The tour bus departed Pembroke Dock at 9.30 on Thursday, October 10, collecting choristers and guests en route to Brecon. After a coffee break at Llandovery, the choir began its tour programme with a lunchtime recital at St Mary’s Church, Brecon. A substantial audience, including the church cafe’s diners, enjoyed two sets of songs, including Rachie, Let it Be Me, Llef and Take Me Home, along with other favourites. At times it felt like a friends’, family and former colleagues’ reunion, so many choristers having close Brecon links.
The choir were delighted to be staying at the Brecon Castle Hotel for the weekend. Friday morning began with a roller-coaster mystery tour to Hay-on-Wye to explore the town, its book, antique and clothes shops and, of course it’s hostelries, where choristers and guests were pleased to shelter from torrential rain showers reminiscent of Pembrokeshire.
The weather did not prevent chorister Eddie Stapleton and his wife Barbara from visiting Hay-on-Wye Primary School to answer many questions from pupils about his experiences as an evacuee to Hay during World War II. At the concert later that evening, pupils read excerpts from Eddie’s book “An Evacuee in the Hay”.
Friday evening’s concert was held in St Mary’s Church, Hay-on-Wye, performed jointly with Talgarth Male Voice and Hay Primary School choirs. In attendance was TMC’s President, Roy Noble OBE and his wife Elaine. This was a rousing evening featuring the choirs singing separately and together, opened by Talgarth and Hay singing You Raise Me Up. Tenby’s sets included African Prayer, Working Man and Hallelujah. Joining us to perform for American Trilogy was our coach driver John Hillier of Pembroke and District Male Choir. The concert ended with a stirring performance of Morte Christi by Brecon and Talgarth choirs.
Following refreshments at the church, Talgarth and Tenby choirs retired for an excellent ‘after-glow’ at the Swan Hotel, where choristers serenaded each other and sang together in friendship.
The final day of the tour was spent at the Big Pit, Blaenavon where Tenby Male Choir sang unaccompanied against the backdrop of the pit-wheels. The audience was international, including some from Chile, Italy and France who congratulated us on our performance. Many intrepid choristers and guests took the opportunity to descend into Big Pit to experience the atrocious conditions under which the miners formerly worked. It was an eye-opening experience for them all and will add insight when the choir sings in tribute to the past men, women and child miners of South Pembrokeshire.
Tenby Male Choir is indebted to our organisers Charlie McFee and Terry Evans, our Musical Director Ian Williams and accompanist Anna Tiller, for making the tour such a successful event. As usual compere David Blackmore, stepping down as chairman after two very busy years, did a sterling job of entertaining audiences whilst introducing the choir and its songs.
If you’d like to know more about Tenby Male Choir, please see our Facebook page or website http://www.tenbymalechoir.org