Musical Director: Anne Wheldon
In the summer of 2009, Persain appointed Anne Wheldon as the new Musical Director of the choir.
Anne has sung all her life. She was encouraged to pursue a career in singing throughout her school years where she frequently sang solos and made her debut as leading lady in Mikado and Iolanthe in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.
Anne began her formal voice training with Valetta Iacopi F.R.A.M. (formerly of Covent Garden and Sadler’s Wells opera) at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama where she won prizes for opera, Lieder and Chanson.
Following this, she trained as a teacher in Dartington College of Arts, but returned to Miss Iacopi and completed several diplomas back in the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Anne began her professional musical career as a member of the Welsh National Opera Company, and has since sung as a soloist performing not only in operas, but also in oratorios and recitals.
She continued to sing semi-professionally after leaving the Company to have her family, and still sings today, although she concentrates on the choir at present.
In addition to continuing her personal interest in singing, Anne has taught music in school and has passed on her experience as a professional singer to many young singers.
She was appointed as the Musical Director of the Ynysybwl Male Voice Choir where she remained for fifteen years, and conducted them very successfully, building quite a colourful reputation for them until they disbanded.
It was by pure chance that Anne was appointed as the new musical Director of Côr Persain, as a result of speaking to one of the choir members who mentioned that the choir’s conductor was leaving. After conducting male voice choirs, children's choirs and mixed choirs through the years, conducting a ladies' choir is a completely new experience for Anne, but she relishes this new and different challenge. She has an extremely lively and joyful approach to choral singing, laced with a good dash of humour, and audiences have no doubt that she and the 'girls' thoroughly enjoy entertaining.
In 2010 the choir welcomed Catherine Morgan, from Pontardawe in the Swansea Valley, as its new accompanist. Catherine began playing the piano at an early age and was awarded a Licentiate Diploma in piano performance from the London College of Music at the age of eighteen. She also plays the pipe organ, violin and various other instruments.
Catherine achieved an MA degree in Music from Oxford University and subsequently an MA in Education from the University of Wales. She currently holds the post of Senior Lecturer in Primary Education at the University of Wales Trinity St. David's, Carmarthen. In her spare time, Catherine enjoys accompanying vocal and instrumental soloists in examinations, concerts and competitions. She has also accompanied, on both piano and organ, many male voice choirs throughout South Wales.
Recently we have had a new addition to our team. Tom has been playing for us at Sunday practices and accompanied us when we sang at the Neath Real Ale and Cider Festival. Tom plays the piano, saxophone and violin, and at the age of just fifteen is an active participant in the string ensemble, wind band orchestra and choir of his school in Neath. He is the Musical Director and organist of St. Catherine's Church in Neath and in 2015 was appointed as accompanist of Neath Male Voice Choir. He is now concentrating his studies on the piano and organ with a view to playing these instruments in his future career.
Persain was established by a group of ladies who wanted to meet to enjoy singing together, growing in experience in the early years of its formation with the help of Nancy, Andrew, Glyn, James, David and Catrin. The choir has performed at various events and venues throughout South Wales, and also travelled to sing in Cornwall, Staffordshire and Devon, as well as two tours to Spain.
Persain has a varied programme throughout the year, singing at concerts, weddings, harvest suppers and St. David's Day events, giving recitals to raise funds for charities and entertaining regularly at the National Botanic Gardens of Wales and the Llandeilo Festival of the Senses, as well as its Carols by Candlelight each Christmas. Choir members also enjoy a number of social occasions, holding craft fayres, dinners and visits to concert and musical events. In 2012 Persain celebrated its twelfth anniversary with its first Annual Concert, to which the choir was very pleased indeed to welcome the wonderful quintet, "Triumph Brass" as guest performers for the evening. The concert was attended by our local M.P., Nia Griffith, proudly welcomed as Persain's Honorary President. Nia is a staunch supporter of events held by the choir.
With a number of events planned for the future, Persain is looking forward to a lively and music-filled time ahead.
Honorary President: Nia Griffith
Nia Griffith MP has been Labour MP for the Llanelli Constituency since 2005.
Whilst in Government, she served as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) firstly to the Rt Hon. Hilary Benn, M.P., Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and then to the Rt Hon. Harriet Harman, Q.C., M. P., Leader of the House and Minister for Women and Equalities.
Since being in opposition she has been part of the shadow frontbench team, firstly as a shadow business minister and then as shadow Wales minister. Her parliamentary interests include industry, renewable energy, environment, equality issues, young people, animal welfare and she is secretary of All-Party Parliamentary Steel Group.
Before becoming an MP, after graduating in French and Italian from Oxford University, Nia taught for some twenty years in local comprehensive schools, QE High, Gowerton and Morriston, and also worked as an Estyn schools inspector.
Nia has always enjoyed music, achieving grade VIII on the clarinet and grade VI on the violin when she was at school, although she admits to not having much time to play now. When she was working as a language assistant in Italy as part of her university course, she was horrified to find that pupils’ only experience of music in school seemed to be learning pages of music history. She therefore set about acquiring recorders, and for the rest of her year there, went twice a week to teach the whole class to play. This has given her a real appreciation of the importance given in Wales to encouraging pupils to sing and play musical instruments, and she considers it a great honour to be President of Côr Persain.