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From Russian vigils to American spirituals: Cantemus on BBC In Tune

We had a wonderful experience this evening performing live on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune programme, a special edition forming part of the BBC’s coverage of Cardiff Singer of the World 2015. We were sharing the airwaves with some illustrious company; Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Rosemary Joshua and Iestyn Davies, not to mention some fantastic up-and-coming young opera singers from the RWCMD.

We arrived at the Dora Stoutzker Hall just before 4pm, and after a quick sound-check in the hall, it was off to one of the rehearsal rooms for a final run-through. We’d chosen four contrasting pieces to perform – two movements from Rachmaninov’s atmospheric Vespers, which we’d recently performed in Llandaff Cathedral, the traditional Welsh lullaby, Suo Gân (arranged by our former Director, Rob Court), and Moses’ Hogan’s lively spiritual, Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel.

After a hasty change into our usual concert black, we were ushered onto the stage, careful not to trip over anything or cough ostentatiously, as the programme was already on air. As we waited for our turn, we were treated to a gorgeous recital from the young Welsh bass-baritone, Emyr Wyn Jones. After a quick introduction from presenter Sean Rafferty, it was straight into the Rachmaninov – a pleasure to sing in the lovely Dora Stoutzker acoustic – followed by Suo Gân after a break for the news.

It was fantastic to receive some great compliments from Sean and Rosemary Joshua, who stayed on to listen to Suo Gân and described it afterwards as “absolutely beautiful” and “gorgeous”. All our soloists acquitted themselves brilliantly, particularly soprano Helen Pugsley, who delivered the exposed opening lines of Suo Gân without a trace of nerves.

Sean Rafferty and Rosemary Joshua give their verdict

Sean Rafferty then interviewed Huw, who gave a quick history of the choir and its future plans – Tabernacl concert on 4th July, anyone? – and then it was time for our upbeat closing number, Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel, which has long been a favourite with Cantemus members and concert-goers alike. Our soloists Tabitha Rodway, Helen Pugsley and Sarah Bowen pulled off some stratospherically high notes, which went down a storm with the warm and appreciative audience in the hall.

The show over, it was off to the bar for a celebratory drink or two, followed by a trip to the Juboraj curry house for some well-earned refuelling. All in all a very special way to spend a Friday evening; thanks to the BBC for inviting us, Huw for conducting us, and, of course, everyone who tuned in!



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