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Tredegar Band

Conductor: Ian Porthouse
Featuring: Bronwen Lewis
Onllwyn Miners' Welfare Hall
Saturday 19th January 2019

The Welsh are sometimes accused of being over-sentimental in their nostalgic recall of history; but they can also be hard and unyielding too.

For example, Onllwyn’s ‘Palace of Culture’ (the nickname given by miners to Welfare Halls) was both a production venue for the warm-hearted ‘Pride’ film, but also the fulcrum of community action during the 1984 Miners’ Strike - providing the base that fed 1000 families from three different valleys each day for over a year.  

Those twin aspects were certainly not far from the minds of the audience packed in for this enjoyable concert marking the centenary of the Miners’ Welfare Movement.

Activism and enjoyment

Tredegar was joined singer/songwriter Bronwen Lewis, who starred in the film (and who provided a wonderful counter balance) as well as two local male and feamle choirs, whilst the hall’s walls displayed an exhibition of a century of community based self-improvement, political activism and enjoyment - elements recalled by the informed compere Beverley Humphreys.

Ian Porthouse brought an impressive band to the stage with an easy listening programme that opened appropriately enough with the ‘Old Comrades’ march. 

The undoubted highlight however was the reprise of ‘Bread & Roses’ - sung as in the film by Bronwen with Tredegar’s accompaniment.  It was a moment of genuine emotional intensity.

Classy solos spots from Dewi Griffiths (‘Le Virgen de Macarena’), Danny Winder (joining him on ‘The Wind Beneath My Wings’), Martyn Patterson (‘Be My Love’) and Chris Davies (‘Evergreen’) were added to by the soprano feature ‘Legacy’ played by Ian Roberts - itself inspired the 70th anniversary of another mining community ideal for social betterment.

Emotional intensity

The undoubted highlight however was the reprise of ‘Bread & Roses’ - sung as in the film by Bronwen with Tredegar’s accompaniment.  It was a moment of genuine emotional intensity.

Elsewhere Tredegar slickly revved through the gears with ‘Le Corsaire’, ‘Hora Staccato’, Widor’s ‘Toccata’ and ‘Dance of the Tumblers’ and showed off style and tonality with ‘Blackbird Special’, ‘Shine as the Light’ and a deeply respectful miner’s hymn ‘Gresford’, before rounding things off with a touch of bombast and bonkerness with ‘Imperial Echoes’ and ‘MacArthur Park’.

It was a memorable evening to add to the countless others that have been held around the country at these remarkable ‘Palaces of Culture’ in the past century.  

Iwan Fox

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