Blog by Owain Morgan

I recently had the pleasure of attending the week-long Sing for Pleasure Summer School at Keele University for which I received a generous bursary from the Conwy Arts Trust. I am presently the accompanist and assistant conductor of Canu Conwy, the Conwy County Borough Council workplace choir.

First and foremost, at the Summer School I developed my conducting ability which grew immensely over the course of a week. I’ve laid the foundations of good technique which allow me to conduct efficiently and clearly which will be of great use to me back in Conwy. At the end of the week I conducted ‘All Through the Night’ which was sung by an ensemble of singers in a public concert at the university chapel. My main aim in this piece was to create an atmosphere of calmness and I believe that I was successful in this aim. At the end of the performance came a moment of stillness before I was struck by a wave of applause; at that moment I felt pride in what I had just done as well as relief knowing that I had conducted my first piece in public without any major mistakes. The success of my performance was acknowledged by my award of Commendation for outstanding work in the Foundation category which I received from Ula Weber, Director of the course.

One of the best features of the Summer School was the positive, supportive atmosphere created there. Every day started with a vocal warm-up before an hour of choral singing in which all members of the Summer School took part. This gave me an opportunity to see how the tutors and advanced conductors led a rehearsal so that I could learn from them. It was at these rehearsals that we prepared for two of our concerts and I came across a variety of repertoire by some well-known composers such as Vivaldi and some less well-known like Ariel Ramirez and Emanuele d’Astorga. Another beneficial experience at Summer School was that of the informal concert when we all had the chance to support and be supportive in a relaxed, fun atmosphere. I sang with the Welsh ‘Criw’ at the Friday concert and I wholeheartedly enjoyed being in front of a crowd as well as hearing other people expressing their ability in the arts and I hope to bring this enjoyment of the arts back with me to Conwy.

Finally, the network of people whom I met at Summer School will hopefully remain with me for a very long time. One didn’t only meet those of their own age there but also older people who have far wider knowledge than me about music and conducting and this was a truly beneficial property of Summer School. As a testament to this, not once did I pass someone on a path or in a corridor without being greeted, a truly special atmosphere.

I therefore end this blogpost with a note of gratitude to the Conwy Arts Trust for the support they afforded me to go to the Summer School and I look forward to returning to Conwy to put my newfound skills in front of our choir.