Caernarfon community choir tunes up to sing for hometown audience at Galeri fundraiser

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Members of Cor Dre Caernarfon meet Gwynfor Jones of Pendine Park at Bryn Seiont in Caernarfon. From left, Catrin Roberts, Tanya Lewis, Manon Owen and Sian Wheway.

A North Wales community choir which hits the high notes at home and overseas is to celebrate its tenth anniversary by hosting a glittering charity concert.

Côr Dre Caernarfon, which was formed by a group of twenty-somethings to give voice to their mutual love of music, aims to thrill a hometown audience with its gala event at the Galeri on Saturday, March 24.

Members of Cor Dre Caernarfon meet Gwynfor Jones of Pendine Park at Bryn Seiont in Caernarfon. From left, Catrin Roberts, Tanya Lewis, Manon Owen and Sian Wheway.

They are raising money for Tŷ Enfys which provides accommodation for the parents of children being cared for in the special care baby unit at Ysbyty Gwynedd.

Before that the choir has another important date when it sings for residents at the Bryn Seiont Newydd dementia centre of excellence in Caernarfon.

According to committee member Manon Owen, the choir was formed at the end of 2007 by a small group of local people in their twenties.

She said: “They were a mixture of people already living in Caernarfon and others who had recently moved back to the area after attending university who had a love of singing in common.

“We are a mixed community choir mixed rather than a professional one and anyone is welcome to join.

“At the moment there are just over 50 members, roughly 60% female and 40% male, and the age range varies from 18 to around 35.

“Members come from a variety of professions. We have a number of teachers and lecturers, a few pharmacists, two doctors, engineers, lawyers, media workers, an artist, office workers a couple of music students in the ranks.

“Most of our members live in Caernarfon but others travel from places like Bangor and Anglesey and nearby villages.

“Some members have also learnt Welsh as adults and one of our members originally comes from Texas, USA. A few choir members are partners or married couples.

“We perform a wide variety of songs, including light classics, folk and classical, as well as popular music. We have sung in Welsh, English, Latin and even Swahili.”

Côr Dre Caernarfon has appeared at the Pan Celtic Festival in Ireland on many occasions and won numerous prizes there including Choir of the Festival in 2015.

Last year the choir made it through to the semi-final of the Côr Cymru competition on S4C and performed for a 20,000-strong audience in Edinburgh during the Scottish Referendum campaign.

They have also had many successes in the National Eisteddfod over the past years and also try to support local eisteddfods.

Caernarfon choirs join together for the annual Christmas concert in St Mary’s Church and last year it was Côr Dre’s turn to organise the event which raised money for Ty Enfys.

The same good cause will benefit from the Gala Concert at the Galeri on March 24.

Starting at 7.30pm, this will feature Côr Dre accompanied by Welsh folk band Ar Log and singer/songwriter Dewi Pws. Presenter for the evening will be well-known Welsh actor Dewi Rhys who has appeared in Welsh soaps Pobol y Cwm and Rownd a Rownd.

Manon added: “We are currently recording a CD – as yet untitled – which will hopefully be for sale at the concert and many of our songs on the night will be taken from that.

“We hope to raise as much money as possible for Ty Enfys, which is an excellent cause which we are delighted to support as many of our members have young children of their own.

“Another major event to which we are very much looking forward is when we sing for residents at Bryn Seiont Newydd in Caernarfon.

“Again, we’ll be performing songs from our new CD. We love singing at new and different venues and I understand that music acts as a great therapy for people with dementia.”

Nia Davies-Williams, Bryn Seiont’s musician in residence, said: “We’re thrilled to be having such a talented and well-known choir as Côr Dre coming to sing for us.

“We know music works very well for people with dementia and other mental health issues.

“Just because older people are in care doesn’t mean they have to be deprived of high quality entertainment, and many of our residents will have regularly attended concerts in earlier years, which is why we have arranged this visit as part of our enrichment programme.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Bryn Seiont Newydd manager Sandra Evans who said: “We believe in enriching the lives of residents through the arts and we know that one of the last parts of the brain to be affected by dementia is the one which recognizes music and every part of the brain lights up when someone hears it.

“It’s an important part of the Pendine Park ethos that we use the arts to enrich the lives of people across the generations. Our enrichment programme involves art in all its forms including music, poetry, storytelling and painting.

“The arts are embedded in all our staff training programmes to ensure that enrichment is a part of daily life for everybody here.

“We’re delighted to be supporting Côr Dre Caernarfon as they reach such an important milestone in their history.”

Tickets for the Gala Concert at the Galeri are available for £15 and £12.50 concessions and can be bought from the Galeri ticket office on 01286 685 250, or its website at http://galericaernarfon.com/eng/whats-on-selected.php?show-id=873581165