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We can't wait to see what the reaction to the TV show will be - there's something for everyone here; They shot to national stardom when they were runners-up on the BBC's Last Choir Standing. Now Ysgol Glanaethwy have landed their own six-part TV series. Karen Price speaks to the man behind the baton, Cefin Roberts.

Byline: Cefin Roberts

CEFIN and Rhian Roberts already manage two hugely successful young people's choirs which have amassed awards.

But as if life wasn't busy enough they are now putting together a third group which will be unveiled during a new six-part TV series about the couple's Bangor-based performing school, Ysgol Glanaethwy.

The school's senior choir for 14 to 19-year-olds was famously runner up to Only Men Aloud! on the BBC's Last Choir Standing. After wowing judges in Wales in competitions like the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod it was the chance for them to shine on a national stage. This year they will be given an international platform when they compete in the World Choir Games (formerly named the Choir Olympics) - the largest choir competition in the world, which is taking place in China.

The junior choir, which caters for children aged eight to 13 and is conducted by Rhian, is equally as successful, winning accolades such as the children's category in Sainsbury's Choir of the Year and singing in the Schools Proms at London's Royal Albert Hall.

Now the couple are launching Da Capo for former students aged 25 to 35.

"I've always been interested in having a new choir with established singers," says Cefin, who opened Ysgol Glanaethwy with Rhian in 1990.

"Members of children's and youth choirs grow up and leave you and move on to other choirs. I thought it would be nice to have an adult choir.

"We are still evolving but we have brought 12 singers together to be in the new group who are all our former students."

Da Capo will be unveiled on the TV series, Glanaethwy, which starts on S4C this week.

"We are looking forward to seeing what the reaction will be. If people are interested we would think about establishing it full time as a new choir.

"I think there's a need for the particular kind of sound they will be creating."

Da Capo will be focusing on close harmony work and arrangements of popular songs like You've Got A Friend and Son Of A Preacher Man as well as Welsh songs. S4C approached TV production company Rondo Media about making a documentary on the choirs and the Roberts were delighted with the chance to have their own series.

Cefin says it will have a "Last Choir Standing feel to it" as the choirs will perform a variety of songs each week, from musicals to folk and pop music to choreographed routines.

"It's a great opportunity for us to evolve our repertoire further and develop the skills that we honed for Last Choir Standing, such as the choreography which you don't use when you are competing."

Cefin is pleased with the way in which choral singing in general is progressing, such as the National Eisteddfod launching a competition for choirs with a light entertainment category.

"I think it's great for choirs and it's a way you will get more young people involved in making music as they will see you're not just singing Handel and Mozart."

Programme producer Robin Evans describes Glanaethwy as "pure entertainment, from start to finish".

He says: "We were extremely busy, recording 36 songs at the Barcud studios in Caernarfon.

"Some of the school's former pupils - many of whom are now professional performers - have also been busy, producing videos for the series.

"And there will also be quite a lot of dancing.

"We filmed the gorgeous song composed by Caryl Parry Jones, Nos yng Nghaer Arianrhod at Belan Fort near Caernarfon.

"And the song Mab y Mans (a translation of the famous Dusty Springfield number, Son of a Preacher Man) was done at Borth y Gest.

"There's something to suit everyone here, with performances by the senior choir, the junior choir, individuals and a group of former pupils."

As well as his work with the choirs, Cefin has a "day job" - running Welsh-language theatre company Theatre Genedlaethol Cymru.

While the family home is in Bangor, he spends his working week in Carmarthen, which is where the theatre is based.

Next month they will begin touring Wales with a Welsh language production of Harold Pinter's classic, The Caretaker.

"It was translated back in the '70s and is a great translation. I think Pinter has had a strong influence on Welsh playwrights." Cefin also manages to fit writing novels into his hectic schedule, with his second book, Cymer y Seren published just before Christmas.

"I'm working on a couple of new novels now," he says. "Music and writing are my hobbies. I relax when I'm with the choir. It's not work at all for me. It's just a pleasure."

The first part of Glanaethwy is on S4C on Friday at 9pm. For full details of Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru, visit


SUCCESS: Ysgol Glanaethwy performing on Last Choir Standing LEADING THE WAY: Rhian and Cefin Roberts are preparing to launch a choir for former students aged 25 to 35 on a TV series which starts on S4C this week
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 4, 2010
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