“We’re back in business – and taking bookings for concerts in 2022.”
That’s the message from Côr Meibion Llanelli Male Voice Choir this week.
The coronavirus pandemic wrecked the choir’s plans for the last two years.
But it is now “game on”, according to choir secretary Fred Elias.
Mr Elias said: “Like so many other choirs up and down the land, the pandemic hit us hard. So many concerts and engagements were lost - and, of course, we lost some very dear friends in the course of the pandemic.
“The recovery has been slow – and we have been deliberately cautious in getting the show back on the road, so to speak.
“But this week we can confidently say that we are seeing the green shoots of recovery.
“We’ve already done some significant private engagements – some military functions and national conferences at the Stradey Park Hotel, for example.
“But we can now send the message out to all charities, groups, organisations, sporting groups and individuals that we are officially back in business.
“And we have performed at Jubilee party celebrations and other events across west Wales.
“The boys of the choir have been busy rehearsing under our accomplished music director Alex Esney.
“They are now straining at the leash and eager to get back on the concert stage.
“We have already taken some bookings for events in 2022 - but we are keen to hear from anyone who wants to book us for 2022. If we can fit you in, then we will.”
Mr Elias added: “We are in the process of bringing our website back up to date, but if you want to get in touch then you can do so via www.llanellimalechoir.co.uk/home
“We’re Llanelli’s globe-trotting ambassadors of song and we are keen to discuss any opportunities that come our way in 2022.”
The choir has a history and a reputation which is the envy of other choirs.
It would take a fairly hefty book to summarise the achievements of the choir over a history spanning 58 years.
But here are some keynote events:-
Côr Meibion Llanelli was formed in the village of Bynea under the baton of the late Denver Phillips BA in 1964. One founder member, Byron Thomas, continues to sing with the choir.
Côr Meibion Llanelli have been successful at all the major choral competitions that Wales has to offer.
The honours list includes five National Eisteddfod first prizes - at Lampeter in 1984, Fishguard in 1986, Llandeilo in 1996, Bridgend in 1998 and Llanelli in 2000.
The roll-call of wins also records seven firsts at the Miners Eisteddfod at Porthcawl, six firsts at Cardigan and three Pontrhydfendigaid “Eisteddfodau”.
The choir was successful in winning the Corwen Choral Competition at its first attempt in 1987.
The Llanelli Male Choir has graced many leading auditoriums and concert halls in the land - London’s Royal Albert Hall and Festival Hall, Birmingham’s Town and Symphony Halls, Oxford Town Hall, Plymouth’s Guild Hall, The MacRoberts Centre at Stirling, as well as Cardiff’s St David’s Hall and Swansea’s Brangwyn Hall.
Cathedrals have also featured high on the choir’s touring list - Coventry, Bury St Edmunds, Wells, Brecon, Gloucester, St David’s and Llandaff cathedrals have been concert venues, as well as Westminster Abbey.
The choir has travelled extensively throughout the world – Germany, Canada, USA. France, Ireland, Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand.
The choristers have raised thousands of pounds for charities such as Cancer and Leukaemia Research, The Red Cross, Heart Foundation and Tenovus as well as local charities and school groups.
The choir’s future is secure and their motto of “Ymlaen Llanelli” will surely hold the choristers in good stead as they head confidently towards their 60th anniversary.
The choir rehearses weekly on Monday evenings at Furnace Community Hall, 7pm start. Visitors and new members are welcome.
For the first time, the choir has a woman at the helm.
Alex is also musical director of Llanelli’s well-known women’s choir, Côr Curiad.
She said: “I am delighted to be the musical director of Côr MeibionLlanelli.
“They are such an established choir with a lot of history in the town - and I’m excited to put my own spin on things!
“I have many ideas and the choristers have taken well to the new music I am introducing to the repertoire.
“I’m aware that you have to keep the traditional Welsh music – which I’m keen to continue – but I’ll be adding many modern songs to the repertoire.
“It’s going to be an exciting 2022, so if anyone is thinking of joining, please join now.
“Côr Meibion Llanelli are such a great choir that I’m sure we are in for some exciting times.”
Jane Jewell, already widely known throughout south Wales as an accomplished pianist, is the choir’s accompanist.
And the team is strengthened further by the addition of Stephen Hopkins, from the Llanelli Citadel Salvation Army, as deputy conductor.
Alex added: “We all arrived together as the new team for Côr Meibion Llanelli. We’ve had a great welcome from the choristers and are looking forward to making sure everyone enjoys the experience.”
Alex began having piano lessons at the age of seven under the tuition of Sian Creel. She is a self-employed private piano/theory teacher, teaching the ABRSM (The Associated Board of the Royal School of Music) syllabus and currently tutors 70-plus pupils.
Alex also teaches GCSE composition and also teaches the music GCSE privately.
Her long involvement with Côr Curiad began in 1997 when she was only 16. She was appointed accompanist and took over the choir as musical director in 2005.
Under her leadership, the choir has had many sell out performances and has performed with artists Peter Karrie, Rhydian Roberts, Paul Potts, Collabro, The Overtones and most recently Sam Bailey.
A musical highlight for Alex was accompanying Paul Potts on the piano at Côr Curiad’s concert.