Rhondda vicar rekindles valley's musical heritage

Fr Paul Bigmore with poet Dr Grahame Davies, whose poem Departed is one of two set to music by Fr Bigmore and to be sung at the concert

A celebration concert is taking place this year to mark 15 fruitful years since the founding of a vicar's community music project.

Music in the Community was set up by Father Paul Bigmore, vicar of the parish of Ynyshir, to allow more people to get involved with learning and performing music.

The concert on October 20 will include the premiere performance of work composed by Fr Bigmore, including a hymn dedicated to the Archbishop of Wales and the settings of poems by two contemporary Welsh writers to music, the latter being performed by Neath soprano Shoshana Pavett .

The audience will also have the chance to hear one of the first performances of Welsh tenor Joshua Owen Mills, from Neath, since he won the MOSCA Young Welsh Singer of the Year Award at the end of September. This August, the talented singer became the first person ever to win two prestigious National Eisteddfod prizes in the same year, picking up the Towyn Roberts Scholarship and the Osborne Roberts Memorial.

The concert will feature additional music from the Cor y Cwm choir, which is made up of children from Rhondda valley schools.

It will also double as a celebration for the parish, which celebrates its 125th anniversary on the same weekend. An exhibition will be taking place at the concert venue, St Anne's Church, Ynyshir, from 11am to 3pm on October 19, featuring displays of parish records and local societies and groups which have been involved with the parish over the years.

There will also be a cake and savoury competition in the church hall on the same day. All entries have to be submitted between 6 and 7pm on Friday, October 18.

Fr Bigmore, who is presently studying post-graduate composition at the College, hopes the concert will be an opportunity to thank those who have been involved in making Music in the Community such a success.

He said, "Music in the Community has enabled thousands of people to engage with music and ministry, providing opportunities for academic studies and group activities. Its outreach programme, for example, has encouraged the revival of hymn singing in Wales and seen choristers from Canterbury Cathedral perform in the Rhondda and school children from Ynyshir perform at Canterbury Cathedral, in front of two archbishops.

"I am delighted that so many talented people are now able to perform at this concert and join us as we celebrate the gifts God has given us, making the Rhondda once again the home of excellent music."

Archbishop Barry Morgan, who presented Fr Paul with an honorary award for church music two years ago, says, "The Music in the Community initiative has touched the lives of many people, from all ages and cultures. It has brought them together, sharing in fellowship and widening their understanding of music as a vehicle for expression and communication. It has provided opportunities for people to experience the arts in new ways and has helped revive our spiritual heritage and culture. So I am delighted to join in its birthday celebrations."

The concert takes place at St Anne's Church, Ynyshir, on Sunday, October 20 at 3pm.

Tickets need to be ordered in advance to avoid disappointment. To obtain tickets either:
 Email: gbigmore@btinternet.com
 Phone: 01443 684148