The Old Church, Llangelynin, Llechwedd, Conwy: 25th June 2011
When the initial idea was first put forward it seemed fraught with potential problems: the venue was in the remote foothills of Snowdonia, it had no electricity, there were no… er… “facilities” and the church itself could only be reached with a very robust 4×4. Yet the magical location of the 1000 year-old church of Llangelynin was more than kind to us at every turn.
Thanks to the kind donation of a generator for the evening, a window of beautiful weather and some resourceful forward-planning from Delora Harding, one of our First Sopranos, we were able to address every challenge.
In the millennium that has passed since it was built, Llangelynin Old Church has never hosted a choral concert; yet the building seemed to welcome the novelty and provided a beautiful and unique acoustic. It was also an incredible thought that the church was already a very old building by the time the Tudor music we were performing was written.
Throughout our rehearsal we did wonder whether people would make the difficult journey to see us perform, notwithstanding the enchanting venue and beautiful views. However, as the performance time approached and the church bell was tolled, the sight of the audience arriving was reminiscent of that famous scene in the film Field of Dreams and the question soon turned into where they would all sit.
It was, then, to a packed house that we began the first half of our programme, appropriately opening with the haunting Thou Knowest, Lord, The Secrets of Our Hearts by Henry Purcell. We then performed a selection of pieces written during the reign of King Henry VIII before moving forward in time slightly with a variety of 17th Century madrigals.
Interval refreshments were generously provided in the church grounds under a marquee, specially errected for the occasion which gave everyone an opportunity to enjoy the spectacular scenery in the late evening sunshine.
The second half was opened by 14 year-old violinist, David Shaw; the prodigiously talented son of our Musical Director, Nigel Shaw, and his wife and our Soprano Leader, Janeen Shaw. David entranced the audience with his performances of the first movement from the Violin Concerto No.2 in D by Mozart and Meditation from Thaïs by Massenet; both expertly accompanied on the piano by Janeen and both receiving rapturous applause.
The choir then continued with O Sing Unto The Lord by Purcell – featuring the beautiful solo voices of Meinir Lloyd Jones (Alto Leader), Kathryn Nash (Second Alto) and Janeen Shaw – and Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened one of the set of four Coronation Anthems by Handel.
To set the seal on a truly magical evening for us all, our wonderful audience gave us a standing ovation and made this concert one that we will all remember with great fondness for a very long time.
Our thanks must be extended to Phil Williams (one of our Tenors) and Philip Grout for the superb organisation and to our magnificent audience for their attendance and exceptionally generous reception.