Thursday 19th March 2015

High Street Baptist Church, Merthyr Tydfil

This evening’s award was dedicated to the memory of Perry Williams, David Rees and Des Kelly, choristers who had recently passed away. They all played a vital part to the success of Dowlais Male Choir over the last 50 years.

The choir, in its 50th anniversary year, started off the night with three pieces – Let All Men Sing (which will be the opening song at this years’ Association of Male Voice Choirs festival at the Royal Albert Hall), Every Time I Feel the Spirit and Anthem from Chess.

The chairman of the choir, and compere for the evening Iwan Jones welcomed everyone to the evening, and introduced each entrant to play their respective pieces of music. In previous years, pupils were chosen from each of the borough’s comprehensive schools, however with the absence of sixth forms in some of the schools, a different format was introduced. Entrants had to be under the age of 18 on September 1st, reside in the borough of Merthyr Tydfil and hold a minimum grade 5 in their discipline.

First to perform on High Street’s grand piano was Mollie Pullman, an A-Level student at Merthyr Tydfil College, followed by 14 year old Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun pupil Eve Price who performed beautifully on the harp. Megan Cariad Butler, another Merthyr Tydfil College student, took to the piano before the competition ended with male entrants Ciaran Walsh, studying at Afon Taf High School, and James Sweet Jones, a former Cyfarthfa High School pupil now studying at St John’s Baptist High School, Aberdare. Thanks go to the music teachers, particularly Annette Moore, Stuart Ghezzi and Rhian Williams for continuing to inspire and teach young pupils in the field of music.

Dowlais Male Choir ensures this a free event, with donations going to the Mayor’s Appeal fund – this year’s recipients being the Alzheimer’s Society and PHAB Merthyr Tydfil. It was disappointing that the turnout was low, and adjudicator Jonathan Gulliford commented how few or any headteachers were there to support their pupils.

The choir continues to support young musicians from the Borough of Merthyr Tydfil and we were delighted to include soloist Katie Phillips in this years’ competition. Katie is 16 years old and lives in Quakers Yard, and after a wonderful performance of popular musical numbers, her singing mirrored established stars of the West End and was met with great delight from the audience.

The choir were delighted that Gillian Edwards-Randle, the first ever recipient of the D.T. Davies Bursary Award and now a Senior Lecturer in Music, who spoke of how important music is today. Gillian wished all the young musicians the very best in their careers and hoped the award would encourage them to believe that they really can achieve their musical dreams. An extended invitation was given to the entrants to make use of the recording facilities at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, a wonderful gesture indeed.

The time of the night came for the adjudicators, Jonathan Gulliford, Darya Brill-Williams and Hetty Watkins to announce who they thought was deserved of this year’s award. Mr Gulliford spoke about the criteria they were looking for, and after highlighting that every entrant had something special to offer, the award went to Eve Price. Eve was presented a glass trophy by Robert Bush (director of the evening’s sponsor Rabart Decorating Centre) and a cheque for £100, along with the most important prize – to perform alongside the choir at their annual concert in September.

There are no losers in this Bursary Award, only runners up and they were presented with a cheque for £25 and a chance to come back next year.

The evening ended with a rousing rendition of Bryn Myrdddin, Benedictus and Rugby World Cup anthem World in Union, with Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau completing another successful competition. The choir encourages any male who enjoys singing to come forward in this, the choir’s 50th anniversary, and have a chance to perform at our gala annual concert at Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Centre on Saturday 12th September. Go to www.dowlaismalechoir.co.uk

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