Two members of the West Wales Loud Applause Productions ‘Rising Stars’ team joined Carmarthen baritone Mark Llewellyn Evans on a special trip to mark an emotional and enduring link between The Netherlands and Wales. The trio journeyed to s’Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands for events commemorating the liberation of the town in World War Two. The two ‘Rising Stars’ were Thomas Bytheway and Callum Rhys Williams, who are both part of the charitable wing of Loud Applause Productions, a group dedicated to mentoring and training young singers and musicians across South Wales.
Mark Llewellyn Evans is an Ambassador for ‘Rising Stars’ so he took the lead role in the Welsh contribution to the commemorative events. The Welsh link with s’Hertogenbosch was formed back in October, 1944, when the 53rd Welsh Division spent five days in brutal fighting to liberate the town from the Nazis.
The chief executive of s’Hertogenbosch City Council Jan de Wit said: “It was wonderful to welcome our visitors from Llanelli to take part in our services. “The services are unique in Europe for commemorating the liberation of a city after World War Two. There is a huge bond between our city and the Welsh and it is great to see that bond continuing.”
The West Wales contingent met some of the ‘Liberators’ (veterans all in their 90s) at the famous Welsh Room at s’Hertogenbosch Town Hall. They also took part in the emotional wreath-laying ceremony at the 53rd Welsh Division memorial.
Mark Llewellyn Evans contributed to the open air service with a rendition of Tell My Father, accompanied by Andrew Pike. The evening concert was staged before a packed house at the Jerhominus Bosch Centre, a magnificent converted Catholic Church which seats 640.
The concert featured the s’Hertogenbosch mixed Choir, under the baton of their conductor Henk van der Sanden. Mark Llewellyn Evans provided the ‘wow’ factor with a programme which include Cinema Paradiso, Aros Mae’r Mynyddau Mawr, Se Vuol Ballare, Myfanwy, Tell My father and On the Road to Mandalay. He was very ably supported by the two young ‘Rising Stars’. Callum Rhys Willians contributed Make Them Hear You, I’ll Walk With God and a duet of Benedictus with Thomas Bytheway. Thomas Bytheway’s programme included Bring Him Home, Mi Glywaf Dyner Lais and Anfonaf Angel.
The Welsh singers were rewarded with a standing ovation. The evening concluded with choir and performers joining in a specially-commissioned World War Two Requiem and the Welsh and Dutch national anthems. Loud Applause director Cerith Owens said: “We could feel very proud at the way our young singers conducted themselves during the course of the visit and in the manner of their concert performances. It was a very special occasion for one and all.
The Loud Applause Rising Stars team members were accompanied on their journey by Loud Applause director Cerith Owens and his wife Alison, Loud Applause Trustee Susan Roberts and her husband Peter, and Lt Col David Mathias.