Thursday 20 June 2019

Drogheda Male Voice Choir enjoy a true Welsh experience

In recent times, the town of Drogheda has been featured in headlines, both nationally and locally, for all the wrong reasons. This tends to overshadow the many great and wonderful attributes the town possesses in abundance by way of its tradition in music of all kinds as well as many aspects of history, culture and heritage.

The Drogheda Male Voice Choir once again carried the name of the town with pride when they were invited to celebrate the 60th Anniversary recently of one of Wales' top male voice choirs, The Aber Valley MVC, in a joint concert in Caerphilly. It was a marvellous occasion held in the splendid surrounds of St Martin's Church in the ancient town and also featured top Welsh Soprano.

The concert opened with both choirs singing a rousing Welsh Hymn, "Deus Salutis" which certainly tested the Drogheda Choir's Welsh language fluency which was subsequently complimented by, Mr Geraint Evans, Musical Director of the Aber Valley MVC. The visitors then followed the famous Welsh Choir and lovely Welsh Soprano, Ruth Greenaway Robbins, to close the first half of the concert. They brought a nice local Irish flavour into the proceedings when they sang a beautiful version of "Red is the Rose" in their set which drew warm acclaim from the packed church.

They continued to enthral their audience as they opened the second half, with the highlight being the haunting WB Yeats poem, "When You Are Old"- which was musically composed and arranged by Welsh composer and friend of the choir, Edward Rhys Harry. They closed a memorable 60th Anniversary concert by joining their hosts for a splendid rendition of; " You'll Never Walk Alone" which saw the capacity audience rise to their feet to show their appreciation for a fantastic evening of choral and individual singing.

Another feature of a very enjoyable evening was the repartee with the audience of both choirs Musical Directors, Geraint Evans and David Leddy. They complemented their choirs majestic singing with convivial banter and introductions which drew great laughter and amusement. Their interaction throughout the concert displayed great friendship and respect for each other.

Whilst the Aber Valley MVC 60th Anniversary Concert was the centre point of the Drogheda Choir's trip to Wales, there was also another memorable moment when they were requested to sing at the National Miners Museum, "The Big Pit" in Blaenavon. The trip was organised by choir member, Tom Tuohy, for the Friday of the visit. At the conclusion of their visit, which saw them go underground, they sang for the staff of the museum as well as visitors. On a previous visit in 2016 the Drogheda Choir also sang at the Miners Memorial Garden at Senghenydd. So this completed a poignant double for them.

The Aber Valley MVC were first to strike up a relationship with the Drogheda choir on a visit to Ireland in 2014 when they sang in St Mary's Church in James' Street. They are among the top male choirs in Wales and had the honourable distinction of opening the then Millennium Stadium ( later renamed The Principality Stadium) when Wales played the then World Champions, South Africa, in 1999. Their Musical Director, Mr Geraint Evans, has been the recipient of a Royal Commendation and will be a guest conductor for the 2021 Festival of Male Choirs in the Royal Albert Hall.

The Drogheda DMV chairman, Tommy Finnegan, provided a lovely touch during the evening when, during the presentations, he addressed the audience in their own language, which was greatly appreciated.

In summing up the memorable trip, Tommy Finnegan related; "It was indeed an honour and privilege to be asked to participate in the 60th Anniversary Celebrations of one of Wales' top male choirs. Their hospitality was fantastic and our travelling party of over 45 were treated to a great time in the principality".

Drogheda Independent