Musical Director, Pauline Carey.
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our recently retired Musical Director Pauline Carey after a long illness.
Pauline was much loved and respected not just within this choir's community but beyond these shores. Pauline began her association with the choir in 2002 as assistant accompanist and Musical Director since 2012. Her dedication to the continued musical and professional development of this choir has been outstanding and she will be sorely missed.
The whole choir extend our deepest sympathies to Martin and family.
Pauline's funeral include services at Richmond Road Baptist Church, Pontnewydd at 1:15 pm followed by Gwent Crematorium at 2:30 pm.
AUGUST 2019 NEWSLETTER
From our Chairman :
Musical Director, Pauline Carey.
It was with great sadness that we received a letter from Pauline informing us of her very difficult decision to resign her position as Musical Director of the choir.
Quote from her letter:
“This has been a very difficult decision for me as I have loved working with the choir so much. However, following an adverse CT scan result of last week I realise that I have a long fight on my hands with a new regime of treatment probably over many months.
I have no wish to hold the choir back and thank the choir for their patience over the many months of my illness to date.”
Her letter expressed her great gratitude to Keith Jones and Annette Williams in leading the choir in her absence, wished the choir every success in the future and trusted that we find a new MD who will cherish the choir as much as she has.
Pauline began her association with the choir, in 2002, as assistant accompanist and, following Walford J. Hutchings’ retirement, was appointed Musical Director in 2012. Her inspirational style, drive and enthusiasm has been much missed over the last year and we send her our love and very best wishes for a full recovery. We hope that we will be able to welcome her to our practices and concerts once again.
Dr Martyn Jones.
PMC are delighted that Dr Martyn Jones has accepted the position of Assistant Musical Director and he takes up this role with immediate effect. He is an accomplished musician, pianist, composer and conductor and has a successful music teaching practice.
A graduate of the London College of Music and Aberystwyth University, we already know that he is a fluent Welsh speaker and that he is also proficient in German and Spanish. His attendance at recent practices proudly wearing some interesting tee shirts confirm that he also an accomplished athlete who regularly competes in road running and endurance events. So, when Martyn tells us to sing through phrases without taking a breath or to hold a succession of breves, we know that he has the vascular capacity to demonstrate!
A man of many talents, we warmly welcome Martyn into the PMC fold and hope that he has a long, enjoyable and successful association with the choir.
Proof received – within minutes of selling the first copy of the July newsletter the editor was given proof of two things. Firstly that it’s never a good idea to proof read your own work. Secondly that choir members actually read the newsletter! Eagle-eyed George Doherty spotted that Barry M.V.C. would be combining with us on 9th May 2019 – rather difficult. My apologies for that, it should have read 9th May 1020. (I bet I’ll get millions of responses to that!)
John Counsell is, we are delighted to say, back in practice. He’s been rewired but isn’t ready to resume marathon training and his vocal chords will not yet cope with demands for fortissimo – but he’s getting there! Alan Dunn made a welcome appearance in the practice room recently. Malcolm Gough has also been scanned and awaits results and decisions
On 19th we sang three pieces at the funeral service for Frankie Jones (who died in his 67th year). A very respectable number were able to be there and very favourable comments were received about our performance. It was a quite emotional occasion and the printed programme had a large number of photographs showing high points in his life, including one showing him with three very youthful present choir members. A newspaper cutting recorded Frankie’s success in the field of boxing – in his youth he was the Welsh schoolboy champion and reached the semi-finals of the British Youth Championship in London.
On the evening of 27th we entertained a large group of golfers and their wives / partners at the Captain’s Day in the Celtic Manor Golf Club. From our very first item (The March of the Men of Harlech – sung in English!) they listened intently and responded warmly. Keith had chosen a programme (just over a half-hour long) that was a sensible mixture of Welshness and popularity. Choristers quickly corrected him when he told the audience that we would sing that all-time favourite Cwm Rhondda in Welsh! Our final item, Rachie, was sung in Welsh with a finish that lifted the roof – the tenors really let it rip! Customers later in the evening in The Ponthir House also appreciated some musical contributions.
JULY 2019 NEWSLETTER
Pauline gets to practice when feeling well enough and likes to keep a watchful eye / ear on our standard of performance. We’re always delighted to see her and hope she continues to improve.
It’s also good to see Dave Wilks back in practice.
In the third week of June we had some more sad news. A former choir member, Frankie Jones, an in-patient at Dean Hospital Gloucester, died after a long and taxing illness. His funeral takes place on July 19th and the choir will be singing at the Langstone Vale Crematorium. We are invited back to the National Club, Malpas after the funeral. All our love and sympathy go to Maggie, Abby and Zach.
In times when many marriages last only a few years it’s refreshing to know that two of our members are showing their stickability. Keith Jones and his wife Sue have very recently celebrated their Golden wedding anniversary. More! – Martin Jones (T2) and his wife Kim will next year be celebrating their Ruby wedding anniversary. Many congratulations to all four. Do I hear cries of “What about mine?” If you’ve not had a mention it’s your own fault because you kept it quiet, possibly though feelings of guilt.
Yet another Martyn Jones deserves our sincere thanks for conducting our practice on the nights of Friday 21st and 28th June. He is a very busy man who, amongst other activities, is the Director of Music at St. Michael’s Church, Llantarnam - where Keith and Barry are members. His help, in Keith’s temporary absence, was much appreciated.
Attendance at practice is, generally, satisfactory but there is one feature that probably could improve. Reason for absence – unexpected absence will always occur, but anticipated absence surely could, at least, be passed on to a fellow chorister. Our registrar Graeme Jones is responsible for recording attendance at practice and giving feedback to Management Committee . To be part of a choir (but especially to be a member of PMC) means that in practice, as well as in concert, everyone is missed.
Have you looked at the notice board recently and put a tick (surely not a cross) on the list for attendance at (a) Frankie’s funeral. (b) Captain’s Day at Celtic Manor Golf Club?
Our performance (with two choristers on stage for the first time) in the concert at Llantarnam Abbey on 15th June was good enough to produce a standing ovation - so we can give ourselves a pat on the back. Our rendering of The Fields of Athenry, in particular, delighted the group of Irish nuns. Our programme fitted what was a meaningful celebration of fifty years of service. Our musical team, soloists, master of ceremonies and stage manager did their jobs admirably – team work did the trick.
These ladies deserve our thanks and their latest efforts in fund-raising have not received the hoped for level of support. The 28th June trip to Bath had to be cancelled because of insufficient numbers to make the trip profitable and they have had to apologise to those who had signed up for the trip. It’s a matter of guess work why the trip did not prove attractive enough, so the ladies need some feedback. Do you, or your wives /partners, have any ideas? If so don’t hesitate to contact any member of the ladies committee. You may be sure that all suggestions will be discussed for feasibility regarding cost, travelling time etc. Despite disappointment the ladies continue to make plans.
On the evening of Saturday 28th September they have organised an evening of 40s style entertainment provided by the singing duo Pashy Pops. It will be held at a new venue – The RAFA Club at Greenhill Road. The ladies will be providing a buffet. Let’s make it a fabulous evening!
We are all thoroughly enjoying learning this song and, thanks to chairman Ian and Martyn, we have had frequent explanations of the meaning of the words.
Just as a help for those of us who have short term memories here is a paraphrase (not literally a word by word or line by line translation) of the lyrics:
You are the only country for me, O my Wales.
You fill my heart with joy, you’re my heaven and my sunshine.
When I’m saddened, a picture of Wales will lift my spirits.
I will give my life for Wales.
Wales is my heaven so I shall sing it’s praises.
JUNE 2019 NEWSLETTER
The day following the printing of the May newsletter we received the very sad news of the death of one of our choristers.
Kelvin Stone, one of our baritones, had suffered a very serious heart attack while on holiday in Norwich in June 2017. Following some months of recovery he had returned to choir activities and we were all delighted to have him back in the ranks – he was in practice only two days before he died on 2nd May.
Kelvin (brother of Alan Wilmott’s wife Lydia) was one of life’s characters and a loving husband of Jean. It would be true to say that he was determined to enjoy life and it was always a real pleasure to be in his company.
He will be another friend who will be sadly missed and our deepest sympathy goes out to all the family.
The latest gentlemen to receive their ties from chairman Ian .... John Carter (bottom bass), Ian Thomas (baritone) and Ian Roberts (baritone).
In early May it was close to twelve months ago that we lost our dear friend Trevor Owen who had qualified for life membership but had been too ill to be presented with his certificate. Wendy (Trevor's wife) accompanied by her daughter and son-in-law were delighted to be presented with Trevor's Life Membership certificate.
On the morning of Thurs 9th May we sang at the opening of a conference for Serious and Organised Crime held at the Celtic Manor Golf Club.
Fourth from the right is our very own new baritone Ian Roberts, Gwent Police Chief Superintendent of the Divisional Committee for East Local Policing Area !!
There is no correlation between the theme of the conference and the talents of members of the choir !!
(Ackowledgements to the official photographer).
There were two other May concerts in which we performed. Choristors are now used to coping with variety in staging at venues and St Peter's Church, Goitre and Rougemont School, Newport gave stage manager Paul Reynolds very different challenges (thanks to Paul and Graeme). The occasions were also quite contrasting in character and sufficient to say that we coped admirably and upheld the choir's reputation thanks to our indominable music team of Keith and Annette. The highlight of the Peter Carrie concert at Rougemont School proved to be the singing of a remarkable 11 year-old girl - she was amazing !!
George Doherty (baritone) has kindly given your editor a copy of a poem entitled "The shape I'm in". It immediately made me think back to a first tenor who frequently performed as an artiste at some of our concerts. His name was Cyrille Price and he was a man of many talents, one of which was as an elocutionist. He would recite poems, some of which he'd written himself. Older choristers will recall such poems as "The Pontnewydd Fire Brigade" and his version of "The 23rd Psalm" that began "The Ford is my motor car, I shall not want another". Another one was "The shape I'm in" and the first verse was remarkably like the one in the poem George contributed. When space permits in another newsletter you'll get the benefit of the complete poem, but to give you a sample .... "There is nothing the matter with me, I'm as healthy as can be. I have arthritis in both knees, and when I speak, I talk with a wheeze. My pulse is weak, and my blood is thin, but I'm awfully well for the shape I'm in".
MAY 2019 NEWSLETTER
In April, three of our ‘newcomers’ were presented with their choir ties when chairman Ian welcomed them into full choir membership. These cheerful gentlemen are Peter Binding (baritone), Peter Davies (Bottom bass) and John James (Botttom Bass). We are delighted that they are enjoying our company enough to join us.
It is hoped that more ties will be issued in the near future and may well result in more newsletter pictures.
Chairlady Gwyneth Nutland has sent the following:
The Ladies Committee would like to thank everyone who donated Easter eggs and bought tickets for our Easter raffle. The draw took place on Friday April 12th. The following stores donated prizes: Morrisons Rogerstone, Tesco Xtra Risca, The One Stop Risca, Sainsburys Pontllanfraith, Walter’s Store Cwmfelinfach and The Spar Pontnewydd. There were 50 prizes and we raised over £350. It was such a huge success that we will definitely be holding a similar event next year.
Just a reminder about our trip to Bath – it is on Saturday June 29th, departing from Cwmbran Railway Station at 9:00am and leaving Bath at 5:00pm for the journey home. There are still seats available at £15 each. Please remember that choristers, family, friends and neighbours are all welcome to come along.
On Friday June 21st there will be two ladies from the committee in the practice room. They will collect subscriptions of £3 for any lady who wishes to remain on our mailing list. The wives of new choristers are more than welcome to add their name. We thank those who have supported the mailing list scheme over the last 12 months and hope you feel it is worthwhile enough to renew your subscription for another year. Feel free to ring me (number given below) to renew, become a new recipient or to be removed from the list.
The same night we will also be collecting any outstanding money for anyone who has booked seats on the coach to Bath – looking forward to seeing you there.
For more information about the purpose of our mailing list or to book seats for Bath please free to call me on 01495 200551.
Far and wide.
We’ve had an influx of new members over the last couple of years and it may well be that they are only vaguely aware of how frequently the choir has ventured to foreign parts. So given below is a list of visits abroad, starting with the first ever – some of us have been privileged to take part in all of them! Your editor thinks it is accurate but if there are errors my computer is at fault.
1983 June, tour based in Amersfoort, the Netherlands. Link with Amersfoorts Mannenkoor had been established in 1982.
1988 April – small group to Büchenau, Germany, to establish contact with MGV Harmonie Büchenau.
October – first exchange visit. German choir to us in 1990.
1993 October – to Germany for exchange with MGV Harmonie Büchenau.
1995 October – concert tour based in Caen, Normandy.
1999 May – Canadian concert tour (Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto).
2000 October – last visit to Büchenau. MGV Harmonie Büchenau visits to Cwmbran in 1996 and 2004.
2002 Spain – concert tour based in Castelldefels.
2005 Poland – concert tour based in Warsaw and Krakow.
2008 October - Czech Republic concert tour based in Prague and Pilsen.
2011 Belgium – concert tour based in Ghent.
2014 Normandy – concert tour based in Caen.
During the partnership with MGV Harmonie Büchenau small balanced groups made representative visits to Bruchsal Büchenau for two special occasions.
Possible massed choir in Cardiff.
The WAMC have responded to feedback after the last Royal Albert Hall concert and are aiming to arrange a similar 2020 concert in St. David’s Hall, Cardiff. Space restrictions mean that a choir of only 350 voices can be staged so some sort of selection is inevitable. PMC will show an interest but final decisions are in the hands of others. Many of the pieces for the programme are or have been in our repertoire.
APRIL 2019 NEWSLETTER
March was a busy month....
It started well on St. David’s Day. Our concert with the Newport choir was a big success with both choirs performing well, the artistes on top form and Barrie weaving his magic.
Our thanks to both musical teams for steering us safely through another ‘first’.
Memories of the concert tour to Southend-on-Sea (March 8 – 11) ..... This photograph was taken after the combined concert on Saturday evening.
Then Cwmbrân Town Centre was the location of short performances on 22nd and 23rd – would any other choir be prepared to turn out on three successive days? The first of these was at the Friday 10:00am opening of a new Cancer Research UK shop and the second at a Singathong on the bandstand in aid of the Tenovus Cancer Care Fund .
Three other choirs took part on the Saturday and it was a real treat to be able to listen to such a variety of songs sung so entertainingly. The audience obviously enjoyed it and the Tenovus Cancer Care Fund inform us that £623 was raised from the collection. Perhaps this would have been increased if the event had been better publicised – in the week preceding the event there had been no mention in the ‘Forthcoming events’ section of the Cwmbran Town Centre web page!
On the evening of Thursday 21st we entertained senior citizens at the New Inn Community Centre. As ever it was a pleasant and not too taxing evening. Tea and biscuits are always welcome and some were in bed before ten.