LW Mag - Gwalia Report - Nov 2017


It was a 'full house' at the end of September when the Gwalia Male Choir marked its 50th Anniversary with a concert at the London Welsh Centre. Many past members, having travelled from Wales and elsewhere to help the celebrations, enjoyed a varied programme from the choir and soprano Glenys Roberts who has performed with the choir on many occasions. An impressive £2,308 was raised for the London Welsh Centre Trust. A fuller account of the evening appears in this issue.


On a Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks later the choir returned to Horton Kirby in Kent where we first performed 40 years ago. Haydn James was our guest conductor, Chris Duckett performed two brilliant piano solos, and John Ball and Geoff Rogers played guitar and sang Max Boyce and Tom Paxton songs. Before we tucked into the usual superb tea provided by the WI at the end of a lovely, light-hearted concert, the audience, armed with an English translation, joined in with Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau. At the end of that week we performed in Islington Town Hall at the wedding of a groom from Wales and a bride from Essex who, in a role reversal of 'Gavin & Stacey', had asked us to sing 'Islands in the Stream'. As we go to press we are eagerly anticipating a joint concert in the London Welsh Centre with the French choir who last year had helped organise our concerts in northern France to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.


Steve Davies



Gwalia's Anniversary Concert


The London Welsh Centre lived up to its name on Saturday 30 September. The Gwalia’s concert to celebrate 50 years was a multi-sensory feast! No less than three conductors,  a pianist and a soprano…not counting choir members past and present.


The concert started gently and rose to a fever pitch worthy of the Millennium Stadium on match day. Humorously compéred throughout by Mark Bevan, the audience were carried along to family and friends past and present with songs linked to memories.

Personally, Eli Jenkins’ Prayer always reduces me to tears and that night’s rendition was no exception. Glenys Roberts' Ivor Novello song, coupled with the Gwalia’s Cole Porter set, transported me to watching old films and floating around the living room.

As always, I wait for conductor James Hearn to turn his back on the choir, leave them to sing and give us one of his patient, knowing looks before retaking control. A delightful, humorous touch that gives the audience a sense of inclusion.


In addition toHaydn James and past MD Michael Thomas conducting two songs, there was a call out to past choir members to join the Gwalia on stage. A gentle ripple went around the hall as one by one they rose. Many had brought the little green songbook in the hope of such an invite. A myriad of emotions passed over Ron Tidy’s face - from incredulity to hope and finally elation. It was a delight to see him hesitate and jump for joy as he took to the stage. Comrades in Arms was an apt song – whether the words were remembered or not. With the Gwalia group swelling in numbers, so did the volume and comradery.


On retiring to the bar, we were greeted by a sumptuous buffet. The main debate seems to be centred on carpaccio – how to say it, what was it, how to eat it and who’s been abroad and eaten it! The selection of cheeses along with Welsh cakes and Bara Brith were swooped upon. There was plenty of ‘Hwyl’ when past members and supporters caught up with each other. The young made new friends and revelled in the stories, banter and song.


The evening held a little magic and a sense of longevity – this concert was a moment in time and a part of the whole journey that the Gwalia has made from inception.

It’s always great as a supporter to be invited to join in a concert song and with the after party. The evening promised to be a centre for London Welsh past and present and it lived up to its name. Long may the Gwalia continue…..and dare I say it – can this become an annual reunion?


Noreen Ball


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