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.