Last Saturday saw a much-anticipated return of live musical performance to The Follies Theatre at Folly Farm with the rotary Club of Narberth & Whitland holding their annual charity concert.
Despite the audience being smaller than usual, over 200 people were entertained with an eclectic collection of artists, both locally and internationally acclaimed.
Hosting the event and the man responsible for its inception was N&W’s own impresario, Rotarian John Hughes who, along with Rotarian Phil Thompson (main liaison with Folly Farm) ensured that the performances flowed freely and effortlessly.
Opening the show, treating us all to a virtuoso performance on the marimba, was Carys Underwood. Aged just 18 years Carys, a former pupil at Ysgol y Preseli has been performing publicly since the age of 10, is a member of the National Youth Percussion Orchestra and a student at the Royal Welsh School of Music & Drama at Cardiff. Additionally, she is an ambassador for PercWorks, an educational site for young percussionists.
Following on from Carys was Ffion Thomas, another former pupil of Ysgol y Preseli who sang a variety of traditional songs in both English and Welsh. Ffion is also a student at the Cardiff School of Music & Drama and was the winner of Rotary’s Young Musician (Vocal) at local, regional and South Wales levels in 2020. Unfortunately, because of Covid the National Finals, for which she was tipped to win could not be held.
Next to perform was the Whitland Male Voice Choir. One of the oldest in the country, the choir should have been celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2020 but because of the Covid pandemic had to cancel some 19 events during the last 18 months and had to resort to “virtual” practice sessions via “Zoom”. The choir led by their Musical Director Mrs Hefina Jones and accompanied on the piano by Owain Lewis sang some very fine renditions of traditional welsh songs – plus a more contemporary version of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” during which the choristers demonstrated some interesting dance moves!
The first half of the show was closed by the headline act, Richard and Adam Johnson, the “Britain’s Got Talent” finalists from 2013. Hailing from Holywell in Flintshire, the brothers who perform professionally as “Richard & Adam” are classical singers whose debut album “The Impossible Dream” topped the UK Albums Chart, certifying as a gold release selling in excess of 100,000 copies. They treated the audience to a superb performance, clearly demonstrating their harmonising vocal skills with a repertoire that included favourites such as “The Power of Love” and “Nessum Dorma” plus a selection of songs from Wales’ favourite heart-throb Sir Tom Jones. Close your eyes and one could have been listening to Bryn Terfel, Alfie Boe or Luciano Pavarotti themselves!
Following the interval, the audience was again treated to excellent performances from Carys, Ffion and the Whitland Male Voice Choir, together with a very fine recital from another young local vocalist, Phebe Salmon, a resident of Dinas Cross and student of the
Performing Arts at Coleg Sir Gar whose repertoire encompassed both traditional and more contemporary pieces.
Finally, the show was closed by another rousing performance from Richard & Adam, raising the roof with their rich tenor voices and earning a raucous standing ovation from the very appreciative audience who were not at all keen to let them go until they had performed their signature song “The Impossible Dream”. After playing at Folly Farm the brothers are shortly to embark on a Caribbean Tour where the weather will be a lot warmer than here in Pembrokeshire!
All told, the night was a very entertaining and much anticipated return of live music to The Follies Theatre that was greatly enjoyed by the very appreciative audience. It was also a successful fund-raising event for the main charity chosen for support, Wales Air Ambulance with significant funds being raised from a combination of ticket sales, raffle and hiring of soft seat cushions for delicate derrieres!
Narberth and Whitland Rotary are very grateful to Folly Farm for hosting the concert, to their main sponsors Gravells Kia, Narberth and Powells Cottage Holidays, Saundersfoot and to everyone who supported the event by purchasing tickets, advertising in the programme, buying raffle tickets, donating prizes, indeed helping in any way.
Press Officer Narberth & Whitland Rotary
* The Rotary Club of Narberth & Whitland is a dual-gender club that welcomes enquiries from potential new members and can be contacted via their website at www.nwrotary.co.uk
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