Review: St David’s Celebration Concert at Ffwrnes Theatre
St David’s Celebration Concert at Ffwrnes Theatre, Llanelli, featuring soprano Elin Manahan Thomas, tenor Osian Wyn Bowen, massed male choir from Côr Meibion Mynydd Mawr, Côr Meibion Dyffryn Aman, Côr Meibion Dyffryn Tywi, Côr Meibion Porth Tywyn, conducted by Dr Alwyn Humphreys MBE.
This was an evening celebrating the very best of Welsh singing - and a real ‘coming of age’ for West Wales tenor Osian Wyn Bowen.
The 20-year-old from Burry Port has been quietly refining his craft for a number of years - and his performance before a packed house at Ffwrnes marked him out as a soloist to watch and follow for years to come.
Confident, assured and controlled (with plenty of cheeky stagecraft thrown in for good measure), Osian showed that his time as a student at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama has paid dividends.
A duet with top-of-the-bill soprano Elin Manahan Thomas will live long in the memory.
The couple’s performance of the Joseph Parry classic ‘Hywel a Blodwen’ (complete with a flower prop!) was inspired.
The evening was a Loud Applause production on behalf of Theatrau Sir Gar, Carmarthenshire Theatres, and celebrated St David and many of our finest Welsh songs.
The combined massed choir of Côr Meibion Mynydd Mawr, Côr Meibion Dyffryn Aman, Côr Meibion Dyffryn Tywi and Côr Meibion Porth Tywyn were marshalled by guest conductor Dr Alwyn Humphreys MBE.
It is no easy task bringing four separate choirs together on a concert platform, but Dr Humphreys, ably assisted by accompanist Jeffrey Howard, took it all his stride.
From the opening bars of Llanfair, you knew that Dr Humphreys had the 90-strong massed choir under firm control.
The choristers rose to the challenge of the evening and we were treated to Calon Lan, Robat Arwyn’s Benedictus, Take Me Home, Give Me That Old Time Religion, American Trilogy, Myfanwy, the Ryan Davies classic Pan Fo’r Nos yn Hir, Anfonaf Angel, Mansions of the Lord and Rachie.
Elin Manahan Thomas provided a full demonstration of her talents with Where’er you walk, Mae Hiraeth yn y Môr, The Laughing Song from Die Fledermaus, Gilbert and Sullivan’s Poor Wandering One, Juilette’s Waltz Song by Gounod and the Ivor Novello classic Some Day My Heart Will Awake.
Osian Wyn Bowen marked his first-half arrival with Y Hen Gerddor and My Little Welsh Home before joining Elin Manahan Thomas for Brindisi, the drinking song from La Traviata.
The first-half climax was provided by Elin Manahan Thomas joining the massed choir for a stirring rendition of Morte Christe.
Osian’s second-half slot featured Llanrwst and Elen Fwyn, before that memorable ‘Hywel a Blodwen’ routine with Elin.
The evening closed with an inspiring and emotional Gwahoddiad, featuring the choir and both soloists.
Large parts of the audience rose for a standing ovation. It was a night of celebration. It was a night to remember. It was also a night where Osian Wyn Bowen announced his presence to the West Wales concert stage.
The evening was compered in supremely professional style by radio and TV personality Garry Owen.
Photos by Graham Harries, G Photography