JOIN A CHOIR! JOIN BRIDGEND MALE VOICE CHOIR!
I’ve always sang. As a boy growing up in Aberaeron, Ceredigion, music was always heard in the house; either Elvis, Johnny Cash or Jim Reeves or Ryan Davies and various Welsh language singers. The chapel, cymanfa ganu, Urdd, school productions and Eisteddfodau. My mother played the piano and we would harmonise Welsh hymns all the time. I was a boy soprano for goodness sake!
However after leaving school and home, singing was never a part of my life in University or my working career in Cardiff. Music was still a big presence but singing just wasn’t on the radar.
Much later on, I enjoyed a bit of Elvis Karaoke and drunken singsongs around the piano at certain events, and even later, as the weather presenter on S4C for many years, I did have the opportunity to sing and record with two wonderful Welsh language music legends, with folk star Gwenda Owen and with rock icon Heather Jones. I even performed with them at a couple of small festivals and the recorded songs still get played on Radio. But that was it really.
Joining a choir had never appealed to me. Joining one of the many choirs in Cardiff, with classical repertoires and a certain narrow-minded ‘’Welshness’’, certainly didn’t appeal!
Then one evening at my local pub in the Vale of Glamorgan, The Three Golden Cups, I was hosting a farewell party for the departing landlords in a packed bar. Speeches, presentations and poems and music.
I went to the toilet, to, er, do what men do in toilets. There I was, minding my own business and in walked this chap and stood next to me. Very tall and very talkative. (This sounds a bit dodgy I know!) ‘’You’ve got a good voice there mate. Ever sung in a choir?’’ I laughed and said that it wasn’t really my thing. ‘’ I sing with Bridgend Male voice choir. You should come along. You’re a baritone I reckon’’
Later that night I told my wife about the slightly weird approach I had had in the toilets! She laughed and insisted that I go to a rehearsal. ‘’After all’’, she said, ‘’You can sing, you’ve got a great voice and it would be really good for you. Give it a go’’
With drastic career changes, a prostate cancer diagnosis and resulting mental health issues and a lack of self worth and confidence, the last few years have been a bit shitty, pardon my French. So I needed something, other than walking, to give me a boost, a regular weekly gathering with other people, and, as music of all kinds is still a huge part of my life, going along to the aforementioned rehearsals sounded appealing. ‘’I’ll give it a go’’ I thought. ‘’I’ll go along and see what it’s like’’.
That first visit to the Bridgend Male voice choir rehearsal at Oldcastle School hall in Bridgend, was probably one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I need to thank my wife for persuading me to go along to the rehearsal, and I suppose I need to thank John Jones (2nd tenor) who made the initial approach, albeit in a pub gents toilets! Cheers John!
So why join a choir and why join Bridgend Male voice choir? Well there’s been a revolution in attitudes towards joining the local choir and male voice choirs especially are a very Welsh tradition. We are very proud of our ability to sing. ’’There are many things you can say about a Welshman,’’ wrote the critic Milton Shulman, ‘but never be rude about his larynx.’ The male voice choir or ‘côr meibion’ is one of the distinctive emblems of Welsh identity. There are over eighty male choirs in Wales today and they are not going gentle into anyone’s good night; they are here to stay. The Bridgend Male Choir (Cor Meibion Pen-Y-Bont) was established in August 1960 and is regarded as one the best of it’s kind in the country. However, as with all choirs I’m sure, everyone is aware of choristers ageing, becoming ill or not being able to attend and as a result, numbers dwindling and unfortunately, many male choirs around Wales have depleted in numbers or have disbanded completely.
Bridgend Male voice is NOT anywhere near that situation but we are actively looking for new members, and particularly ‘’younger’’ members, whatever ‘’young’’ is these days.
So this is my appeal, on behalf of this fantastic choir and a wonderful, hard working committee, for men, of all ages, from Bridgend, Vale of Glamorgan and the surrounding areas, to come along to a rehearsal. There is no expectation. You will not be given an audition or asked to sing solo. You can just sit at the front or the rear of the room if you like to begin with. We sing everything from Myfanwy to Elvis Presley and from Welsh hyms to show tunes, in both Welsh and English. The welcome will be warm (I can guarantee that). The ‘hwyl’ and camaraderie will be infectious. The support and help will be invaluable (with language, wording, music sheets, uniform and numerous opportunities to sing at all kinds of events). The quality of our music team will impress. And the wall of sound when the choir starts to sing will, as it did with me, make the hairs on your arms or the back of your neck, stand to attention.
Research has consistently proven that singing, and singing as part of a choir especially, makes you feel good, with the release of endorphins, leading to better circulation. It enhances the immune system and helps to battle illness. Singing reduces stress, boosts self confidence and self belief, helps with grief, loneliness and healing. Above all, singing, whether it be at rehearsals, at a wedding, a concert hall, a pub, in a church or a music festival, is good for the mind and for the soul. Take it from me, this is all true, and as I said before, joining these wonderful group of men, is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I wish I’d made it sooner.
So as my wife told me, give it a go guys. We rehearse every Thursday night from 7.30 to 9.30 at Oldcastle school hall in Bridgend (CF31 3ED), we have a busy schedule of engagements for this year and next and we would like to invite you along and see for yourselves. You won’t regret it!
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