alex and David.
The choir being regular supporters of Trallong Eisteddfod, competed again this year in the choir competition, and received a very favourable adjudication by Mrs Iona Jones. The choir gained first and second prize winning the Glenys Moses shield, after singing The Jolly Roger and O Nefol Addfwyn Oen. The prize money was donated back to Trallong Eisteddfod. Two of our choir members Marc Williams and David Price competed in other singing entries at the Eisteddfod, with Richard Hale winning one of the literature sections. Da iawn pawb! Photographs © Nick Treharne
Last Friday evening’s practice was cut short to allow members of the choir to attend Crai Community Hall to join in with their end of WW1 celebration party. The choir singing a medley of First World War songs along with three other pieces appropriate to the occasion. This was followed by a tea party, which as always was generously supplied by the ladies from Crai community. Everyone was very appreciative of the choir’s singing at this special event. A collection during the evening for Help For Heroes raised £70.
From Clee to heaven the beacon burns,The shires have seen it plain,From north and south the sign returnsAnd beacons burn again. The words of A. E. Houseman that open the poem entitled‘1887’. Those words were meant for a different conflict, yet were well applicable to our lighting of the beacon on Brecon Promenade on the evening of Sunday 11th November, 2018, the 100th anniversary of the Armistice to the 1914-18 war. The day had begun assembling at St Marys’ Church Green in the Town centre at 10.40am to prepare for the annual Act of Remembrance. It was a particularly significant occasion on this the commemoration of the Armistice. During this very well attended service a wreath was laid at the Cenotaph on behalf of all the choir members bearing an inscription “In remembrance of the fallen in all conflicts”. The Sunday evening commemoration, ‘The Battles Over–A Nations Tribute’, commenced at 6.15pm and we were joined by the Mayor of Brecon together with the RAF St Athan Ensemble and two pupils and a staff member from Christ College who gave a moving tribute to a past pupil of Christ College, a man who paid the supreme sacrifice in WW1. The past pupil was Charles Piper Hazard who was commissioned into the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry and who was killed in the Ypres Salient on the 21st April 1915. The presentation was performed by Janet Hope, Head of English, together with Harry Jones and Poppy Lawley from the Upper Sixth and was extremely well done. The Last Post was sounded at 6.55pm, the beacon lit at 7.00pm and brought a very emotive day to an end. The beacon on the Promenade was one of many throughout the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Isle of Man and UK Overseas Territories and symbolizes the ‘light of hope’ that emerged from the darkness of war’. Houseman’s ‘1887’ poem was a salute to the 53rd(Shropshire) Regiment of Foot which, as part of an amalgamation, became the Kings Shropshire Light Infantry in 1881 and was, of course, the Regiment in which Charles served and died. In a later verse of the poem we find; We pledge in peace by farm and townThe Queen they served in war,And fire the beacons up and downThe land they perished for.
A number of special presentations were made after one Friday night practice. Our Chairman, Derek Price made a speech in which he thanked Lynnette Thomas our Musical Director, and Lynne Griffin our Deputy Musical Director, for their dedication and commitment to the choir over the past twelve months. Both were presented with cheques. Edwin Roderick was presented with a fine bottle of brandy and an engraved glass to mark sixteen years loyal service with the choir as Chairman.
This year 27 members of Cor Meibion Aberhonddu, together with their wives, partners and supporters attended The 26th London Welsh Festival of Male Choirs. Held in The Royal Albert Hall, London under the baton of Dr. Edward-Rhys Harry. This was a special event as we were privileged to be joined by The Band of the Welsh Guards and Aled Jones M.B.E (compare), in recognition of the approaching centenary of the end of WW1. This was reflected by the massed 15 choirs of 800 voices, singing a medley of song from the First World War, along with a full and varied programme of songs in Welsh and English. Everyone had a fantastic evening and a special thank you must go to Lyn Thomas B.E.M our musical director, for all her assistance in preparing the choir so well for the occasion. And to Eileen Jones, Ann Bevan and Mary Robinson from The Choir Friends, for making all the excellent travel arrangements. Needless to say the post concert party at our hotel went on well into the small hours. With musical accompaniment from Lyn, Becky and Colin on the key board with plenty of singing from all present in the packed bar. We even sang two especially composed humorous pieces by Richard Hale from our choir. To finish off the weekend the choir visited Windsor before returning home.
Last Sunday members of the choir attended The Tabernacle Chapel in Morriston, Swansea, for the last scheduled practice for The Royal Albert Hall. Over 400 choristers were there to rehearse the programme under the baton of The Musical Director, Edward-Rhys Harry, for the Festival of Male Choirs on Saturday 13th October 2018.
Last Friday after our usual practice at Llanfaes School, members of the choir complete with Lynne Griffin (our Deputy Musical Director), met at The Castle Hotel in Brecon in secret! This had been prearranged so that we could practice our piece for a surprise flash mob style entry to our very own Lynnette Thomas’ investiture at The Guildhall in Brecon on Tuesday. Dame Shân Legge-Bourke The Lord Lieutenant of Powys, was party to our secret and was in full support of our surprise, in view of the fact she would be awarding Lynnette a British Empire Medal along with awards for two other recipients from the area. We assembled as planned at 1800 hours in full kit outside Lloyds Bank in Brecon as planned by Marc our Secretary, ensuring no one arrived any earlier! We then as quietly as possible waited outside the entrance to The Guildhall, to spring our surprise on Lynnette, and those assembled within following the awards by Dame Shân. Upon a signal that our time had arrived, we all marched smartly in. It was nice to see our accompanist Becky Drysdale with the latest addition to her family in the entrance hall. Once assembled inside and to the obvious surprise of Lynnette and her family, we sang Gwahoddiad unaccompanied and ably directed by Lynne Griffin. Edwin, our Chairman, said a few words about Lynand her dedication to music, education and the Welsh language. Suffice to say we successfully resisted the buffet prepared in the entrance hall for the post investiture party and repaired to The George for liquid refreshment! Diolch yn fawr iawn’. Lynnette later sent a message of thanks to the choir: ‘I honestly cannot believe that all of you went to the Castle after practice last Friday night WITHOUT ME!! Seriously, thank you so much for my surprise. It was wonderful to have not only my family there, but all of my ‘extended’ family as well. I’m so pleased that you could be there, and thank you to those that arranged it and also to Lynne & Becky as well as to all of you for making the effort to be there.
We had some special guests at last Friday’s practice in the form of two musical directors from Delaware U.S.A. David and Linda had asked to join our practice, and we were delighted to have David join in with the top tenor section, to boost their numbers. After our practice a presentation was made by our chairman Derek Price, by way of a choir photograph for David’s study and a copy of the choir’s C.D. David was kind to give us a piece of music he had composed especially for the choir. Afterwards many choir members along with Lyn and Becky went to The Castle Hotel in Brecon. Where our new American friends joined us. Everyone present enjoyed a singsong, which will be the first of many such occasions for our Pub of The Month programme. Keep an eye out on our website and Facebook which pub we will be attending. We maybe visiting one near you!