A MALE voice choir that went viral online are teaming up with TV tenor Wynne Evans to celebrate their 90th anniversary and support a children’s hospice charity.
Internet sensations Côr Meibion Trelawnyd, whose moving rendition of the iconic Welsh love song, Myfanwy, clocked up nearly 500,000 hits on You Tube, will be staging their big birthday concert at the Pavilion Theatre in Rhyl at 7.30pm on Saturday, July 1.
Television and radio presenter Wynne, best known these days as Gio Compario from the Go Compare TV ads, says he’s looking forward to helping the choir celebrate its momentous milestone and boost the funds of Tŷ Gobaith/Hope House with a raffle to raise money for the charity.
The organisation, which has hospices in the Conwy Valley and Morda, near Oswestry, provides a vital service for children, young people and their families across most of North Wales and into Shropshire.
The choir, whose members range between 15 and 93, was founded in 1933 and has won a total of seven times at the National Eisteddfod, as well as performing in the USA, Canada across Europe and the UK.
Other famous venues where the choir has sung include the Royal Albert Hall and the Wales Millennium Centre.
Among the vice presidents is Oscar-nominated actor Sir Jonathan Pryce, a native of Carmel, near Holywell, whose screen credits include playing baddie Elliot Carver in the Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies, and Pope Francis, opposite fellow Welsh actor, Sir Anthony Hopkins, in Two Popes.
Although he’s best known these days because of the television adverts and his moustachioed alter ego, Gio Compario, Wynne is a trained opera singer.
After studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the National Opera Studio, he went on to perform regularly for English National Opera, Scottish Opera and Welsh National Opera.
Wynne made his debut at the Royal Opera House in 2009, singing the part of Vakula in Tchaikovsky’s Cherevichki. He has also sung at the BBC, and in 2011 released his debut solo album, A Song in my Heart.
The success of the Go Compare adverts has helped him overcome the shock of being dubbed the “most irritating man in Britain”.
He said: ‘It did bother me at first as it’s horrible to read that people don’t like you but no one has come up to me and said, “I hate you”.’
‘I thought they’d stop making the ads. But I got on the phone to the advertising people and they were delighted.”
As well as enjoying financial security thanks to his long-running partnership with the Go Compare comparison website, Wynne is also in a much better place personally having overhauled his lifestyle and lost a lot of weight.
He said: “I thought I’ve got to do something. I was having trouble washing and getting up the stairs.
“I have lost five and a bit stone. I feel great actually. It’s been calories, that’s all I’ve done.
“My mental health hasn’t been great in the last five or six years, and it really helped.”
Keeping the massed ranks of the choir in order, in time and in tune is Musical Director Ann Atkinson, from Corwen, who has been with the choir since 2015 and has a distinguished career as a singer, conductor and tutor.
That includes working with Wynne Evans and she said: “We were at Glyndebourne together back in the 1990s and I remember him coming up to me and saying, ‘This is a no pressure gig’.
“I love listening to him on the radio and it will be great for the choir to be on stage with him at Rhyl. I am sure it will be a very special and memorable occasion.”
Choir chair Bryn Williams said: “The choir members are passionate about the music, their choir and the name and reputation of Trelawnyd. They want to keep that going.
“We’re very much looking forward to performing with Wynne Evans because he’s more than just a singer, he’s an entertainer and he’s got a new TV show so maybe he’ll give us a plug.”
The Trelawnyd Male Voice Choir’s 90th Anniversary Concert takes place at the Pavilion Theatre in Rhyl on Saturday, July 1, at 7.30pm when they will be joined on stage by Wynne Evans and soprano Tesni Jones, from St Asaph. Tickets priced at £25 are available from www.rhylpavilion.co.uk.