Performance Feedback
Sylwadau Cyngherddau

Reports, generally by Tony Davies, and feedback from audience members and concert organisers for Victoria Welsh Choir concerts and other appearances in Melbourne and beyond in 2018.  (For earlier events see under "History".)



Vale Johannes (Joh) Vis

22 September 1931– 4 July 2018

Joh’s funeral service was held on 11 July 2018 at the Anglican Church, Berwick. Over 250 friends and family attended including former choristers, together with twenty-nine members of Victoria Welsh Choir, of which Joh had been such a staunch and committed member for 15 years having attended his last concert at Rosebud only weeks before.

This entire service had been planned by Joh before his passing and the Rev Ben Sonderlund conducted the service with the active support of the choir’s chaplain Rev Tom Morgan. The service opened with the congregational hymn Jesus My Redeemer and followed by prayers giving thanks for Joh’s life and for those impacted by his passing. After the reading of Psalm 90 (A prayer of Moses the man of God) the choir formed a neat arc facing the congregation to sing Gwahoddiad (Invitation).

The tributes were led by Rushan Hewawasam who spoke on behalf of the choir explaining how Joh’s persistence had been responsible for him joining the choir and of Joh’s wholehearted involvement with the choir. Rushan was followed by four members of the family who all spoke in glowing terms of their father’s positive impact on their lives both singly and collectively.

  • Joh’s skill and speed as a bricklayer and later as a builder were well known. He completed the decorative brickwork in the west wall of the Darling Road Anglican Church after others had declined the job

  • Later he became a builder and did construction work for the big banks and churches not least his own Berwick Anglican Church

  • One son described how Joh had laid some 12000 bricks and pavers at his house and that his brick letterbox was the best in the street

  • All spoke of Joh’s efficiency in his trade, his example at home and of course the family holidays which everybody always enjoyed.

The congregation were then invited to join in a more modern hymn How Deep the Father’s Love for Us followed by two readings from the book of Galatians read by family members. Rev Tom Morgan gave the sermon referring to verse 12 of Psalm 90. a psalm which both his children and the Rev Ben Sonderlund confirmed Joh knew by heart. This was capped off by the choir’s rendition of Rhys.

The service was concluded by the Rev Ben Sonderlund with a closing prayer and benediction, followed by a rousing rendition of Cwm Rhondda as the final congregational hymn. The congregation were invited to sit as the choir moved into the aisles to farewell their fellow chorister with the poignant and fitting Sunset Poem which brought tears to the eyes of both listeners and performers. The choir then formed a guard of honour for Joh and the family members as they processed out of the church.

The family tribute reinforced what choir members remembered – that Joh was both very capable and successful but remained a humble unassuming man and a true Christian gentleman.

Andrew Naylor


Strathmore

24th June 2018

Back, after a two-year absence, to the delightful Strathmore Uniting Church, which was overflowing with patrons, with extra seats in the central aisle.

After the rousing opening number Gwŷr Harlech, these patrons were able to immediately flex their tonsils by lustily singing the English verses with the words handily reproduced in the program.

Ballarat chapter administration leader John White, on his début as compère, introduced the Welsh bracket of We’ll Keep a Welcome, led by Roger Bartlett, before Calon Lân and the pacifist sentiments of Y Tangnefeddwyr (The Peacemakers).

Drew Hopkins and Rushan Hewawasam melodiously combined on the duet Perhaps Love before the romantic theme continued with a sensitive a cappella rendering of Myfanwy. Back to WW1 with We’ll Gather Lilacs by Welshman Ivor Novello (real name David Ivor Davies), which was obviously well-known by the very musical audience as they sang along to the second half of the number and a reprise.  Bette Midler’s The Rose was nurtured on this very cold afternoon before Roger stepped up to the microphone once again to lead the choir into You’ll Never Walk Alone. Three lines in, however, and Roger surprised everyone by asking Lorna to stop. He explained that so many patrons were singing along with him that it was only fitting that we invited the entire audience to accompany the choir in the rest of the number. And so it came to pass – a beautiful extempore moment which everyone cherished.

Our mining segment commenced with an understated but powerful a cappella rendition of Prince Among Men by Bob Ash before an equally stunning Working Man from fellow bass and local man Barry McMahon.

Faleiry rehearsed the assembly in When the Saints Go Marching In before the choir masterfully took on the John Rutter arrangement with the audience enthusiastically giving their all in the final choruses…and then doing it all again to arrive at the interval.

The second half posed the question What Would I Do Without My Music before compère John White gave the background to the two Paul Jarman songs Land of my Song, with solos by Bob and Geoff Roberts, and the stirring Pemulwuy, both of which received resounding applause.

The main finale was the medley from Les Misérables with heart-rending solos from Rushan on I Dreamed a Dream and by Roger on Bring Him Home.

This was followed by the special arrangement of Waltzing Matilda with solos by Drew and Bob, with the words of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau weaving their magic in the final choruses, magnetising half a dozen Welsh people in the church to stand tall and straight for their familiar Welsh National Anthem – a wonderful and proud moment.

Ann Black thanked us on behalf of the church and presented flowers to Faleiry and Lorna. We, in turn, thanked her and the lovely Strathmore audience by surrounding them to bid them a sincere farewell with Sunset Poem.

Audience comments included:

  • Have been to many of your concerts over many years. First introduced to choir by a friend since gone. Love your concerts.
  • Just wonderful! I have been to the Strathmore visits twice before and lifted my spirit for weeks.  Helen
  • Good - loud, clear and tuneful. Enjoyed audience participation and soloists.  Tony
  • Very enjoyable. Took my mum, who's 86, back many years as she knew all the songs. Lovely memories of Harry Secombe's fabulous voice. Shanie
  • Such a thrill to hear a huge male choir singing their hearts out!  Pat

  • Excellent range of songs and extremely well presented.  Beverley
  • Great! A wonderful experience my husband and I have had, listening to the choir sung in parts, the humour and enjoyment you all seem to have. Loved the Welsh, 'Working Man' pieces, a little bit of history puts more meaning to the pieces. Thank you. Elizabeth

  • Having Welsh ancestors I have always loved music and wanted to attend a Welsh Choir concert and am thoroughly delighted to be here.  Marlene
  • Working Man was sung exceptionally well and the humming of Myfanwy was excellent.  Kevin

  • Thoroughly enjoying the performance.  Valmae

  • Absolutely joyful musical afternoon.  Doreen
  • Brilliant!!
  • Great. John was wonderful. He kept us entertained. The choir, as always, were fabulous. Faleiry always engages the audience, which I love too.  Maree
  • Always enjoy the selection of music. Absolutely love the harmonies - not to forget the solos, absolutely riveting. thank you.  Joan
  • The ending was lovely - the choir well-trained, lovely vocal arrangements. Thank you.
  • Where do we start - just a perfect way to spend an afternoon, brought tears to the eye, can't wait for interval to be over. Carlene

  • What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Great entertainment as always. Faleiry is a sensational conductor. Norma

  • A lovely concert. Enjoying it very much. Well presented. Beautiful singing.

  • A beautiful mixture of harmonies and heart-warming songs. Thank you.  Bron

  • Thoroughly enjoying the concert - except we didn't sing "See the bombers fly up"!

  • Very enjoyable. It was obvious that the choir enjoyed themselves as much as us.

  • Very enjoyable - liked the choice of songs.

  • Wonderful performance and we enjoyed singing along. The compere did an excellent job.

  • First time to attend. Very good. Enjoyed very much.  Joy

  • Excellent selection. Presentation flawless. Very enjoyable afternoon in cold winter. Nothing better than a good song and wonderful voices.  What a wonderful way to end a fantastic afternoon singing.  Margaret

  • The 'full house' was indicative of your great reputation and we weren't disappointed! Thank you.  Rachael

  • Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!  Robyn 


Rosebud

16th June 2018

After two years we were in back at All Saints Church Rosebud for a sold-out Saturday afternoon concert. After the opening Welsh verses of Gwŷr Harlech the audience were able to join in with the English words, printed in the program, and this they did eagerly and very tunefully.

The opening Welsh bracket continued with We’ll Keep a Welcome with a mellifluous olo by Roger Bartlett, the old favourite Calon Lân and, after an explanation by compère Bob Ash, Y Tangnefeddwyr (The peacemakers).

Introducing the love section, tenors Drew Hopkins and Rushan Hewawasam masterfully joined together in a harmonious rendition of Perhaps Love.

Myfanwy was presented without accompaniment before the choir sang We’ll Gather Lilacs with a very willing and musical participation by the audience in the reprise of the last chorus. This was followed by The Rose and then the stirring and emotional You’ll Never Walk Alone, again with a very sensitive solo from Roger.

Versatile compère Bob Ash then introduced the mining bracket with himself singing a beautifully modulated a cappella version of Prince Among Men before fellow bass Geoff Serpell stirred the emotions with the iconic Working Man. Before the last song of the first half, Faleiry put the congregation through their paces as far as rehearsing their parts in the final chorus before the choir launched into the John Rutter arrangement of When the Saints Go Marching In. After repeating the final chorus everyone was glad to have fifteen minutes rest and refreshments.

The second half opened with the rhetorical What Would I Do Without My Music before Bob introduced the specially commissioned work Land of My Song by Paul Jarman with confident solos by John Adams and Geoff Roberts. This was followed by Jarman’s iconic song about the Aboriginal guerrilla fighter Pemulwuy, complete with co-ordinated clapsticks by three different choristers.

Some comic relief was then provided by John Hales and Geoff Serpell, dressed in their princes’ coronets, to give us a suitably theatrical and well-articulated performance of Sondheim’s Agony.

Once order had been restored we were off to join the dispossessed in 19th century Paris with a medley from Les Misérables which included beautiful solos by Rushan and Roger. The final number was a special arrangement of Waltzing Matilda, with solos by Drew and Bob, which culminated with part of the choir singing the Welsh National anthem whilst the other sections and the audience kept up the well-known English chorus from what is effectively the alternative Australian anthem.

Fr. Stephen Pollard stepped up to the microphone to give thanks not only to the choir and the music team but also to all those people in the church who had made the concert possible and Invited everybody to afternoon tea.

After Bob’s round of thanks for the music team and all the soloists, the choir moved off to surround the musical assembly before bidding them farewell with the aptly named Sunset Poem.

Members of the audience commented:

  • Such beautiful tones of voice so well blended. Marvellous choice of songs. Fantastic accompanist and conductor.  Jan
  • Brilliant. Reminded me of when I lived in Cornwall with the Cornish Male Voice Choirs.  Ann
  • Wonderful. Joyous. Emotional. Perfect.  Roslyn
  • Superb! Especially the soloists!  Sylvia
  • Excellent!! No need to improve! Loved it - just like last time. Julie
  • The whole concert was ACE.  Elizabeth
  • Good as usual.  Glyn
  • We thought that everything was excellent! Looking forward to the next time.
  • Wonderful voices. Very enjoyable.
  • I am living in ''another world'' listening to the marvellous singing - World Class. Thank you so much for the great afternoon. Betty

Our hosts also wrote: "Just a note to thank you for being so helpful in getting me organised for last Saturday’s Concert.  It was much appreciated. Please also thank your team for their respective contributions too.  You all made it very easy."


Horsham

Town Hall Theatre, 27th May 2018

The choir returned to Horsham after some ten years, this time to the splendid Town Hall for a Sunday afternoon concert.

Following an acknowledgment to the local indigenous Djura Balug people, compère Tony Davies back-announced the opening number Gwŷr Harlech and introduced the teetotaller’s anthem Rachie, the well-known Morte Criste and What Would I Do Without My Music.

Photo: Anne Lynn

Bass Bob Ash presented a fine solo Prince Among Men to start off the mining bracket. The choir’s chaplain, Horsham-born Rev. Tom Morgan spoke about his gold-mining antecedents before leading the choir in the rousing Working Man with the audience eager and willing to join in with the reprise. They were in fine voice, too, on the choruses to the following number Cwm Rhondda, vicariously echoing one of the hymns sung at the royal wedding.

The theme then changed to different varieties of love with, firstly, the a cappella lullaby Si Hei Lwli ‘Mabi before Anfonaf Angel with beautiful flute accompaniment by Bendigo chorister and flautist Nigel McGuckian. Then came The Rose and the emotive You’ll Never Walk Alone led by the well-modulated baritone voice of Roger Bartlett.

Before the last item before interval, When the Saints Go Marching In, Faleiry assiduously rehearsed the 320-strong audience in their parts for the final chorus, which they carried off magnificently when the time came.

The second half commenced with the popular opera chorus Speed Your Journey before the more modern Land of My Song, the choir’s specially commissioned work by Paul Jarman, with excellent solos by John Adams and Geoff Roberts. The compère then set the historical background scene for Paul’s iconic work about the Aboriginal fighter Pemulwuy which was also enthusiastically received.

The focus then shifted from the dispossessed of Botany Bay to the wretched of the earth in Paris in 1832 with the medley from Les Misérables. The choir’s totally committed presentation, interspersed with sensitive solos by Roger Bartlett, caused a huge surge of applause for the production.

After patrons retook their seats, Drew Hopkins and Bob Ash led the choir in the special arrangement of Waltzing Matilda with several Welsh expatriates standing up for the interwoven Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.

Another standing ovation ensued, thus encouraging Faleiry to instruct choristers to carefully pick their way off the stage to surround the marvellous audience to bid their fond adieus with the unaccompanied Eli Jenkins’ Prayer from Under Milk Wood.  Given its alternative title of Sunset Poem and the time of day, the choir was able to finally chant, ‘And to the sun we all will bow And say, good-bye - but just for now.’

We received these comments from audience members:

  • Very enjoyable performance, nothing like a good male choir and then add a touch of Welsh - fantastic.  Elaine

  • Fantastic audience participation!! Much appreciated. Can you start a cell in Horsham? Congratulations on another magnificent performance.

  • Absolutely tantalizing - especially the Verdi, also 'Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah' and 'When I survey' (My dad chose these for his funeral).

  • The harmony was just magic and the conductor/pianist and soloists A+ as the choir certainly was. I go to all your concerts when they come to Horsham. At the end the stereo effect either side of the auditorium and the beauty of the music was out of this world.  V.G. commentator too.  Elsbeth


Albury

SS&A Club, 12th May 2018

It was ten years since we were last over the border in Albury and the second time in the SS&A Club with its commodious facilities. The club generously provided the venue for the Lavington Lions Club to help raise funds for local children’s cancer patient facilities and treatment.

Local people totally supported the Club by filling the room with well over 300 tickets sold.


Photo: Charlie Leaney

Setting the Welsh tone of the evening, the choir launched into Gwŷr Harlech before compère Drew Hopkins introduced the first bracket. The choir answered itself with What Would I Do Without My Music followed by the rousing temperance hymn Rachie – despite the open bar all eyes were kept firmly on the conductor. The sublime Morte Criste was next and Faleiry, sensing that patrons were eager to sing, invited them to reprise the last chorus. Bass Barry McMahon then stamped his fine voice and personality on Working Man to huge acclaim before Faleiry again reprised the final section with enthusiastic audience participation.

Native speaker Stephen Pepper took the stage to humorously conduct the educational part of the evening, teaching the assembly the pronunciation and meaning of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.  The sustained applause underlined just how much everyone had enjoyed learning something new. 

Bendigo chorister Nigel McGuckian sensitively set the mood on his flute with Anfonaf Angel (Guardian Angel) before the choir told the story of the bombing of Swansea and the effect it had on the population including the pacifist parents of poet Waldo Williams in Y Tangnefeddwyr (The Peacemakers). Roger Bartlett’s well-modulated baritone voice then led the choir in the popular You’ll Never Walk Alone before we channelled Bette Midler on The Rose.

Continuing the love theme, versatile compère Drew was joined by tenor Rushan Hewawasam in a heart-touching duet Perhaps Love.

Heartache of a different sort followed with the choir singing an a cappella version of the old favourite Myfanwy which the audience very much appreciated.

Before the upbeat John Rutter arrangement of When the Saints Go Marching In as the finale before interval, Faleiry had to make sure the crowd knew their parts in the final bars so, with tissues discreetly tucked away and backs straight, no less than three rehearsals were conducted.  And, when the time came, they didn’t let the house down and sang so well and accurately that it just had to be done again!

After the necessary refreshments, the second half started off with the well-known Cwm Rhondda with patrons once again willing and able to sing the final chorus Songs of Praises. The choir’s specially commissioned work Land of My Song included fine solos by bass Bob Ash and tenor Garry Salisbury. This was followed by the other Paul Jarman song, the story of Pemulwuy the Aboriginal guerrilla fighter.

A change of tone then with Stephen Sondheim’s cleverly worded Agony, royally performed by two mature princes John Hales and Geoff Serpell.

From agony to misery then with the dramatic and theatrical Medley from Les Misérables with outstanding solos by Rushan (I Dreamed A Dream) and Roger (Bring Him Home). At the rousing conclusion of this wonderful medley, the audience applauded thunderously.

Once the excitement had subsided a little, Faleiry surprised everyone by announcing that a lady had requested You Raise Me Up. After checking that our hugely accomplished pianist Lorna remembered the tune, the seated choir confidently sang this impromptu number to the grateful patron who had, indeed, risen from her seat and was thoroughly enjoying the moment.

Then back to the program with an Australian finale with Drew and Geoff Serpell ably combining to lead the choir on Waltzing Matilda with its clever segue into the Welsh National Anthem Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau. Faleiry led the audience into a final singing outburst in order that they shared the triumph of the night’s musical experiences.

At the conclusion, many patrons rose up to give the choir a standing ovation and wanted even more.

The chairman of the Lavington Lions stepped forward to thank the choir and the music team once again and presented the choir with a commemorative framed Certificate of Appreciation.

Faleiry cast her eye around the room to see if there was sufficient space for choristers to surround the audience and, to the tune of Men of Harlech, arranged everyone appropriately. Once hush had descended and the signature notes given, the choir intoned the haunting Sunset Poem from Under Milk Wood and bade a heartfelt farewell to a wonderful audience.

Audience members commented:

  • Absolutely brilliant. Haven't enjoyed anything so much for a long time.  Val
  • Choral work was great. A most enjoyable concert. Graeme
  • As always - absolutely magnificent. Love Male Choirs and this lot in particular - most enjoyable concert.
  • Excellent performance as usual.  Russell
  • Wonderful show, uplifting and entertaining. John
  • Most enjoyable show.
  • An amazing evening.
  • Very entertaining. Really enjoyed hearing duos and individual voices along with the whole group. A great evening.
  • Thank you. Last song magical!  Judy
  • Wonderful.  Noela
  • Very well presented, varied programme.  Alan
  • A very enjoyable evening. The choir was wonderful.  Libby
  • Beautiful voices. Rushan has a wonderful voice.
  • A really spectacular performance - plenty of variety - choir, comedy, audience participation.  Rosanna
  • Brilliant!!!!
  • Thoroughly enjoyable. Loved watching the individuals giving their all. Enthusiasm ++  Audience participation very good. Wonderful pianist +++  Joy and John
  • Great concert. I enjoyed it all.  Barbara
  • Great as ever. Wouldn't have missed it. Good to see you all back in Albury. Particularly loved the 'old favourites'.  Aileen
  • Excellent choir, much enjoyed. Thank you.  Rosalie
  • Superb - obvious the choir is motivated and extremely well orchestrated and directed by Faleiry. Good spread of songs - traditional, contemporary. Thank you.  John
  • I was there & I loved every minute of the concert. Had it been on again the next day I would have gone again. Lesley (on Facebook)

Preston

Salvation Army Preston Corps, 24th April 2018

The choir was very pleased to receive an invitation to join the well-known Preston Citadel Band for an ANZAC Day Eve concert at Preston’s Salvation Army venue.

The band commenced proceedings with fine renditions of The Red Shield, Coronation March and Music from the Trenches. Interspersed throughout the concert were voiceover readings of wartime stories accompanied by very comprehensive and relevant visuals projected on to a large screen.


Picture: Georgia Grigsbey

The choir’s first bracket was Gwŷr Harlech then Rachie followed by How Great Thou Art with a finely modulated solo by tenor Rushan Hewawasam.

The Citadel Band enchanted the audience with a lighter bracket of TV Themes (Hogan’s Heroes and Dad’s Army), He Ain’t Heavy, All You Need Is Love and Strong to Save.

After the power of the brass band, the choir sang the a cappella lullaby Si Hei Lwli ‘Mabi followed by The Rose. Roger Bartlett caught the emotion of You’ll Never Walk Alone before the choir’s presentation of Songs from the First World War with plenty of enthusiastic singing from the audience.

The band played Abide with Me before choir and patrons rose as one to listen to the Ode and The Last Post followed by one minute’s silence and Reveille, finishing with God Save the Queen and Advance Australia Fair.

The choir went back on stage to be accompanied by the marvellous Citadel Band on I Am Australian, Highland Cathedral and Cwm Rhondda. VicWelsh then left the stage to appreciative acclaim before the band’s robust finale of Land of Song.


Echuca

Paramount Theatre, 22nd April 2018

Almost exactly two years to the day, we returned to the Paramount Theatre, Echuca to be part of a fundraiser for the local Uniting Church Community Program.

Our flourishing Bendigo branch includes three choristers from Echuca and one of them, first-time compère Ken McMullan, was closely involved in the organisation of the concert.

After our opening number Gwŷr Harlech, we launched into three other famous Welsh tunes Rachie, Rhys and the lullaby Si Hei Lwli ‘Mabi. Bass Geoff Serpell then stepped up to the mike and led the choir through the iconic Working Man, complete with clenched fists. The full house of some 400 erupted and heartily applauded the performance. Faleiry seized the moment and Geoff and the choir reprised the last chorus with many patrons eagerly joining in.

Baritone Roger Bartlett followed with a mellifluous solo rendition of Marta Keen’s Homeward Bound which was also thoroughly enjoyed by the patrons.

Given the imminence of ANZAC Day, local choir River Voices, led by Martina Richardson, choose two WW1 Songs - In Flanders Fields and Here You Lie before a more upbeat I Will Sing.  After the applause had died down, tenors Drew Hopkins and Rushan Hewawasam joined to tell the poignant story of Ellis Island in the affecting Isle of Hope, Isle of Dreams.

At the opening of the show the compère had acknowledged the local Yorta Yorta people so it was fitting that VicWelsh should present Paul Jarman’s popular song about Pemulwuy the famous late 1700s Aboriginal guerrilla fighter who lived in the Sydney area.

River Voices returned to present the Maori proverb Tama Tu before both choirs combined on Senzenina with conductor Martina melodiously leading the call and response. The uplifting What A Wonderful World capped off the very diverse first half.

After the interval, River Voices took the stage to deliver the emotional Prayer of the Children followed by a sea shanty style Boatmen Stomp, finishing with a tremendous and eponymous crashing of feet on the stage which made a few VicWelsh choristers sit up. The defibrillator was not required, however, but heartache of a different calibre was forthcoming when tenor John Hales and bass Geoff Serpell donned their princely coronets to masterfully deliver Stephen Sondheim’s wordfest Agony from Into the Woods.

The nostalgia theme continued with Jarman’s Land of my Song with scintillating solos by Bendigo baritone John Adams and tenor Geoff Roberts. The Welsh diaspora was further celebrated with Myfanwy, We’ll Gather Lilacs (Ivor Novello) with audience participation, a beautiful solo by Rushan on How Great Thou Art (Harry Secombe) and heartthrob Roger channelling Tom Jones on Green, Green Grass of Home so closely that accompanist Lorna just had to throw a scarf at him. Fortunately for us, her piano playing is more accurate than her throwing action so Faleiry cranked up the performance again thus giving an opportunity for the audience to join in but also to allow Lorna to launch another scarf right on target this time.

After that bit of fun, River Voices came back and Faleiry conducted both choirs in a medley of Songs from the First World War. The capacity audience joined in on It’s A Long Way to Tipperary before Martina’s lovely high soprano voice caught the pathos of Roses of Picardy. Over There was followed by Keep the Home Fires Burning before the whole theatre united on the finale of Pack up Your Troubles, leaving 400 patrons and some 70 choristers absolutely agreeing that the afternoon’s musical journey had indeed made everyone Smile, Smile, Smile.

Audience feedback follows:
  • Excellent, need more of this.
  •  ‘Men of Harlech’, ‘Working Man’, all excellent.
  •  A great concert, always enjoyable. Vibrant and engaging with the audience. Wish we could hear you more often.
  •  Brilliant, loved Senzenina in particular.
  •  Harmony of both choirs excellent. They could sing a scale in four parts and it would be beautiful.
  •  Loved the Welsh Choir, (my 5th concert.)
  •  We have enjoyed the performance as we did the last time we saw the choir in Beechworth a number of years ago.
  •  Absolutely wonderful entertainment.


Echuca

Campaspe Valley Bowls Final, 10th March 2018

From the Riverine Herald of 16th March:

Three Echuca men from the Victoria Welsh Male Choir strutted their stuff on Saturday.

Ken McMullan, Garry Salisbury, and Ivan Ryall (pictured from left) sang Advance Australia Fair to open the Campaspe Valley Bowls Division's weekend pennant grand final.

''Because we wore black suits on Saturday it was pretty hot but it was good, '' Ken said.  ''That was probably the first time they've had someone do that, sing and open the event.''

Riverine Herald

Cymanfa Ganu

St. Michael’s Uniting Church, 4th March 2018


As part of the Welsh Church’s St David’s Day celebrations, a Cymanfa Ganu (Singing Festival) was held on Sunday afternoon 4 March at St Michael’s Church, Collins Street.

Our guests at our 2 March concert – conductor Ilid Anne Jones and tenors Aled Wyn Davies and Rhys Meirion – were the main guests of the Welsh Church and were joined by Blue Riband winner Steffan Prys Roberts. During the course of the very varied program, they all performed magnificently either in solos, duets or as a trio.

VicWelsh was joined by three other Welsh choirs and a community choir. Geelong Welsh Ladies sang Y Mae Afon by themselves with all male choirs combining on Benedictus, and Morte Criste. All five choirs and the three tenors joined together on Nearer My God to Thee.

As well as these items, all choristers joined with the capacity congregation to sing ten different well-known hymns, accompanied by organ, brass and timpani.

At the end of the Gymanfa Ganu, all choirs, all patrons and all the guest singers stood to passionately sing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.


St David's Day

Welsh Musical Celebration

2 March 2018 at the Melbourne Recital Centre

The choir was back at the magnificent Melbourne Recital Hall on 2 March for an evening performance laden with stars from Wales.

As befitted this very Welsh concert, Gwŷr Harlech set the linguistic and musical tone as the opening number. After Nigel McGuckian gave the Acknowledgment of Country, Musical Director Faleiry Koczkar OAM showed a Welsh flag given to the choir by the famous Max Boyce and spoke about its importance.

Guest Ilid Anne Jones then came on stage to conduct the choir with the rousing temperance song Rachie before telling the capacity audience something about its provenance, followed by bibliographical information about the next three numbers – Y Tangnefeddwyr, Rhys and the ever-popular Cwm Rhondda. With the final chorus, Ilid invited patrons to join in which they did with considerable force.


Photo David Smith

Compère Drew Hopkins next introduced Rhys Meirion and Aled Wyn Davies, two of the famous Three Welsh Tenors. The very versatile Ilid moved to the grand piano to accompany their first duet Y Ddau Wladgarwyr (The Two Patriots) by the prolific composer Joseph Parry who also wrote Myfanwy which would be sung later in the program. Their voices took full advantage of the hall’s internationally-renowned acoustics which also resonated with the appreciative applause.

With Lorna on piano and Nigel on flute, Ilid conducted Rhys and the choir on her own arrangement of the beautiful Anfonaf Angel. Aled then came back on to lead the choir on the epic Diolch I’r Iôr, with his high tenor voice reaching every corner of the hall.

With everybody’s appetites whetted for more of this world-class singing, back came Rhys to join Aled as they launched into one of the best-known opera pieces – The Pearl Fishers’ Duet. Understandably, their marvellous rendition ‘brought the house down’. Ilid made a move to exit but had to sit back down at the piano as the two tenors unexpectedly returned to thank everybody with an encore. This took them back to the riches of the Welsh hymnal repertoire with Lausanne sung to the words of William Williams.

The pure Welsh content continued with Aled leading the choir on Yfory (Tomorrow), with wonderfully sensitive accompaniment once again by Nigel on flute and by Lorna on the grand piano. After sustained applause, Rhys came back with the choir, to finish the first half by singing the traditional Eisteddfod welcome to all returning Welsh people – the very emotional Unwaith Eto’n‘Nghymru Annwyl.

With Faleiry back on the podium, the second half commenced with Land of my Song, a specially commissioned piece which had had its world première last year when we were conducted by the composer Paul Jarman. This fine work also featured excellent solos by bass Bob Ash and tenor Geoff Roberts. Compère Drew then explained the background to Jarman’s iconic song about the Aboriginal guerrilla fighter Pemulwuy, with the choir’s enthusiastic performance equally enthusiastically received.

Not a world première but the first time the choir had performed a very modern and difficult song by leading Welsh composer Karl Jenkins – In These Stones Horizons Sing.

In complete contrast this was followed by an a cappella version of Myfanwy which showcased the choir’s control of soft singing.

Drew alluded to the ways in which Welsh performers had extended their musical horizons around the world. Cardiff-born Ivor Novello was remembered with We’ll Gather Lilacs with the reprise eagerly and tenderly taken up by the audience. Harry Secombe was replaced by our own hugely-talented Rushan Hewawasam on How Great Thou Art and Tom Jones by heartthrob Roger Bartlett on the well-known Green Green Grass of Home, again joined by all of our tuneful patrons.

Back came Ilid to conduct Rhys and the choir in All Through the Night, followed by Aled on the lullaby Suo Gân. Ilid then addressed the wonderful audience, not only to thank them but to give heartfelt thanks to Faleiry and Lorna.

To finish, soloists Drew and Geoff Serpell led the choir in Faleiry and Lorna’s arrangement of a modern version of Waltzing Matilda which craftily segues into the Welsh National Anthem. For that final part we were joined on stage by Ilid, Rhys and Aled who naturally stayed on as Faleiry asked the audience to stand as we more formally sang Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau. With Ilid’s soprano voice and the magnificent two tenors, the hall absolutely resounded with pride, passion and huge appreciation for a truly Welsh concert.

Comments from audience members:

  • Best St. David’s Day concert I’ve ever been to. I also noticed a few more Amens in the performance which I liked. I really enjoyed Nigel’s flute playing. Joan (over 30 St. D. Day concerts)
  • My companions and I are from North Wales and are now touring Australia. Notwithstanding being away from home, we wanted to celebrate St. David’s Day. You helped us do that brilliantly. Diolch yn fawr iawn a phob lwc i chi gyd.
  • A wonderful evening at a brilliant venue. Although not Welsh born, I lived ten years as a child in the coal mining area of South Wales. This music brings those years back to me. Thank you for promoting such a wonderful choir.
  • My daughter and I attended the concert and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. I particularly love the old hymns and always watch “Songs of Praise”. We also attended Aled Jones' concert recently which was good and Harry Secombe was a great favourite of mine. We both thought the guest conductor Ilid was excellent.
  • A very enjoyable evening.
  • Love your concert. All the little bits of audience participation - just enough - is lovely. Many of us learned “Men of Harlech” at school.
  • As a visitor to Melbourne it was a truly Welsh night and a perfectly lovely evening. Joan
  • Great concert. Credit to all choristers and solo performers. We have followed the Vic Welsh Choir for about 30 years. Jim, Glen Waverley.
  • OUTSTANDING CONCERT!! (UK resident.)
  • Excellent concert and venue. Good choice of programme and soloists. Diolch yn fawr!
  • This was our first visit to the Recital Centre but we will certainly go again. A very enjoyable evening.
  • I think that the Sunset Poem where the choir walks out into the audience is Very effective, must do more often! Fantastic St. David’s Day concert. I hope to be part of the choir for the next. Paul.
  • We always very much enjoy our visits to the Vic Welsh Choir.
  • Best program ever.
  • Thoroughly enjoyed each performance I have attended. The music team and choristers are to be commended for such professional display.
  • All Good!!
  • It was a really wonderful concert! Such a warm friendly feeling from Faleiry and Ilid and the tenors were absolutely SUPERB. Thank you.
  • Fabulous concert Friday night!!  Marilyn

We have also received this message from the Secretary of the Welsh Church:

  • We congratulate the "Vic Welsh" on the wonderful success of their concert last Friday evening.  A terrific evening of entertainment!


Rhys Meirion

Ilid Anne Jones

Aled Wyn Davies


Vale Bill Boyer

10 May 1924 – 25 December 2017

Bill’s funeral service was held on 3 January 2018 at the Salvation Army Citadel in Briar Hill. Many colleagues and fellow soldiers were in attendance, along with his extended family and ten members of Victoria Welsh Choir, of which Bill had been a faithful and committed member for 20 years.

Joining the Salvation Army at 16, Bill had mastered a variety of brass instruments during his 70 years and had also served as corps secretary and treasurer as well as male voice party leader.

Capt. Ken Smith conducted the service which included two Army hymns – Simply Trusting and O Boundless Salvation. Major June Purdy remembered Bill as the kindly father of her friend and took as the scripture reading Psalm 121.  Daughters Margaret and Judith joined brother Lindsay to sing a very accomplished harmonious Blessed Assurance with the congregation joining in on the final chorus.

The family tribute reinforced what choir members remembered – that Bill was a hard-working, humble and modest man and a true gentleman.

Music being such an important part of his life, an audio-visual presentation was accompanied by a favourite Army number A Sunbeam by Phil Catelinet and his casket was escorted out to the strains of Carlton’s club song, We are the navy blues…we’re the team that never lets you down – a very fitting reflection on the man that Bill Boyer was.


For earlier performances see "History".













Performance Feedback
Sylwadau Cyngherddau

Reports, generally by Tony Davies, and feedback from audience members and concert organisers for Victoria Welsh Choir concerts and other appearances in Melbourne and beyond in 2018.  (For earlier events see under "History".)



Vale Johannes (Joh) Vis

22 September 1931– 4 July 2018

Joh’s funeral service was held on 11 July 2018 at the Anglican Church, Berwick. Over 250 friends and family attended including former choristers, together with twenty-nine members of Victoria Welsh Choir, of which Joh had been such a staunch and committed member for 15 years having attended his last concert at Rosebud only weeks before.

This entire service had been planned by Joh before his passing and the Rev Ben Sonderlund conducted the service with the active support of the choir’s chaplain Rev Tom Morgan. The service opened with the congregational hymn Jesus My Redeemer and followed by prayers giving thanks for Joh’s life and for those impacted by his passing. After the reading of Psalm 90 (A prayer of Moses the man of God) the choir formed a neat arc facing the congregation to sing Gwahoddiad (Invitation).

The tributes were led by Rushan Hewawasam who spoke on behalf of the choir explaining how Joh’s persistence had been responsible for him joining the choir and of Joh’s wholehearted involvement with the choir. Rushan was followed by four members of the family who all spoke in glowing terms of their father’s positive impact on their lives both singly and collectively.

  • Joh’s skill and speed as a bricklayer and later as a builder were well known. He completed the decorative brickwork in the west wall of the Darling Road Anglican Church after others had declined the job

  • Later he became a builder and did construction work for the big banks and churches not least his own Berwick Anglican Church

  • One son described how Joh had laid some 12000 bricks and pavers at his house and that his brick letterbox was the best in the street

  • All spoke of Joh’s efficiency in his trade, his example at home and of course the family holidays which everybody always enjoyed.

The congregation were then invited to join in a more modern hymn How Deep the Father’s Love for Us followed by two readings from the book of Galatians read by family members. Rev Tom Morgan gave the sermon referring to verse 12 of Psalm 90. a psalm which both his children and the Rev Ben Sonderlund confirmed Joh knew by heart. This was capped off by the choir’s rendition of Rhys.

The service was concluded by the Rev Ben Sonderlund with a closing prayer and benediction, followed by a rousing rendition of Cwm Rhondda as the final congregational hymn. The congregation were invited to sit as the choir moved into the aisles to farewell their fellow chorister with the poignant and fitting Sunset Poem which brought tears to the eyes of both listeners and performers. The choir then formed a guard of honour for Joh and the family members as they processed out of the church.

The family tribute reinforced what choir members remembered – that Joh was both very capable and successful but remained a humble unassuming man and a true Christian gentleman.

Andrew Naylor


Strathmore

24th June 2018

Back, after a two-year absence, to the delightful Strathmore Uniting Church, which was overflowing with patrons, with extra seats in the central aisle.

After the rousing opening number Gwŷr Harlech, these patrons were able to immediately flex their tonsils by lustily singing the English verses with the words handily reproduced in the program.

Ballarat chapter administration leader John White, on his début as compère, introduced the Welsh bracket of We’ll Keep a Welcome, led by Roger Bartlett, before Calon Lân and the pacifist sentiments of Y Tangnefeddwyr (The Peacemakers).

Drew Hopkins and Rushan Hewawasam melodiously combined on the duet Perhaps Love before the romantic theme continued with a sensitive a cappella rendering of Myfanwy. Back to WW1 with We’ll Gather Lilacs by Welshman Ivor Novello (real name David Ivor Davies), which was obviously well-known by the very musical audience as they sang along to the second half of the number and a reprise.  Bette Midler’s The Rose was nurtured on this very cold afternoon before Roger stepped up to the microphone once again to lead the choir into You’ll Never Walk Alone. Three lines in, however, and Roger surprised everyone by asking Lorna to stop. He explained that so many patrons were singing along with him that it was only fitting that we invited the entire audience to accompany the choir in the rest of the number. And so it came to pass – a beautiful extempore moment which everyone cherished.

Our mining segment commenced with an understated but powerful a cappella rendition of Prince Among Men by Bob Ash before an equally stunning Working Man from fellow bass and local man Barry McMahon.

Faleiry rehearsed the assembly in When the Saints Go Marching In before the choir masterfully took on the John Rutter arrangement with the audience enthusiastically giving their all in the final choruses…and then doing it all again to arrive at the interval.

The second half posed the question What Would I Do Without My Music before compère John White gave the background to the two Paul Jarman songs Land of my Song, with solos by Bob and Geoff Roberts, and the stirring Pemulwuy, both of which received resounding applause.

The main finale was the medley from Les Misérables with heart-rending solos from Rushan on I Dreamed a Dream and by Roger on Bring Him Home.

This was followed by the special arrangement of Waltzing Matilda with solos by Drew and Bob, with the words of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau weaving their magic in the final choruses, magnetising half a dozen Welsh people in the church to stand tall and straight for their familiar Welsh National Anthem – a wonderful and proud moment.

Ann Black thanked us on behalf of the church and presented flowers to Faleiry and Lorna. We, in turn, thanked her and the lovely Strathmore audience by surrounding them to bid them a sincere farewell with Sunset Poem.

Audience comments included:

  • Have been to many of your concerts over many years. First introduced to choir by a friend since gone. Love your concerts.
  • Just wonderful! I have been to the Strathmore visits twice before and lifted my spirit for weeks.  Helen
  • Good - loud, clear and tuneful. Enjoyed audience participation and soloists.  Tony
  • Very enjoyable. Took my mum, who's 86, back many years as she knew all the songs. Lovely memories of Harry Secombe's fabulous voice. Shanie
  • Such a thrill to hear a huge male choir singing their hearts out!  Pat

  • Excellent range of songs and extremely well presented.  Beverley
  • Great! A wonderful experience my husband and I have had, listening to the choir sung in parts, the humour and enjoyment you all seem to have. Loved the Welsh, 'Working Man' pieces, a little bit of history puts more meaning to the pieces. Thank you. Elizabeth

  • Having Welsh ancestors I have always loved music and wanted to attend a Welsh Choir concert and am thoroughly delighted to be here.  Marlene
  • Working Man was sung exceptionally well and the humming of Myfanwy was excellent.  Kevin

  • Thoroughly enjoying the performance.  Valmae

  • Absolutely joyful musical afternoon.  Doreen
  • Brilliant!!
  • Great. John was wonderful. He kept us entertained. The choir, as always, were fabulous. Faleiry always engages the audience, which I love too.  Maree
  • Always enjoy the selection of music. Absolutely love the harmonies - not to forget the solos, absolutely riveting. thank you.  Joan
  • The ending was lovely - the choir well-trained, lovely vocal arrangements. Thank you.
  • Where do we start - just a perfect way to spend an afternoon, brought tears to the eye, can't wait for interval to be over. Carlene

  • What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Great entertainment as always. Faleiry is a sensational conductor. Norma

  • A lovely concert. Enjoying it very much. Well presented. Beautiful singing.

  • A beautiful mixture of harmonies and heart-warming songs. Thank you.  Bron

  • Thoroughly enjoying the concert - except we didn't sing "See the bombers fly up"!

  • Very enjoyable. It was obvious that the choir enjoyed themselves as much as us.

  • Very enjoyable - liked the choice of songs.

  • Wonderful performance and we enjoyed singing along. The compere did an excellent job.

  • First time to attend. Very good. Enjoyed very much.  Joy

  • Excellent selection. Presentation flawless. Very enjoyable afternoon in cold winter. Nothing better than a good song and wonderful voices.  What a wonderful way to end a fantastic afternoon singing.  Margaret

  • The 'full house' was indicative of your great reputation and we weren't disappointed! Thank you.  Rachael

  • Excellent! Excellent! Excellent!  Robyn 


Rosebud

16th June 2018

After two years we were in back at All Saints Church Rosebud for a sold-out Saturday afternoon concert. After the opening Welsh verses of Gwŷr Harlech the audience were able to join in with the English words, printed in the program, and this they did eagerly and very tunefully.

The opening Welsh bracket continued with We’ll Keep a Welcome with a mellifluous olo by Roger Bartlett, the old favourite Calon Lân and, after an explanation by compère Bob Ash, Y Tangnefeddwyr (The peacemakers).

Introducing the love section, tenors Drew Hopkins and Rushan Hewawasam masterfully joined together in a harmonious rendition of Perhaps Love.

Myfanwy was presented without accompaniment before the choir sang We’ll Gather Lilacs with a very willing and musical participation by the audience in the reprise of the last chorus. This was followed by The Rose and then the stirring and emotional You’ll Never Walk Alone, again with a very sensitive solo from Roger.

Versatile compère Bob Ash then introduced the mining bracket with himself singing a beautifully modulated a cappella version of Prince Among Men before fellow bass Geoff Serpell stirred the emotions with the iconic Working Man. Before the last song of the first half, Faleiry put the congregation through their paces as far as rehearsing their parts in the final chorus before the choir launched into the John Rutter arrangement of When the Saints Go Marching In. After repeating the final chorus everyone was glad to have fifteen minutes rest and refreshments.

The second half opened with the rhetorical What Would I Do Without My Music before Bob introduced the specially commissioned work Land of My Song by Paul Jarman with confident solos by John Adams and Geoff Roberts. This was followed by Jarman’s iconic song about the Aboriginal guerrilla fighter Pemulwuy, complete with co-ordinated clapsticks by three different choristers.

Some comic relief was then provided by John Hales and Geoff Serpell, dressed in their princes’ coronets, to give us a suitably theatrical and well-articulated performance of Sondheim’s Agony.

Once order had been restored we were off to join the dispossessed in 19th century Paris with a medley from Les Misérables which included beautiful solos by Rushan and Roger. The final number was a special arrangement of Waltzing Matilda, with solos by Drew and Bob, which culminated with part of the choir singing the Welsh National anthem whilst the other sections and the audience kept up the well-known English chorus from what is effectively the alternative Australian anthem.

Fr. Stephen Pollard stepped up to the microphone to give thanks not only to the choir and the music team but also to all those people in the church who had made the concert possible and Invited everybody to afternoon tea.

After Bob’s round of thanks for the music team and all the soloists, the choir moved off to surround the musical assembly before bidding them farewell with the aptly named Sunset Poem.

Members of the audience commented:

  • Such beautiful tones of voice so well blended. Marvellous choice of songs. Fantastic accompanist and conductor.  Jan
  • Brilliant. Reminded me of when I lived in Cornwall with the Cornish Male Voice Choirs.  Ann
  • Wonderful. Joyous. Emotional. Perfect.  Roslyn
  • Superb! Especially the soloists!  Sylvia
  • Excellent!! No need to improve! Loved it - just like last time. Julie
  • The whole concert was ACE.  Elizabeth
  • Good as usual.  Glyn
  • We thought that everything was excellent! Looking forward to the next time.
  • Wonderful voices. Very enjoyable.
  • I am living in ''another world'' listening to the marvellous singing - World Class. Thank you so much for the great afternoon. Betty

Our hosts also wrote: "Just a note to thank you for being so helpful in getting me organised for last Saturday’s Concert.  It was much appreciated. Please also thank your team for their respective contributions too.  You all made it very easy."


Horsham

Town Hall Theatre, 27th May 2018

The choir returned to Horsham after some ten years, this time to the splendid Town Hall for a Sunday afternoon concert.

Following an acknowledgment to the local indigenous Djura Balug people, compère Tony Davies back-announced the opening number Gwŷr Harlech and introduced the teetotaller’s anthem Rachie, the well-known Morte Criste and What Would I Do Without My Music.

Photo: Anne Lynn

Bass Bob Ash presented a fine solo Prince Among Men to start off the mining bracket. The choir’s chaplain, Horsham-born Rev. Tom Morgan spoke about his gold-mining antecedents before leading the choir in the rousing Working Man with the audience eager and willing to join in with the reprise. They were in fine voice, too, on the choruses to the following number Cwm Rhondda, vicariously echoing one of the hymns sung at the royal wedding.

The theme then changed to different varieties of love with, firstly, the a cappella lullaby Si Hei Lwli ‘Mabi before Anfonaf Angel with beautiful flute accompaniment by Bendigo chorister and flautist Nigel McGuckian. Then came The Rose and the emotive You’ll Never Walk Alone led by the well-modulated baritone voice of Roger Bartlett.

Before the last item before interval, When the Saints Go Marching In, Faleiry assiduously rehearsed the 320-strong audience in their parts for the final chorus, which they carried off magnificently when the time came.

The second half commenced with the popular opera chorus Speed Your Journey before the more modern Land of My Song, the choir’s specially commissioned work by Paul Jarman, with excellent solos by John Adams and Geoff Roberts. The compère then set the historical background scene for Paul’s iconic work about the Aboriginal fighter Pemulwuy which was also enthusiastically received.

The focus then shifted from the dispossessed of Botany Bay to the wretched of the earth in Paris in 1832 with the medley from Les Misérables. The choir’s totally committed presentation, interspersed with sensitive solos by Roger Bartlett, caused a huge surge of applause for the production.

After patrons retook their seats, Drew Hopkins and Bob Ash led the choir in the special arrangement of Waltzing Matilda with several Welsh expatriates standing up for the interwoven Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.

Another standing ovation ensued, thus encouraging Faleiry to instruct choristers to carefully pick their way off the stage to surround the marvellous audience to bid their fond adieus with the unaccompanied Eli Jenkins’ Prayer from Under Milk Wood.  Given its alternative title of Sunset Poem and the time of day, the choir was able to finally chant, ‘And to the sun we all will bow And say, good-bye - but just for now.’

We received these comments from audience members:

  • Very enjoyable performance, nothing like a good male choir and then add a touch of Welsh - fantastic.  Elaine

  • Fantastic audience participation!! Much appreciated. Can you start a cell in Horsham? Congratulations on another magnificent performance.

  • Absolutely tantalizing - especially the Verdi, also 'Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah' and 'When I survey' (My dad chose these for his funeral).

  • The harmony was just magic and the conductor/pianist and soloists A+ as the choir certainly was. I go to all your concerts when they come to Horsham. At the end the stereo effect either side of the auditorium and the beauty of the music was out of this world.  V.G. commentator too.  Elsbeth


Albury

SS&A Club, 12th May 2018

It was ten years since we were last over the border in Albury and the second time in the SS&A Club with its commodious facilities. The club generously provided the venue for the Lavington Lions Club to help raise funds for local children’s cancer patient facilities and treatment.

Local people totally supported the Club by filling the room with well over 300 tickets sold.


Photo: Charlie Leaney

Setting the Welsh tone of the evening, the choir launched into Gwŷr Harlech before compère Drew Hopkins introduced the first bracket. The choir answered itself with What Would I Do Without My Music followed by the rousing temperance hymn Rachie – despite the open bar all eyes were kept firmly on the conductor. The sublime Morte Criste was next and Faleiry, sensing that patrons were eager to sing, invited them to reprise the last chorus. Bass Barry McMahon then stamped his fine voice and personality on Working Man to huge acclaim before Faleiry again reprised the final section with enthusiastic audience participation.

Native speaker Stephen Pepper took the stage to humorously conduct the educational part of the evening, teaching the assembly the pronunciation and meaning of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.  The sustained applause underlined just how much everyone had enjoyed learning something new. 

Bendigo chorister Nigel McGuckian sensitively set the mood on his flute with Anfonaf Angel (Guardian Angel) before the choir told the story of the bombing of Swansea and the effect it had on the population including the pacifist parents of poet Waldo Williams in Y Tangnefeddwyr (The Peacemakers). Roger Bartlett’s well-modulated baritone voice then led the choir in the popular You’ll Never Walk Alone before we channelled Bette Midler on The Rose.

Continuing the love theme, versatile compère Drew was joined by tenor Rushan Hewawasam in a heart-touching duet Perhaps Love.

Heartache of a different sort followed with the choir singing an a cappella version of the old favourite Myfanwy which the audience very much appreciated.

Before the upbeat John Rutter arrangement of When the Saints Go Marching In as the finale before interval, Faleiry had to make sure the crowd knew their parts in the final bars so, with tissues discreetly tucked away and backs straight, no less than three rehearsals were conducted.  And, when the time came, they didn’t let the house down and sang so well and accurately that it just had to be done again!

After the necessary refreshments, the second half started off with the well-known Cwm Rhondda with patrons once again willing and able to sing the final chorus Songs of Praises. The choir’s specially commissioned work Land of My Song included fine solos by bass Bob Ash and tenor Garry Salisbury. This was followed by the other Paul Jarman song, the story of Pemulwuy the Aboriginal guerrilla fighter.

A change of tone then with Stephen Sondheim’s cleverly worded Agony, royally performed by two mature princes John Hales and Geoff Serpell.

From agony to misery then with the dramatic and theatrical Medley from Les Misérables with outstanding solos by Rushan (I Dreamed A Dream) and Roger (Bring Him Home). At the rousing conclusion of this wonderful medley, the audience applauded thunderously.

Once the excitement had subsided a little, Faleiry surprised everyone by announcing that a lady had requested You Raise Me Up. After checking that our hugely accomplished pianist Lorna remembered the tune, the seated choir confidently sang this impromptu number to the grateful patron who had, indeed, risen from her seat and was thoroughly enjoying the moment.

Then back to the program with an Australian finale with Drew and Geoff Serpell ably combining to lead the choir on Waltzing Matilda with its clever segue into the Welsh National Anthem Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau. Faleiry led the audience into a final singing outburst in order that they shared the triumph of the night’s musical experiences.

At the conclusion, many patrons rose up to give the choir a standing ovation and wanted even more.

The chairman of the Lavington Lions stepped forward to thank the choir and the music team once again and presented the choir with a commemorative framed Certificate of Appreciation.

Faleiry cast her eye around the room to see if there was sufficient space for choristers to surround the audience and, to the tune of Men of Harlech, arranged everyone appropriately. Once hush had descended and the signature notes given, the choir intoned the haunting Sunset Poem from Under Milk Wood and bade a heartfelt farewell to a wonderful audience.

Audience members commented:

  • Absolutely brilliant. Haven't enjoyed anything so much for a long time.  Val
  • Choral work was great. A most enjoyable concert. Graeme
  • As always - absolutely magnificent. Love Male Choirs and this lot in particular - most enjoyable concert.
  • Excellent performance as usual.  Russell
  • Wonderful show, uplifting and entertaining. John
  • Most enjoyable show.
  • An amazing evening.
  • Very entertaining. Really enjoyed hearing duos and individual voices along with the whole group. A great evening.
  • Thank you. Last song magical!  Judy
  • Wonderful.  Noela
  • Very well presented, varied programme.  Alan
  • A very enjoyable evening. The choir was wonderful.  Libby
  • Beautiful voices. Rushan has a wonderful voice.
  • A really spectacular performance - plenty of variety - choir, comedy, audience participation.  Rosanna
  • Brilliant!!!!
  • Thoroughly enjoyable. Loved watching the individuals giving their all. Enthusiasm ++  Audience participation very good. Wonderful pianist +++  Joy and John
  • Great concert. I enjoyed it all.  Barbara
  • Great as ever. Wouldn't have missed it. Good to see you all back in Albury. Particularly loved the 'old favourites'.  Aileen
  • Excellent choir, much enjoyed. Thank you.  Rosalie
  • Superb - obvious the choir is motivated and extremely well orchestrated and directed by Faleiry. Good spread of songs - traditional, contemporary. Thank you.  John
  • I was there & I loved every minute of the concert. Had it been on again the next day I would have gone again. Lesley (on Facebook)

Preston

Salvation Army Preston Corps, 24th April 2018

The choir was very pleased to receive an invitation to join the well-known Preston Citadel Band for an ANZAC Day Eve concert at Preston’s Salvation Army venue.

The band commenced proceedings with fine renditions of The Red Shield, Coronation March and Music from the Trenches. Interspersed throughout the concert were voiceover readings of wartime stories accompanied by very comprehensive and relevant visuals projected on to a large screen.


Picture: Georgia Grigsbey

The choir’s first bracket was Gwŷr Harlech then Rachie followed by How Great Thou Art with a finely modulated solo by tenor Rushan Hewawasam.

The Citadel Band enchanted the audience with a lighter bracket of TV Themes (Hogan’s Heroes and Dad’s Army), He Ain’t Heavy, All You Need Is Love and Strong to Save.

After the power of the brass band, the choir sang the a cappella lullaby Si Hei Lwli ‘Mabi followed by The Rose. Roger Bartlett caught the emotion of You’ll Never Walk Alone before the choir’s presentation of Songs from the First World War with plenty of enthusiastic singing from the audience.

The band played Abide with Me before choir and patrons rose as one to listen to the Ode and The Last Post followed by one minute’s silence and Reveille, finishing with God Save the Queen and Advance Australia Fair.

The choir went back on stage to be accompanied by the marvellous Citadel Band on I Am Australian, Highland Cathedral and Cwm Rhondda. VicWelsh then left the stage to appreciative acclaim before the band’s robust finale of Land of Song.


Echuca

Paramount Theatre, 22nd April 2018

Almost exactly two years to the day, we returned to the Paramount Theatre, Echuca to be part of a fundraiser for the local Uniting Church Community Program.

Our flourishing Bendigo branch includes three choristers from Echuca and one of them, first-time compère Ken McMullan, was closely involved in the organisation of the concert.

After our opening number Gwŷr Harlech, we launched into three other famous Welsh tunes Rachie, Rhys and the lullaby Si Hei Lwli ‘Mabi. Bass Geoff Serpell then stepped up to the mike and led the choir through the iconic Working Man, complete with clenched fists. The full house of some 400 erupted and heartily applauded the performance. Faleiry seized the moment and Geoff and the choir reprised the last chorus with many patrons eagerly joining in.

Baritone Roger Bartlett followed with a mellifluous solo rendition of Marta Keen’s Homeward Bound which was also thoroughly enjoyed by the patrons.

Given the imminence of ANZAC Day, local choir River Voices, led by Martina Richardson, choose two WW1 Songs - In Flanders Fields and Here You Lie before a more upbeat I Will Sing.  After the applause had died down, tenors Drew Hopkins and Rushan Hewawasam joined to tell the poignant story of Ellis Island in the affecting Isle of Hope, Isle of Dreams.

At the opening of the show the compère had acknowledged the local Yorta Yorta people so it was fitting that VicWelsh should present Paul Jarman’s popular song about Pemulwuy the famous late 1700s Aboriginal guerrilla fighter who lived in the Sydney area.

River Voices returned to present the Maori proverb Tama Tu before both choirs combined on Senzenina with conductor Martina melodiously leading the call and response. The uplifting What A Wonderful World capped off the very diverse first half.

After the interval, River Voices took the stage to deliver the emotional Prayer of the Children followed by a sea shanty style Boatmen Stomp, finishing with a tremendous and eponymous crashing of feet on the stage which made a few VicWelsh choristers sit up. The defibrillator was not required, however, but heartache of a different calibre was forthcoming when tenor John Hales and bass Geoff Serpell donned their princely coronets to masterfully deliver Stephen Sondheim’s wordfest Agony from Into the Woods.

The nostalgia theme continued with Jarman’s Land of my Song with scintillating solos by Bendigo baritone John Adams and tenor Geoff Roberts. The Welsh diaspora was further celebrated with Myfanwy, We’ll Gather Lilacs (Ivor Novello) with audience participation, a beautiful solo by Rushan on How Great Thou Art (Harry Secombe) and heartthrob Roger channelling Tom Jones on Green, Green Grass of Home so closely that accompanist Lorna just had to throw a scarf at him. Fortunately for us, her piano playing is more accurate than her throwing action so Faleiry cranked up the performance again thus giving an opportunity for the audience to join in but also to allow Lorna to launch another scarf right on target this time.

After that bit of fun, River Voices came back and Faleiry conducted both choirs in a medley of Songs from the First World War. The capacity audience joined in on It’s A Long Way to Tipperary before Martina’s lovely high soprano voice caught the pathos of Roses of Picardy. Over There was followed by Keep the Home Fires Burning before the whole theatre united on the finale of Pack up Your Troubles, leaving 400 patrons and some 70 choristers absolutely agreeing that the afternoon’s musical journey had indeed made everyone Smile, Smile, Smile.

Audience feedback follows:
  • Excellent, need more of this.
  •  ‘Men of Harlech’, ‘Working Man’, all excellent.
  •  A great concert, always enjoyable. Vibrant and engaging with the audience. Wish we could hear you more often.
  •  Brilliant, loved Senzenina in particular.
  •  Harmony of both choirs excellent. They could sing a scale in four parts and it would be beautiful.
  •  Loved the Welsh Choir, (my 5th concert.)
  •  We have enjoyed the performance as we did the last time we saw the choir in Beechworth a number of years ago.
  •  Absolutely wonderful entertainment.


Echuca

Campaspe Valley Bowls Final, 10th March 2018

From the Riverine Herald of 16th March:

Three Echuca men from the Victoria Welsh Male Choir strutted their stuff on Saturday.

Ken McMullan, Garry Salisbury, and Ivan Ryall (pictured from left) sang Advance Australia Fair to open the Campaspe Valley Bowls Division's weekend pennant grand final.

''Because we wore black suits on Saturday it was pretty hot but it was good, '' Ken said.  ''That was probably the first time they've had someone do that, sing and open the event.''

Riverine Herald

Cymanfa Ganu

St. Michael’s Uniting Church, 4th March 2018


As part of the Welsh Church’s St David’s Day celebrations, a Cymanfa Ganu (Singing Festival) was held on Sunday afternoon 4 March at St Michael’s Church, Collins Street.

Our guests at our 2 March concert – conductor Ilid Anne Jones and tenors Aled Wyn Davies and Rhys Meirion – were the main guests of the Welsh Church and were joined by Blue Riband winner Steffan Prys Roberts. During the course of the very varied program, they all performed magnificently either in solos, duets or as a trio.

VicWelsh was joined by three other Welsh choirs and a community choir. Geelong Welsh Ladies sang Y Mae Afon by themselves with all male choirs combining on Benedictus, and Morte Criste. All five choirs and the three tenors joined together on Nearer My God to Thee.

As well as these items, all choristers joined with the capacity congregation to sing ten different well-known hymns, accompanied by organ, brass and timpani.

At the end of the Gymanfa Ganu, all choirs, all patrons and all the guest singers stood to passionately sing Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.


St David's Day

Welsh Musical Celebration

2 March 2018 at the Melbourne Recital Centre

The choir was back at the magnificent Melbourne Recital Hall on 2 March for an evening performance laden with stars from Wales.

As befitted this very Welsh concert, Gwŷr Harlech set the linguistic and musical tone as the opening number. After Nigel McGuckian gave the Acknowledgment of Country, Musical Director Faleiry Koczkar OAM showed a Welsh flag given to the choir by the famous Max Boyce and spoke about its importance.

Guest Ilid Anne Jones then came on stage to conduct the choir with the rousing temperance song Rachie before telling the capacity audience something about its provenance, followed by bibliographical information about the next three numbers – Y Tangnefeddwyr, Rhys and the ever-popular Cwm Rhondda. With the final chorus, Ilid invited patrons to join in which they did with considerable force.


Photo David Smith

Compère Drew Hopkins next introduced Rhys Meirion and Aled Wyn Davies, two of the famous Three Welsh Tenors. The very versatile Ilid moved to the grand piano to accompany their first duet Y Ddau Wladgarwyr (The Two Patriots) by the prolific composer Joseph Parry who also wrote Myfanwy which would be sung later in the program. Their voices took full advantage of the hall’s internationally-renowned acoustics which also resonated with the appreciative applause.

With Lorna on piano and Nigel on flute, Ilid conducted Rhys and the choir on her own arrangement of the beautiful Anfonaf Angel. Aled then came back on to lead the choir on the epic Diolch I’r Iôr, with his high tenor voice reaching every corner of the hall.

With everybody’s appetites whetted for more of this world-class singing, back came Rhys to join Aled as they launched into one of the best-known opera pieces – The Pearl Fishers’ Duet. Understandably, their marvellous rendition ‘brought the house down’. Ilid made a move to exit but had to sit back down at the piano as the two tenors unexpectedly returned to thank everybody with an encore. This took them back to the riches of the Welsh hymnal repertoire with Lausanne sung to the words of William Williams.

The pure Welsh content continued with Aled leading the choir on Yfory (Tomorrow), with wonderfully sensitive accompaniment once again by Nigel on flute and by Lorna on the grand piano. After sustained applause, Rhys came back with the choir, to finish the first half by singing the traditional Eisteddfod welcome to all returning Welsh people – the very emotional Unwaith Eto’n‘Nghymru Annwyl.

With Faleiry back on the podium, the second half commenced with Land of my Song, a specially commissioned piece which had had its world première last year when we were conducted by the composer Paul Jarman. This fine work also featured excellent solos by bass Bob Ash and tenor Geoff Roberts. Compère Drew then explained the background to Jarman’s iconic song about the Aboriginal guerrilla fighter Pemulwuy, with the choir’s enthusiastic performance equally enthusiastically received.

Not a world première but the first time the choir had performed a very modern and difficult song by leading Welsh composer Karl Jenkins – In These Stones Horizons Sing.

In complete contrast this was followed by an a cappella version of Myfanwy which showcased the choir’s control of soft singing.

Drew alluded to the ways in which Welsh performers had extended their musical horizons around the world. Cardiff-born Ivor Novello was remembered with We’ll Gather Lilacs with the reprise eagerly and tenderly taken up by the audience. Harry Secombe was replaced by our own hugely-talented Rushan Hewawasam on How Great Thou Art and Tom Jones by heartthrob Roger Bartlett on the well-known Green Green Grass of Home, again joined by all of our tuneful patrons.

Back came Ilid to conduct Rhys and the choir in All Through the Night, followed by Aled on the lullaby Suo Gân. Ilid then addressed the wonderful audience, not only to thank them but to give heartfelt thanks to Faleiry and Lorna.

To finish, soloists Drew and Geoff Serpell led the choir in Faleiry and Lorna’s arrangement of a modern version of Waltzing Matilda which craftily segues into the Welsh National Anthem. For that final part we were joined on stage by Ilid, Rhys and Aled who naturally stayed on as Faleiry asked the audience to stand as we more formally sang Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau. With Ilid’s soprano voice and the magnificent two tenors, the hall absolutely resounded with pride, passion and huge appreciation for a truly Welsh concert.

Comments from audience members:

  • Best St. David’s Day concert I’ve ever been to. I also noticed a few more Amens in the performance which I liked. I really enjoyed Nigel’s flute playing. Joan (over 30 St. D. Day concerts)
  • My companions and I are from North Wales and are now touring Australia. Notwithstanding being away from home, we wanted to celebrate St. David’s Day. You helped us do that brilliantly. Diolch yn fawr iawn a phob lwc i chi gyd.
  • A wonderful evening at a brilliant venue. Although not Welsh born, I lived ten years as a child in the coal mining area of South Wales. This music brings those years back to me. Thank you for promoting such a wonderful choir.
  • My daughter and I attended the concert and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. I particularly love the old hymns and always watch “Songs of Praise”. We also attended Aled Jones' concert recently which was good and Harry Secombe was a great favourite of mine. We both thought the guest conductor Ilid was excellent.
  • A very enjoyable evening.
  • Love your concert. All the little bits of audience participation - just enough - is lovely. Many of us learned “Men of Harlech” at school.
  • As a visitor to Melbourne it was a truly Welsh night and a perfectly lovely evening. Joan
  • Great concert. Credit to all choristers and solo performers. We have followed the Vic Welsh Choir for about 30 years. Jim, Glen Waverley.
  • OUTSTANDING CONCERT!! (UK resident.)
  • Excellent concert and venue. Good choice of programme and soloists. Diolch yn fawr!
  • This was our first visit to the Recital Centre but we will certainly go again. A very enjoyable evening.
  • I think that the Sunset Poem where the choir walks out into the audience is Very effective, must do more often! Fantastic St. David’s Day concert. I hope to be part of the choir for the next. Paul.
  • We always very much enjoy our visits to the Vic Welsh Choir.
  • Best program ever.
  • Thoroughly enjoyed each performance I have attended. The music team and choristers are to be commended for such professional display.
  • All Good!!
  • It was a really wonderful concert! Such a warm friendly feeling from Faleiry and Ilid and the tenors were absolutely SUPERB. Thank you.
  • Fabulous concert Friday night!!  Marilyn

We have also received this message from the Secretary of the Welsh Church:

  • We congratulate the "Vic Welsh" on the wonderful success of their concert last Friday evening.  A terrific evening of entertainment!


Rhys Meirion

Ilid Anne Jones

Aled Wyn Davies


Vale Bill Boyer

10 May 1924 – 25 December 2017

Bill’s funeral service was held on 3 January 2018 at the Salvation Army Citadel in Briar Hill. Many colleagues and fellow soldiers were in attendance, along with his extended family and ten members of Victoria Welsh Choir, of which Bill had been a faithful and committed member for 20 years.

Joining the Salvation Army at 16, Bill had mastered a variety of brass instruments during his 70 years and had also served as corps secretary and treasurer as well as male voice party leader.

Capt. Ken Smith conducted the service which included two Army hymns – Simply Trusting and O Boundless Salvation. Major June Purdy remembered Bill as the kindly father of her friend and took as the scripture reading Psalm 121.  Daughters Margaret and Judith joined brother Lindsay to sing a very accomplished harmonious Blessed Assurance with the congregation joining in on the final chorus.

The family tribute reinforced what choir members remembered – that Bill was a hard-working, humble and modest man and a true gentleman.

Music being such an important part of his life, an audio-visual presentation was accompanied by a favourite Army number A Sunbeam by Phil Catelinet and his casket was escorted out to the strains of Carlton’s club song, We are the navy blues…we’re the team that never lets you down – a very fitting reflection on the man that Bill Boyer was.


For earlier performances see "History".
















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