We were saddened to hear the news that Andrew Pike, one of our longstanding musical advisors and a LARS founding trustee member, has decided to step down from LARS.  There is no shadow of a doubt that he has been instrumental in much of the success achieved by LARS over a number of years. Andy has been a key member of the organisation and his enthusiasm for LARS has been unbounded.

    Andy has been integral to the development of LARS and has enjoyed watching LARS grow in stature as a leading musical organisation supporting young aspiring musicians.

    We will be sorry to see him go and he will be greatly missed.  We hope that Andy will perform, subject to availability, at future selected LARS events as a guest accompanist, the door will always be open for him.

    We heard from Sam that he had received a wonderful opportunity to play Enjorlas on the UK Tour of Les Misérables in Glasgow and Liverpool.  Sam will be returning to the West End next year.  Congratulations from us all.   

    The world famous Pendyrus Male Choir, under the baton of Ieuan Jones, invited LARS to perform alongside them at a concert in Rhoose, near Barry.  LARS selected Darcey Paris George and Osian Clarke.  Darcey is one of LARS’ newest members and in a short time has made a great impression.  Osian is now a seasoned young performer and travelled back from his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London to perform.  Both young singers were on top form and received standing ovations from the appreciative audience.  The Rising Stars were accompanied by Gavin Parry, the accompanist for Pendyrus Male Choir.  It was one of those unforgettable evenings – great ambassadors for LARS and the choir was brilliant.   

    On 6 November LARS hosted a highly successful Vocal Masterclass with internationally-acclaimed baritone Gary Griffiths.  This event certainly lived up to expectations and the audience were enthralled with the afternoon.  The introductions were performed by LARS Honorary Patron Huw Tregelles Williams OBE and the accompanists for the singers were LARS Musical Advisors Catrin Hughes and Stewart Roberts.  

    Gary grew up in Pembrey and studied opera at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he won the prestigious Gold Medal Competition (2009).  He has won a plethora of competitions including, in 2012, the Welsh Singers Competition when he was invited to represent Wales in the Cardiff Singer of the World finalist (2013).  

    The three Rising Stars that participated were:  

    • Soprano Darcey Paris George from Blackwood, who joined LARS in November 2020
    • Tenor James Oakley from Llanon, who is currently studying for his A Levels at Ysgol Y Strade
    • Baritone Liam J. Edwards from Gorseinon, who joined LARS in November 2020 and is currently studying at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

    The singers performed a selected song, then Gary used his vast experience and skills to enhance the performance –  you could see the difference after just 30 mins of tuition.  The singers remarked that it very worthwhile and the audience benefitted too !! 

    James Oakley was the winner of the vocal category of Côr Curiad’s ‘Young Musician and Vocalist Competition’.  This event was organised by the choir as part of their 25th anniversary celebrations. It was an on-line competition despite the ambition of holding it live at Ffwrnes Theatre.  It was a very good competition and James won the very generous prize money of £500.  We were delighted that Lauren Fisher was runner up in the vocal category.  LARS 1st and 2nd !   

    James Oakley provided the musical interlude at the President’s Night of the Rotary Club of Llanelli, a prestigious black tie event held at the Diplomat Hotel in Llanelli on 27 October.  James was accompanied by Christopher Davies, Head of Music at Ysgol Y Strade.  His audience included several Friends of LARS, who from their expressions were proud to have one of the Rising Stars as the guest artist.  President Ieuan Griffiths was particularly delighted with James’ contribution which enhanced what was an excellent night for him and Llanelli Rotary.

    The brainchild of Morriston RFC Male Choir, the ‘Together Again Concert’ at Morriston Tabernacle Chapel on the 23rd October was a massive success bringing together Morriston and the neighbouring communities to enjoy live music once again.  It was a feast of music which stirred so many emotions.  The choir had invited the newly formed Morriston Hopsital Emergency Department Choir led by Jonathan Lycett, and two of our Rising Stars, soprano Lauren Elizabeth Williams and tenor Osian Clarke.  Lauren and Osian did themselves and LARS extremely proud.  To end the concert they both joined the choirs in combined items performing ‘Anthem’ from Chess and ‘One Voice’ , which again brought the audience to their feet.  LARS Chairman Cerith Owens was compere. 

    D. Huw Rees, the musical director of the male choir, accompanied the LARS soloists, the choir was accompanied by Hywel Evans and organist was the President of the choir Huw Tregelles Williams OBE, who is also the Honorary Patron of LARS.

    We are proud to announce that our Rising Stars have been invited to perform at the following events.  They would be delighted to have your support and we can provide you with a direct contact or arrange tickets on your behalf.

    27th OctoberLlanelli Rotary President’s Night, Diplomat Hotel, Llanelli. James Oakley is guest soloist.
    23rd OctoberConcert with Morriston RFC Male Choir at Tabernacle Chapel Morriston. Guest soloists Lauren Williams and Osian Clarke.
    20th NovemberConcert with Pendyrus Male Choir at Rhoose Community Centre, near Barry. Guest soloists Osian Clarke and Darcey George.
    4th DecemberConcert with Pendyrus Male Choir at The Earl of Haig British Legion Club, Whitchurch, Cardiff. Guest soloist Lauren Williams.
    18th DecemberChristmas Concert with Dunvant Male Choir at Capel Y Crwys, Three Crosses, Swansea. Guest Soloists: Lauren Williams and Osian Clarke

    The first event for LARS since the beginning of 2020 was a Special ‘Thank You Event’ for the ‘Friends of LARS’ at the Memorial Hall in Burry Port.  It was to show our gratitude for they’re continued support throughout the pandemic.

    It was a massive success as it provided a much-needed platform for our young singers who hadn’t performed in front of a live audience for over 18 months and also an opportunity for our Friends to hear live music once again; some of the audience were overcome with emotion.

    The Rising Stars who took part, in order of performance were: Darcey Paris George (inaugural LARS appearance), James Oakley, Liam J. Edwards (inaugural LARS appearance), Lauren Fisher, Imogen Price, Osian Clarke, Daisy Owens and Nikkila Thomas.  Accompanists were LARS Musical Advisors Catrin Hughes and Stewart Roberts.  The compère was LARS Chairman Cerith Owens.

    A special ‘Board of Trustee Volunteer Recognition Award’ was presented to Mavis Anderson for what she had done to support LARS, especially in its early years through fundraising and other key activities.