Gwalia Report Feb 2019

 Northern France

The end of 2018 saw a varied series of Gwalia performances. It started off in early November with a series of concerts in Perenchies [Lille] France, to coincide with 11th November Rememberance Day.

Having previously taken part in the local commemoration of 70th anniversary of the end of WW2, the Gwalia were invited again by the Major of Perenchies, to take part in an action-packed weekend of events, to commemorate the Centenary of the Armistice of WW1.

The concerts were mainly in tandem with the local choir, Choeur Agache, and were played to packed houses. Saturday began with a visit to a German war cemetery where a short service was followed by the Gwalia laying a wreath to respect the fallen of all nations, followed by wreaths from the local Major, and a German delegate.  The Gwalia then gave an afternoon Concert at the town’s sports hall.

Saturday evening saw the Gwalia take part in a multi-media Gala Performance which also involved various local townsfolk providing an array of impressive orchestral, vocal and dance input. The evening was finished off with a Torchlight parade through the town, leading to an empty field on the outskirts, where all were treated to a large scale display of fireworks. One couldn't help noticing the historical symbolism of the chosen site.    

The final day began with both choirs involved in a Sunday commemorative church service, then a formal wreath laying ceremony in the town square, hosted by the Mayor.  A marching band then led everybody back to the sports centre where a packed audience enjoyed yet another large Gala Performance in the local sports centre. This was a slightly more sombre occasion but there were many highlights, not least when a poem written by our own Lionel Griffiths was wonderfully read to the crowded audience by Gwalia's Geoff Rogers. The French audience reacting with a respectful appreciation of it's historical message.  

Not long after the Gwalia had sung the Welsh National Anthem, and Joined in with the Marseillaise, we were all led off to a large banquet room, where everyone enjoyed a party atmosphere into the evening. This included a multination conga chain, and Steve Davies somehow managing to get up and play the same blues song on his harmonica for at least 15 minutes. It was another fantastic trip. Many thanks to the people of Perenchies for giving us such a warm and friendly welcome.

 Lionel's poem can be found on the News page of the Gwalia website.


Soon after Gwalia's return to London, we performed at a wedding ceremony in Bramley, just south of Guildford, within the beautiful landscaped converted buildings of 'Gate Street Barns'.

The stunning scenery created a very relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Once again the choir were well fed and watered.


In December the Gwalia performed in a series of charity-raising events.

The first was an invitation from our President Cerys Matthews, to sing carols at the Thomas Jones School near Ladbroke Grove. [with the odd Welsh hymn sneaked-in]. This was a very positive vibe, with some the schoolchildren eagerly accepting our conductor Wyn Hyland's offer of a choir conducting masterclass during the performance. Great fun for the children and the choir.


The following day was a very hectic day, performing at 3 venues in the space of 3 hours.

 Fist was a corporate office xmas party where the staff of Egon Zehnder based in Victoria, were actively encouraged to join in with a mix of Welsh favourites and carols. Wyn even creating a pantomime atmosphere with a competitive Boys v Girls scenario to some of the carols.

It was then hot-foot to St Pancras Station where we regailed passers-by until it was time for the final performance of the day at The Great Northern Hotel. The staff of the hotel marshalled the choir firstly to the restaurant then to the ground floor public bar, where we were once again generously plied with drinks.   

Many thanks once again to Jeremy Robson and staff for their hospitality.


A massive £1,096 was raised over the day, all in aid of our President’s nominated charity 'Shelter Cymru'. Many thanks to all the people who donated.  


Cerys Matthews and Robbie Burns

first performance of 2019 saw choir take part in a school fund raising event for Burn's Night at the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in Holland Park. It was organised by our President Cerys Matthews and was 'billed' as a 'Burn's Night with an International Flavour', featuring various contributions from all 4 countries. The Gwalia included songs with a Welsh, English, American, Italian and French theme. Audience participation was actively encouraged with selections of Burn's poetry read throughout the evening, with an impressive 'Address tae the Haggis', all done with both authenticity and humour .    


We now look forward to our next performance on Mar 1st, providing the entertainment for the annual St David’s Day Dinner at the Oxford & Cambridge Club.      



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