Most people outside of Wales probably hadn't heard of Cor Glanaethwy until May 2015 when they came third in Britain's Got Talent. I watched them perform on the show and was very impressed so I was really looking forward to seeing them live.
Cor Glanaethwy comprises three choirs: a children's choir, an adult choir and a senior choir. Put all together, they make a pretty impressive sight and produce a pure, yet forceful sound. There are over 150 members.
This is a tour to celebrate 25 years of Cor Glanaethwy which was founded in 1990 by Cefin and Rhian Roberts. As well as being the co-founder of the choir, Cefin is also the conductor.
At the beginning of the concert, they filed onto the stage in silence which made for a slightly low-key start. I was surprised at how glum they all looked but assumed their demeanour would change once they started singing. However, in the main, it didn't, which was a little disappointing as you expect to see the joy of singing translated into happy smiling faces. Some were smiling but they were very much in the minority.
The singing itself is wonderful. It is controlled yet powerful and absolutely note perfect. Their actual performance needs a bit of a makeover, however. Most of the time they stand still like statues with no expression or character in the main. The two songs which were notable exceptions to this were "Rhythm of Life" and "Hallelujah" - the final two songs of the first half. "Rhythm of Life" was sung with zest and fun and there was a little bit of choreography thrown in which worked very well and really brought the song to life. The response from the audience was noticeably more enthusiastic to both these songs.
Cefin provided background information to the songs, the majority of which were traditional Welsh songs. He was instantly likeable and added a little bit of humour into his narrative. I would have preferred it if he hadn't had to read from his notes as it made the delivery a little stilted. Perhaps he is more comfortable with his back to the audience rather than facing them - understandable for a conductor I suppose!
I wasn't familiar with most of the songs as they were traditional Welsh. One that I did know was "Bridge Over Troubled Water". Expertly sung but sadly, I didn't care for the arrangement which seemed to lose some of the emotion of the original version.
Special mention has to be given to the children's choir who were extremely impressive. They performed twice on their own. What an amazing collection of singers! Despite their tender years, they performed with an amazing maturity and incredible focus. They had some choreography involved with their songs and they were clearly loving every second. This is what I would have liked to see from the entire choir as a whole. Rhian Roberts is the Musical Director/Conductor for the children's choir and what an excellent job she has done.
Cefin informed us that many of the singers in the choirs go on to perform in the West End or with opera companies. This came as no surprise. The choir members are clearly dedicated to what they do and they are trained expertly. I would just have liked to see a little more of their characters injected into their performance as I think they have so much more to give.
Reviewed by: Nicky Lambert
Reviewed on: 4 October 2015