REVIEW: London Welsh Rugby Club Choir at Holy Trinity Church, Cuckfield

The London Welsh Rugby Club Choir at Holy Trinity Church, Cuckfield
The London Welsh Rugby Club Choir at Holy Trinity Church, Cuckfield

London Welsh Rugby Club Choir, Holy Trinity Church, Cuckfield

The ‘land of our fathers’ brought inspiration and joy to a place of ‘Our Fathers’ when the London Welsh Rugby Club Choir gave a concert at Holy Trinity Church, Cuckfield.

The acoustics of the 13th century stone church provided a special resonance to the swelling harmonies of the 30 male voices as they performed a programme of traditional Welsh music and classical choral masterpieces.

It was a programme of vivid contrasts, ranging from the serene simplicity of the traditional lullaby ‘Si Hei Lwli Mabi (Sleep my Baby)’ to Verdi’s stirring chorus of the ‘Hebrew Slaves’ from Nabucco.

The London Welsh demonstrated not only the impressive power of their bass and tenor voices in the big choral set pieces, but a virtuosity and sensitivity of interpretation that brought beauty and meaning to the hymns and romantic folk songs. In particular, the hymn ‘Calon Lân (A Pure Heart)’, traditionally sung before Welsh rugby test matches, was performed with tight harmonies and a delicacy of touch that brought a lump to the throat and a tear to the eye.

Verdi’s chorus ‘Va Pensiero’, although sung in Nabucco by Hebrew slaves, has a special significance in Italian national identity, and the choir reflected this perfectly in a warm rendition that also gave hints of national pride in their own beautiful ‘fatherland’.

The musical direction under the baton of Michael Wyn Jones was sure and technically accomplished, never more so than in the stirring Welsh hymn ‘Rachie’, which begins its call to battle in a tonic chord in its first inversion, notoriously difficult for a choir to master, and sung here with great precision and confidence.

Wyn Hyland’s sparkling piano accompaniment was perfectly integrated throughout the concert with the male voices. Soloists Geraint Lewis and Chris Evans delighted the audience, as did Geraint Hopkins the compère, who charmed us all with his evident passion for the Welsh choral tradition.

Father Michael Maine, the Vicar of Cuckfield, expressed the feelings of all present in his tribute to the warmth, talent and virtuosity of the choir, and Chairman of the Friends of Holy Trinity Church, Paul Goldfinch, also acknowledged the wonderful contribution that the London Welsh Rugby Club Choir had made to the fundraising of the Friends.

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