the project

Aberystwyth based mixed choir, Côr ABC, and the London Welsh women’s choir, Côr Dinas, have been working together on a virtual choir project to produce the first performance of a new piece written during the first few weeks of lockdown by composer, Andrew Cusworth.

Weekly choral rehearsals had come to an abrupt end back in March as COVID-19 spread around the world and governments introduced restrictions on all aspects of daily life. In response to this, Côr ABC and Côr Dinas began to meet and rehearse virtually, enabling their members not only to continue to sing and make music, but also to maintain their social connections. These virtual rehearsals proved to be an inspiration for a new piece and a virtual choir project.

After one of Côr ABC’s rehearsals, choir member and crowned bard, Dafydd John Pritchard, wrote an englyn about the experience and posted it on Twitter. Fellow choir member and conductor of Côr Dinas, Andrew Cusworth, saw the poem and set it to music for both choirs to sing together virtually.

Speaking about his new piece, yn un rhith, Andrew said: “The piece, based on Dafydd’s poem, sings of how, albeit set apart by events, we are still united in our aims, as a community, in singing – of how we are still a choir.”

Members of both choirs have been filmed themselves singing the piece, and all those individual videos were edited together to create a virtual choir performance by Robert Russell, who also accompanied the choirs in the performance.

Describing the aim of the project, Gwennan Williams, conductor of Côr ABC, said: “Our hope, as a team who put the project together, was to create an enjoyable experience for our members, and something that we can all look back on, at some point in the future, as a reminder of something positive to come out of difficult times.”

The first performance of yn un rhith by the combined choir of Côr ABC and Côr Dinas was given in a YouTube première. The choirs also sang, separately, mixed choir and upper voices versions of the piece.

Now that these videos are completed, the project is being opened to other choirs during the COVID-19 pandemic.


the words

The words of this piece are those of an englyn by crowned bard Dafydd John Pritchard, written after first attending one of Côr ABC’s virtual rehearsals. Here is Dafydd reading it.

Er o bell, roedd herio byd heno’n gân 
     yn y gwaed, yn fywyd, 
  pob tôn yn fonllef hefyd, 
  yn un rhith, yn gôr o hyd.

Here is his adaptation of the words into English.

Yes, from a distance, but we fought back tonight, 
      our song being lifeblood,
   every note we sang, a cry,
   virtually one, a choir still.



Côr ABC is an Aberystwyth-based mixed choir conducted by Gwennan Williams. In normal times, the choir has a busy programme of activities that includes concerts, competitions, and recordings.

Côr ABC’s website

Côr Dinas

Côr Dinas is the women’s choir of the London Welsh and is conducted by Andrew Cusworth. It is a close community of singers that performs frequently in a wide range of concerts, services, and competitions.

Côr Dinas’ website

Dafydd John Pritchard

Dafydd is a poet who won the Crown at the National Eisteddfod in Bro Dinefwr in 1996. He has published two volumes of poetry; dim ond deud (Barddas, 2006) and Lôn Fain (Barddas,  2013). He competes in BBC Radio Cymru’s Talwrn y Beirdd as a member of the Cŵps team and in the National Eisteddfod’s Ymryson y Beirdd as a member of the Ceredigion team. He was chair of Barddas for five years and is a regular reviewer. He works at the National Library of Wales.

Dafydd wrote the englyn set to music in this piece.

Robert Russell

Robert Russell is an Australian-born composer living in the UK. He predominantly writes music for musicals, video games and rock bands, but can also be seen accompanying choirs (including Côr Dinas), recording singers and teaching mathematics.

To find out more about Robert and what he’s doing, visit or

Robert has been responsible for producing all of the videos associated with this project, as well as providing the piano accompaniment for the virtual performance.

Gwennan Williams

Gwennan Williams is a musician who is passionate about choral music and community music-making. She holds a joint honours degree in music and German from the University of Birmingham. She has conducted Côr ABC since 2013. She won the Conductor of the Festival prize at Gŵyl Fawr Aberteifi in 2018.

Gwennan sang for all of the female parts of the instructional videos.

Andrew Cusworth

Andrew Cusworth is an academic, conductor, and award-winning composer who is currently an 1851 Research Fellow at the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford. He is the conductor of Côr Dinas and a member of Côr ABC.

Andrew wrote the music to set Dafydd’s englyn and can be seen conducting the virtual performance.

Andrew Cusworth’s website.


if you like this …

One of the many reasons that we sing in choirs is for the positive effect it has on our mental health. Beyond the well-known benefits of group singing, choirs are micro-communities united by the urge to make music; choirs are made up of often diverse people who share experiences, support each other, and enjoy the social side of choral music as well as the singing itself. During the lock-down, choirs have had to find new ways of continuing to gather not only for musical reasons but for social and community ones, and as a means of raising the spirits of their members, staying in touch, and looking out for one another. With all of these positive things and the community-driven background to the project in mind, we would like to draw attention to the importance of music in our lives, and during what is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, in our human wellbeing.

So, if you have enjoyed finding out about, listening to or participating in our project, and if you are in a position to do so, why not consider making a donation to a mental health or musical charity near you.

introduction taking part

responses to taking part

Here are a few things that our choirs have told us about the experience of taking part in this virtual choir project.

Word cloud showing some of the positive things that people have said about how taking part in the project made them feel.
introduction taking part

thank you

Thanks are owed to Dafydd John Pritchard for writing and allowing the setting of his englyn; to Gwennan Williams for her support and work in producing the instructional videos; to Robert Russell for his work in accompanying, producing the instructional videos, and gathering together the completed virtual choirs; and, to you, for supporting the project, whether by taking part or your interest in it.