IT PROVED to be a whirlwind of success over a recent weekend for Bethesda Community Choir.

On the Saturday, they made the coach trip to Tewkesbury to perform a charity concert at the town’s Holy Trinity church. Having performed there to a standing ovation two years ago, the choir returned at the request of the (now former) Mayor and presented its audience with a number of favourites from last time, as well as a host of new numbers. Once again, the response was extremely enthusiastic, leaving the choir members feeling buoyant and exhausted on the coach trip home.

Then, just 24 hours later, the choir performed on more familiar soil (or boards at least) when they again closed the Dinas Powys Music Festival, at the Parish Hall. The programme, largely the second half of the Tewkesbury concert, comprised mainly of songs from musicals with a spiritual intonation. Under the baton of Musical Director-come-stand-up-comedian Mark Thompson, the choir thrilled its audience once more, culminating in another standing ovation for its performance of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.

The real highlight was undoubtedly the taking to the stage by former Zimbabwe cricketer, Henry Olonga, during the second half. For 40 minutes or more, the man who was forced from his homeland for defying the Mugabe regime held the audience spellbound with tales of his childhood, his faith and the sound of THAT voice.

To hear him sing is a real experience. Everything was covered from opera to African folk to Nat King Cole. All delivered with perfection, humility and humour. By the time he finished the evening by joining the choir for O Happy Day and the Hallelujah Chorus, everyone in the audience was in no doubt that they had witnessed something very special, and everyone in the choir knew they had been part of something they would treasure for a long time to come.

The choir will now take a well earned rest before returning to the stage in Barry during July. Details to be published nearer to the time.