A top women’s barbershop choir from Warrington have been appointed Ambassadors to sing the praises of an iconic music festival.
The Cheshire Chords Company has been cutting a dash in the world of acapella singing for more than 20 years and now it has signed up to a scheme to bring the historic Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod to a wider audience.
The event will be held for the 70th time this July and the Chords will be there hoping to replicate their success of 2014 when they were crowned barbershop champions after finishing third and second in the previous two years.
And now the Cheshire Chords Company has become official Llangollen Ambassadors as part of an exciting new venture in which long-time Eisteddfod supporters and regular competitors are being recruited to become honorary representatives for the event.
Anyone from their area interested in competing at the festival, or simply enjoying the legendary atmosphere as a visitor, can get in touch with the Ambassadors by e-mail to get all the inside information they need.
Cheshire Chord Company spokeswoman Janine Gilbert said: “Coming to Llangollen is a real highpoint for the choir as it’s so friendly and we get to perform on a world stage.”
The choir was formed in 1993 by a group of friends from the Warrington and Lymm areas with a passion for singing and has steadily grown in size and stature.
Most members live in and around Warrington but others travel from Liverpool, the Wirral, Preston, Blackpool, Stafford and North Wales for the choir’s regular Thursday evening rehearsal sessions at the Beaumont Academy in Warrington.
“Our musical director Jo Braham, who has been with us since 2011, comes over every week from her home in Leeds,” added Janine.
“Choir members range in age from just 10 to 60-plus and we work hard to achieve very high standards while having a great deal of fun along the way, enjoying the great friendships that we share.
“As members of the Ladies Association of British Barbershop Singers (LABBS) we sing in the barbershop style and have competed very successfully in UK and European barbershop competitions over many years.
“Our last major international event was in Holland in 2013 and we’ve been national barbershop choir competition winners for seven years, the last time in 2014.
“We pride ourselves on the quality of our singing as well as our performance skills, telling the story of the song and, where the number calls for it, adding slick choreographed moves worked out by two of our members.
“We sing songs by artists from Elbow to Barbra Streisand, the Beatles and many others, as well as well-known show and traditional barbershop songs arranged for today’s audiences with a modern twist.
“Jo has brought with her a wealth of experience, boundless energy and enthusiasm as well as a real passion for close harmony barbershop.
“We find ourselves singing to a wide range of audiences in a variety of settings, anything from the London Palladium to Golden Square Shopping Centre in Warrington.
“The types of events we sing at include competitions, private bookings, corporate, charity fundraising events and even Warrington Hospital wards to sing to the patients.
“Wherever we sing and whoever we are singing to we aim to delight our audiences and let our music and performance take them on a special journey.”
Janine explained that Cheshire Chord Company’s trio of successes at Llangollen came on their first competition appearance in 2011 when they took third place in barbershop, 2012 when they finished second and 2014 when they eventually sang their way to first place.
She said: “We’re delighted to become official Llangollen Ambassadors because we really enjoy competing at the festival and want to share it with others – competitors, performers or visitors.
“It’s always very friendly and we love to sing on such a big stage with its audience coming from around the world.
“Last time we were there in 2014 it was quite a poignant occasion for us because we had 15 new members – including myself – who had never sung in public before but it was a great place to make your performance debut – and it helped that we won.
“We’re all looking forward to coming back to Llangollen this year, especially as it’s the 70th Eisteddfod.”
Llangollen 2016 Chairman Rhys Davies said: “We’re thrilled that Cheshire Chords have agreed to be Ambassadors for the festival to spread the word about what a wonderful event it is.
“They will be able to give people in the Warrington area an inside track on what it means to attend, where to go and what to see and even how to enter any of our competitions.
“Most of all they can tell them how friendly Llangollen is and about the fantastic carnival atmosphere as this little town welcomes the world each July.”
Ticket sales for the concerts at this year’s Eisteddfod are already going well, especially for the opening night when superstar Katherine Jenkins gets the programme off to a sensational start as she sings Bizet’s Carmen opposite acclaimed New York tenor Noah Stewart.
Wednesday will be International Children’s Day and will include choral and dance competitions and also a new Under 16s solo competition while the evening will feature the Voices of Musical Theatre with West End star Kerry Ellis and classical boy band Collabro.
The great Bryn Terfel will headline the 70th Classical Gala Concert on Thursday evening with top tenor Joseph Calleja while the day will see the crowning of the Children’s Choir of the World.
Friday will celebrate Rhythms of the World and will be a feast of music and dance from the best of the Eisteddfod’s international competitors with the Dance Champions of the World competition climax at the evening concert.
It will open with a Caribbean Carnival Extravaganza, followed by the International Peace message delivered by Theatr yr Ifanc, Rhosllannerchrugog.
In a change of the scheduling Friday will also see the Parade of Nations, led by Eisteddfod President Terry Waite, switched from Tuesday in anticipation of bigger crowds and more competitors being present.
Saturday is dedicated to the top choirs and concludes with the Choir of the World competition for the Pavarotti Trophy while Sunday sees the Eisteddfod let its hair down for Llanfest before the climactic final concert by Jools Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra.
To book tickets and for more details on the 2016 festival go to the website at www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk
For all the inside information about Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, contact official Ambassadors, Cheshire Chord Company, by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org