The Rhymney Silurian Male Choir

Musical Director:- Ralph Williams
Accompanist:- Ashleigh Powell
Deputy Musical Director:- Iestyn Harding

The Rhymney Silurian Male Choir was formed in 1951 and swiftly established a reputation for the quality of its performance and variety of its repertoire. The desire to embrace musical innovation has been its trademark throughout its history. There have been three main areas of development for the Choir:- competition, concert and international friendship and exchanges.

During the almost 60 years of its existence the Choir has never rested on its laurels, to do so would have resulted in musical decline. On the competition stage the Choir has amassed no fewer than four National Eisteddfod titles, five Championships:- Cheltenham Choral Gold Cup and the Cornish Open Championship to name just two. The repertoire of male choirs have been enhanced and enriched with the commissioning of music from composers such as Mervyn Burtch and the late William Mathias.

Balanced against this strive for perfection through the musical discipline of competitions, the Choir has also channelled its energies into the promotion and support through concerts of various national and international charities such as heart and cancer appeal funds. It has even been invited to support a Royal Gala Concert at the thjeatre in Windsor and even a concert at Eton College under the chairmanship of a certain Sir Terry Worgan. One of the Choir's major projects in the late 1980's was the support given following the Mexican Earthquake disaster when it made a topical football record to coincide with the Mexican World Cup and donated all profits to the Children's Orphanage Fund headed by our ambassador and also the Placido Domingo Fund.

The Choir has supported many national music festivals as well as charity events and in both cases trimming costs to expenses only and does not seek profits. Over the years charities must have benefited to the tune of between 50,000 and 100,000. The Choir motto is "if we can help we will."

During the last twenty-five years, and not content to achieve mere national success, the Choir embarked on a vigorous international programme. Through this programme the Choir has been carrying the flag of the "Welsh Male Choir Tradition". It not only performed abroad (the latest count is 8 countries) but brought overseas choirs and their music to Wales. The Choir currently has links with choirs in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Canada, Norway, Denmark and Finland. Its links are not only with choirs for it has positively assisted a young Romanian singer, Adina Nitescu, a competitor at the Cardiff Singer of the World Competition. Adina Nitescu stated in a television interview that there was a dearth of operatic scores in Romania, so the Choir sponsored her with a number of scores. Again as a result of its links with a choir from Finland it was able to take a young Finish soprano Soile Isokoski out from the pressures of the competition. Both are now internationally established with Soile Isokoski winning critical acclaim at Covent Garden and the Met. New York and even Classic fm with her recording of the Richard Strauss "Four Last Songs".

These all round qualities have been recognised with the Choir having been selected to sing for the President of the then Federal Republic of Germany during his state visit to the United Kingdom, together with being awarded with the W. S. Gwynn Williams (founder of Llangollen International Eisteddfod) Award for its achievements and contribution to Welsh Culture. Since the inception of the award, the Silurians had for many years been the only male choir to have been so honoured.

The Rhymney Silurian Male Choir is an active member of the South Wales branch of the Welsh Association Of Male Choirs www.welsh.association.male.choirs.ukgateway.net and the Welsh Amateur Music Federation(WAMF) www.tycerdd.org (the amateur arm of the Arts Council of Wales).

The Choir rehearses on two evenings each week; 7.30pm - 9.00pm on Tuesday and Friday at the Rhymney Comprehensive School. If anyone is interested in joining this Choir, please come along and listen to the rehearsals and/or contact Bernard Jenkins, Secretary, on 01495 723612 or 07836631192 or e-mail: fbernardjenkins@btinternet.com