I enjoy singing very much and have been singing regularly with various
groups since 2007. Before that I sang a bit on my own, but didn't really
have the confidence to sing in public. I particularly like songs in
Welsh, Irish and Scottish Gaelic.
At secondary school I sang in the school choir for a few years before I
took up the clarinet and joined the school band instead. A few years later
I got interested in traditional Irish and Scottish music, and I've been
listening to it ever since. I tried to learn some songs in Irish and Scottish
Gaelic, but only sang them on my own.
In 2004 I did a course in Irish language at Oideas
Gael, the Irish language and culture centre in Gleann Cholm Cille, Donegal
in the northwest of Ireland. As part of the activities there we sang songs in Irish,
which I really enjoyed, but it wasn't until the following year that I "found" my
singing voice. Since then I've been back there every year and I've regained the
confidence to sing in public. Since 2007 I've taken part in workshops in traditional Irish
sean-nós singing with Gearóidín Bhreathnach and
Lillis Ó Laoire at Oideas Gael.
Hammersmith Irish Centre
For a few months in 2007 I sang with a group lead by J Eoin at the
Hammersmith Irish Centre
in London. We sang traditional and contemporary songs from Ireland in
English, and we did one performance in Hammersmith tube station to raise
money for a local hospital. Eventually I decided that going to London every week
was taking up too much of my time and money, so I decided to look for choirs
to join in Brighton, where I was living at the time.
In January 2008 I joined the Brighton
Welsh Male Voice Choir and the Brighton Vox Community Choir. The male voice
choir performs regularly in Brighton and the surrounding area to raise money for
various charities - during the six months I was in the choir we did no fewer than
seven concerts. We sang songs from Wales in Welsh and English, as well as songs
from films, musicals and other sources. The community choir sings songs from all
over the world in many different languages, including English, French, Croatian,
Zulu, Xhosa and Saami, but rarely performs in public
In July 2008 I moved to Bangor in Wales and not long after that I joined the
Bangor Community Choir and the Bangor
University Music Society Choir. The music society choir performs once or twice a term,
usually in the university, and sings a mixture of songs - folk songs, songs from
films, classical pieces and contemporary works by the likes of Karl Jenkins and
John Rutter. The community choir sings songs from all over the world, especially
from Eastern Europe and southern Africa, in many different languages. We perform several
times a term around North Wales, and have sung with many other choirs in
Sing for Water events to raise money for
WaterAid in North Wales, Manchester and London.
In August 2008 I did a course in Scottish Gaelic songs with
Christine Primrose at
Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (SMO), the Gaelic College
on the Isle of Skye. Within the space of a week we learnt over 30 songs even though
most of the people in the group knew no Gaelic, so found the pronunication of the
words quite tricky. My Gaelic wasn't fluent at the time, but I did know how to pronounce the words and could
have a basic conversation. In August 2012 I went back to SMO
for a course in waulking songs (òrain luaidh) mouth music
(puirt-à-beul) with Christine Primrose. My spoken Gaelic
was also better by then and I was able to have more detailed conversations.
I returned to SMO in August 2013 for a course in Gaelic Song and Traditions
with Mary Ann Kennedy.
I have taken part in a number of singing workshops with choir leaders from
the UK, USA and Australia to learn songs from all over the world, as well as
Handel's Messiah, Mozart's Requiem and Gregorian chants. I have also taken
part in Joy of Singing, a small group singing class run by Pauline Down,
the former conductor of the Bangor Community Choir.
Criw Bangor (Welsh Learners' Choir)
From 2009 to 2010 I sang with Criw Bangor, the Bangor Welsh
Learners' Choir, which is made up of people who are studying or who have studied Welsh in
Bangor at the University's School of Lifelong Learning.
Although I haven't done a Welsh course there, I did do a Bangor University Welsh course at
Nant Gwrtheyrn in 2008. The choir sings Welsh folk songs, and Welsh versions of other songs, and performs
in eisteddfodau in North Wales, and also in the National Eisteddfod when
it takes place in North Wales. In 2009 we won choral competitions at local
eisteddfodau in Amlwch and Llandegfan, and at the National Eisteddfod in Bala.
We also sang in Bangor Cathedral in December 2009. In May 2010 we came third in
the choir competition at the Anglesey Eisteddfod in Llangefni.
In March 2012 I starting writing songs, and was
inspired to have a go after taking part in a poetry writing workshop. My first
effort, The Elephant Song, in fact started as
a poem, but later became a song.
In 2012 I joined the 'One Heart Voice Workshop', a.k.a. the Crazy
Choir or Silly Singing - a small group of people who get together
twice a month and to sing songs we all know, to improvise harmonies
to such songs, and to improvise songs from scratch. We aim to raise
money for the One Heart charity, which helps homeless people in Bangor.
In 2013 I joined the MS Choir,
a small group founded in March 2013 to give people with MS, and their families
and friends, opportunities to sing together. We have performed in Bangor and Mold
and raise money the the Multiple Sclerosis
Society. The founder of the choir, who works for the local MS society, also
sings in the Bangor Community Choir and recruited me for the MS Choir as they
needed more men.