import url(;import url(;import url(;SILURIANS ON THE SOMME Rhymney Silurian Male Choir Events and Engagements 2015 North of England October 2014  


On July 10, 1916, at a quarter past four in the morning a group of Welsh soldiers gathered above what they called Death Valley and sang the hymn "Aberystwyth."  They were about to fight the Battle of Mametz Wood.

Ninety seven years later - on October 28, 2013, another group - The Rhymney Silurian Male Choir gathered in the same spot and sang "Aberystwyth" again, in memory of the thousands of men who died in that battle.

The Sirurians were on a tour of World War One battlefields in Northern France.
They began with a concert at the prestigious St Georges Church in Ypres, built after the War as a place of pilgrimage and as a memorial. The Chaplain, Fr Brian Llewellyn, praised the choir's performance and told them visits like their's are important to help people remember the sacrifices made for their freedom.
The tour continued with visits to one of the most tangible expressions of the battle of the Somme - the Thiepval Memorial near Albert. It's the largest British battle memorial in the world and displays 72,000 names of men who died in the Battle of the Somme and who have no known grave.

The following day, chairman Brian Roberts laid a wreath at Ferme Olivier Cemetery near Ypres. On the 29th December 1915, at 2.30 in the afternoon, men of the 3rd Monmouthshire Regiment including many from the choir's area were lined up at their camp at Elverdinghe about to go on leave after six weeks at the front. A single German shell hit the parade injuring 30 and killing 39. They are buried at Ferme Olivier.

Next it was a visit to the grave of the Welsh poet "Hedd Wynn" whose poem The Hero won the National Eisteddfod in 1917. He was adjudged the winner just a few weeks after Hedd Wynn, whose real name was Ellis Evans, was killed in the Battle of Passandaele. The prize, the Bardic Chair was covered in black cloth and can still be seen at his family home in Trawsfynydd.

At Essex Farm Cemetery the Choir's guide, Steve Taylor from the tour organisers European Heritage in Gilwern,  explained why the poppy is the symbol of remembrance in the UK. It's from a poem called, "In Flanders Fields," written at Essex Farm by a Canadian surgeon and which became hugely popular during the war after it was published in Punch Magazine.   Our guide also pointed out the grave of the officially youngest soldier to die in the war, Joseph Valentine Strudwick who was just 15 years old.

It was at Essex Farm too, that Lance-Corporal John Dixon and Private Fred Powell, both from Cwm, were awarded the D.C.M. and M.M. for rescuing wounded men and bringing them in through wrecked trenches and over the rickety wooden bridges across a canal.

Tyne Cot Cemetery is the largest British military cemetery in the world. Many of the choir party were shocked by the sight of almost twelve thousand graves and said it illustrated well the enormous scale of World War One. It was in sharp contrast to Langemark German cemetery visited later the same day. Langemark is an eighth of the size of Tyne Cot yet contains 44,000 bodies.

The Last Post Ceremony is held at The Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres, at eight o'clock every evening of the year. It's been like that since the gate was opened in 1928 - apart from the years when the Germans occupied the town during the Second World War. During those years the ceremony was held at a military cemetery in Surrey. On the very day Ypres was liberated by Polish troops in 1944 the ceremony began again and it's been going on every evening since.
In front of a crowd of several hundred and beneath the names of 55,000 men who have only unknown graves, the choir sang in the ceremony. They sang two items "Aberystwyth" and "Sleep Sweet Evermore" composed by Keith Williams and which was specially written in memory of those who lost their lives in the Great War.

A wreath was laid at the Menin Gate on behalf of the Choir by Ralph Williams - Musical Director who was  assisted by Bernard Jenkins - Secretary and Dr Iestyn Harding - Deputy Conductor.

In Flanders Fields 
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields. 


~ ~ ~oOo~ ~ ~


Rhymney Silurian Male Choir

North of England Tour

October 25th - 27th 2014 

Saturday 25th October


The choir traveled to the Leeds/Bradford area in the historic county of Yorkshire and Bronte Country. Our hotel was based in the ancient village of Tong set in beautiful countryside. Interesting landmarks in the village include a water mill dating to 1218, an 11th century chapel and an ancient burial ground.

After a meal at the hotel the choir prepared for the journey to the small town of Crossroads (near Haworth and the Bronte Parsonage) and the church of St. James to give a concert in aid of church funds. Ashleigh Powell, choir accompanist, performed a selection of pieces for flute and the choir's repertoire included many old favourites from classical pieces to West end Musicals.

On our return to the hotel a celebratory and informal 'sing song' took place. A wedding reception was being held at the hotel and we were joined by the bride and groom and many of the guests - some of whom were reduced to tears by the choir's wonderful singing. The bride declared that we had made her day very special!

 Sunday 26th October

We visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saltaire on the River Aire and alongside the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. Saltaire is a Victorian model village built in 1851 by Sir Titus Salt, a leading industrialist in the Yorkshire woollen industry. The unique town is made up of neat stone houses with, by 1850 standards, modern facilities. The town had a big impact on future town planning. A pleasant morning was spent visiting museums and the beautiful park alongside the river.

 In the afternoon, a visit to Leeds was on the agenda. Leeds is known as the unofficial capital of Yorkshire and as the 'Knightsbridge of the North'. Leeds has fantastic shops, cafes, museums, galleries, bars and restaurants. Some enjoyed an afternoon of retail therapy whilst others took in the stunning architecture of the Town Hall and the Victoria Quarter.

We returned to the hotel for our evening meal and some leisure time. 

 Monday 27th October

Today's itinerary included a visit to the walled city of York. Here we were spoiled for choice but there is something for everyone in this lovely city - York Minster, National Railway Museum, Jorvik Viking Centre, the 15th century Guildhall, a bus or boat ride, an energetic climb up Clifford's Tower or a gentle stroll through the Shambles.

 At the end of an interesting day we returned to the hotel for an evening meal at our leisure.

Tuesday 28th October

After a buffet breakfast we vacated our rooms transferred our luggage to the coach and began our journey to south Wales. We stopped en route for a few hours in Stratford-on Avon, a medieval market town and the birth place of William Shakespeare.


 ~ ~ ~oOo~ ~ ~


Concert at Blackwood 

The Silurians were the guests of the Oakdale Silver Band (conductor Mr Kerry Bowden) at their annual concert on Friday 23rd October 2015. The concert was held at the Central Methodist Church, Blackwood. Also appearing was the Oakdale Youth Band. The programme was well received and compere Mr Paul Newman kept everyone entertained. 

The choir performed the following items:

Rock a My Soul   arr. Theron W Kirk

Vive L'Amour   arr. A Parker and R Shaw 

Hiraeth   arr. A Humphreys

Moliannwn   arr. R Williams

The Bells of Rhymney   arr. B Russell

An African Trilogy   arr. G Arch and E Jones

Carrickfergus   arr. G Arch

Rachie   arr. A Humphreys 


~ ~ ~oOo~ ~ ~ 


 Congratulations Ralph

We are pleased to announce that on Friday March 11th 2016, Ralph Williams became the joint winner of the Department of Continuing and Professional Education's Leonard and Marian Jones Music in the Community Award for 2014-2015. The award ceremony took place at the Julian Hodge Building in Cardiff. Ralph was presented with the award by Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Wales. The award was given in recognition of his service to music and for conducting choirs in Rhymney for over fifty years. The Silurians wish to express their pride in their Musical Director's achievements.





 A Musical Evening

On Saturday, 11th June 2016 at Little Mill Village Hall, Pontypool the choir performed at a concert organised to raise funds for the National Eisteddfod to be held in Abergavenny from July 29th - August 6th. 

The choir performed a range of musical pieces ranging from a medley from Les Miserable, the rousing Rock o my Soul and a variety of Welsh hymn and folk songs.

The guest artists were Chris Moreton (bluegrass guitar)  and Barry Scouse (folk singer).

The audience thoroughly enjoyed the evening as did all the performers.




 Celebration Concert

On Saturday, 2nd July 2016 at Rhymney Comprehensive School a Celebration Concert was held to honour Mr Ralph Williams commitment to choral music in Rhymney over the last fifty years.

Ralph has been involved in musical activities since he was child. His career as a musical director has been well documented both here on the choir web site and on numerous concert programmes over the years.

Rhymney Silurian Male Choir and Rhymney Millenium Chorale performed as individual choirs but as a combined choir gave a wonderful rendition of the Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves from Verdi's 'Nabucco' and the Hallellujah Chorus from Handel's 'Messiah'.

The choirs were admirably supported by accompanists Mr Ashleigh Powell and Mr Jason Childs and the accomplished soprano Stefanie Harvey Powell.




New Accompanist

The choir is pleased to announce that as of September 2016, Mr Jason Childs has joined the Silurians as our new accompanist. We are proud to welcome him and look forward to many years of working with him.

We are sorry, however, to lose our previous accompanist Mr Ashleigh Powell who joined the Silurians as a talented young man of sixteen. Ashleigh, we know, is sorry to leave us but he seeks new ventures and we wish him every success in the future. Good health and success in the future Ashleigh. 




Concert at Abertysswg 

On Friday, November 6th 2016 a concert was held at Abertysswg  Community Centre in aid of St Paul's Church, Abertysswg. The choir's repertoire was similar to the Blackwood concert but with the addition of

Aberystwyth   arr. Alwyn Humphries 

Lisa Lan   arr. Brian Hughes 

The Angels Chorus   arr. Giuseppe Verdi

The Conspirators   arr. Guiseppe Verdi 

The concert featured two guest artists:

Mr Ashleigh Powell (choir accompanist)  performed two piano solos to an appreciative audience. His first piece was Passaggio by Ludvico Einaudi and the second Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy.

Abertysswg School Choir performed with conductor Miss S Everson. The school choir thoroughly enjoyed the evening and provided excellent entertainment.


 ~ ~ ~oOo~ ~ ~ 


Presentation of Cheque to Helping Hands, Rhymney

The choir was pleased to present this local charity (Rhymney Cancer Self-Help Group) with a cheque for £800. The presentation took place on Tuesday 15th November 2016 at Rhymney Comprehensive School. The donation was a result of the Celebration Concert held in July when Rhymney Silurian Male Choir and Rhymney Millennium Chorale joined forces to honour Mr Ralph Williams. Ralph has been Director of Music to choirs in Rhymney for fifty years.

Reading left to right -

Brian Roberts (Chairman Rhymney Silurian Male Choir)

Brian Russell (Chairman Rhymney Millennium Chorale)

Ann Darlington (Helping Hands)

Iris Roper (Helping Hands)

Derwyn Evans (Manager of Helping Hands) receiving the cheque

Ralph Williams (Musical Director of both Choirs)

Pam Jenkins (Treasurer Rhymney Silurian Male Choir) presenting the cheque

Pauline Jenkins (Secretary  Rhymney Millennium Chorale)

Noel Tippett (Treasurer Rhymney Millennium Chorale)

Bernard Jenkins (Secretary Rhymney Silurian Male Choir) 




Gala Concert

On Saturday 21st November 2016 Rhymney Silurian Male Choir held their Gala Concert at St David's Church, Rhymney . Guest Choir was Cantorion Cyfartha from Merthyr Tydfil with Musical Director Derry Prothero and accompanist Maureen Prothero.

Cantorion Cyfartha has a wide and varied repertoire and entertained the audience with a range of music, such as Adiemus, Mamma Mia, All that Jazz and Cantique de Jean Racine.

Rhymney Silurians delighted the audience with many of their favourite pieces including Hiraeth, African Trilogy, The Bells of Rhymney and a medley from Les Miserables.

On this occasion the choir celebrated three special awards - presented by the Chairman, Mr Brian Roberts.

Two long service badges were awarded to Mr Steven Lewis and to Mr Stephen Rees.

Life Membership was awarded to Mr Bernard Jenkins who has loyally served the choir for over forty years and is currently Choir Secretary.

Congratulations and well done, Gentlemen.




 Songs of Praise

The choir is currently appearing on BBC Songs of Praise - Sundays at 4 pm.