What are some characteristics of Welsh singing and repertoire?
Vowel sounds are very broad in the Welsh language. Also, the rolling of the “r”s helps to make the tongue mobile. For choirs looking to sing a Welsh song, definitely sing Anfonaf angel by Robat Arwyn.
Choir Name: Hims and Arias
Location: Llanhari Mid Glamorgan
Number of singers: 20
Visit our website!
What is something you do in rehearsals that surprises new members?
Focus boards and memory tests!
Tell us more about focus boards!
Each member from time to time brings in a cutting or picture to stick on a shared board. They are welcome to bring in pretty much anything from vacation pictures to pictures of the winner’s cup. We hope that this imagery sits in the mind as we sing!
And you mentioned memory tests?
Yes! I use lists of twenty objects, related to the lyrics in a song we are learning, which have to be memorized by using this method: 1=tree 2=light switch 3=stool 4=car 5=glove etc. Then, I use imagery to connect the memorized words to pictures in the lyrics so they can visualize what they are singing and have a deeper connection to it.
Can you share a specific piece where this method was helpful?
Whilst singing Anfonaf Angel by Robat Arwyn, the choir realized that they really could connect to the text, and honor more of the dynamics in the piece singing quietly when called for. This was well executed in our competition at the Cornwall International Male Choir competition where we reached 5th place out of 17 choirs, which we were very proud of.
Any particularly emotional moments in a performance?
We once sang at a choir member’s 80th surprise birthday party. It was very emotional. We sang ‘Tell My Father’, as this was his favourite piece, as well as ‘What A Wonderful World’.
Your choir is known for producing a sound far greater than its numbers- what do you do to achieve this?
I work really hard on diaphragmatic breathing and relaxing neck chin shoulders and chest area. Also, it is good practice to be careful with dynamics at all times.
We heard you have a buddy system, can you tell us more?
The buddy system is quite simply a new chorister sits with a more experienced member and picks up tips from that member. It is quite effective and helps members bond.
A challenging performance and how you faced it.
The Cornwall Competition, definitely. We faced it bravely and with a lot of optimism throughout. Extra rehearsals were a bonus to help us feel that much more prepared.
What was one lesson you learned from being in a competition?
A favorite inspirational quote
Don’t sweat the small stuff.
A funny moment in rehearsal
Learning how to dance! Though we later realized on stage dance may not be for us…
Any stories about a composer/arranger you like to share with your choir?
The tortured life of Tchaikowsky.
A favorite piece of repertoire & why
We have two! ‘Every Time I Feel the Spirit’ and ‘Anfonaf Angel’. Both tap into emotions. The former is very uplifting, and guardian angel shows the need for love and support.
Meryn Williams, Director of Hims and Arias, studied at Cardiff University and is currently working for Royal Academy of Dance as a workshop/examination accompanist. Principally an accompanist, she has also directed choirs since the age of 18. Williams keeps her life filled with music, and is currently running a singing project for Gwanwyn at the Riverfront Theatre Newport.