51st Annual Concert, 11 June 22022


Chelmsford and District Welsh Society celebrated its 60th anniversary, after two years of disruption caused by the pandemic, by resurrecting its Annual Concert at Chelmsford Cathedral on 11 June.

The President, Gwil Williams, welcomed  Trelawnyd Male Voice Choir and baritone soloist Dafydd Allen, and the very large audience of loyal supporters and many more attending for the first time, (a great success as there were many other events in the city that evening), to the 51st Annual Concert.

Trelawnyd Male Voice Choir were founded in 1933, and have been very busy and highly successful ever since. (Gwil’s father was one of the original member!).Their Musical Director is Ann Atkinson, and this year her alma mater conferred Associate Honours of the Royal Academy of Music for her “significant contribution to the music profession”. There was much disappointment that the famous soprano Elin Manahan Thomas was unable to sing as she had contracted laryngitis. With two days to find a replacement, Dafydd Allen, a young baritone who will soon be joining Welsh National Opera as an Associate Artist after completing the postgraduate course in Opera at the Royal College of Music, was approached and agreed to be the soloist. The choir’s accompanist was Paul Young. James Daly, Organist and Master of Choristers at Chelmsford Cathedral, who originally was to accompany Elin, agreed to accompany Dafydd, and also assisted as the choir’s accompanist for some of the numbers.

Ann, a charismatic MC as well as a great MD, introduced the choir and announced that the theme   throughout the evening would be LOVE.  She gave a resume before the choir sang most of the songs, and in particular the five sung in Welsh. The concert began with the great Welsh favourite, Gwahoddiad, the lively What Would I Do Without My Music and Can’t Help Falling in Love. Dafydd followed with two arias, including Song of The Evening Star from Tannhauser. During the concert, the choir sang three much loved songs composed by Robat Arwyn, beginning with Yfory. This was followed by When I Fall in Love, accompanied by James Davy on the piano and Paul Young on the flute. Dafydd’s next aria was from Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutti, followed by an American folk song Shall We Gather By The River. The choir’s next song was Joseph Parry’s Myfanwy, believed by many to be the greatest love song of all times, a story of rejection on one side and of faithful continuing love on the other. This was followed by Tell My Father, a poignant song where a young soldier lies dying on the battlefield, and bids a farewell to his father during the American Civil War, and featured a moving solo by a talented baritone Owen Barton Davies, the youngest member of the choir; the first half finished with a great favourite, the spiritual The Gospel Train.

After the interval the audience joined the choir to sing Calon Lan. The deputy Mayor of Chelmsford, Cllr. Sue Dobson, delivered the Civic Welcome to the performers. The choir then opened with You’ll Never Walk Alone, to the delight of the Liverpool football fans, Benedictus to the delight of those who love Robert Arwyn’s compositions and then You Are So  Beautiful. Dafydd continued with two songs in English, Eric Coates’ I Heard You Singing and In Flanders by Gurney. The exciting Welsh traditional song Oes Gafr Eto ?, which reminded one of the goats reclaiming the streets of Llandudno during the lockdown, was the choir’s next piece, followed by the sad Bring Him Home from Les Miserables. Dafydd’s final solos were the two beautifully sung Welsh favourites, Bryniau Aur Fy Ngwlad and Tyrd Golau Mwyn….. followed by thunderous applause for a great talent.  The choir’s final pieces were Robat Arwyn’s haunting Anfonaf Angel, followed by Every Time I Feel the Spirit….. which were also followed by thunderous applause for a wonderful concert, and which was rewarded by a rousing encore.

What a wonderful evening; for the choir and soloists, a live appreciative audience, no more Zoom performances; for the audience the enjoyment of listening to live music on stage among company again, after two long, lonely  Covid 19 winters. The congratulations and presentations to the choir and their MD Ann Atkinson, the soloist Dafydd Allen and the accompanists Paul Young and James Davy, were made by Liz Armishaw, who was the President in 2019/2020 when the choir were originally to have performed at the June concert. Liz was grateful to the present President, Gwil Williams, for allowing her the pleasure of delivering the closing congratulations……at last!


Jim Armishaw.