The run up to our very first annual gala concert has been a fun, enlightening and, at times, stressful experience.
Build up started two years ago, when Dale took over as MD, soon after joined by myself as accompanist. The choir, having formed two years previously, showed considerable promise. However, they were small in number (although made one helluva sound!) and had a limited repertoire. Perhaps the Bois look back on those days fondly because there were less lyrics to learn!
Over the past two years, Dale has extended the repertoire to include an eclectic range of numbers- from the Eagles to Bugeilio'r Gwenith Gwyn. As the music developed, the number of choristers crept up too. Twenty seven men stood on stage on Saturday night- an enormous leap in such a short time.
In 2013, after many successful performances, the time was right for the choir to take the plunge and hold a large scale concert of their own. This concert would present an opportunity for the choir to showcase themselves- the variety of their songs; their vocal abilities; their teamwork. Most of all, their personality.
The choir sang 20 songs on Saturday night. You would struggle to find a more varied programme. Nine men sang solos, demonstrating the quality and strength in depth within the choir. Every chorister is invaluable, they all contribute, they are a unit. And personality shone through from start to finish.
Was it perfect? No! We challenged ourselves in many ways. I think all choristers will agree that more time should have been spent learning words. Setting up the sound system was a massive rush. Perhaps our appearance could be slicker. We'll review, learn, amend, improve.
As a music team we believe that the objective of showcasing the choir was achieved. And then some. Fair to say that we were shattered by the end of the concert, but immensely proud of the Bois' performance. We stretched them and took them out of their comfort zone and they delivered the goods.
Many people to thank. Our wonderful soloist, our fantastic compere and our brilliant band. The choir committee who organised and coordinated. The Fun & Funds committee who ensured that the night ran smoothly. And of course our Bois, who really did put the effort in. Onto the next!
Wikipedia defines an afterglow in the following way: 'An afterglow is a broad high arch of whitish or rosy light appearing in the sky
due to very fine particles of dust suspended in the high regions of the atmosphere.' thefreedictionary.com adds two additional definitions: 'the comfortable feeling following a pleasant experience' ahem, well yes, that's one way of putting it, and; 'a lingering impression of past glory or success'.
The Afterglow for a male voice choir is something altogether different, although it is often driven by the (recent) past glory of a successful concert and the pleasant experience of a positive audience reaction. And alcohol. It is the post-concert celebratory singing/ drinking/ singing. Sometimes an afterglow can even eclipse the concert, or at least the alcohol can lead to that delusional belief.
So what makes a great afterglow? The aforementioned high spirits and free flowing beer are essential. It shouldn't be too introspective. Interaction with the locals always enhances a sing song. A welcoming venue- more on this later...
An instrument (piano/ guitar/ ukulele)? Not vital but helpful at least to avoid really appalling pitching of songs (getting halfway through a song just to discover nobody can reach the high notes is standard...) Food? Nah, a pint of Guinness is the equivalent of a roast dinner anyway!
Its not big and its not clever, but it is a fact that Bois Goetre-hen have almost been thrown out of a couple of hotels for singing. A bit short sighted, considering how much we would spend at the bar! So the venue is key.
Its almost worth arranging our trips around potential afterglow venues to avoid disappointment (I'll be suggesting this at a future committee meeting!)
In any case, if you have the opportunity to join us after a concert for drinks and songs, do take it. You'll get to know the Bois better and can join in with some great (or at least enthusiastic) singing! And if you know of- or are- a great Afterglow venue, please get in touch!!
So I was approaching last night's rehearsal with trepidation as our MD Dale was away enjoying himself in London. This meant that I was in charge at practice. I don't mind taking practice, but it always reinforces to me that the conductors and Musical Directors of the world are a uniquely talented bunch. It takes a blend of skill, confidence and an inspirational personality to turn a bunch of individual singers into a coherent unit producing beautiful music. This is not a combination of skills that I possess so I just hope that my rehearsals can be useful in some form or other whilst having some fun!
But when I arrived in Tondu last night, I was greeted with a wonderful surprise. Long time friend of the choir Toby Hunt had come along to visit and as well as doing us the honour of giving us a song, he agreed to act as celebrity guest MD for the evening. Toby is a successful baritone opera singer but he seamlessly turned his hand to conducting the practice. A great help to me and fantastic news for the Bois who, rather than the extremely dull evening of learning parts that I had planned, were able to enjoy Toby's expertise and Stephen Sondheim anecdotes. A classic demonstration of the key skills required for managing a choir.
Skills, of course, shared in abundance by our own Dale Evans. He certainly has the skill with a long track record of musical successes. This inspires a great deal of respect from the choir. Another very particular talent that he possesses is the ability to mime the words of almost any song, prompting the choristers when their memory of song lyrics fails them (a rare occurrence hmm Bois?!) Reminds me of comedian David Armand who expresses himself through the medium of expressive dance- see the YouTube clip- uncanny... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nr85XPKGsNM
Dale combines being completely hilarious with being completely terrifying. This means that every rehearsal is great fun whilst at the same time he gets the best out of the choristers who all aspire to hear the ultimate compliment- 'that's the badger Bois'...
If you're interested in joining a choir, then come along to one of our practices. Over the summer we're practicing once a week- 6.30pm on Sundays at Tondu Cricket Club. Contact us for more details...
Ahhh, its good to be back! Sunday was my first rehearsal since the birth of my daughter. Elin came along to the start of practice to meet the Bois, and they serenaded her with a rendition of Suo Gan. I was on the edge of my seat praying she wouldn't burst out screaming- and I'm happy to report that she managed to hold off until the end of the song- phew...
So clearly I think that a lullaby is an essential addition to any male voice repertoire. But what other bases do we have to cover? Bois Goetre-hen have established a reputation for incorporating modern and classic rock songs into our concert programmes- these are distinctive and different. However, I think that our distinguishing feature is that we cover the more traditional male voice repertoire as well. With a membership ranging from teenagers to octogenarians, our musical material also covers an eclectic range.
So what does a male voice choir need? A few classic Welsh hymns, some love songs for weddings, several barn storming closing numbers, a smattering of songs from musicals, classical, religious, some Welsh, some English, a Cornish folk song, an Italian opera aria... And of course a lullaby for when the accompanist's daughter comes to visit. Fair does Bois, that's a lot to keep on top of!
For the latest song they're learning, the Bois are rolling out the sequins and tassled dresses and channelling Tina Turner with Proud Mary. Imagine if you will the Bass and Baritone sections shimmying down the aisle whilst the Tenors perform a dance routine during the 'Pearl and Dean' middle eight. I'll leave you on that image and one final message- tickets to our annual concert will be on sale soon. Definitely worth a look!
Bois Goetre-Hen had the great pleasure to sing at the wedding of Leah and Tim on Saturday. I hope the rest of their day went as well as the wonderful ceremony.
It really is an honour and a privilege to play a part in weddings. Contributing to the happiest day of the couple's life- its massively uplifting. You can't help but share in their joy when you see their smiles and those of their guests. We get to roll out some of our slower (soppier?!) numbers and visit all sorts of interesting venues. In return, hopefully we add an additional edge and a bit of sparkle to a ceremony or reception. We also boost the hymn singing- I think the guests often appreciate a bit of back up in Cwm Rhondda or Love Divine!
I have a unique perspective on the subject of weddings. The Bois sang at mine back in October last year. In fact I had two male voice choirs- appreciate that's just showing off, but it did add an interesting twist of competition- the last verse of the final hymn- I Bob un Sydd Fyddlon- nearly blew our heads off, fantastic!
And boy, did they add sparkle! The broad range of songs in the repertoire meant that we could pick some really interesting numbers. A psalm here, a bit of Bob Dylan there, and walking out to the Beach Boys. Honestly, it raised the service beyond my wildest expectations, it was the absolute highlight of a wonderful day. And the hymn singing was real hairs on the back of your neck stuff!
So the choir were integral to our big day and of course I wouldn't have had it any other way, 'cause don't tell them, but they mean the world to me. But excuse my soppiness and let me just recommend them to you if you are considering having a male voice choir at your wedding. Their ugly mugs (sorry lads...) and beautiful voices, as well as their varied repertoire of classic and modern songs make for a great and unique addition to any wedding ceremony. Contact our secretary Richard Howells using the details at the bottom of this page. Approaches particularly welcome from anyone who is also planning a free bar... ;-)
Well should I be honoured to be nominated blogger or have I drawn the short straw? The first thing I've learned is that I desperately need a new laptop! Hopefully my husband will read this- my 30th birthday is just around the corner!
As its such a beautiful day I thought I would blog about the newest addition to our repertiore. Fields of Gold brings up wonderful images of summerevenings and Dale's arrangement is simple and effective, like a chilled glass of sauvignon blanc on a hazy day.
Man, I would kill for a nice glass of dry white wine. Baby's due in just over 4 weeks- not long to go now- get that bottle in the fridge!
Anyway... So Fields of Gold... it was written and recorded by Sting in 1993 and also famously recorded by Eva Cassidy. The original recording included a harmonica solo and any budding harmonica players amongst the Bois should make themselves known! It was also recently seen on the Voice on BBC1 being sung in Welsh by Bronwen Lewis- 'Y Caeau Aur'. Don't often find myself disagreeing with Will.I.Am but he should've turned around for her!
Our version also starts with a vocal solo- yet to be allocated. We take great pride in having so many great singers and potential soloists amongst our members. We're a small choir, but perfectly formed- everyone makes a contribution!
So we're looking forward to singing this one for you- hopefully on a sunny summers evening and if we're very lucky, with a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc!