St Mary’s Choir News



Dr William Reynolds being presented with his HonRSCM at Chester Cathedral
 in October 2023, pictured with Phil Taylor (RSCM Chair of Council)
 and Hugh Morris (RSCM Director).





Sunday 26th November 2023

Congratulations to Jp, one of our St Mary's Choral Scholars, for passing his

ABRSM  Grade 8 Singing with Merit.





Sunday 10th December 2023

At the Choral Eucharist we held a short ceremony of Admission of Choristers at which

Daniela, Kamila and Renato were  formally presented with their surplices as they

become full Choristers  in St Mary's Choir. Congratulations to the three of them!





Sunday 17th December 2023

Gaudate Sunday, we officially admitted Wei He, a student at Swansea university,

 as one of the St Mary's Choral Scholars. 




Choir Report 2023


2023 has been another busy year for St Mary’s Choir and we are grateful to Choir members for their tremendous dedication.  Music has supporting the liturgy through the Church’s Year for festivals, Ash Wednesday and Holy Week observances alongside our routine of Sunday Choral Eucharist and Choral Evensong on Sundays and Tuesdays.   Other services included choir visiting St Gabriel's to sing for the Ministry Area Stations of the Cross on Passion Sunday, a Service of Readings and Music for All Souls’, a Service to Commission the New Ministry Area, and the Annual Service of Remembrance.   Hot on the heels of the Advent Carol Service was the Civic Christmas Celebration, followed by the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols (the newly composed carol for 2023 written by our Director of Music was Welcome, all wonders in one sight!).


The Coronation of HM King Charles III took place in Westminster AbbeyIn May, and services of celebration were held across the Commonwealth.  St Mary’s held its celebrations across two weekends 30th April and 7th May and was part of the Royal School of Church Music’s Sing for the Kingproject singing a specially commissioned work The mountains shall bring peace by Joanna Forbes L’Estrange.  Other music sung across these two weekends featured music related to coronations and by royal composers.

St Mary’s is affiliated to the Royal School of Church Music, and makes excellent use of its training resources, publications and other resources.  We follow the RSCM Voice for Life Chorister training scheme which has clear levels of progression and acknowledgment of achievement.  In the summer term Roland and John were awarded their White level certificates and badges, and Emily her Dark Blue certificate and medal.  In August Emily and Roland attended the week-long RSCM’s Young Persons’ Residential Choral Course in Bath, staying in Kingswood School and singing the Sunday services at Bath Abbey.  They benefited immensely socially and musically, and plan to attend again this summer.  It has raised their confidence, given them encouragement and increased their awareness that the musical contribution and commitment they make at St Mary's is comparable to that of other young choristers from choirs across the country.


In October, members of St Mary’s Choir attended an RSCM Autumn Choral Workshop at Holy Cross, Llwynderw which gave an introduction to the lives and music of the sixteenth century composers William Byrd and Thomas Tallis. 


Also in October, members of the Choir and clergy travelled to Chester Cathedral to attended  the RSCM’s Celebration Day when presentations were made to Dr William Reynolds (Honorary Membership of the Royal School of Church Music - HonRSCM), Andrew Goodwin (Associateship of the Royal School of Church Music - ARSCM) and to Rt Revd John Davies (Fellowship of the Royal School of Church Music - FRSCM) for their contributions to church music.


On Sunday 16th October we were joined by the Carlton Male Voice Choir from Northampton for the Choral Eucharist.

During 2023, new members have joined us, including Alison Weare(soprano) and Antony Bidder (bass) and Joseph Bamidele (tenor).  In the treble section, Daniela, Kamila and Renatto joined as probationers in September, becoming full Choristers and awarded their surplices in December.


At the end of the summer term we bade farewell to our choral scholars Nathan, Dan and Charlotte as they completed their studies at Swansea University.  We wish them well for the future and are pleased that they continue with their singing - Nathan, as a Lay clerk at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral while training as a doctor in Liverpool Charlotte is singing at All Saints’ Leamington Spa while working as a junior doctor in Birmingham, and Dan is singing with St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol.  Meanwhile, Livia also left us as she has transferred to another university.  In recent years we have been exceedingly well-blessed with the quality of singers we have had as part choral scholar team.  At Easter, we wished Jenny Szmolda all the very best for the future left at Easter to concentrate on her A level studies after many faithful years singing as a treble.


Meanwhile, JpIlomuanya (tenor) continues as a Choral Scholar, and we congratulated him in the Autumn Term for achieving his ABRSM Grade 8 Singing Exam with merit.  We welcome Wei He (tenor), a MSc Medical Management student from Hong Kong, as a new Choral Scholar.

In 2023 the Trustees of the Swansea St Mary Choral Trust were successful in sourcing funding (including the Friends of the Swansea Festival of Music and the Arts and the Simon Gibson Trust, with some private donations) as part of their commitment to the match funding formula alongside Swansea University and St Mary’s Church.

We have benefited from the support of several organists accompanying the choir at various points through the year and we a grateful to Andrew Goodwin, Huw Tregelles Williams, Tony Harris, Chris Lewis, and Graham Allsop (Dan’s father), and to Ryan Thomas and Frank Phillips for cover outside of choir term.


Organ Meditations were a feature of Lent 2023, preceding the Lenten talks and sensitively provided a musical commentary on the themes of these talks.


The Summer Organ Recitals Series was again well supported.  Nine recitals in total, audience figures having reached 100 on two occasions, with 70-90 being the normal expected attendance range.  We were privileged to benefit from the high calibre of recitalist featured in the series, especially that they give freely of their time and talent to support the St Mary’s organ.  In support of this, the efforts of Ryan, Jacqui and the café team are appreciated, and we are grateful to David, Val and Berni for the welcome they have given at the door.  Hospitality is a big part of making our audience welcome at St Mary’s. Retiring collections will have exceeded the target of £2000 towards the tuning and general maintenance of the St Mary’s organ.


Looking ahead, we need to be aware that the organ’s electric circuitry and contacts, stop controls and memory settings are becoming increasingly unreliable.  This is regularly commented upon by our recitalists, some of whom may be familiar with our organ, others who play it periodically and others to whom it is new.  It is now 25 years since the organ last underwent a major overhaul.  The combination of the organ having had regular use with general wear and tear, and significant damp and unstable temperature and humidity will all be contributory.  A thorough independent professional report should be commissioned to lay out our options.  Discussion will be needed on this ahead of a report being commissioned.  Meanwhile, we are grateful to Mr Nick Adams for attending to the tuning and general maintenance of our magnificent organ.


Dr William Reynolds, Director of Music



Choir Report 2022



Choir Report 2021



Choir Report 2020



Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, people standing and indoor


  Presenting Choral Scholar, Charlotte Boden, with her certificate

    for ABRSM Grade 8 singing with Distinction, January 2020.



Choir Report 2019


The Advent Carol Service by Candlelight, December 2019



 St Mary’s Choral Scholar, Morgan Darcy Rees-Deacon, wins the Vocal Solo

 16-19 Competition at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod, July 2019





 Presenting Emily with her RSCM Voice for Life Light Blue Award, April 2019.



Prof Tony Davies was presented with Certificate of Special Service from
the Royal School of Church Music at Salisbury Cathedral, September 2018,
in recognition of his contribution to the RSCM Swansea & Brecon Area.