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Blue plaques sing the praises of Calon Lan composers

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The composers of one of the greatest Welsh rugby anthems have had their contribution to the country’s culture immortalised with blue plaques in their home city of Swansea.

Calon Lan (Welsh for ‘A Pure Heart’) was published in 1892 written by Daniel James in the 1890s and set to the music of John Hughes, both of whom lived in Swansea.

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Now two local chapels associated with the pair have had blue plaques placed on them to commemorate a hymn that regularly rings out around at Wales rugby internationals as well as in churches, schools and other locations around the country.

More recently it’s been adopted as an anthem by supporters of the Wales football team, who are due to play for a place in the World Cup early next month.

The first unveiling took place at the Caersalem Newydd Welsh Baptist Chapel, Treboeth, to commemorate its connection with John Hughes, who is buried in the graveyard there. The second blue plaque was placed on the former Mynyddbach Chapel, now the Calon Lan Centre, to commemorate Daniel James, who is buried in the nearby graveyard.

Following the second unveiling, children from nearby Gwyrosydd Primary School sang Calon Lan at the Calon Lan centre in hour of the event.

Swansea Councillor, Robert Francis Davies, carried out the unveilings and said it was a tremendous honour.

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He said: “Calon Lan is one of the great Welsh hymns and anthems, recognised around the world wherever you find Welsh people. Arguably, only the national anthem is better known.

“It’s a work of genius and when we sing it, it’s one of those anthems that binds us together as a nation. So it’s only right that the two Swansea people who created it should be commemorated with blue plaques close to their final resting places.”

John Hughes, born 150 years ago in 1872, worked his entire career for Dyffryn Steel Works in Morriston, starting as an office boy and rising through the ranks to become marketing manager. He travelled internationally in the course of his work, teaching himself six languages in addition to his native Welsh.

Hughes, who died of a brain haemorrhage in 1914, also served as an organist at Caersalem Newydd Welsh Baptist Chapel.

Daniel James, born in 1848, worked at both Morriston’s ironworks and Landore’s tinplate works.

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Swansea Council’s blue plaque scheme celebrates the political, sporting, cultural and scientific heritage of the City and County of Swansea by placing plaques on buildings associated with the lives of prominent deceased citizens.

Both men are now part of a select Swansea blue plaque club that already also includes anti-slavery campaigner Jessie Donaldson, painter Ceri Richards, rock singer Pete Ham, suffragette Emily Phipps, missionary Griffith John, gothic novelist Ann of Swansea, poet Vernon Watkins, radar pioneer Edward Bowen, and polar explorer Edgar Evans.

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Mike and the Mechanics to play Swansea Arena

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Mike & The Mechanics – who have sold more than ten million records worldwide – Have announced their “Refueled!” 2023 Tour – all the hits and a drop of Genesis.

They’re set to play Swansea’s brand new arena in May 2023 as part of an epic run of 34 UK concerts through April and May.

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Opening on April 12th, 2023 at the Barbican, York and including prestigious venues such as The Royal Albert Hall and Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall.

The Swansea Arena show is on Thursday May 11th 2023. Tickets go on sale Friday, June 24th at 10.00am from www.swansea-arena.co.uk.

Mike & The Mechanics are Genesis founding member Mike Rutherford (Guitar), one of the UK’s most prolific R&B singers; Andrew Roachford (Lead and backing vocals), whose previous hits include Cuddly Toy and Family Man; and Canadian-born Tim Howar (lead and backing vocals), who formed and toured his band Vantramp with the likes of Rod Stewart and Paulo Nutini. Tim shares vocal duties with Andrew and they both add a new soulful dimension to the band’s already established sound.

The “Refueled!” 2023 tour, will include tracks from Mike & The Mechanics’ critically acclaimed latest album Out of the Blue plus a smattering of Genesis favourites.

Their ninth album features re-workings of some of the band’s best loved tracks, including The Living Years and the unforgettable Over My Shoulder, along with three brand new songs Out Of The Blue, One Way and What Would You Do?

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Musicians and fans tune up for Swansea jazz special

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Swansea International Jazz Festival is back with a line-up packed with legendary performers and familiar favourites.

Swansea Council has joined forces with Swansea Jazz Club and this year’s Swansea International Jazz Festival will be held at venues across Swansea from Thursday 23rd to Sunday 26th June 2022.

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The concert programme opens with Bruce Adams (trumpet) and Alan Barnes (saxophone), both award winning and highly respected musicians on the UK jazz scene, playing at Swansea Jazz Club at the Garage Music Venue in Uplands.

The Maritime Quarter’s Dylan Thomas Theatre is the setting for festivals further five ticketed events, starting with the Simon Spillett Big Band playing the music of Tubby Hayes on Friday evening. Spillett’s 17-piece Big Band is packed with the cream of British Jazz musicians, all regular members of BBC Big Band and Ronnie Scotts Jazz Orchestra.

Saturday afternoon sees the Karen Sharp Quartet take to the stage, putting the spotlight firmly on two of the UK’s finest female jazz musicians, Karen Sharp (saxophone) and Nikki Iles (piano). By way of contrast, the James Taylor Quartet, who perform Saturday evening, have set the standard for the coolest sounds in funky acid jazz for over 30 years, led by James on the Hammond organ.

The Louis and Ella Music show will recreate the great songs of the swing era on Sunday afternoon, with authentic arrangements of songs Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald recorded together and individually. The festival rounds off on Sunday evening with Some Kinda Wonderful, a band created by and featuring Jools Holland’s sax player Derek Nash, and with Noel McCalla’s soaring vocals, they will have you on your feet dancing to the great songs of Stevie Wonder.

Swansea Council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Swansea International Jazz Festival, which has become a strong fixture in the city’s event calendar.

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“The festival attracts some of the best musicians from the UK jazz scene playing a range of styles across the jazz music genre, which I’m sure audiences from across the Swansea region will come to enjoy.

 Swansea International Jazz Festival has done a great job in establishing the Festival over past years and we now look forward to working collaboratively to continue its success and develop it even further”

Swansea Jazz Club’s artistic director, Dave Cottle, said: “We haven’t had a big lead time for this year’s festival, but we have managed to get an excellent and varied jazz programme together quickly.

“There are great concerts to look forward too and some firm favourites are returning on the stroller programme. Swansea Marina will be buzzing again to a weekend of live jazz!

“We are delighted to be working with Swansea Council and look forward to some exciting times ahead”

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Festival patron Sir Karl Jenkins is delighted that the Swansea International Jazz Festival is back for 2022. He said: “It’s great news that the festival is back this year. It has been a very difficult time for the whole music industry and musicians particularly these last two years.

“However, the festival’s return is a positive sign that things are finally getting back to normal and I do hope people are able to come along and support the concerts this year.”

Besides the exciting line-up of ticketed concerts, this year’s festival features a packed stroller programme at venues across Swansea’s maritime quarter including: The Pumphouse, Queens Hotel, The Swigg, The Riverhouse, and the amphitheatre outside the entrance to the LC.

Also part of the programme this year are the series of jazz cruises on board the Copper Jack, a narrowboat that tours the River Tawe, featuring Ellie Jones and Gary Phillips on Saturday afternoon and the Afternoon in Paris Duo on Sunday.

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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Hit musical ‘Jersey Boys’ is coming to Swansea Arena

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New dates have been added to the UK Tour of smash hit musical Jersey Boys, with the show coming to Swansea’s brand new Arena later this year.

The show will play Swansea Arena from Tuesday 29 November to Saturday 3 December 2022.

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The UK Tour of the Tony and Olivier Award-winning show is running simultaneously with a London West End production playing in a packed-out and recently refurbished Trafalgar Theatre.

Written by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice, with music by Bob Gaudio and lyrics by Bob Crewe, Jersey Boys takes you behind the music and inside the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons.

Described as “just four guys from New Jersey, until they sang their very first note. They had a sound nobody had ever heard… and the radio just couldn’t get enough of. But while their harmonies were perfect onstage, off stage it was a very different story.”

The show is packed with their hits, including Beggin’, Sherry, Walk Like A Man, December, 1963 (Oh What a Night), Big Girls Don’t Cry, My Eyes Adored You, Let’s Hang On (To What We’ve Got), Bye Bye Baby, Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Working My Way Back to You, Fallen Angel, Rag Doll and Who Loves You.

Recipient of Broadway’s Tony, London’s Olivier and Australia’s Helpmann Awards for Best New Musical, Jersey Boys is the winner of 65 major awards and has been seen by over 27 million people worldwide.

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Jersey Boys originally opened in New York on 6 November 2005 and, by the time it closed on 15 January 2017, it was the 12th longest running show in Broadway history. It returned to New York with a new production in November 2017. The Jersey Boys US National Tour is still breaking house records in cities across North America.

Jersey Boys first ran in London’s West End from 18 March 2008 to 26 March 2017 – nine amazing years – and, at the time, was the sixth longest musical running in the West End. Last year, the musical returned to the West End, opening the new multi-million pound reinstated Trafalgar Theatre on 10 August 2021. Jersey Boys previously played two record-breaking UK and Ireland Tours from 2014 to 2016 and from 2017 to 2019.

The Jersey Boys UK and Ireland Tour will be staged by the entire original Broadway creative team, led by the Tony Award-winning team of director Des McAnuff and choreographer Sergio Trujillo, with scenic design by Klara Zieglerova, costume design by Jess Goldstein, lighting by Howell Binkley, sound by Steve Canyon Kennedy and projections design by Michael Clark. The orchestrations are by Steve Orich and the music supervision and vocal arrangements by Ron Melrose. Casting is by Jill Green.

Tickets are available from www.swansea-arena.co.uk.

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