CMVC Llais Y Fro Jan 2023

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JANUARY 2023 ISSUE 5 LLAIS Y FRO The magazine of Cowbridge Male Voice Choir
Best Photos from 2022
Table of Contents Editorial.....................................4-5 Christmas Concert...…...…....6-7 Rhiannon’s roundup………..8-10 Fan’s Favourite………..……11 Spotlight – Section Reps….12-13 The Impossible Dream…….14 Refugees & Weddings……..15 Gosport Concert Review…...16 Place for Homes SALE..……17 Looking Ahead……………...18

I am constantly amazed by the enthusiasm and energy that our choir’s choristers display whenever they are asked to rise to an occasion.

At 4pm on a Friday afternoon in November we were asked by Heart Radio if we would be prepared to make an appearance on their Monday evening ‘drivetime’ show to sing a couple of songs and put their listeners in the right mood to support Wales in their first world cup football match.

Having followed the first rule of public relations by saying ‘yes’, we then spent the next 48 hours making a plan and fulfilled the opportunity with aplomb. 20 choristers packed into a tiny recording studio in Cardiff Bay with the one and only Sandra Williams accompanying us on keyboard whilst wedged between mixing decks.

EditorialIt was a fantastic experience for all of us and redemonstrated the choir’s flexibility and sense of fun.

Jon Squashed into the Heart FM recording studios

A brilliant evening…

We followed that up by accepting a request from Harry’s Bar in Cowbridge (a hostelry not unknown to various choristers) to pop along in the run up to Christmas and sing a few carols for their customers.

For those of you unfamiliar with Harry’s Bar, you need to understand that the bar area is, well, bijou!

But no matter! 30 choristers attended what is certain to become a regular event and somehow shoe-horned themselves into the available space. Having performed for 45 minutes we walked down the High Street and performed again in the Duke of Wellington!

A brilliant evening that put everyone in the festive mood.

And I can’t avoid mentioning the extraordinary lengths that a number of choristers have gone to in preparation for the performance of a new song to be learnt shortly. I can’t say too much about what has been going on but it has involved 6 weeks of intensive practice with the fabulous Heather and Andrew into the intricacies of BSL. I will say no more!

That is why we are confident to accept what are sometimes out of the ordinary or last minute requests. I always know that the Choir will find a way and whatever we agree to will be supported.

No community organisation can possibly exist and thrive without full-blooded commitment from its members. And the incredible thing about CMVC is that the commitment doesn’t come from a handful of dedicated people – instead it comes from all.

I honestly can’t think of any other organisation or group to which I have ever belonged which demonstrates such solidarity on a consistent basis. Bravo CMVC.

I’ll finally take this opportunity to wish all choristers, musical team, supporters and friends a very happy 2023

‘I can say no more…!
Bijou Harry’s Bar!

Christmas Concert –Holy Cross Church

No stranger to CMVC, Rhianna brought wonderful moments of surprise and additional musicality to the evening.

From an opening ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ solo to various other appearances during the concert, this was another demonstration of Rhianna’s talent and finesse. More importantly, the audience absolutely loved it! Bravo Rhianna!

Year 7 at Cowbridge

Comprehensive has a rising star in their midst. Milly, daughter of CMVC bass chorister Gus, has an arresting and unique voice that absolutely spellbound the audience. She sung a portfolio of songs accompanied by Rhiannon Williams with a delightful and charming tone that won over choristers and audience alike. Very well done Milly!

Annie Wright is already an accomplished musician and has performed on local stages to great acclaim. This was her CMVC debut and her poise, control and emotional intensity were really quite something. It is a real privilege to watch and listen to someone so young (year 12 at CCS) who has already managed to look so confident and at one with the piano.

Rhianna Owen Milly Saunders Annie Wright

A Wonderful Community Event

Thanks to the merciless presence of Covid, it had been 3 years since the choir had last had the opportunity to perform a Christmas concert at Holy Cross Church in Cowbridge. Anyone attending this year’s event couldn’t fail but remember lost friends and family, whilst also rejoicing in the resilience of the choir.

The guest performers, who also included Scott Williams in a fabulous duet with Sandra Williams over ‘Noel’ to the tune of Pachabel’s cannon, were universally excellent

But it was the choir that was truly the stand out. Marvellous renditions of numerous songs brought tears to the eyes and joy to the heart in equal measure. Rhiannon Williams worked hard to prepare the choir for the concert and goodness it showed. Even she was impressed by the beauty and emotion woven into ‘Noel’, whilst a first performance of ‘Million Dreams’ at least put a marker in the ground.

Above all this was an event at the heart of the Cowbridge community and was hugely emotional simply for that. Few will forget the ‘12 Days of Christmas’ congregational that truly lifted the soul – what a magical evening.

Rhiannon’s Roundup

“Healing Music….”

A New Year Roundup and a brand-new cycle begins once again for humanity and for choirs, none more so than at Cowbridge!

We have an exciting year to look forward to with concerts at Shrewsbury’s Theatre Severn, Llandaff Cathedral and a tour to Cyprus - all within the first 5 months.

Learning new music is top of the agenda currently and occasionally during rehearsals I speak about the benefits of the traditional (now largely unused) ‘Tonic Sol-fa’ mode of sight reading. Invented by Sarah Ann Glover at the turn of the 19th century and then popularised by John Curwen, it uses a system of musical notation based on movable solfegè.

Each note has a specific name in accordance with its relationship to other notes in a given scale - as demonstrated in the musical “The Sound of Music”.

I am always interested in the specifics of historical significance to various topics, and I was thrilled to learn from a recent Christmas gift of the nature of Pythagoras and his notion that the music of the spheres had/have motions which are connected together in the same way as the numbers belonging to harmony.

For example, his discovery of a perfect 4th, perfect 5th and perfect octave through the weighing of various hammers and also by using a musical string stretched with weights (see below).

Julie Andrews using solfage to help the children learn their musical notation.

“the father of music…”

Pythagoras is credited with being the Father of Music (and of Maths, Geometry and Philosophy!) due to his discovery of musical intervals (akin to the teaching of solfeggio) but he also taught that you could ‘heal’ using sound and harmonic frequencies as well.

I’m a firm believer that Music has a great deal of influence over us all and it is to this end I really enjoy teaching and honing new, current and previous songs

Not only does it provide a freshness for choristers and music team members but it also brings a depth of emotion and new skills which are necessary for change. Just like our seasons, music needs to be revisited and revitalised to keep our “cycle/circle of life” in perpetual motion!

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda a Diolch am eich holl cefnogaeth yn ystod 2022 / A Happy New Year and my thanks for all of your support during 2022 ��

“a depth of emotion & new skills…”

Bohemian Rhapsody

Freddy Mercury absolutely knew what he was doing. His anthemic song ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was recorded over 2 months and 5 studios in 1975 and was released as a 6 minute single, heading Queen’s new album ‘A Night at the Opera’.

It is notable for the fact that there is no refraining chorus but, instead, 5 distinct parts to the song. It took the British No1 spot for 9 consecutive weeks and is the third biggest selling single of all time.

And all of that is what makes the late, great Shelley Thomas-Browne’s decision to arrange it as a 4 part song for Cowbridge Male Voice Choir truly remarkable.

I am not sure that there is anything that Shelley could have done that would have been received with more open-mouthed amazement in what was, a fairly conservative MVC environment. And so it proved. I am reliably informed that the first performance of it was greeted with an instant standing ovation.

Today, believe it or not nearly 50 years on from when Freddy first put pen to paper, it remains as a repertoire piece that never fails to excite audiences and send a shiver of nervousness down the back of any CMVC chorister.

It is rightly a demanding sing in all parts –and Freddy, I am sure, would have approved.

Fan’s Favourite –
Remember the video?! Freddy Mercury performing Bohemian Rhapsody with Queen

Spotlight on: Section Reps

The Glue That Binds…

In any group of choristers there are the extroverts and the introverts; those that seem inclined to ensure that the audience hears their own voice and those who blend to perfection; those who are fiercely critical of performances and those less so.

But the glue that welds them all together into a cohesive unit able to take direction and guidance from the musical director is the section representatives. Theirs is an unremarkable role. They never make headlines and are rarely singled out for praise. But the work they do has incalculable value behind the scenes. Sorting out minor disagreements. Welcoming new choristers. Communicating with section members. Acting as a conduit for feedback to the MD.

Let’s hear it, therefore, for Chris Rooney, Terry Bunston, Jeff Wood and Bob Jenkins, our wonderful section reps!

Jeff Wood leading a display of jazz hands! Chris Rooney leading his Top Tenors! Bob Jenkins doing his best to blend in! Terry Bunston at Heart FM!

The Impossible Dream sets a new benchmark for CMVC!

In the run up to Christmas it might be easy to focus on the usual carols and family gatherings, but for many people it can be a difficult time. Moreover, we well know the support that singing in a choir provides to people at all times of their lives – both good and bad.

So it felt right to do something to highlight mental health, the charities that exist to help people who may be struggling, and the brilliant support that our choir provides to all.

The next thing to decide upon was how it should be done and, after a couple of pints in the Duke of Wellington after practice on a Wednesday, the idea took shape – a video to feature the choir in locations right across Cowbridge.

After creating a storyboard of the locations, it was decided that the choir’s rendition of ‘The Impossible Dream’ would be the perfect song to accompany the video.

The best video and film editor in Wales, Paul Owen, also sings with the choir and he generously stepped forward to lead the direction of the video, including the use of a drone to capture some really impressive footage.

Choristers gave the project their immediate support and shooting took place over 2 days in November.

After careful editing by Paul, the final video was shown to choristers in a gala screening at Holy Cross Church before being featured across social media to huge praise.

Big thanks to Paul Owen and all choristers for the immense effort made. Additional thanks to the locations – Cowbridge Rugby Club, The Bear Hotel, Duke of Wellington pub, Fablas Ice Cream and the Town Council.

Cowbridge Male Voice Choir in Wales (

Wedding at Miskin Manor Hotel

Undertaking a wedding booking is always good fun and the Choir were thrilled to attend and sing during a wedding service in November. Here’s a photo that commemorates the happy event.

Lisvane Concert for International Rotary Club & Refugee charities

The Choir was delighted to accept an invitation from International Rotary to support refugee charities in Cardiff and across South Wales in mid November, Taking place in a cabaret style setting in Lisvane Community Hall, the choir’s performance raised a substantial sum for the nominated charities in front of the capacity audience.

Gosport Concert Review

The choir’s major concert for Gosport Voluntary Association charities in Hampshire was a complete sell-out success and was much enjoyed by all concerned, raising over £1,800 for local community charities. Here are a few photos that capture the energy and spirit of the performance perfectly. A laid back ‘after glow’ took place at the Choir’s overnight accommodation, the Holiday Inn in nearby Fareham:

Click on the images above to access the Place for Homes website


20th JAN

The Choir is delighted to support a concert conceived by regular soloist Rhianna Owen in aid of Cowbridge Comprehensive Youth Group. Venue TBC.

3rd MAR

Concert in aid of the NSPCC to be held at Holy Cross Church.

25th MAR 2023

Some advanced notice for you in respect of a major concert the Choir has been invited to perform at Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury to support International Samaritans.

The impressive Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury will host the choir on 25th March.

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