Wrexham care home residents spellbound by American choirs

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A couple of hours after thrilling the audience at an international festival youngsters from two American award-winning choirs wowed a group of care home residents with a “spellbinding” performance.

The junior and youth sections of the Colombian Children’s Choirs from Seattle visited the Pendine Park Care Organisation in Wrexham as part of a reciprocal agreement with Llangollen’s International Musical Eisteddfod.

Among the events supported at Llangollen by the Pendine Arts and Community Trust (PACT) this year were inter-generational dementia music workshops attended by 1,100 children, the Pendine International Voice of the Future competition, and the concert by renowned tenor Rolando Villazón, who was making his first UK appearance of the year.

PACT was set up by Pendine Park proprietors Mario Kreft MBE and his wife, Gill, proprietors of the Pendine Park which supports numerous arts and community-based activities across Wales.

It has now become a tradition for one of the choirs competing at Llangollen to visit the park, but this was the first time for a youth choir to do so.

The Colombian Children’s Choirs were established 35 years ago by Steve Stevens, who is still the artistic director as well as being involved with other choirs in Seattle.

“I first came to Llangollen in 1979 and have been here about six times in total, four or five times with the Colombian Choirs,” he said.

“We always have a wonderful tour and I look forward to coming,” he said.

The choristers range in age from 11 to 18, and this year’s party comprises 47 members.

Though it was their first visit to Pendine Park the youngsters often perform in similar care homes in the Seattle area.

“We do enjoy doing this kind of thing and it’s nice knowing our singing is appreciated,” said 15-year-old Camille Brennan, who has been singing for 10 years.

Addison Hollomon, 17, a chorister for four years, last visited North Wales four years ago, and was equally happy appearing before the relatively small audience of about 25 Pendine residents.

“We do this quite a lot at home and the feedback is always good,” she said.

The choir’s tour co-ordinator, Lars Myren, 28, who will shortly take over as president of the choir’s Board of Trustees, feels a particularly close link with the International Eisteddfod.

“I first came here 16 years ago when the youth choir came second, so I have very happy memories,” he said.

Among the residents who appreciated the crystal-clear unaccompanied voices of the youngsters was 75-year-old Christine Jones, who has been at Pendine for 18 years.

“I loved it, and although I have heard lots of choirs I haven’t heard anything as good as that before,” she said.

“I enjoy singing, but only to myself,” she added.

Tony Ithel, 61, who is originally from Ellesmere Port and has been at Pendine for a couple of years, has visited the International Eisteddfod in the past and found the Colombian choirs spellbinding.

“It was really lovely,” he said.

Sarah Edwards, Pendine’s artist-in-residence, said music played a part in the organisation’s as it had been proved to be therapeutic as well as enjoyable.

“We have always got something musical going on including the 11-year project with the Halle Orchestra and Live Music Now, through which professional artistes come in to perform,” she said.

“This is the first time for a youth choir to come from Llangollen and it was clear how much they were appreciated.

“The arts in general and music in particular provide the golden thread that runs through everything we do at Pendine Park to enrich the lives of residents and staff across the generations.”