The Choir in the Nidus Theatre Arts Production of a Scene from 'Les Mis'.
I had a meeting today with some of the choir committee members and we discussed ways of recruiting more new young singers with a good sense of pitch, so that the choir can increase to its original size after the loss of star singers last year and maintain its high standard. I was reminded of the splendid workshops of Ralph Allwood of Eton College and now conductor of the Rudolphus choir, which two ex members attend in London. Hiring experts like him takes money, and we came up with some novel ways of fundraising in the next few months. Details later, when confirmed.
We also mused on how very important it is, when the choir is smaller, that every member turns up to concerts and competitions. This takes dedication from parents who have been good to the choir in bringing members even when not 100% well, because they realise in a small choir how important every person is. We are quickly restoring the choir to the standards we had before and have some amazingly good singers, who improve every week! We discussed more repertoire and also discussed the Abergavenny Eisteddfod. When singers should be back in time for Nidus Theatre Arts. What a Lovely way of spending an afternoon with coffee and sandwiches in the Parkway and discussing plans!!! Love it!!!
Summer 2017 saw a large number of beautiful Nidus Choir Members, many of whom in the choir for ten years. They had enjoyed the concerts and competitions abroad, concerts in churches, cathedrals, hospital wards, weddings and the fun team building events organised by Heidi, assistant conductor and bursar. They had so many friends all leaving for new pastures. Our Nidus Christmases have always been so special and many other happy memories of childhood in Tredegar House and other lovely places remain in their memories forever. Who could forget that lovely candlelit concert in the Madeleine Church in Paris? Many former choristers were in tears having to leave. All were enriched from their experience in the choir, made possible by the commitment of enthusiastic parents who regularly travelled with the choir and gave 100% support to their children.Many have gone on to Musical careers. We miss them greatly, but they recently returned from uni to join a choir concert at Llantarnam Abbey to support the choir in raising money for the St Joseph's Hospice.
Llangrannog 2018 Octorber
Last years few days at Llangranog combined workshops which were used to prepare for all the repertoire for the Christmas Repertoire, and enjoying all the facilities-the beach, the horse riding, the ski run, the trampolines, the party and all the get togethers. We are planning the same this year and Christian and Evelyn will be in volved.
Rebuilding-The Abergavenny Eisteddfod
We are now having to retrain a junior choir many of whom were novices in the former choir, and Christian has made an impressive start. There were a number of concerts before Christmas . A memorable evening at the St Pierre Golf Club proved to be a debut for so many of the new choir members and they were enthusiastically received by the audience. They sang so many of the older choir's songs and will be a first rate choir too. There was a concert at Llanyrafon Methodist Church, equally successful and of course the Christmas Extravaganze, where many parents bought tickets for the tables, where a buffet was served.There were also a number of excellent solos. A tradition in the choir is a performance of a Christmas 'Cwmbran Mummers' Play' where Christian became Old Father Christmas for the night. So much fun for all. Thank you to Christian, Heidi and Gabi for training the children.
A Choir of Young Singers....Talented and beautiful tone....
St Pierre Gold Club, Saint Pierre Manor, near Chepstow.
Father Christmas, the Mari Lwyd, the doctor, the Turkish Knight , the dragon and all the fun and frolics available to members of the Nidus Childrens' Choir.
Will you join the choir this year? A great disappointment last year was the cancellation of the Abergavenny Christmas Fair, which is a great favourite with the children and where former and current parents, choir members and the current choir sing in the Priory during the festival after a meal together, This year, the choir had been invited to perform the Cwmbran Mummers'Play at Abergavenny but excessive snow on this one day forced a cancellation. We look forward to December for the next opportunity. The future is bright, if we all give 100%. Evelyn is training and conducting the choir and hopes for everyone's support and co-operation.
The Abergavenny Eisteddfod 21st April
Christian will be conducting at the Abergavenny Eisteddfod this year and we hope our young choir will gain some valuable experience in singing in competition!
Just over a week after we arrived back from Latvia, it's time to report back on our recent adventures in North Wales and Riga.
Sunday 6 July - Sweeney Todd day 1
The older members of the choir, who make up 'Ysbrydoliaeth' left Cwmbran early in the morning, arriving on the Llangollen International Eisteddfod site in time to eat lunch before starting rehearsals with the rest of the cast of Sweeney Todd. There was a lot of work needed just to make sure the chorus (comprised of Ysbrydoliaeth, Ysgol Glanaethwy and Ysgol Morgan Llwyd) were able to get on and off the stage at the right times, at the right speed.
The principal members of the cast soon joined the rehearsal, and I have to say that there are few sights more incongruous than Bryn Terfel in shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops singing as Sweeney Todd, while simultaneously trying to shush the ladies arranging the flowers in front of the stage.
Monday 7 July - Sweeney Todd day 2
After a peaceful night, we were up early to travel back to the Eisteddfod site for make up, costume and the dress rehearsal. The children were made up to look, well, I can only describe it as zombie-like, with pale white faces covered in black smudges. Their costumes were "peasant-chic", and they all looked quite scary. Back stage, during breaks and before the show itself, Bryn and the other stars of the show (Wynne Evans, Shan Cothi) mingled with the chorus, chatting with them and having their photos taken. Bryn even indulged in a little photo-bombing...
Saturday evening was spent celebrating, and ended with an impromptu performance by the choir in a bar by our hotel, joined by the German choir we had seen perform on Friday at the Friendship Concert.
Sunday 13th July - Results Day!
No rest for the wicked, and we were all up early in order to get to the results and awards ceremony which was taking place at 9am on the Sunday morning at the Arena Riga where we had watched the opening ceremony.
Christian and Madame were a little taken aback when, having been told "conductors this way", and imagining they were being shown to their seats, they ended up processing into the Arena Riga with all of the other conductors, with a capacity audience screaming and cheering at them!
We sat nervously through the presentations for 2 other categories, until finally the moment came when the results for the Children's Choir - Champions Competition were announced. We got more and more excited as the silver medal scores were announced and got higher and higher up the silver medal score band. And then it was us! 78.64 points. A silver medal, and only 1.36 points away from a gold medal. A fantastic achievement for a small choir from Wales, putting Nidus Children's Choir in the top 20 children's choirs in the world!
After the awards ceremony, the children once again had a chance to mix with other choirs from all over the world, and exchanged Welsh gifts and souvenirs with people from South Africa, Indonesia, Germany and many other countries too numerous to mention.
The rest of Sunday was spent in relaxation and recovery
Monday 14th July - last day in Riga
Our flight was home was at 1:15pm, so we had time in the morning for our own "awards ceremony" with Christian giving a certificate and medal to every choir member as their very own memento of the World Choir Games. In return, Rhianwen presented Christian with a box of "Maestro" chocolates as a token of the choir's appreciation of all of the hard work he has put in with them over the years.
Another performance of "The Happy Wanderer" to the delights of the German people breakfasting in the hotel courtyard, and then it was time to say goodbye to our guides, thanking them for their help and endless patience with us - we hope we left them with a good impression of Wales and the Welsh.
Our flight home went smoothly, as did our coach trip back to Cwmbran from Stansted. We were delighted to be greeted by a small group of fans, waving Welsh flags and then it was time to go home and to reflect on all of the sights we had seen and all of the experiences we had shared during our 6 days in Riga.
And now, it's all over. Six years in the planning, a massive amount of work put in by Heidi, Gabi, Christian, Madame and Nick as well as the parents involved in booking flights, ordering and altering dresses and suits, sourcing sponsors, designing new hoodies and t-shirts, distributing cases, rucksacks and souvenirs to the children, and probably many other things I've forgotten to mention.
I think it's fair to say that we've all come home with wonderful memories and firm friendships having had a once in a lifetime experience. I hope this (rather lengthy) post has given you a flavour of our time in Riga.
4 weeks to go!
It's only 4 weeks until we embark on the busiest 10 days in the choir's history!
We travel to Llangollen on Sunday 6 July for a full day of rehearsing for the opening concert of the Llangollen International Eisteddfod; Sweeney Todd, starring Bryn Terfel, Wynne Evans and Shan Cothi amongst others. Ysbrodoliaeth (the show choir section of Nidus Children's Choir) are forming part of the chorus for this concert performance of Sweeney Todd.
The concert itself is on the evening of Monday 7th July, with a full day of rehearsing that day as well. We then travel back to Cwmbran for our next adventure.
On Tuesday 8th July, we set off for Stanstead to catch our (very) early morning flight to Latvia on Wednesday 9th July. Then our World Choir Games adventure will begin!
Full details are still being finalised, but we know we will be competing on Saturday 12th July, with our awards ceremony (where we will find out how we did) on Sunday morning 13th July. We hope to be able to meet choirs from all over the world while we're there, as well as see a little bit of Latvia and Riga. Rumour has it that the weather in Latvia in July is hot and sunny. We're all hoping so!
Final preparations are now really hotting up - we are gathering Welsh gifts and souvenirs for the children to exchange with people they meet in Riga, the performance costumes are being finished off, our flights and baggage are booked and (most importantly!) the choir's competition pieces are being fine tuned and perfected so they can give the best performance of their lives!
These really are exciting times for the choir, and we will report back on all of our adventures in due course (perhaps even from Latvia if we find internet access).
It's finally official! Nidus Children's Choir have registered to take part in the World Choir Games 2014 in Riga, Latvia!
We are still madly fundraising; making a final push over Christmas with bag packing and carol singing in and around Cwmbran, but the important thing is - WE'RE GOING TO RIGA!!!
We plan to fly out on Wednesday 9 July, and will be back (hopefully with some medals / trophies) on Monday 14 July.
Watch this space for news on how our preparations are going.
Our 2013 trip to the Llangollen International Eisteddfod was even more successful than usual!
To set the scene, we had absolutely fantastic weather; blue skies, blazing sun and no thought of the normal Llangollen uniform of wellies and waterproofs.
Tuesday 9 July
Our journey to North Wales was in air conditioned comfort (thanks Alison!) and Jo Courtney transformed our (sometimes) truculent teenagers into Dylan Thomas's "pig-tailed angels", plaiting about 30 heads of hair during the journey.
The plaits had been requested by the organisers of the opening evening concert who had invited the choir to reprise "The Happy Wanderer" as sung exactly 60 years ago at the Eisteddfod by the Obernkirchen Children's Choir. There were 2 of the original members of the choir in attendance at the concert, and they were delighted to hear the song sung so beautifully, as were the audience.
Wednesday 10 July
The next day was a busy one; the choir were entered in two competitions: Children's Folk Choir and Senior Children's Choir. The Folk Choir competition was first, followed by a quick dash to the Town Hall in the town centre for the preliminary round of the Senior Choir competition. When I say Senior, I mean Senior - some of the members of the other choirs had beards! Back to the site for the results of the Folk Choir competition and to find out whether we had been "staged" in the Senior Choir competition.
As we entered the site, we bumped into Wynne Evans, better known as the "Go Compare" man. He was very friendly, and happy to have his photo taken with the children, although he drew the line at actually singing the famous song. He was pleased that someone in our group had recognised him for something other than the famously annoying advert. Kudos to Rhianwen!
A respectable score was received in the Folk Choir competition and then the news that against all expectation we had not only got through the preliminary round of the Senior Choir competition, but that we had come first by some way in that round!
Everyone took the time before the next round of the Senior Choir competition to get some food and have a look around the various stalls on site. And then it was time to warm up and get back on stage for the competition. This competition had 21 choirs in total taking part (as well as the 11 in the preliminary round) and we were one of the smaller and younger choirs taking part, so our final score putting us in the top half of the choirs was very pleasing.
Thursday 11 July
Today, just one competition to focus on; the Show Choir / Glee Choir competition, in which we were competing under the name 'Ysbrydoliaeth' ('inspiration'). A rehearsal in the morning, in a local school; the heat didn't make things easy as the Victorian costumes (all put together by Gabi) were not particularly skimpy!
Us parents knew that the audience were in for a treat, as some of us had had the privilege of seeing the final run through of the 10 minute "mash-up" of songs from Sweeney Todd the musical, but we didn't dare to dream of what happened next!
Ysbrydoliaeth were first on stage, a very nervy position to be in, but they absolutely blew us all away! There were 4 other choirs taking part in the competition, and each one of them had interpreted the brief slightly differently. Each one of the choirs also had members mainly at the upper end of the 12-25 age range, so the competition was very tough indeed.
About 20 minutes after the final choir had performed, the results were announced. The adjudication was read out, and Ysbrydoliaeth had no negative feedback. Next the actual marks...and we were ecstatic to hear the judge announce that we had scored 94!
We didn't have to wait long to establish that the next nearest mark was 91 and Ysbrydoliaeth were crowned International Show Choir of the year 2013!
We all went absolutely crazy! Rhianwen sobbed out her interview with Sara Edwards of BBC Cymru, and near enough everyone else just sobbed (or screamed). Gabi and Christian ran up to the stage to claim the bronze plaque and cheque given to the winners, and we took our celebrations out of the Pavillion and into the blazing heat outside to scream and cry some more!
Many texts were sent, many Facebook updates made and later that night many drinks were taken (by the parents of course!) to celebrate this victory which will long be remembered by everyone who had the privilege of being there to see the children reap the rewards of their hard work (not forgetting Gabi, Christian and the rest of the hard working Nidus team of course!).
The journey home was quite quiet as everyone recovered from the exertions and excitement of the day before, but everyone was still high on the thrill of the victory of the previous day.
All in all, the Llangollen International Eisteddfod of 2013 will be remembered for a very long time by all of the children and parents who were there, and it's given us all an appetite for Riga and the World Choir Games next year!
The choir was thrilled to be invited to perform during a press conference held by Sir Ian Botham and Max Boyce to launch "Beefy's Big Welsh Walk" - a sponsored walk being held during August to raise funds for, and awareness of, the NSPCC in Wales. If you want to find out more about the walk, or even take part, you can click here.
The choir sang "The Rose" before the press conference started, and then once the press conference was over, the panel demanded another song, so they sang one of our big favourites "Hail Holy Queen". Max Boyce was moved to bring out his Simon Cowell impression and gave the choir a standing ovation, declaring "That's four big YESes"!
After the press conference came the photo calls, and the choir were photographed with Sir Ian and Max Boyce, as well as the singer Sophie Evans who was also lending her support to the event.
It was a gloriously sunny morning (as the photos show) and the children had a great time, not to mention a morning off school! Some of them also managed to get a glance of some of the Wales rugby team, as the press conference was held at The Vale resort, where Wales, Cardiff Blues and Cardiff City FC all train.
Later that day, the event was reported on ITV Wales news, and you can see that on the ITV website here.
See below for an article that has been published in the South Wales Argus today. Safe to say that Mr Davies was impressed with us!
This is the Nidus Childrens Choir Blog - random musings on what we've been up to