There was a triumphant homecoming for three sons of a famous mining village at a packed concert to celebrate the 90th anniversary of Rhos’s celebrated Stiwt.
The event’s climax saw five choirs, 230 singers, combine for a magnificent finale with the sell-out audience joining in under the baton of top conductor Owain Arwel Hughes.
Hughes, best known for his TV work with the BBC was also joined on stage for the evening by two more local boys, internationally renowned pianist Llyr Williams and promoter Stifyn Parr, as well as by TV weathergirl Sian Lloyd, at the magnificently renovated theatre, built in 1926 by donations from the local miners.
And backing them in a choral extravaganza were the choirs of a village with a rich musical heritage, ranging from the youngsters of Ysgol I D Hooson through Cor Merched women’s choir, Cantorion Rhos, the Rhos Male Voice and Rhos Orpheus Choirs and Cor Ger y Ffin.
BBC star Owain, whose father, Arwel, was from Rhos and was also a famous conductor, brought the adult choirs together for the rousing curtain call which climaxed with the song his father composed on the platform of Shrewsbury Station, Tydi A Roddaist, Thou Hast Given.
He said: “It was just really good and very well organised so the choirs came on and off smoothly and I conducted them all together at the end. It was an excellent night and the Stiwt was packed.
“It was great to be back in Rhos where I used to spend my summers as a boy. The Stiwt is a wonderful theatre and looked absolutely beautiful, it’s been wonderfully renovated.
“It was a special night all round for everyone.”
The compere for the evening was Stifyn Parri, former Brookside TV star whose events and marketing company Mr Producer has staged major productions like the Welsh Ryder Cup opening gala concert.
The book, Mansion for Miners, written by Dr Kathryn Ellis and Peter Bolton, was also launched at the anniversary concert and more than 100 copies were sold.
The book tells the story of Theatr Stiwt from its opening on September 25, 1926, and its reopening following refurbishment on the September 25, 1999.
The concert opened with the children of Ysgol I D Hooson singing Can y Rhos, Song of Rhos, which was specially commissioned when Theatr Stiwt’s committee put on a community show in 1990 and Board member Myrddin Davies said: “At that time we had no plaster on the walls and no seating due to renovations taking place.
Myrddin, a retired industrial chemist, who has lived in Rhos all his life, said: “We try to hold the anniversary concert as close to September 25th every year.
“The 90th anniversary show was a wonderful evening of spellbinding music although getting five choirs on stage was a logistical nightmare. I think the jigsaw finally came together and we enjoyed a sensational evening.
“It was wonderful to have a sell-out audience. Everyone was ecstatic and I was happy to see so many people leaving the theatre really pleased that they had enjoyed a wonderful evening.
“The concert was a sell-out and hopefully this is another rebirth of the theatre, we are already planning the 100th anniversary concert in 10 years’ time.
“However, we need to put bums on seats if we are to carry on the vision of our forefathers who launched this wonderful theatre.
“As a board we have to concentrate on youth, youth theatre and schools if we are to survive and celebrate our 100th anniversary.
“Stifyn Parri, who hails from Rhos, held the concert together fantastically well and was a brilliant host for the evening. He is bringing his one man show, which is all about his life and career, to Rhos during our autumn season.”
Owain’s father, Arwel was born in Rhos and Owain’s grandfather and great-uncle were among the miners who paid tuppence a week from their meagre wages to build and maintain the 490-seat theatre.
Owen, whose distinguished career included conducting the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and presenting music programmes on the BBC, added: “You could see the Stiwt from the family home, Arwelfa, and it was a place I’ve known since I was a little boy so there was no doubt about it when I was asked to support it.
“It’s vitally important that venues like this should be supported and while this one is personal to me, these places give young people with talent somewhere to perform and get experience and hopefully inspire others to take up all forms of music, theatre and the arts.”
Myrddin Davies added: “I like to think the theatre is very important to Rhos. For my generation it was the heart of the community. Before television we had the theatre or the cinema. We had the best.
“Since restoration we have put on an eclectic mix of productions but we need to sell tickets if we are to survive.
“We are ready to launch our autumn programme the highlights of which are The Good Earth by Motherlode Theatre with music by Mared, the Bryn Terfel Scholarship Competition which will be televised live from Rhos and of course our pantomime which this year is Cinderella.”
For more information on what’s happening at The Stiwt go to www.stiwt.com/