Cross border harmony; a choral success at Welshpool

Over 70 singers approached Welshpool Town Hall with some trepidation last Saturday (16th April). The Guilsfield Singers and Oswestry choir Cantiones had performed a joint concert to a very high standard and to a large audience the previous week in Oswestry – could they do it again? And in a venue new to all of them, the Assembly Room, with its huge paintings, large mirrors, and carved wooden doorways?

Yes they could, and certainly did. The audience was almost full to capacity – some people had even been to the previous concert and wanted to hear it again. Musical Director Gerry Howe conducted his joint choir with precision and clarity, getting the best from his singers; and we were privileged to have the accomplished musician Chris Symons as accompanist. Soloists from within the choirs sang in several pieces.

After opening with Fauré’s beautiful Cantique de Jean Racine the choir performed Bob Chilcott’s Requiem Mass. Chilcott has been a member of the King’s Singers, and is now Principal Guest Conductor of the BBC Singers. His Mass is characterised by strong rhythms and lyrical melodies and is influenced by Fauré’s music. Not a work known to many beforehand, it proved exciting to sing and to hear.

The second half of the concert started with Kyrie Eleison from Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle, with its marvellous piano accompaniment, followed by Mozart’s joyous Coronation Mass. Madrigals aren’t usually sung by large choirs, but Sweet Suffolk Owl, which enabled some of the first altos to enjoy some high notes, worked well with a large force, and sent “te whit te whoos” echoing round the hall.

The uplifting chorus The Heavens are Telling from Haydn’s The Creation closed the concert in joyful mood.

The concert raised money for SARDA, the Search and Rescue Dogs Association, a charity which trains and deploys dogs to search for missing persons, and which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. A representative talked about the work of the charity, explaining that dogs seek out all kinds of missing people who could be hill walkers, or people with dementia. The dogs are also sent abroad to assist finding earthquake victims.


St Giles', the beautiful Parish Church of Wrexham, resounded to the voices of the Guilsfield Singers on Saturday 9th November, in a special concert for the hundredth anniversary of the Great War. The choir was conducted by St Giles' own organist Gerry Howe with associate conductor Gill Roberts. The soloists were Bethan Scotford and Sarah Garrett and the reader was William Rowell. The centrepiece of the concert was the lovely chant Hedd Wyn, written in memory of the Welsh poet Ellis Humphrey Evans who died at Passchendaele in 1916. The programme also included items for audience participation, readings and works by Gustav Holst, Hubert Parry and Welsh composer Karl Jenkins. Audience members were very appreciative of the event. One wrote "A wonderful Remembrance concert last Saturday. It was a beautiful and very moving event".


Guilsfield Singers presented their annual Spring Concert on Saturday 26th April at St Mary's Church, Welshpool, to a large and appreciative audience. This year's programme, taking the theme of 'Songs of Inspiration', featured a selection of music, much of it by British composers, under the direction of the choir's regular Director of Music, Gerry Howe.

Particular highlights of the concert were a splendid Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis by John Stainer, in the first half, and Hubert Parry's monumental setting of words by John Milton, “Blest Pair of Sirens”, which opened the second half. Organ accompaniment was provided by Colin Porter, organist at Mossley Hill Church, Liverpool and Director of the Liverpool Festival Choir in 2002, who also played a solo piece. The programme also included a soprano solo by choir member, Sarah Garrett.

The concert was given in support of the important work of the Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, Gobowen, via the Welshpool Branch of the Hospital League of Friends. Those who came heard about the support given by the League of Friends over the years, and the recent improvements that have been made at this very special hospital, which is both important locally and has a national profile. All profits from the concert, plus donations made by concert-goers on the night, will be donated to the League of Friends.

Guilsfield Singers are now busily preparing for their next event, the always popular Supper Concert of lighter music, which will take place in the Village Hall at Guilsfield on Saturday 12th July.

Guilsfield Singers Hit the High Note Summer 2012

The Guilsfield Singers celebrated this Olympic and Jubilee year with a splendid supper concert last Saturday (7 July). They took as their theme for the concert 'Music from Many Countries', and delighted an audience of over a hundred in the local community centre with songs ranging from popular opera choruses and even one number with a Victorian melodramatic theme, to evergreens like Waltzing Matilda and Edelweiss, with the audience joining in with great gusto.

There were solos from sopranos Sarah Garrett, who sang Gershwin's 'Summertime', and Bethan Scotford, who delighted everyone with a lovely performance of 'Moon River'. Val Wright joined Sarah and Bethan in the trio from the Gilbert and Sullivan's 'Mikado', Three Little Maids. Everyone agreed that once again the choir had hit the high note with their supper concert. Midway through the concert a salad supper, prepared by the ladies of the choir, was served, with a huge range of delicious puddings to follow.

The choir runs an auction annually at this concert; this year a good sum was raised in brisk bidding, particularly for a magnum of claret donated by local wine merchant Tanners and a bar meal donated by Guilsfield's Kings Head. And the regular raffle also helped to boost the choir's funds, with prizes donated by choir members.

The concert on Saturday was followed on Sunday with the choir taking part in evensong at Guilsfield Church, to mark the opening of the Guilsfield Music Festival. The service celebrated one hundred years of the Mothers' Union, and was attended by the Bishop of St Asaph, who gave the sermon.

Easter Concert 2011

“The best ever!” This was the verdict of more than a hundred people in the audience after the Guilsfield Singers' latest concert in St Mary's Church in Welshpool on Saturday 14 May.

The main work in the second part of the concert was the 'Gloria' by Vivaldi. For this the 16-strong Maldwyn Strings accompanied them, providing an excellent backing for this exciting work,. The choir rose to the occasion and really enjoyed themselves, with impressive attack plus some moving slower sections.

The three soloists were their own Sarah Garrett, who is becoming very well-known locally, with Kathryn Crosskey who lives locally, and Barbara McKay, both from Oswestry-based chamber choir Cantiones.

The programme started with an early work - the 'Magnificat' by Pergolesi and an anthem by the later composer Maurice Greene, 'Lord let me know mine end'. Musical Director Gerry Howe played a Handel organ solo, and the first part of the concert ended with three movements from Mozart's 'Eine Kleine Nachtmusik' in a very professional performance by the Maldwyn Strings.

The concert was in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support: the choir hopes to make a substantial donation to the charity, once the costs of the concert are covered.