Vive les chœurs d'hommes - November 2016

The Gwalia has recently returned from an emotional trip to France wherewe commemorated those who fell in the Battle of the Somme 100 years ago. At a short informal ceremony attended by the local Mayor we laid a wreath, read poems and sang Sospan Fach (famously sung by the men in the trenches) at the memorial, in the form of a dragon, to the Welsh Regiment who fought a bitter battle at Mametz Wood and where so many Welshmen were killed or wounded. That evening we took part in a concert in the church organised by Choeur d'Hommes Agache who we had contacted some months previously. The choirs sang in each half of the concert, and the Mayor spoke very movingly about the deep respect and gratitude which the village of Mametz holds for those who gave their lives in its defence. Indeed, at the end of the concert several children sang along with Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau which we discovered they are taught in the village school - an amazing tribute to those who fought there.


Earlier in the day the choir and supporters had gathered in a church near our hotel in the centre of Arras to observe a minute's silence to coincide precisely with the commemorations taking place in Wales to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Aberfan disaster. This was followed by a heartfelt rendition of Myfanwy, a song that means so much to the families of the victims of the terrible event.


During our five day tour visits were made to the largest German cemetery in France and the Canadian memorial at Vimy. However, the weekend wasn't an entirely sombre affair; we managed to sample some fine bières Artois and regional cuisine, and took part in an entertaining concert with our new friends in the Agache Male Choir. They had made the arrangements for our first concert and invited us to share a concert with them in their own church in Pérenchies, a town some 90 minutes north of Mametz between the Belgium border and Lille. As with the previous evening, the church was full and the performance very well received. At the civic reception after the concert we were pleased to hear the French choir accept our invitation to sing with us in London in the near future, and the deputy mayor invited us back to Perénchies in 2018 to mark the centenary of the end of the Great War.


Since our last report, in addition to our very memorable few days in France, the Gwalia has taken part in weddings at two superb venues - Jewin Welsh chapel in the City of London and

at the historic Church in Inner Temple. Also, in readiness for our 50th Anniversary celebrations next year, we have released a new CD titled 'O Gymru', an advert for which appears elsewhere in this issue.


Richard Killoughery & Steve Davies



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