A venue acclaimed as the world capital of choral singing will play host to a show-stopping St David’s Day concert featuring the world famous Rhos Male Voice Choir.
The concert will be at The Stiwt theatre, built in in Rhosllannerchrugog near Wrexham, in the 1920s thanks to the blood, sweat and tears of miners from Wales’s biggest village.
The Stiwt is home turf to the legendary choir which celebrated its 125th anniversary last year, making it even older than the venue which was 90 in 2016 and which has become a Welsh cultural icon since being brought back from the verge of demolition by popular demand in 1999.
The theatre has also become the base for three of the six top quality choirs which hail from the village, including the Rhos Male Voice Choir who will star in the concert to mark the national saint’s day of Wales on the evening of Friday March 3.
The famous Sirenian Singers from Wrexham will guest on the same glittering bill along with the young stars of the Wrexham County Youth Choir.
Geraint Phillips, secretary of the Rhos Male Voice Choir, said: “We’ve been organising a concert to celebrate St David’s Day for the past few years and, as it’s the place where we have our weekly rehearsals, we always put it on at the Stiwt, which is a marvellously atmospheric venue.
“Of course, we’re not the only local choir to make it our home. There are six of them from the immediate area, including three male, two mixed and one ladies, and half of them hold their regular rehearsals at the Stiwt, which must mean it has a great claim to be the world capital of choral singing!
“There’s a very strong choral tradition in Rhos, which has much to do with the area’s mining and chapel-going heritage.
“The choir was started back in 1891 and there’s a lovely story known by a few of our members that in the early days miners at a local pit used to sing at the end of their shift as they came up in the cage.
“You had this wonderful rich sound coming up from the bowels of the earth and woe betide anyone who dared to open the gates before they’d finished.”
That togetherness has made the choir formidable in competition and Geraint added: “The Rhos choir has gone on to win national and international acclaim.
“It has achieved first prize at the National Eisteddfod of Wales many times, won at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, twice won the BBC Radio Choir of the Year competition, been successful in the HTV Festival of Welsh Choral Music and won the Gold Award for the best choir at the Glarner Music Festival in Switzerland where they defeated 112 other contenders.
“We’re all very much looking forward to the St David’s Day event at the Stiwt as it’s the most local concert date we do.
“As usual the programme will have a strong Welsh flavour to reflect the special occasion.”
Rhos MVC’s musical director, James Llewelyn Jones, said: “It’s going to be an exciting event.
“Sirenians are one of the top mixed choirs in the country so it will be fantastic to collaborate with them at the concert.
“The evening’s programme will be a real mixture of user-friendly music with a lot of traditional Welsh hymns and other favourites.
“We also hope to do a couple of songs with the Sirenians such as Cym Rhondda.”
Gareth Lloyd, a member of the Board of the Stiwt, said: “The choral tradition here in Rhos is quite remarkable and I doubt anywhere else in the world is the home of quite so much singing talent.
“Its spiritual home is the Stiwt, built by the village’s miners just as the tradition of singing in choirs was and it has survived the end of mining here and is as strong as ever.
“That community bond is what has kept the Stiwt going and we’re very much part of the community here still with an exciting and diverse programme of events and activities here every week.”
They range from dance and fitness classes and a range of adult education programmes as well as film clubs and other activities and a range of performances and shows from drama to wrestling.
Also appearing at the St David’s Concert as guests of Rhos MVCs will be the famous Sirenian Singers, founded in 1990 by celebrated conductor Jean Stanley Jones MBE, and known for their unique sound and promotion of contemporary Welsh music.
They are also British and international winners with a roll call of success at choral competitions at Budapest, Cork, Riva del Garda, Elgar Festival, Worcester, and Choir of Choirs Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Freckleton and Peterborough.
In 2011 they swept the board at the Bangor International Choral Festival in Northern Ireland, winning four first prizes and the prestigious Choir of Choirs award.
At home they have successes at the National Eisteddfod, Aberteifi Festival, and have twice won the mixed competition at Llangollen where they were the first Welsh choir to win the Choir of the World Trophy in 1998.
The Sirenians have given concerts at leading venues in the UK and Europe and appeared with Lesley Garrett, Sir Bryn Terfel, Rebecca Evans, Dennis O’Neill, Catrin Finch and Philip Madoc.
The Stiwt is home to a beautiful 490 seat proscenium arch theatre plus three flexible event spaces, built and maintained by and for its local community.
It was first opened on September 25 1926 and completely re-built and re-opened in 1999. Last year it celebrated its 90th birthday.
The Stiwt is a registered charity and is run by the Stiwt Arts Trust Ltd.
The St David’s Concert on Friday March 3, starts at 7pm. Tickets, which are on sale now, are £10, students £5. To book and for more details contact the Stiwt on 01978 841300 or go to www.stiwt.com