Rhos Male Voice Choir new Musical Director picks up baton
The new musical director of Rhos Male Voice Choir has said he wants to take the choir to new heights. James Llewelyn Jones conducted the choir in a concert for the first time this weekend (20th March 2016) at the Minsterley Eisteddfod in Shropshire.
He takes over the choir which is now widely acknowledged as one of the best of its kind in the country.
“It is a great honour to be asked to lead the Rhos Male Voice Choir. I have watched the choir’s progress under Aled Phillips in recent years. They are an amazing choir and have achieved great things. I hope that we can progress to even greater heights."
“The choir has such a wide repertoire and I am sure that we can continue the great tradition of winning major competitions and putting on concerts that will attract big audiences.”
Choir secretary Geraint Phillips said:
“We have had several years of outstanding success both in concerts and competitions under Aled Phillips and we are very fortunate to have as our new MD James Llewelyn Jones – from the first time he came and spent time with us at a rehearsal the choir were unanimous in wanting him to take over the reins. He is an accomplished musician with a great understanding of the culture of Welsh male voice choirs.
“We are also delighted that Kevin Whitley – who has been acting musical director over the last six months has agreed to carry on as assistant musical director – he has been a great asset to the choir over many years and we are grateful for his continued commitment.”
Aled Phillips stepped down as musical director of the choir last
summer after winning the male voice choir competition at the Llangollen International
Eisteddfod in July.
James Llewelyn Jones was born in New Zealand and raised in Montgomeryshire. He was, for many years, bass section leader of the National Youth Choirs of Wales and Great Britain and a founder member of the National Chamber Choir.
He was also a member, and later a tutor for the Four Counties Youth Choir and sang for many years with the Cantorion Sirenian Singers based in Wrexham, whose inspiring musical director Jean Stanley Jones introduced him to the works of local composers Sir William Mathias and Brian Hughes. He studied in Birmingham where he gained his B Mus (Hons) and M Mus degrees with distinction.
He has previously conducted the National Children’s Choir of Great Britain for some 11 years, and was involved in the formation of the National Children’s Training Choir GB and also Dulce Corum (the National Girls’ Chamber Choir). He was
also the conductor of Canzonetta Children’s Choirs of Manchester – formally the internationally acclaimed Manchester Boys’ choir. Since 2006, James has been the Musical Director of Canoldir, a Birmingham-base male voice choir.
He has also worked abroad in America, Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland and New Zealand. James has recently been invited to become a Choral Clinician and workshop leader for the National Association of Choirs.
Young and old celebrating St. Davids Day in Rhos
Singers between the age of 8 and 80 were on stage at Rhos’s Stiwt Theatre on Saturday in a special concert for St David’s Day.
And among the 400-plus audience were a couple who had travelled from Wisconsin, USA. The Rhos Male Voice choir concert featured Côr Bechgyn Rhos (Rhos Boys Choir) and the choir from Ysgol I D Hooson, as well as talented Welsh soprano Natalya Romaniw.
Choir members with acting musical director Kevin Whitley (Far left) with soloist Natalya Romaniw (Centre) and compere Aled Lewis Evans (Back right).
Marty and Miriam Marriott are visiting family in the area and went to the concert to see their grandson Robert Williams singing with the Ysgol I D Hooson choir.
Choir secretary Geraint Phillips said:
“The annual St David’s Day celebration is becoming a bit of a tradition in Rhos and it was great to see such a wide range of ages on stage. Both Côr Bechgyn Rhos and the I D Hooson choir showed us how much talent there is in the younger generation in Rhos, and we were fortunate to have Natalya Romaniw with us again. This was a great family celebration of St David’s Day.”
The boys' choir performed a new song written by conductor Aled Phillips about a Welsh dragon from Ponciau called Merlin.
The choir from Ysgol I D Hooson sang four Welsh songs including Cadwyn For and Joio Yn Y Jambori.
Mrs Heulwen Williams, conductor of the Hooson choir, said the children had really enjoyed performing again at the Stiwt.
Compere Aled Lewis Evans said the concert had been a memorable celebration and paid tribute to the talents of all those taking part.
Tributes to Paris at choir Annual Concert
Rhos Male Voice Choir dedicated part of their annual concert last weekend to the tragic events unfolding in Paris. The choir sang an arrangement of John Rutter’s “God be in my head and in my understanding” – based on a traditional Gaelic blessing - for those who had been killed or injured.
As audience of almost 500 at the William Aston Hall in Wrexham enjoyed a wide range of music during the concert, which also
Members of Rhos Male Voice choir with soloists Luis Gomes (2nd from L), Meinir Wyn Roberts (centre) and acting musical director Kevin Whitley (2nd from R)
featured Rhos Boys Choir, and soloists Luis Gomes and Meinir Wyn Roberts.
Choir president David Ethelston said:
“This was a fantastic concert and we should pay tribute to acting musical director – and former accompanist – Kevin Whitley who in just a few short weeks has managed to put together such an entertaining programme.”
Part of the programme included arrangements by two former choir stalwarts – John Tudor Davies and Emyr James, and Mr Ethelston said these pieces in particular had been enjoyed by their family and friends.
Among the other guests was Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones who said said it was a wonderful musical evening.
After the concert several long-standing members of the choir were honoured for what chairman Alun Roberts said was a lifetime of service to the choir.
Five members – with almost 300 years service between them – were made honorary life vice-presidents, including Gordon Williams from Rhos – who has been singing with the choir for 69 years and this year sang on stage at the annual concert with two new
Gordon Williams – 69 years a member of Rhos Male Voice Choir – with son Kevin and grandson Gruffydd.
recruits to the choir – his son Kevin and grandson Gruffydd.
Also honoured were Harold Richards, Colin Aubrey, Glyn Jones and Dennis Mills, who have all been members of the choir for more than 50 years.
Mr Roberts said:
“It is only fitting that we should honour these people for what has been a lifetime of service to the choir.”
Copies of the choir’s Christmas CD “Noe! Noe!” were also on sale at the concert. CDs can be bought from members of the choir, from Siop Y Siswrn in Wrexham and it is also available to download from i-tunes.
Tributes paid to outgoing Musical Director
Tributes have been to Aled Phillips who has stepped down after seven years as musical director of the renowned Rhos Male Voice Choir. Choir chairman Alun Roberts said:
“We would like to thank Aled for all his years of hard work and dedication to the choir. He has been an inspirational leader and has taken the choir to new heights. We will be sorry to see him go and want to wish him well for the future.”
Since Aled’s appointment in 2008 Rhos Male Voice Choir have achieved significant success in a series of competitions including:
Winners of the best male voice choir competition at the National Eisteddfods in 2011, 2012 and 2013;
Winners of the best male voice choir competition in the S4C “Cor Cymru” (Choir of Wales) competition in 2013;
Winning through to the finals of the adult choir competition in the BBC “Choir of the Year” in 2014;
Winners of the best male voice choir section at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in 2013 and 2015 – and participating in the “Choir of the World” competition as a result.
Alun Roberts said:
“Not only has Aled led us to win after win in these competitions, he has also developed and enhanced our concert repertoire. Our choir is regarded as one of the foremost choirs in the country and this is in no small measure to Aled’s determination and commitment, as well as his outstanding musical prowess.”
Accompanist Kevin Whitley will be acting musical director for the choir until the end of the year whilst the recruitment of a new conductor gets underway.
Mr Roberts said:
“We have a busy few months ahead – not least with our Annual Concert at the William Aston Hall on November 14th, Kevin has been with the choir for many years and is ideally equipped to lead us through this transition period.”
Tickets will be going on sale shortly for the annual concert which features the internationally renowned Portugese tenor Luis Gomes, making his first appearance in Wrexham, and acclaimed Soprano Meinir Wyn Roberts.
2015 brought yet more success when the choir won the Male Choir category at Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, for the second time in 3 years. Singing a brand new programme, which included a composition by local composer Brian Hughes, the choir fought off competition from 4 other choirs to win and progress to Choir of the World (COTW). Although not successful in winning COTW, the choir gave a good account of themselves, something which pleased Secretary, Geraint Phillips,
“The choir has works really hard over the last few months in preparing a new programme to competition standard and it is always gratifying when all the hard work pays off. We look forward now to preparing for our Annual Concert in November.”
John Tudor Davies MBE
It was with much sadness and regret that we learnt of the passing of John Tudor Davies MBE, Life President and former accompanist and conductor of the choir. We remember him for his outstanding contribution to the choir and to the world of music. He will be fondly remembered and sorely missed, and we extend our thoughts and condolences to his family.
The funeral will take place in Capel Penuel, Rhosllanerchrugog at 2.15pm on Tuesday 24th March. Committal to follow at Pentrebychan Crematorium.
MP praises choir after annual concert
Clywd South MP Susan Elan Jones has praised Rhos Male Voice Choir for a fantastic performance at the annual concert. Ms Jones was among an audience of more than 600 at the choir’s annual concert at the William Aston Hall in Wrexham last weekend. She said:
“Saturday's concert was a great musical feast with the Rhos Male Voice Choir, the Rhos Boys Choir and the soloists performing magnificently. It was so good to see such a crowd of people of all ages at this concert. Like many others present, I was also delighted to buy copies of the choir's latest CD of Christmas music. "
Chairman of the choir Alun Roberts said the audience seemed particularly to enjoy and appreciate a medley of first world war songs arranged by musical director Aled Phillips.
The medley included “Pack up your troubles”, “It’s a long way to Tipperary” and “Keep the home fires burning” – all popular songs of the era, as well as soloist Jonathan Phillips’ “Christmas in the trenches”.
“We wanted to commemmorate the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of World War One. These songs provided a poignant moment, particularly at this time of the year when the whole country remembers those who lost their lives in various wars.
“Many people commented after the concert how much they had appreciated those songs.”
Mr Roberts also praised soloist Natalia Romaniw – the Swansea-born Soprano who stepped into the breach at less than two days notice after Rebecca Evans had to pull out because of illness.
“We were delighted to be able to get a soloist of such a high standard as Natalia at such short notice. She really gave an outstanding performance which everyone enjoyed.”
Tenor Trystan Llyr Griffiths also entertained the near sell-out audience with a selection of operative and classical favourites including songs by Richard Strauss and Giuseppe Verdi.
Alun Roberts said:
“It was a privilege to hear Trystan sing – he is clearly going to be a great Welsh star of the future.”
The concert was the first opportunity for members of the public to buy copies of the choir’s new Christmas CD “Noe! Noe!” which is now on sale. CDs can be bought from members of the choir, from Siop Y Siswrn in Wrexham and – for the first time – the CD is available to download from iTunes.
Rhos Male Voice Choir are promising something for everybody at their annual concert in Wrexham on November 15th.
Two of Wales’s most promising opera singers – Rebecca Evans and Trystan Llyr Griffiths – will be taking to the stage at the William Aston Hall, Glyndwr University, Wrexham as soloists for the concert – which also features for the first time a contribution from Cor Bechgyn Rhos – Rhos Boys’ Choir.
The concert will be the first since Rhos Male Voice Choir sang at London’s Royal Festival Hall in the section finals of the BBC Choir of the Year in October – when their performance was described as outstanding by the judges.
The choir will be singing from its extensive repertoire – with many pieces getting a first outing at the annual concert – with a specially arranged medley including “Pack up your troubles”, “It’s a long way to Tipperary” and “Keep the home fires burning” to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War.
Musical director Aled Phillips said:
“This promises to be one of the best concerts the choir has given in recent years. We have two of Wales’s finest singers – and the choir are currently in top form.”
Rhos Boys Choir – only founded last year – will be singing at the choir’s annual concert for the first time. Aled Phillips said:
“The boys choir is a new development for Rhos Male Voice Choir – we have a very talented group of young lads – many with fathers and grandfathers in the main choir – and they are really looking forward to singing at the annual concert.”
The concert is at the William Aston Hall in Glyndwr University, on Saturday November 15th at 7pm, and some tickets are still available.
Tickets details can be found by going to our dates page (click here) or by e-mailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or from the William Aston Hall box office (01978 293293). Tickets are £20 or £10 for under 16s.
Soloist Rebecca Evans is a Welsh soprano with an international reputation. was born in South Wales and studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She has previously sung at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich and the Deutsche Staatsoper, Berlin. She is a favourite at the Welsh National Opera, including major roles in Turandot, The Marriage of Figaro, Fidelio and Hansel und Gretel.
In America she has sung Susanna and Zerlina for the Metropolitan Opera, New York, as well as performing in opera houses in Santa Fe, Chicago and San Francisco.
She is a regular guest at the BBC Proms. Recent highlights have included Beethoven's Symphony no. 9 with the Leipzig Gewandhausorchester and Blomstedt and with the London Symphony Orchestra and Gardiner; Brahms’ ‘Ein Deutsches Requiem’ with the Accademia Santa Cecilia..
A Grammy Award winning artist, she has recorded prolifically including a solo recording of Italian songs for EMI. On television she has appeared on the BBC in ‘Maestro’, as Belinda (Dido and Aeneas) and as host of her own series ‘A Touch of Classics’.
Welsh Tenor Trystan Llyr Griffiths was named the ‘Voice of Wales’ in 2012 by Decca Records from a search of over 600 singers in a series televised by S4C.
He studied at Trinity University College, Carmarthen, at the Royal Academy of Music in London and most recently completed a postgraduate course in Opera Performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff..
Other prizes and awards include the 2014 Bruce Millar Gulliver Singing Prize, 2013 RWCMD HRH Prince of Wales Scholarship, The 2013 Dunraven Welsh Young Singer of the Year Prize, The 2012 MOCSA Young Welsh Singer of the Year award, The 2012 Sybil Tutton Award and the 2011 W. Towyn Roberts scholarship at the National Eisteddfod.
At the 2009 National Eisteddfod he won the Osborne Roberts Memorial Prize, the London Male Voice Choir Scholarship and the David Lloyd and Jean Skidmore Scholarship for the most promising tenor at the Eisteddfod.
Local Boys Choir Wows the Crowd at Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod
A local boys’ choir delivered a bravura performance at the prestigious Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod last week.
Côr Bechgyn Rhos (Rhos Boys’ Choir) sang traditional folk song ‘Sospan Fach’ and the Gary Barlow song ‘Let me Go’ on Wednesday 9th July, as part of the Children’s Choir of the World ceremony. The concert was only the choir’s second ever public performance.
The choir is made up of boys aged 7 – 12 and currently has 27 members. It is affiliated with Rhos Male Voice Choir and was set up by Musical Director Aled Phillips (Head of Music at Ysgol Dinas Bran Llangollen and conductor of the senior choir) in September 2013. Their debut performance was on March 1st 2014 at the St David’s day Concert at The Stiwt Theatre alongside the senior Rhos Male Voice Choir - meaning many of the boys appeared on the same stage as their fathers, grandfathers and uncles! Aled Phillips, speaking after the performance, said:
“This was another great performance by the boys, I’m very proud of the efforts they have put in and their hard work which is really paying off. I’m also delighted by the response from the Eisteddfod audience, which gave us tremendous support. We are now looking forward to future performances and to welcoming more singers to the choir.”
The choir, sponsored by local renewable energy developer West Coast Energy, is currently looking for new members from school Years 3 – 7 to join the group. Although on its summer break at the moment, there will be a registration evening for new singers between 5.30-6.30pm on Thursday 4th September at The Stiwt Theatre, Rhos. In the meantime you can emailor follow the choir on Facebook and Twitter (@RhosBoysChoir).
A busy autumn is already lined up for Rhos’ youngest stars: on Saturday November 15th they will appear as guests of Rhos Male Voice Choir in their annual concert at The William Aston Hall, Wrexham.
Choir of the Year 2014 finalist revealed
Three generations of Rhos singers celebrating St David's day
Three generations of singers took to the stage of Rhos’s Stiwt Theatre at the weekend in a gala concert for St David’s Day.
The March 1st concert featured the debut of Rhos’s newest – and youngest choir - Cor Bechgyn Rhos (Rhos Boys Choir) established last year by the village’s award winning male voice choir.
Also on the bill were students from Ysgol Morgan Llwyd and up and coming Welsh tenor Joshua Owen Mills. Many of the singers in the boys choir – whose ages range from 7 to 12 – are sons and grandsons of members of Rhos Male Voice Choir.
Choir secretary Geraint Phillips said:
“The boys’ choir made a fantastic start and were very well received by the sell-out audience in the Stiwt. It was a great family celebration of St David’s Day.”
The 20-strong boys choir performed traditional Welsh songs Calon Lan and Sospan Fach as well as their own version of Emily Sande’s Read all about it.
Joshua Owen Mills – currently completing post-graduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama – entertained the audience with a programme that included Take him home from Les Miserables and the ever-popular Santa Lucia
Musical director Aled Phillips – who conducts the Rhos Male Voice Choir and the boys choir – said:
“This concert was the result of many months of hard work – by the choirs from Rhos, by the students from Morgan Llwyd, and by Joshua Owen Mills. And they all gave performances of which they can be justly proud.”
Two of the World's most promising singers set for Wrexham debut
Two of the world’s most promising singers will be taking to the stage in Wrexham for the first time next month. Welsh baritone Garry Griffiths and New Zealand tenor Shaun Dixon are the guest soloists at the annual concert of Rhos Male Voice Choir. The concert, at the William Aston Hall in Glyndwr University, is on Saturday October 19th at 7pm. It will be the choir’s first concert in Wrexham since their wins in the Llangollen International Eisteddfod and the National Eisteddfod in the summer.
Gary Griffiths, who represented Wales this year in the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, said he is greatly looking forward to singing with the choir and appearing for the first time in Wrexham.
“It's always great to sing to a new audience and in a place I have never performed before. I will sing a selection of operatic arias to show what the main aspect of my career involves. But I will also include some show songs to give as much variety as possible. “
Although he has not heard the Rhos Male Choir he said:
“Their reputation as an outstanding choir precedes them. Many of my singing friends have told me how good the choir is.”
Speaking about the Cardiff Singer of the World competition, he said:
“I enjoyed it immensely, it was certainly a tough week but I feel I have gained tremendous amount of experience from doing it. I felt very proud to represent Wales.”
Gary studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he was the 2009 winner of the coveted Gold Medal Competition. He has regularly sung with Welsh National Opera and his performance inLa Boheme earned him the 'Best Male Opera Singer 2013' at the Theatre Critics of Wales Awards.
New Zealand born Tenor Shaun Dixon studied at RCM , National Opera Studio and with Luciano Pavarotti. Shaun currently works freelance throughout the UK, and has appeared with some of the foremost companies and orchestras including RPO, ENO, WNO and Scottish Opera.
Speaking about his first appearance in Wrexham, Shaun said:
“I am very much looking forward to it. I love to sing as that is my main passion in life . Combine that with a lot of enthusiastic men that also love to sing and an audience who love good singing and I'm in heaven."
He said he was greatly looking forward to singing with the Rhos Male Voice Choir:
“I know that they are the best Male voice choir in the world and have had a great reputation over many many years.”
He promises a repertoir with a nice mix of opera and song .
“I'm trained in the Italianate Lyric tenor repertoire so that's pretty much what you'll get. Plenty of pot boilers with good high notes (hopefully) . Sort of like listening to the 3 Tenors except just one of me. I'll also be doing the popular Pearl Fishers duet with Gary Griffiths which should go down well."
The songs he has chosen, he says, have a message – as well as letting him “show off a little”.
“Some make me sentimental , some make me laugh , some just give me an adrenaline rush . When I feel these things I tend to express this in my voice and the audience also feels this . Which is the challenge and art of good singing .”
On song choir scores unique double treble
The following text was extracted from the newspaper clip on the left taken from The Leader, Wrexham on 13/8/13. http://www.leaderlive.co.uk/"
"A male voice choir is celebrating a unique double hat-trick after taking a top accolade at the National Eisteddfod. Rhos Male Voice Choir won the best large male voice choir competition at the event in Denbigh on Saturday. It is the third year in a row that the choir has lifted the national trophy and follows wins already this year in the International Eisteddfod and the S4C Cor Cyrnru competition.
For one of the choir's younger members, the day was a double celebration. Saturday was the 21st birthday of Damien Jones and the pre-competition rehearsal began with the whole choir singing Happy Birthday to him.
Musical director Aled Phillips has spoken of his pride at the choir's continuing competition success. He said:
"This is the first time that any choir has achieved this level of success. It is a unique double hat-trick. I'm so proud of everything the choir has done in the last three years. It has been a real team effort with so much hard work."
The win at the National Eisteddfod on Saturday brings the choir's total prize winnings in the last three years to £7,000. Tickets are now available for the choir's annual concert at the William Aston Halt on Saturday, October 19. Tickets details can be found on the choir website www.rmvc.co.uk or by email to email@example.com or from the William Aston Hall box on (01978 293293. "
Rhos Best Male Voice Choir at Llangollen
Rhos Male Voice Choir won the best male voice choir competition at the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen on Saturday (13th July) completing a unique hat-trick.
The choir last year won the National Eisteddfod title for the second year in succession and earlier this year were judged to be the best male voice choir in S4C’s Cor Cymru competition. Their victory on Saturday afternoon meant that the choir went on to compete in the evening’s prestigious “Choir of the World” competition, where they delighted a packed Pavillion.
Musical director Aled Phillips said he was thrilled with the success.
“We have entered the International Eisteddfod in previous years and know just how hard it is to win. But the choir have worked really hard and gave a stunning performance.
We got a wonderful warm reception from the audience, and the adjudicators really seemed to appreciate the choir’s singing.”
The adjudicators said the Rhos choir sang with great character. And they singled out for special praise the choir’s choice of the avant garde piece “Rondes” by Swedish composer Folke Rabe. The piece does not have a conventional musical score or lyrics but includes a series of sounds and notes and directions to the choir such as “quietly whisper your telephone number” and “change places with someone next to you”.
The adjudicators said they were “delighted” to see a choir prepared to step outside the traditional repertoire of male voice choirs.
Although the choir did not win the “Choir of the World” title, Aled Phillips said the choir’s performance was – if anything – better than in the afternoon competition. “The huge audience really seemed to enjoy our performance and particularly our version of Nothing Like a Dame,” he said.
Those who missed the choir’s winning performance, broadcast on S4C, can catch up with it on the S4C website. Aled Phillips said:
“We hope that all those who saw us on TV or the internet, and want to hear more, will be able to come to our annual concert in Wrexham in October.”
Tickets are now available for the concert at the William Aston Hall on Saturday 19th October. Soloists are Gary Griffiths, who earlier this month represented Wales in the BBC’s Cardiff Singer of the World competition, and the up and coming New Zealand tenor Shaun Dixon.
Choir secretary Geraint Phillips paid tribute to the hard work of the choristers, and to Aled Phillips and accompanist Kevin Whitley.
“I don’t know if a choir has ever held these three titles at the same time, and it is testament to Aled and Kevin’s patience and perseverance, and the great efforts the choir has made, that we are now in this unique position.”
The choir’s next major engagement will be defending their title at the National Eisteddfod –to be held this year in Denbigh – at the beginning of August.
Young Stiwt singer 2013 winner
|From left: Musical director of Rhos Male Voice Choir Aled Phillips, Ffion Jones, Kieron Valentine, Imelda Barnes and choir chairman Alun Roberts|
Kieron Valentine won the Stiwt Young Singer competition this week for the second year running.
The competition – held at Rhos’s Stiwt Theatre – is sponsored by Rhos Male Voice Choir to foster local talent. All three finalists this year were from Rhos.
Kieron wins a £400 prize to help fund musical education with £50 prizes to runners up Ffion Jones and Imelda Barnes.
They each sang a varied programme at a concert with the Rhos Male Voice Choir and the visiting Toronto Welsh Male Voice Choir from Canada.
Aled Phillips, musical director of the Rhos Male Voice Choir, said:
“The three finalists all impressed the audiences and the adjudicators. They all showed a great musicality and ability to entertain, and I am sure that all three of them will have a great future in performing.”
Kieron said after the competition:
“To win once was brilliant, but I didn't expect to win a second time, especially as the other competitors were of such a high standard. To win a competition at the Stiwt is a lovely feeling, because it’s my favourite place to sing and that made winning all the more special.”
He said he would be putting the prize towards university fees in September, when he begins a music degree at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, specialising in vocal performance.
Welcome to Toronto Welsh Male Voice ChoirOn Tuesday 9th July the Rhos Male Voice Choir will host a concert with the Toronto Welsh Male Voice Choir (TWMVC) at the Stiwt theatre in Rhos. The concert will also feature three talented young local singers in the final of the Stiwt Young Singer 2013 competition. Geraint Phillips, secretary of the Rhos Male Voice Choir, said:
“This is a great opportunity for people in Wrexham and further afield to see two great Welsh male voice choirs – with a difference.”
The Rhos choir, winners of the best male voice choir title in the National Eisteddfod in 2011 and 2012, also won the male voice choir section of S4C’s Cor Cymru competition this year. In August they will be defending their title when the National Eisteddfod comes to Denbigh.
The joint concert with the Toronto choir comes after a hectic schedule in June with concerts in Beverley Minster, Yorkshire and last weekend in Penmachno, North Wales. The Beverley concert raised over £1000 for Macmillan Cancer Care and gave the choir the opportunity to sing for the first time in one of Yorkshire’s finest ancient buildings. The Penmachno concert raised more than £1500 for St Tudclud’s Church in the village, which re-opened in 2009 after a 15-year closure. Geraint Phillips said:
“The feedback the choir has been getting from recent concerts has been first class. It seems that the choir is really ‘on song’ at the moment.”
The Toronto Welsh Male Voice Choir was founded in 1995 by a group of keen singers with Welsh heritage. They have performed all over Canada and North America and are touring Wales in July. Gwyn Roberts, founder member of the TWMVC is originally from "Y Fron", near Caernarfon, in North Wales, said:
“After some two years of planning, our choristers are very much looking forward to our second visit to Wales, following our previous tour in 2002, especially to Rhosllanerchrugog where we will have the privileged opportunity to sing with one of the best choirs in Wales. For half of the choir members this will be their first visit to the "Land of Song". I'm sure the concert at Rhos will a huge success.”
Tickets - £10 and £8 concessions - are available from the Stiwt box office in Broad St, Rhos (tel 01978 841300) or via the website www.stiwt.com .
St David's Day
|BBC Wales presenter Sian Lloyd with soloist Elgan Llyr Thomas and his accompanist Emily Jeffcott, RMVC Musical Director Aled Phillips, and members of the Rhos Male Voice Choir.|
St David's Day was celebrated in style at the Stiwt Theatre in Rhos on Friday with a concert that spanned the generations. Rhos Male Voice Choir were joined by soloist Elgan Llyr Thomas and two local school choirs – from Johnstown School and Ysgol Dinas Bran – for the sell-out concert.
BBC Wales presenter Sian Lloyd compered the concert and said it had been an honour and a privilege to share the stage with such talented performers.
Rhos Male Voice Choir secretary Geraint Phillips said:
“It was great to see the next generation of local musical talent. Both school choirs showed real enthusiasm and dedication.
“We were also delighted that Elgan Llyr Thomas was able to join us. He is clearly set to be one of Wales’s greatest singers.”
The male voice choir opened the concert with long-standing favourite Men of Harlech and included Speed Your Journey from Verdi’s Nabucco, and There is Nothing Like a Dame from Rogers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific. The choir also sang Be thou my vision - one of the hymns they sang in the live broadcast last week on BBC Radio 4’s Sunday Worship programme.
Children from Johnstown School sang a delightful medley of Welsh songs including Pan fo’r nos yn hir, Moliannwn and Myfanwy.
The senior mixed choir from Ysgol Dinas Bran sang Coldplay’s Fix You and the American hymn At Calvary, as well as Byd of Heddwch.
Rhos Male Voice Choir heading for Côr Cymru final
Rhos Male Voice Choir are heading to the final of the S4C “Côr Cymru” competition after winning the semi-final for male choirs at the weekend (16th Feb 2013). The choir will now be performing in the competition final to be broadcast live on 14th April 2013 – with a £4,000 prize up for grabs.
Competing against three choirs, the Rhos choir was the overwhelming favourite of the adjudicators in the contest held at the University of Aberystwyth arts centre. The other semi-finalists were Bois y Waun Ddyfal, Bois Ceredigion and Eschoir - Bois Cymry Llundain.
Musical director Aled Phillips was delighted with the unexpected success.
“We went to Aberystwyth knowing that it would be difficult to defeat the other three choirs, all of which had a much younger membership.”
“The choir sang to a really high standard – possibly the best singing in my time as musical director.”
“We got a wonderful warm reception from the audience, and the adjudicators really seemed to appreciate the choir’s singing.”
One of the informal adjudicators in the contest, Caryl Parry Jones, said the Rhos choir’s performance was “faultless”.
“I really could not point to anything and say it was wrong,” she said.
The winning semi-final performance is to be broadcast on S4C on a date to be announced.
In the competition final the Rhos choir will face the winners of the other four categories, including the best children’s choir, the best youth choir, the best mixed choir and the best female choir.
Choir secretary Geraint Phillips said:
“In 2011 we reached the semi-finals and felt we were unlucky not to make it to the final. Since then we have twice won the ‘best male voice choir’ category at the National Eisteddfod.
“All the members of the choir were thrilled with this latest victory which is the result of many weeks of hard work by our musical director Aled, and accompanist Kevin Whitley, and by the choir themselves.”
Rhos Male Voice Choir Kick Off New Year
Rhos Male Voice Choir kick off their programme for 2013 at the weekend in front of their biggest crowd of the year.
Choir to open 6 Nations season
The choir have been invited to open Wales’s Six Nations season, singing the national anthems at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff on Saturday (2nd February). More than 40 choristers will take to the pitch before kick off to lead an anticipated crowd of more than 70,000 as Wales take on Ireland.
Choir secretary Geraint Phillips said:
“We had the great honour of singing before Wales’s last Six Nations match when they completed the Grand Slam by beating France last year, and we are delighted to have been asked back as Wales kick off the new season.”
The choir, winners of the National Eisteddfod male voice choir competitions in 2011 and 2012, already have a packed diary for 2013.
Selected for the semi-finals of the S4C competition Côr Cymru
The choir have been selected for the semi-finals of the S4C competition Côr Cymru, to be recorded in Aberystwyth in mid-February.
Geraint Phillips said:
“2012 was a great year for the choir, as we retained our title at the National Eisteddfod. We start 2013 with a new challenge in Côr Cymru and hope that we can repeat our winning ways.”
The choir is one of four male voice choirs chosen from across Wales for the competition, with a place in the live televised final up for grabs.
BBC Radio 4 “Sunday Worship”
At the end of February the choir will be singing live on the popular BBC Radio 4 “Sunday Worship” programme.
St David’s Day concert at the Stiwt Theatre
The following week will see a St David’s Day concert at the Stiwt Theatre in Rhos on Friday March 1st.
More than £13,000 raised for charities
Christmas 2012 saw the choir helping to raise more than £13,000 for three charities.
A packed St George’s Hall, Liverpool, helped raise more than £5,000 for Age UK on the Wirral, and a carol concert at St Giles’ Parish Church, Wrexham, raised £5,420 for Nightingale House. The choir also helped raise a further £3,000 for the children’s medical charity Sparks in a concert in Chester.
Triumphant Homecoming for Rhos choir
A packed audience gave a rapturous reception to the Rhos Male Voice Choir and their special guest soloists at the choir’s Annual Concert in Wrexham on Saturday (13th October).
It was the choir’s first big concert in the town since retaining the “Best Male Voice Choir” title in the National Eisteddfod in August.
More than 650 concert-goers were entertained – in every sense of the word – by soloists Wynne Evans – star of TV’s “Go Compare” adverts – and Soprano Gwawr Edwards.
As well as a selection of operatic favourites and Welsh folk songs, the tenor had the audience in fits of laughter with tales of his life on stage, and the perils of being recognised as “the guy off the telly”.
Alun Roberts, choir chairman and compere for the concert, said Wynne Evans was “incomparable”.
The choir performed a selection of the pieces that were part of the Eisteddfod-winning programme, including the avant garde “Rondes” by Swedish composer Folke Rabe and Brian Hughes’ Bywyd y Bugail.
But the warmest applause was reserved for a new piece in the choir’s repertoire: “There is nothing like a dame” from the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific. The show-stopper concluded a Rodgers and Hammerstein medley that also comprised “Some enchanted evening” and the ever-popular “You’ll never walk alone”.
Musical director Aled Phillips paid tribute to the guest soloists:
“It was a great privilege and joy for the choir to have Wynne Evans and Gwawr Edwards on stage tonight. They are both top quality singers and made a fantastic contribution to the evening.
“The choir really rose to the occasion. It was a tremendous concert and we think that people will be going home happy.”
Last Saturday evening Ripon’s magnificent cathedral resounded to the singing of another wonderful institution, not quite so old, only 120 years – The Rhos Male Voice Choir. Fresh from their victory as the best male voice choir at the August 2012 National Eisteddfod Wales, it is easy to see why. Welsh Male voice choirs are world famous for their singing ability and the proof of this was here in front of those privileged to be at this concert.
Rhos is a small village on the edge of Wrexham in North Wales, brought to the attention of the world by the huge success of their Male Voice Choir who, over the years, have undertaken many overseas tours to America, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. worlds most famous venues. Last month was not their first Eisteddfod win, one of many at all manner of male voice choir events, including the Gold Award for the best choir at the Glarner Music Festival in Switzerland, defeating 112 other choirs! The choir has appeared before Royalty on many occasions, including a Royal Command Performance.
The choir’s Director of Music, Aled Phillips, was responsible for a number of the arrangements as well as conducting and the accompanist was Kevin Whitley. The programme was an eclectic mix of traditional hymns, opera choruses, music from around the world. The selection allowed the choir to show there top class skills from the powerful opener of ‘Men of Harlech’ where the volume was turned up to the lullaby ‘Cysga’ where their ability to sing softly, was such a delight. In between we had ‘Ye Banks and Braes’ arranged by Aled Phillips and the beautiful Irish hymn ‘Be Thou my Vision’.
There were two soloists and the first of these was Richard Parry a fine baritone with a delightful manner in his approach to the audience – he started with ‘Malia’ (Charm) by Britain’s forgotten composer of Italian songs Sir Paulo Tosti it was a beautiful romantic piece. He followed this with Mendelssohn’s ‘Lord God of Abraham’ from Elijah, a very different and moving aria.
Back to the main choir who again showed their great versatility with Verdi’s wondrous ‘Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves’ then ‘Cysga’ already mentioned and ‘Gwahoddiad’ which many believe is a Welsh hymn, but was actually English. We then had the pleasure and excitement of witnessing Sarah Owens, just sixteen, playing the cornet, accompanied by her mother she played the 2nd movement ‘Andante’ from Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto and Dvorak’s ‘Rusalka’s Song to the Moon’. Sarah is a member of Tewit Youth Band and a pupil at Ripon Grammar School, so a local lass. She seemed very calm and composed and gave a very creditable performance that belied her years.
The choir continued with Sibelius’s ‘Finlandia’, and finished the first half with a tremendous performance of ‘Morte Christe’ ‘When I survey the Wondrous Cross’. After the interval, when I had a chance to talk to some choir members, some 50 were here and I later discovered that their most senior member was in his mid 80’s and joined the choir in 1944!!, the youngest there was just 20. Highlights of the 2nd half were’ Ar hyd y nos’ more usually known as ‘All through the Night’. Sarah Owens playing a medley of songs from ’Oliver’ arr. by Sarah – such an accomplished and mature performer. The choir sang A spiritual ‘Angels watching over me’ and another joyful rendering of ‘Some enchanted Evening’ from South Pacific’. Richard Parry, the baritone soloist delighted us with amusing performances of ‘The Mountains of Mourne’ and ‘Up from Somerset’. Back to the choir for a couple of pieces which included the dramatic ‘Creation’ by Willie Richter. As an encore they sang Capel Tygwydd a hymn which is a major part of their repertoire.
Its not often to we get the chance to hear and see such a brilliant performance as we saw from The Rhos Male Voice choir – congratulations to the committee of Ripon International Festival.
One final comment – at the end of the performance the Choir sang the Welsh National Anthem ‘Land of my Fathers’ ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ followed by ‘God Save the Queen – a night to remember.
Written by George Pyman and published in the Ripon Gazette, Harrogate Advertiser and various other local papers.
Rhos retain best Male Voice Choir title
Rhos Male Voice Choir returned triumphant from South Wales this weekend having retained their title of “best male voice choir” at the 2012 National Eisteddfod. The Rhos choir were defending the title they won at the competition held last year in Wrexham, making them the “Usain Bolt” of male voice choirs. Competing against three top-quality South Wales choirs, the Rhos choir was the overwhelming favourite of the adjudicators.
Click on an image to expand into your screen
Musical director Aled Phillips was delighted with the unexpected success in the Eisteddfod held this year in the Vale of Glamorgan.
“We came to South Wales knowing that it would be difficult to defend the title. But the choir have worked really hard and gave a stunning performance. We got a wonderful warm reception from the audience, and the adjudicators really seemed to appreciate the choir’s singing.”
Those who missed the choir’s winning performance, broadcast on S4C, can catch up with it on the S4C website or on BBC Wales website. Aled Phillips said:
“We hope that all those who saw us on TV or the internet, or heard us on the radio, and want to hear more, will be able to come to our annual concert in Wrexham in October. "
Tickets are still available for the concert at the William Aston Hall on Saturday 13th October, when the soloist will be Welsh tenor Wynne Evans – best known from his role in TV’s “Go Compare” adverts.
Choir chairman Alun Roberts paid tribute to the hard work of the choristers, and to Aled Phillips and accompanist Kevin Whitley.
“I don’t know when a choir last won the National Eisteddfod two years running, and it is testament to Aled and Kevin’s patience and perseverance, and the great efforts the choir has made, that we have been able to retain our title."
Rhos battle to retain best male voice choir title - August 8th 2012
Rhos Male Voice Choir head to South Wales this week as they battle to retain the title of “best male voice choir” at the 2012 National Eisteddfod. The Rhos choir will be defending the title they won at the competition held last year in Wrexham. This year’s male voice choir contest takes place on Saturday (11th August) at the 2012 Eisteddfod site near Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorga, and the choir from Rhos will be performing one of the most difficult and challenging pieces they have ever sung – the avant-garde “Rondes” by Swedish composer Folke Rabe.
Musical director Aled Phillips is in no doubt about the uphill task faced by the 60-strong choir.
“It’s like Sir Alec Ferguson often says, keeping a title is harder than winning it. We’ve seen it at the Olympics this week, as well, as Gold medal winners from Beijing have struggled to hang onto their titles. It’s going to be very difficult for a choir from North Wales to go to the south and win – we will be up against some really excellent choirs.”
But the choir hope that the controversial modernist piece will go down well with the Eisteddfod audience and judges.
“Rondes”, composed by Rabe in 1964, does not have a conventional music score, but includes directions to the choir such as “Quickly whisper your telephone number” and “Quickly change position with someone next to you.”. There is no text for the piece – just a series of sounds and noises that go beyond language.
Aled Phillips said:
“Rhos Male Voice Choir is a traditional Welsh male voice choir, with the traditional sound you would expect, but this piece, which is new to our repertoire, is as far removed from the traditional as you could possibly get.
It has been a real learning curve for the choir, and I think they have come to terms with it really well. It is an amazing piece that leaves the audience puzzled and surprised. It requires a very high level of musicality to perform the piece well, and I hope that we can do that.”
For choir supporters unable to make the journey south, the male voice choir competition, due to take place at about 4.55 pm next Saturday, will be broadcast on S4C.
Rhos Male Voice choir to lead singing at Grand Slam decider
They might be the only Welshmen in the Millennium Stadium singing the French national anthem on Saturday, but members of Rhos Male Voice Choir will only be doing their job. About 40 members of the choir will be leading the singing on Saturday (17th March) at Wales’s crunch six nations match against France. And that means as well as Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau the choir will also have to sing La Marseillaise.
“We will be singing both national anthems – but we hope that for Wales – in the words of the French anthem – le jour de gloire est arrivé – the day of glory has arrived,” said choir secretary Geraint Phillips. “It’s a great honour to be asked to sing at any Wales match in the Millennium Stadium, and now that the match will be Wales’s Grand Slam decider, it makes it even more exciting. We don’t want to give too much encouragement to the French with a rousing rendition of their anthem, but we will treat it as a professional engagement and do our best.”
The choir – winners of the 2011 National Eisteddfod – have spent the last few weeks rehearsing La Marseillaise.
“There’s not many French speakers in the choir,” said Geraint Phillips, “but we are doing our best to get our tongues round some difficult words.”
Kieron, 16, delighted to win choir's singing competition.
The article is from The Leader, dated 7/3/12
St. Davids Day Concerts from Rhos Male Voice Choir
Rhos Male Voice Choir is promising a feast of Welsh music to celebrate St David’s Day with two special concerts next weekend (2nd and 3rd March).
On Friday (2nd March) the choir will be performing at the Stiwt theatre in Rhos with solo spots from some of Wrexham’s best young singers. It will be the choir’s first concert in Rhos since winning the National Eisteddfod in August last year.
Aled Phillips, musical director, said:
“This will be the first opportunity for people to see and hear the choir in Rhos since we won the Eisteddfod. “The concert will be a celebration of all that is great about Wales – great music, great young talent and – we hope – a great audience.”
Among the items the choir will be singing at the Rhos concert are “Oes Gafr Eto”, one of the three songs that was part of the Eisteddfod winning performance. Also on the programme are the ever-popular “Men of Harlech”, “Finlandia” and “Cysga” - as well as favourite Welsh hymns such as “Capel Tygwydd” and “Deep Harmony (O Iesu Mawr)”. Soloists at the concert include Kieron Connor, Rebecca Roberts and Jordan Li-Smith.Kieron Connor is studying Music, Dance, Drama and Foreign languages at Yale College in Wrexham. At age 12 Kieron-Connor performed at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the BBC Proms and he has previously sung at the Liverpool Empire and Theatre Clwyd in Mold. Rebecca Roberts, a former pupil of the Maelor School, Penley, is in her second year of a performing arts course in Yale College. She has performed in numerous stage shows locally – she played Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and Alice in Dick Whittington. In October 2011 Rebecca sang at the launch of the new Airbus A350, for an audience that included the First Minister for Wales, Carwyn Jones, and the Prime Minister David Cameron. Jordan Li-Smith studies dance at The Hammond School in Chester and has recently been accepted by the National Youth Music Theatre to play a lead role in their production this summer of “The Dreaming” at the Intnernational Youth Music Festival in Kingston. The three young soloists were chosen by the choir musical director Aled Phillips, who said:
“It is so exciting to know that we have such talented and gifted young performers right here on our doorstep in Wrexham. I am sure they will delight the Stiwt audience.”
Tickets for the Friday night concert are priced at £10 (£8 concessions) and are available from the Stiwt, Broad Street, Rhos (Tel 01978 841300 10am – 6pm), or online at www.stiwt.co.uk.
On Saturday (March 3rd) the choir will be the guests of the Manchester Welsh Society in a concert at the prestigious Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) in Manchester. Also performing at that concert will be students from North Wales who attend the Junior RNCM.
Aled Phillips said:
“We are delighted at the opportunity to sing at the RNCM and to celebrate St David’s Day with the Manchester Welsh Society. It is a great honour for Rhos Male Voice Choir, and it shows the high esteem in which the choir is now held. ”
A successful concert in Belfast
The choir flew back from Belfast on Sunday (Feb 19th) after a weekend break and a concert in The Spires concert hall. A packed audience of more than 800 gave the choir, and their hosts, the Ballyclare Male Choir, a standing ovation.
Annual Concert 2011
Below is a review of our recent Annual Concert as printed in the Wrexham Leader, written by Les Chamberlain. We would like to extend our thanks to him for his most gracious words.
"From their outstanding performance at their annual concert in the William Aston Hall last Saturday, it is easy to see how Rhos Male Voice Choir won the male voice choir competition at the National Eisteddfod in August and were placed second in the same competition at the Llangollen Music Eisteddfod the previous month. The choir were in scintillating form and it is all down to the extremely hard work of their young conductor Aled Phillips. He has produced a finely balanced, well-disciplined choir who responded as a man to everything he wanted from them. The dynamics could not be faulted and the diction was impeccable. The choir is in good hands for a long time to come.
He has also proved himself a fine arranger with such number as Wandrin' Star and Coach Comin' In from Paint Your Wagon and Unchained Melody. The programme contained a number of old favourites – Take Me Home, Softly As I Leave You and John Tudor Davies’s Gwahoddiad. It was a delight again to hear the late Emyr James’s arrangement of Si Hei Lwli Mabi, beautifully sung. The first half ended in immensely dramatic fashion with Willy Richter’s The Creation. I've heard it many time and this was about the best one. The bottom bases shone with their rocksolid, powerful singing and the magnificent ending made the hairs on the back of my neck stand rigid. It was indeed a great performance by all the choristers.
Choirs these days include action songs in their repertoire and the choir is no different, amusing everyone with Brian Hughes’s arrangement of the old favourite Oes Gafr Eto. This, with the Prisoners’ Chorus from Fidelio and Dana Dana won them the eisteddfod awards. No choir is good without an excellent accompanist and again Kevin Whitley excelled especially with some tricky numbers combining piano and electric keyboard. Percussionist Joe Pearson took part in a number of songs.
The choir organisers veered from operatic singers as the main soloist and chose West End and Briadway star Ruthie Henshall with great success. She delighted the capacity audience with such numbers as the Boy Next Door, Send In The Clowns, I’m The Greatest Star and Nothing. It was not until her penultimate song that she announced that she was suffering from a throat infection which until then did not affect he super performance. But just three bars in of I Get A Kick Out Of You, she stopped and told pianist Jonathan Fisher to go into her last number, I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables. She belted it out and received tumultuous applause at the end. What trouper!
Ruthie Henshall, delighted the capacity audience at Rhos Male Voice Choir’s annual concert.
The other soloist was tenor Elgan Llyr Thomas. Make a note of his name because on this showing he is a big star of the future. Aged only 20, he is in his third year at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, and is an opera star in the making.
He combined operatic arias with the soliloquy from Carousel and classic Welsh folk songs such as the poignant Bugail Aberdyfi. He has a delightfully pleasing personality in the mode of Bryn Terfel and he received rapturous applause at the end of each set with many of the audience giving him a standing ovation.
Jonathan Fisher accompanied both soloists with great aplomb.
The whole evening ran smoothly thanks to the excellent compering of Harold Richards. In all it was a night of truly outstanding music and it was a privilege to be there.
Next Year at the Annual Concert
Next year’s soloists at the Rhos Male Voice Choir's annual concert on October 13 will be Welsh opera singers, tenor Wynne Evans and soprano Gwawr Edwards, Camarthern-born Wynne has sung as a principal with all the major opera houses and orchestras including Royal Opera House Covent Garden, English National Opera and Welsh National Opera where he has worked as a principal for the past 15 years singing more than 50 major roles.But perhaps he is best knownthroughout Britain because since 2009 he has become the face and voice in the multi-million pound advertising campaign for GoCompare playing the flamboyant character with massive long moustache, Gio Compario.
Gwawr was born in Aberystwyth and has won awards at the Urdd, National and International Eisteddfodau. International star Dame Kiri Te Kanawa described her as one of the most exciting up-andcoming stars. She recently had a season with Glyndebourne Festival Opera and 12 months ago released an album which featured collaboration with harpist Catrin Finch and Welsh favourite Bryn Terfel."
Onwards and upwards to next year now. You’ll find details of Annual Concert 2012 on our homepage. Please keep checking back for updates! Thank you for your support.
Success of the Ysgol Dinas Brân Male Ensemble
Below is a write-up of the success of the Ysgol Dinas Brân Male Ensemble whose conductor is our Musical Director, and whose members include three of our choristers.
The following story of a group of young men from Ysgol Dinas Brân is incredible; remarkable; amazing – the stuff that dreams are made of.
When our new Head of Music, Mr. A. Phillips, arrived September 2010 , no male voice choir existed in school. Fast-forward ten months and he was taking the Ysgol Dinas Brân Male Ensemble to the Royal Albert Hall in London to perform in the Music For Youth School Prom.
As the 2010/2011 academic year got underway, Mr. Phillips regularly noticed that a small number of Sixth Form students were congregating in the music room. Never one to miss an opportunity, our inspirational leader of music began to play a few songs on the piano – and asked the lads to sing along. This proved to be the beginning of something very special indeed!
One by one, other friends began to join the lads for a sing-song and, in no time at all, Mr. Phillips had a talented group of lads who were about to begin a journey of a lifetime together. Following the eye (and ear)-catching performance at the school’s Awards Evening, the boys went on to perform at the Llangollen Food Festival, the Nightingale House Christmas Concert (where they also recorded a CD) and at a number of concerts in the Llangollen area. Feedback from all of these events was extremely positive and, at the start of 2011, Mr. Phillips decided to enter the Music for Youth regional competition in Wrexham.
So, on March 19th, the Male Ensemble travelled the short journey to Wrexham.
This is what the judges had to say:
“You sound great! You have great quality to your voices. A contemporary sound with a convincing feel ... fantastic potential ... You sing with raw gusto and talent.”
“A stylish and able choir with an engaging repertoire and an individual sound.”
Within a matter of weeks, Mr. Phillips had an email confirming that the boys had made it to the National Finals and, on July 5th, the following students made their way to Birmingham: Tom Luke, Lewis Bate, Tom Wilson, Joel Hughes, Dan Griffiths, Jamie Evans, Adam Bell, James Anthonisz, Jamie Thomas, Adam Drakeley, Dan Richardson, Nathan Lloyd , Ben Hughes and Iestyn Hughes. They had done so well to achieve so much in such a short space of time – and they were determined to give it their all. The boys had rehearsed for one final time, in front of a small audience of family and friends, in the school hall the evening before; but they were about to take to what was, by far, a much bigger stage – and perform to a much bigger audience. It is fair to say that they definitely rose to the occasion!
As the Dinas Brân Male Ensemble progressed through their twelve-minute set of Coldplay’s ‘Viva La Vida’, ‘Chasing Cars’ by Snow Patrol, ‘Patience’ by Take That and, finally, Bruno Mars’ ‘Just the Way You Are’, the audience responded with great enthusiasm and appreciation. The boys had done themselves, and the school, proud – and they certainly sounded good to us! But, what did the judges think? After a wait of four hours following their performance, the lads listened intently to what turned out to be phenomenal feedback:
“A beautifully free and open sound”
“A performance to which you are fully committed … confident and mature in tone. Terrific!”
“You make an easy and very attractive sound, in unison and in harmony, with stunning blend and phrasing. A wonderful blend of individuality and ensemble. Beautifully expressive”
“Excellent programme of contemporary repertoire. Outstanding Ensemble … Evidence of considerable training and inspirational direction.”
“Take this outstanding male voice group to sing to as many different audiences as you can – people will love it!”
So, it’s official – our Male Ensemble are one of the most talented in the land!
The most impressive choirs from the final in Birmingham have been invited to a concert of celebration at THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL, in London, on the 9th of November and the Dinas Bran Male Ensemble are one of them, where they will be performing to a sold out audience of over 4 thousand people.
The choir are currently rehearsing hard for this amazing opportunity. They have had the honour of been asked to perform with one of the other artist – Wardle High School Brass band who are currently the National School Brass Band Champions.
The judges did highlight the considerable training and inspirational direction from their teacher Mr Phillips who is well renowned throughout Wales for his choral conducting.
Head of Music, Mr Phillips
“It is a truly outstanding achievement. There are only a small number of choirs been invited to perform and even less artists from Wales”
Aled who has conducted many choirs over the years and had plenty of success in the International and National Eisteddfod says:
“To achieve this standard of choral singing in such a short time is a credit to the lad’s hard work and natural talent. The evening will be an experience of a life time for all involved”
After the event the lads have a number of concerts with even more fellow pupils looking to join.
What a busy time we have had of late. We have competed in two very prestigious choral competitions of international renown. On 9th July we competed at Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, and gained second place in a strong competition. We were extremely pleased with our performance and this gave us great impetus going into our second competition, Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Wrecsam 2011 (National Eisteddfod, Wrexham 2011).
On 6th August we competed at the 150th Eisteddfod, being held locally for the first time since 1977, and we are very pleased to announce that we won!
The choir worked extremely hard over many weeks preparing for both competitions and it is always gratifying to see the fruit of our labours being appreciated and recognised. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our Musical Director, Aled Phillips, for all his tireless efforts and endless patience in preparing us so thoroughly, and also to our Accompanist, Kevin Whitley, for being such a reliable pair of hands at the piano, as always.
Videos of our performances at both competitions are available to watch in the ‘Our Music’ section of the website.
Sponsored Cycle Ride from Rhos to Seaford
UPDATE: The total amount of money raised has now increased to £3400. with more money having been received since the presentation of the cheque. They are extremely grateful to everyone who has donated and overwhelmed by the support they have received.
Wednesday 8th June – Saturday 11th June 2011 - they did it and raised in excess of £2500!
Following their successful cycle ride to Seaford, East Sussex in aid of the Perinatal Department, Wrexham Maelor Hospital (Special Care Baby Unit) Hywel, Paul and Gareth are pleased to have raised in excess of £2500. The intrepid trio, who are all members of the choir would like to thank the many friends, family, fellow choristers and indeed total strangers for their generous donations towards this worthy cause. The funds will be presented to Debbie Edwards (Manager of the SCBU) at the end of the month, and anyone still wishing to donate to the cause has until 30th June to do so. We know that the money will go to good use, and hope that it makes a difference to all the people who need to access the service over the coming years.
Hywel, Paul and Gareth would also like to thank David Scott, who provided support along the way (a bit like the boat that sails alongside cross channel swimmers!!) meeting them at 12 mile intervals to feed and re-energise them in preparation for the next leg. Indeed David’s moral support and sense of humour was equally appreciated, and despite a multitude of questions about his Satnav/Bluetooth system, the lads arrived at their destination on time.
The trip was greatly enjoyed on the whole, despite getting soaked at the end of day one and having to wear the same wet clothes on day 2, various aching body parts (say no more!) and a number of close encounters with Britain’s worst drivers!! Indeed the trio have vowed to continue the good work and may be seen attempting a new challenge next year, who knows!
The video of the ride
And there's more.....
As a footnote to that story Jim Taylor, the organiser of the trip to Seaford, and a former member of the choir, was made a Vice-President of the choir at the concert. The choir would like to thank him for all his fine work on our behalf.
St Leonard's Church in Seaford where the concert was held
Jim Taylor is pictured right beside our Chairman, Norman Davies.
Background to the cycle ride
Hywel, Paul & Gareth cycled from Rhos to Seaford, East Sussex to raise funds for the Perinatal Department of Wrexham Maelor Hospital.
Wrexham Maelor Hospital is the third largest hospital in Wales serving a population of 228,000.
There are over 2,500 deliveries a year, however 177 babies are stillborn every year, that is 1 in every 200 babies born in Wales. Furthermore, 115 babies die shortly after birth every year in Wales.
Many of these babies are born perfectly formed, with no clear reason why they died. We need to understand what is causing these deaths and take action to prevent avoidable losses. In addition, the majority of unexplained stillbirths are in pregnancies that were previously considered low risk.
EVERY OTHER DAY IN WALES A BABY IS STILLBORN, A FURTHER 2 BABIES DIE SHORTLY AFTER BIRTH EVERY WEEK, ALMOST 300 BABIES ARE DYING EVERY YEAR IN WALES.
By raising money for the perinatal department of Wrexham Maelor Hospital we hope to provide funds that will allow the staff to:
Provide sensitive care when a baby dies
Create a collection of memories, known as Joshua’s Boxes
Promote prevention of, and research into, stillbirths and neonatal deaths
Hywel and Kirsten feel a great affinity with this cause as they were left devastated by the death of their baby daughter Nansi, born on 24th January 2011.
On 8th October 2000 Paul and Zoe had a still born child called James. The same dedicated staff in the same department cared for them at that tragic time.
By making people more aware of stillbirth and neonatal death we can help to educate and empower. Together we can start to break the silence surrounding this unique type of bereavement and could even save a life.
In 2010 Gareth cycled to Seaford in East Sussex when the Rhos Male Voice where invited to sing in the town. This year the journey is to be repeated with the addition of Paul, his brother and Hywel, his fellow chorister. The slightly longer route, will take in a photo-shoot at the Houses of Parliament with their local MP Susan Elan Jones, and will coincide with the arrival of the choir.
Hywel, Paul and Gareth will be following this route:
Day 1: Shrewsbury 30
Much Wenlock 40
Stratford 95 = 95 miles
Day 2: Oxford 135
M25 West at Gerrards Cross 175 = 80 miles
Day 3: Houses of Parliament 197
M25 South at Godstone 218 = 43 miles
Day 4: Seaford via A22 266 = 48 miles
Total mileage: 266
How can you help?
Anyone wishing to donate to our cause can do so in the following ways:
By contacting us on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or through any chorister of the Rhos Male Voice Choir
Côr Cymru – an update
As many of you will be aware from following our Twitter and Facebook feeds we were recently competing in S4C’s prestigious choral competition, ‘Côr Cymru’. Although we reached the semi-final stage of the competition we were unable to progress further. However, the comments we received from the television commentators were very complimentary indeed:
Caryl Parry Jones –
‘You won’t get a better traditional male voice sound than Côr Meibion Rhos.’
Eric Roberts –
‘Like a thick slab of your grandmother’s fruit cake’, referring to the rich sound.
‘An amazing sound.’
‘Arglwydd, mae’n nhw’n dda’, roughly translated as ‘Goodness me, they’re good.’
As a choir we were extremely pleased with our performance and with the comments made by the commentators. We are working hard to build on this success. Watch this space!
A Hero among us
One of our members has flown to New Zealand to help with the rescue effort following the recent earthquake in Christchurch.
Gareth Scott (2nd Bass section) is a member of the UK International Search and Rescue (ISAR) team, and is usually based at Chester Fire Station where he is a Crew Manager.
When they arrive in New Zealand they will team up with medical staff and travel to stricken areas of Christchurch to utilize their specialist training in search and rescue. This is both a demanding and rewarding task and everyone at the choir wishes the team well.
Those wanting to follow their progress can visit www.cheshirefire.gov.uk.
We have been selected as a semi-finalist in the prestigious Côr Cymru competition. The competition, which will be televised on S4C, attracts choirs from all over Wales and beyond to compete against each other for the right to call themselves Côr Cymru (Wales' Choir).
Our semi-final will take place on Saturday 5th March in Aberystwyth, with the live final on Sunday 10th April. This is an excellent opportunity to show a mass audience the wealth of experience and the abundance of quality that the choir possesses. Remember to follow our progress via our Facebook and Twitter, as well as the website.
A New Year
A new year is upon us and with it comes new challenges for the Choir. We start off on the 29th January with a joint concert at the Stiwt Theatre in Rhos. We will be appearing with the other 3 choirs from our village in a concert to raise money towards the National Eisteddfod of Wales to be held in Wrexham in late July/early August this year. More details are on our ‘Dates’ page.
Speaking of eisteddfodau, we will be competing at the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol (National Eisteddfod) this year. We are already working hard in preparation for this event and are looking forward to showcasing the choir’s talents on a national scale.
The Christmas and New Year period also saw the passing of two stalwarts of the choir. Shortly before Christmas one of our Vice-Presidents, Cecil Edwards, passed away. He was a loyal supporter with a keen interest in the choir over many years and a good friend to many within the choir. We also lost one of our Life Members, W. Kynaston Davies, early in the New Year. He was a long serving member of the choir, having been chairman and participating in the choir’s 1947 tour of Spain. Our sincerest condolences go out to the families of both men.
What a concert! A superb evening! How do the choir turn in consistently good performances? This concert was even better than last years! These were just some of the favourable comments heard following Rhos Male Voice Choir's Annual Concert in the William Aston Hall last Saturday.
This was a programme that had everything - a choir that was most definitely on song, a top Broadway and West End star, a local-born actor who is seen frequently on television and an accomplished pianist. It all added up to a tremendous evening's entertainment which was obviously to the liking of a near-capacity audience.
John Owen-Jones showed why he is such a star world-wide with his renditions of popular songs from the shows, including such favourites as "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and "The Music of the Night". His rapport with the audience was warm and they certainly enjoyed his varied selection of well-known and not-so-well-known songs, they instantly took him to their hearts. Many had journeyed to places such as Manchester and London to hear him in "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Les Miserables" and to hear him sing in Wrexham was a bonus.
Rhos-born actor Mark Lewis Jones gave two flawless readings. The first, "Fernhill" from Dylan Thomas's "Under Milk Wood", was given to a background of the choir humming Eli Jenkins' Prayer; the second the St. Crispin's Day Speech from Shakespeare's "Henry V” with the choir singing parts of the "Soldiers Chorus" giving the audience a vision of the Battle of Agincourt. His diction ensured that everyone could understand his words and its easy to see why he is in demand on television and on the big screen.
From left: John Owen-Jones, Mark Lewis-Jones, Aled Phillips (Musical Director) and Jocelyn Freeman.
Pianist Jocelyn Freeman gave an outstanding performance and not a copy in sight. Her mastery of the keyboard was evident, playing softly and sensitively when the need arose and with vigour when the music called for something more lively. She is someone who is destined to go far.
What of the choir? Director of Music, Aled Phillips, has trained a choir that has a sound to be proud of and many of the audience on leaving the William Aston Hall after the concert were heard to say "That was some sound, not many choirs can reach that standard, tremendous." Aled has an undisputed musical talent and he has certainly passed on his expertise to the choir members who sang a range of pieces ranging from opera to songs from the shows.
He also trained a group of young choir members "The Creche Choir" and a group of a dozen members who sang an item on their own complete with actions. They and the choir received tremendous applause after each item.
The accompanist on piano and keyboard was Kevin Whitley and a percussion trio provided additional sound for some items - very effective it was too.
Harold Richards, a choir member, was the compere for the evening.
The choir's new CD "1891" was launched at the concert and will give hours of pleasure to those who purchase it. The pieces cover a wide range of music all conducted by Director of Music, Aled Phillips, with Kevin Whitley and Harvey Davies on organ and piano. Again there is also music provided by a percussion group. This is a CD well worth purchasing - from the choir or from local shops.
Getting into the groove
After our summer break the choir performed two concerts in September. The first was before an invited audience of scientists and representatives from all over the world who were present in the William Aston Hall, Wrexham, at a conference organised by Dr Glyn O. Phillips, who was, many years ago, a member of Rhos Male Voice Choir.
The choir was conducted by the Director of Music, Aled Phillips, with Kevin Whitley the accompanist. The soloist was Ian Pritchard Jones and the compere Harold Richards.
Following this the choir gave a concert in Bersham Church near Wrexham, organised by choir member Harry Pritchard. Here again the conductor was Aled Phillips and pianist Kevin Whitley. The soloists were Hannah Williams and Ian Pritchard-Jones and the items were introduced by Harold Richards.
New choir CD
Looking for Christmas present? Then look no further. Our new CD will be launched at our Annual Concert on Saturday, October 9 and is certain to give hours of pleasure. Director of Music, Aled Phillips, chose a varied programme for the recording ranging from opera pieces to songs from the shows and ballads - something to suit all tastes.
Dei's pigeon loft on television
Second tenor David (Dei) Lloyd was featured on S4C recently in the Welsh programme "Bro". A keen pigeon fancier from an early age, Dei showed presenters Siân Cothi and Iolo Williams around his pigeon loft pointing out birds that had won prizes and others who show promise.
In the same programme another second tenor, Rhys Hitchmough, was interviewed in The Stiwt - the local theatre - and he gave an insight into the everyday life of the building and the many societies etc. that use it.
Top star at our Annual Concert
Don't miss out on an appearance by a star of Broadway and the West End who will be our principal guest at this year's Annual Concert. John Owen Jones is a legend in musical theatre having spent four years playing The Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera - a total of almost 1,500 performances in the West End.
He has also played a leading role in Les Miserables and in Showboat.
Also in a star-studded line-up are one of Wales' foremost young pianists, Jocelyn Freeman, and Rhos-born actor Mark Lewis Jones, who has appeared in Holby City and other televised productions.
Tickets for the event, at the near 800 seat William Aston Hall, are now available. Make sure to purchase yours at the earliest opportunity. Ticket prices in Liverpool, Manchester etc. for a similar production would be at least double the price.
Yes Broadway and the West End are coming to Wrexham. Be there!!!
We did The Do's
Our recordings for the Do Lectures have been completed and the people in charge expressed themselves well pleased with the result. It is hoped that the choir will be seen on the Internet more than a million times when the lectures are shown at a later date.
A buzz at Bayston Hill
Our concert at Christ Church, Bayston Hill, near Shrewsbury, on Saturday, May 8, was a rousing success. A large and appreciative audience enjoyed our singing and they were not slow to show their appreciation. Furthermore our Director of Music, Aled Phillips, was also pleased with the choir's performance.
The accompanist was Kevin Whitley and the guest soloist was Kevin Sudlow. Two choir members, Jim Davies and David Scott, also gave solo items. The compere was Harold Richards.
We have performed at this venue on quite a few occasions in the past and many of the audience expressed a wish that we make a return visit soon.
We'll take the hits
Since its inception in July, 2008, the choir's web site has had nearly 21,000 "hits". Marketing experts maintain that this is 'pretty good' considering that the site began from the basement as it were.
Top man in the north
Choir secretary and first tenor Austin Thomas, has been promoted by the Welsh Rugby Union. Our "Mr Rugby" has been appointed Divisional Manager (North) - a very important post. He will know the A5, A55, A470 and A483 as well as he knows the roads around Rhos. Congratulations Austin.
In the can
Saturday, May 22, saw the final recording for our new CD which will be released later in the year. Director of Music, Aled
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Phillips, has worked extremely hard over the past few months ensuring not only that the choir has been in good voice but organising the venue and a thousand and one other things pertaining to the recording. He also arranged for a trio of percussionists to be present on May 22.
The hope is that it will reflect his and the choristers' hard work and that it will give much pleasure to those who purchase a copy.
The recording was in the capable hands of Cedric Jones of the Andante Recording Company, one who is well-known in Wales for his expertise in that field.
Super Seaford Welcome
And a good time was had by all. That was the consensus of opinion after our visit to the East Sussex town of Seaford for a concert on Saturday, April 17.
Most of the members travelled south by luxury coach on the Saturday morning with some making the journey by car. Home stays had been arranged and others chose to stay in hotels. Everyone was treated very well.
Members joined up at St. Leonard's Church Hall for a pre-concert meal, prepared by the ladies of the church. This was very much appreciated after a long journey. Walking to the adjacent church of St. Leonard's, where the concert was held it was pleasing to see the "House Full" signs on the church door. Apparently tickets had been sold out since about a fortnight.
The choir were introduced by Jim Taylor, a former member, and the packed audience were very generous in their applause for the choir's efforts. The guest artistes were a family trio comprising of Amanda Lockyer (oboe and organ), John Lockyer (piano) and their young son Simon, who played the violin. The talented trio were very well received by the audience.
The choir's programme comprised a varied selection of items and many commented afterwards on the variety of the fare on offer, conducted by the choir's Director of Music, Aled Phillips. The accompanist was Owen Roberts, who stood in for Kevin Whitley, who was unavailable. Our thanks to Owen.
A get-together had been arranged following the concert at a local hostelry and an impromptu concert was much enjoyed by those present.
Choir members journeyed home on the Sunday morning and a meal break was taken at Stratford-on-Avon.
Thanks are due to Jim Taylor for his organisational efforts in Seaford which ensured that the visit was so successful; the people who gave choir members overnight accommodation; proprietors of the hotels used for their kindness and to the ladies of the church for the pre-concert meal. We are also indebted to John Raymond Jones and Barbara Aubrey for their work when the trip was first mooted; to the present secretary, Austin Thomas, for putting the finishing touches to the arrangements and to anyone who helped make the visit a success.
The compere for the evening was choir member Harold Richards.
What they said
A wonderful concert from the first note to the last. The conductor has obviously worked hard to get such a rich sound. - A group of people on the street outside the church afterwards.
That was a treat choral we don't often get in these parts. A retired couple who were looking forward to hearing more of the choir on the CD they had purchased.
To everyone connected with Rhos Male Voice Choir - you were amazing. It was a privilege to be there to hear you sing. - Notices and photographs in the foyer, on the stairs and in the dining room of the Avondale Hotel, where some choristers stayed.
Gareth took the hard road
Second bass Gareth Scott took the saying "on yer bike" literally when he cycled from Rhos to Seaford - a distance of nearly 260 miles which entailed more than 16 hours in the saddle.
Gareth planned his route by taking a ruler over a road atlas and plotted his ride in as straight a line as possible between the two places, avoiding motorways of course.
He began his journey at 1.30pm on Thursday, April 15, with a 93 mile ride to Stratford-on-Avon where he had an overnight stop. The next day was a 112 mile journey to Horsham and another overnight stop and then on the morning of the concert, April 17, he pedalled the 50 miles to Seaford, arriving at 1pm.
Refreshed, Gareth took his place on stage with the choir in the evening and the following morning he put his feet up and enjoyed a ride home on the coach with his bicycle safely tucked away in the boot. Well done Gareth.
Congratulations to Aled
Our Director of Music, Aled Phillips, has been appointed Head of Music at Dinas Bran High School, Llangollen. He is at present a teacher of music at Alun School, Mold. Our best wishes are extended to him for a successful tenure in Llangollen.
The choir gathered on Saturday 24th April to continue recording our new CD. This was our second of three sessions ahead of the expected release in August 2010. The session went very well and members are eager to hear the finished product.
Please call back for more details and some preview tracks soon!
Our Conductor, Aled Phillips, in good spirits during the recording.
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The choir gathers ready to start recording.