Sioned James Cofio


Sioned James

Mae'r rhaglen arbennig hon yn talu teyrnged ac yn diolch am gyfraniad cerddorol y diweddar Sioned James. Celebrating the life of the late musician and choral conductor Sioned Ja...


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-Sioned Nest James,

-founder of Cordydd...

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-..and a pioneer in the world

-of Welsh choral singing.

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-She died prematurely...

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-..but contributed so much

-to Welsh culture.

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-She was a friend to many.

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-Back in 2013, I had the privilege

-of interviewing her.

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-I think friends can be a sustenance,

-a rock, a fantastic foundation.

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-Sioned's strength, without a doubt,

-was Sioned the person.

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-I'll remember her as a person

-who was full of fun and laughter.

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-I can't remember her

-in any other way.

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-We both supported each other.

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-I couldn't have wished

-for a better friend.

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-She was a shining light.

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-When something like that

-disappears...

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-..the loss is felt so much more.

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-Sioned was one of those people

-who only had one gear.

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-Flat out.

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-She lived life to the full.

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-If you do something, do it.

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-I miss her terribly...

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-..as a friend.

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-I'm so glad...

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-..that I met her.

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-Sioned James

-was a daughter of the manse...

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-..and her roots were deep

-in the Llandysul area.

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-Steeped in Welsh culture...

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-..Sioned's short journey

-on life's paths...

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-..was a mixture of successes

-and personal battles.

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-Her family and friends

-were her rock.

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-She was a private person...

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-..with an ambition

-to put her own stamp on the world.

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-It all began

-at Llandysul primary school.

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-What was interesting about her...

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-..as a schoolgirl

-was that she was small in stature.

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-Compact.

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-But she had such a strong character

-for someone so small.

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-She had an inner strength too.

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-An inner steel, you know.

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-She'd stand up

-for anything she believed in...

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-..when she was very young.

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-What linked us was Penybont

-Baptist chapel in Llandysul.

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-I knew her as a baby, and later,

-she sang solos at the chapel.

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-The family's pew

-was directly in front of mine.

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-A kind of rapport grew between us

-over the years as she grew up.

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-Poor girl, she had to put up

-with my shrieking for 18 years.

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-My first memory of Sioned

-is as an eight or nine-year-old.

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-Her and Sian, in the gallery,

-singing their hearts out.

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-One year, the late Meirion Jones

-was conducting.

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-He asked the congregation

-to sing with more oomph.

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-Of course, they both went for it.

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-It was always true for Sioned...

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-..where congregational singing

-was concerned.

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-That was her great passion.

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-After the service, we'd have a chat

-about life in general.

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-I could see

-that she was mischievous.

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-One day, she asked me

-which was my favourite hymn tune.

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-I named four of them.

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-Tanymarian. In Memoriam.

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-Llef, Bryn Calfaria.

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-She said, "Do you realize

-they're all in a minor key?"

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-I realized from the outset...

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-..that music

-pulsed through her veins.

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-As she developed, you could see

-just how much music meant to her.

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-Sioned was mischievous

-in chapel and at school.

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-I was sitting in my office one day

-when she came to stand by the door.

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-"I've been sent here to tell you...

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-"..that I jabbed a pencil

-into one of the boys' backside."

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-"Oh, Sioned, you didn't!"

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-"Was it sharp?"

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-"I'd just sharpened it."

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-Naturally, I gave her

-quite a loud telling-off.

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-"I want you to go back now...

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-"..and I want you

-to apologize to him...

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-"..for doing such a thing.

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-"And don't do anything

-like that again."

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-Off she went.

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-I made sure that the children

-walked past me as they went home.

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-Sioned came.

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-"Did you apologize?"

-"Yes."

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-"What did he say to you?"

-"Nothing."

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-"So I kissed his head," she said.

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-"Then what did he say?"

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-"Thank you very much."

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-The first time I met her properly

-was at Glan-llyn in Form 1.

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-I remember seeing this girl

-who was tall and very slim.

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-She had a dodgy perm and a brace.

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-In a way,

-it was like looking in a mirror...

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-..because that's how I looked too!

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-Shared problems brought us together!

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-She had some kind of spark.

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-I wanted to be a part of it.

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-I was always searching for mischief

-and she seemed to offer that.

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-During that week in Glan-llyn,

-our relationship developed.

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-From then on, we were best friends.

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-Islwyn Evans, music teacher and

-Ysgol Gerdd Ceredigion founder...

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-..was a big influence on Sioned

-throughout her life.

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-She was an Year 8 pupil,

-if I remember rightly.

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-It was an exciting time in Llandysul

-as regards singing.

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-I had about five school choirs

-on the go at the time.

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-She would have been in all of them

-except the boys' choir.

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-She'd probably be around them too,

-eyeing up one or two.

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-He wasn't the most traditional

-of teachers.

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-He liked to do things that weren't

-necessarily on the curriculum.

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-Maybe he could see that I had

-a good ear or was musical...

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-..or that the person next to me

-was musical.

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-He was so keen to get Pencader and

-Pentre-cwrt farmers into the choir.

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-Everyone thought he was much

-more cool than the other teachers.

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-I remember her

-talking about Ysgol Gerdd.

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-She introduced me to Islwyn

-at an Eisteddfod.

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-"This is Islwyn. Isn't he ugly?!"

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-Remarks like that. You're not.

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-It was her way of saying,

-"I love this person."

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-She couldn't show it, she couldn't

-say how much she loved people.

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-It was immediately clear

-that she admired Islwyn...

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-..and really appreciated

-the opportunity he'd given her.

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-While a pupil

-at Ysgol Dyffryn Teifi...

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-..Sioned secured a place in the

-National Youth Choir of Wales...

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-..which went on tour

-to Leipzig in Germany in 1992...

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-..conducted by the maestro

-John Hugh Thomas.

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-The main event was singing in

-the Lutheran church, Thomaskirche.

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-As it happens, when we were there...

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-..it was Bach's anniversary.

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-We were invited

-to give the concert that year.

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-The place was packed.

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-Another member of the choir

-on that trip to Germany...

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-..was the founder of Only Men Aloud,

-Tim Rhys-Evans.

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-I remember that time so well.

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-I remember the music...

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-..and just singing together.

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-I was quite shy at that time...

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-..and she was so noisy

-and so lively.

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-A good laugh, really.

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-One piece I really liked

-was by Pearsall, Lay A Garland.

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-It's an exceptionally fine piece.

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-Such a piece would connect with her,

-there's no doubt about that.

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-She had been determined

-to study Welsh at Aberystwyth.

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-But after this trip, she was aware

-that Music was her true passion.

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-Her head said Welsh,

-and her heart said Music.

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-Then, aged 18, came a turning point.

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-A serious car accident,

-and months of recovery.

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-Sioned made a deal with herself...

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-..not to waste a second of her time

-from that point on.

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-I visited Sioned in hospital.

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-She was there, lying prone...

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-..two days before her A levels

-were about to start.

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-I think Music was her first exam.

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-I saw her parents first.

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-Their faith was strong.

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-But Sioned's faith

-was strong as well.

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-I remember a very determined girl.

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-She knew

-that if she got through it..

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-I think there was a 60% chance

-that she wouldn't walk again.

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-Knowing that aged 18,

-that's quite a shadow.

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-After a few weeks, she underwent

-surgery in Stoke-on-Trent.

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-I visited her and took her a copy

-of John Rutter's Requiem.

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-I knew she loved it.

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-Apparently, in the hospital...

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-Everything was on cassette

-at the time.

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-She kept telling everyone,

-"You must listen to this."

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-She insisted

-that people listen to this piece.

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-If I played it once,

-I played it a hundred times.

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-There's something that takes you

-to another level of emotion...

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-..when I didn't know

-if I'd walk again or not.

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-.

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-When Sioned was a sixth former

-at Ysgol Dyffryn Teifi...

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-..BBC Cymru

-went to Newcastle Emlyn...

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-..to record Dechrau Canu Dechrau

-Canmol with several local choirs.

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-Islwyn Evans insisted

-that it would be Sioned...

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-..who was interviewed

-for the programme.

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-"Oh, why are you

-asking me to do this?

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-"I don't want to do it!"

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-On a worldwide and national level...

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-..I'd like to see brotherly love

-and fellowship towards others.

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-To see Christ's teachings realized.

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-Fraternity, love and making

-the world a happier place.

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-Anyone at school might have thought

-all she did was enjoy life.

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-That she had no faith, but she had

-a steadfast core sustaining her.

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-Islwyn Evans went on

-to establish a new group...

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-..that would draw on voices

-from across Ceredigion.

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-We were called La Cappella.

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-We didn't look like

-the Spice Girls, unfortunately...

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-..and we didn't sing like them.

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-We sang a sound that he

-always desires, a pure sound.

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-It was a fantastic experience

-and the basis of Ysgol Gerdd.

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-He knew what he was doing...

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-..nurturing slowly

-and instilling confidence.

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-You can imagine the frenzy.

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-Now, instead of one

-talkative girl from Llandysul...

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-..I had several talkative girls.

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-Not many more talkative than Sioned,

-but it was a very exciting time.

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-Sioned was a key part of that group.

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-She got the chance

-to go to Patagonia.

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-It was an experience

-that stayed with her.

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-It was nice to see those girls

-go on to lead successful lives.

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-While still recovering

-from her serious injuries...

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-..Sioned went to Cardiff University.

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-With her friends,

-she established the group Viva.

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-They were six very talented singers.

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-Different voices

-from different areas.

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-Bow Street, Lampeter, Penweddig,

-Llandysul, those areas.

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-They'd sing at village halls

-here and there to entertain people.

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-That showed the urge she had

-to start something herself.

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-I think that was

-the start of Sioned's journey...

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-..offering some kind of culture

-back to other people.

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-Sioned went on to win a first class

-honours degree in Welsh at Cardiff.

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-It was the start of a golden age

-as she set about founding Cordydd.

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-Sioned was an instinctive musician.

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-Music seemed to be in her soul.

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-She also had

-that wonderful ability...

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-..to gather

-a group of people together...

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-..to form a choir...

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-..and then the remarkable formula

-to create that blend of voices.

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-It's hard to create.

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-It was something

-she had to convey to the choir.

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-The sound at the time

-was quite unique.

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-Sioned could create

-a remarkable sound in a choir.

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-You might think that it wasn't

-a Welsh sound as such.

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-Her research was extremely thorough.

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-With Cordydd, she created a clean,

-pure, and, in a way, perfect sound.

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-But there was a spirit

-in the singing.

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-Cordydd was Sioned's idea.

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-It was a great period.

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-A social group of people

-in their twenties...

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-..who wanted to carry on something

-with which they'd been brought up.

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-Coming together to have a good time.

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-Having established Cordydd...

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-..Sioned James was making her mark

-in the world of TV and radio too.

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-The first time I met Sioned,

-we'd been warned at Radio Cymru...

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-..that a talented young woman

-was coming to work as a researcher.

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-As one of the old guard, I'd been

-asked to take her under my wing.

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-But we'd also been told

-that maybe she was a little shy.

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-Within five minutes

-of her coming through the door...

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-..you knew that the description

-didn't quite suit Sioned.

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-Looking back, maybe there was

-a grain of truth in it...

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-..but she was like a whirlwind.

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-She was a breath of fresh air

-as regards her originality.

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-Maybe the BBC and the traditional

-world of Welsh broadcasting...

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-..wasn't ready for someone

-like her at the time.

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-Fresh new ideas

-as a member of a production team.

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-She didn't have

-that many opportunities...

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-..but when she did, everyone knew

-that Sioned James was on the air.

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-As well as working in the media...

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-..Sioned tried her hand

-at being a professional agent.

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-One of her clients

-was the soprano Gwawr Edwards.

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-The relationship between an artist

-and an agent is important.

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-That bond is very important.

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-Our relationship developed

-to be something so much more.

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-We became close friends.

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-Our personalities were similar.

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-We both liked fun in entertainment.

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-In your twenties, you go from

-a child to an adult, in a way.

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-She was such a big influence

-on my life.

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-She really was.

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-I just miss her so much.

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-In 2007, with her career

-going from strength to strength...

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-..and the choir becoming

-increasingly successful...

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-..Sioned's conducting talent

-and broadcasting ability...

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-..combined in a new series

-for S4C, Codi Canu.

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-It was a pleasure for me to work

-with her on 2 series of Codi Canu...

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-..where rugby fans formed choirs.

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-We had to turn

-a roomful of Ospreys fans...

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-..into a disciplined choir.

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-Alwyn Humphreys and Sioned James.

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-Neither Sioned or I

-really wanted to do it...

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-..because it was totally different

-to anything we'd ever done.

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-We were used to a choir

-of people who could sing...

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-..and were already disciplined.

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-We were being thrown

-into a rugby crowd, to be honest.

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-Is there a gun here

-to shoot a few of these singers?

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-Come on down!

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-Some didn't know the meaning

-of choral discipline!

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-They'd stand up and ask why we were

-doing something a particular way.

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-Reliving the experiences

-in the car on the way back...

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-..we were almost hysterical.

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-Altos?

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-Please be good, please be good,

-please be good, please...

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-There was a serious side

-because it was a competition.

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-We were both petrified

-by what would happen...

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-..when we had to compete

-against the other choirs...

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-I think the decision

-had been made beforehand...

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-..that the Ospreys choir

-wouldn't win.

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-We decided to enjoy it

-as an extraordinary experience.

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-But if it wasn't for Sioned,

-I wouldn't have lasted the course.

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-Cordydd was now

-a successful choir...

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-..having won many prizes at the

-National Eisteddfod, Cor Cymru...

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-..and Radio Cymru's

-choral competition.

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-Many young Welsh people in Cardiff

-were desperate to join.

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-I remember sitting in the Pavilion,

-probably awaiting an adjudication.

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-The mixed choir competition was on.

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-I remember hearing Cordydd's sound.

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-They grabbed my attention

-from the off.

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-I knew that I was going

-to Cardiff University that year.

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-I resolved to get into the choir

-one day.

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-I had just left university

-and started working.

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-I had nothing at all

-to do with Welsh culture.

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-I'd never really been a part of it,

-not even at home.

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-A Welsh learner from Fishguard

-isn't really down with the Taffia!

0:21:560:22:00

-But I enjoyed singing and wanted

-a way to make new Welsh friends.

0:22:000:22:05

-I put "Welsh choir" into Google

-and it came up.

0:22:050:22:08

-I remember walking

-into the vestry of Salem Chapel...

0:22:090:22:12

-..wanting to join the choir

-but not knowing much more.

0:22:130:22:16

-Should we introduce ourselves

-to Sioned?

0:22:160:22:19

-Was there an interview? An audition?

0:22:190:22:22

-Would I have to sing

-in front of everyone?

0:22:220:22:24

-But we soon found out...

0:22:250:22:26

-..that sneaking in and sitting

-at the back wasn't an option.

0:22:270:22:31

-That wasn't how Sioned did things.

0:22:310:22:34

-She stopped the rehearsal.

0:22:340:22:36

-"Who do we have here?"

0:22:360:22:38

-"What do you want to do?"

0:22:380:22:39

-"Introduce yourselves."

0:22:400:22:41

-"Do you want to sing?"

0:22:410:22:43

-She didn't force us to sing,

-but you knew right away.

0:22:430:22:47

-OK, this choir is what it is

-because of the conductor.

0:22:470:22:52

-If you joined Cordydd,

-you became one of Sioned's team...

0:22:520:22:57

-..and that was that.

0:22:570:22:59

-When I first became

-a member of Cordydd...

0:23:080:23:12

-..I remember being aware

-that it all felt very homely.

0:23:120:23:17

-We were accepted as a young bunch,

-the choir's youngest members.

0:23:170:23:23

-We were welcomed with open arms

-by every one of the members.

0:23:230:23:28

-Sioned created that atmosphere

-in the rehearsals.

0:23:280:23:32

-She managed to strike

-the right balance...

0:23:320:23:35

-..between having fun

-and knuckling down...

0:23:360:23:39

-..for a competition

-or a concert performance.

0:23:390:23:44

-She was a perfectionist.

0:23:440:23:46

-Both aspects combined

-so easily, so leisurely...

0:23:470:23:51

-I'm convinced

-it was that balance...

0:23:520:23:54

-..that led to Sioned enjoying

-so much success with the choir.

0:23:540:23:58

-She aimed

-for the highest standards...

0:24:050:24:08

-..but she didn't reach them...

0:24:080:24:11

-..without a great deal of spadework.

0:24:110:24:14

-In 2008,

-Sioned accepted an invitation...

0:24:150:24:18

-..to conduct Cardiff's

-Mochyn Du pensioners choir.

0:24:180:24:23

-She took up the challenge

-in the way she always would.

0:24:330:24:38

-She'd make the best

-of any situation.

0:24:380:24:41

-They enjoyed constant success.

0:24:410:24:43

-She managed to create another

-community of people in Cardiff.

0:24:460:24:52

-She brought

-over 80 older people together...

0:24:520:24:56

-..to create music typical of Sioned.

0:24:560:24:59

-Music of the highest standard

-for pensioner choirs...

0:25:000:25:04

-..because of the firm foundation

-that Sioned had put in place.

0:25:040:25:08

-I always think that the genius

-Sioned possessed was very rare.

0:25:180:25:23

-However, no-one would use Sioned's

-methods of rehearsing a choir...

0:25:240:25:28

-..as the basis for a textbook.

0:25:290:25:31

-I'm reminded

-of a quote by John Bertalot.

0:25:310:25:34

-"When criticizing your choir,

-be sensitive and constructive."

0:25:340:25:39

-Well, Sioned's way

-was to tell them...

0:25:390:25:42

-.."You nauseate me!"

0:25:430:25:45

-Sioned had her own language.

0:25:450:25:47

-I recall one rehearsal.

0:25:470:25:49

-I heard her say something and didn't

-quite understand what she had said.

0:25:490:25:54

-It was one of her sayings,

-and I won't repeat it.

0:25:540:25:57

-I turned to Luned, a fellow alto,

-and asked what Sioned had just said.

0:25:570:26:02

-Luned turned to me

-and wrote it down on the copy.

0:26:020:26:07

-Oh, right!

0:26:080:26:09

-The other altos saw it

-and began to laugh.

0:26:100:26:12

-They'd found someone else who was

-tuning in to Sioned's language.

0:26:120:26:17

-It could be strong,

-but you got used to it.

0:26:170:26:20

-That was her way of telling you

-something wasn't good enough.

0:26:200:26:24

-She compared us to things,

-she impersonated us.

0:26:240:26:27

-I remember one example.

0:26:270:26:29

-"Right, girls, I want this sound.

0:26:290:26:32

-"Boys, I want this sound,

-and altos, I want this."

0:26:320:26:36

-Thanks a bunch!

0:26:360:26:37

-The altos weren't girls.

0:26:370:26:39

-We were something in the middle.

0:26:390:26:42

-Then we all laughed.

0:26:420:26:43

-Afterwards,

-that cropped up regularly...

0:26:440:26:46

-..because she knew

-she'd touched a nerve.

0:26:470:26:50

-"You nauseate me!"

0:26:500:26:52

-Then, if it got really bad,

-"I nauseate myself!"

0:26:520:26:57

-Some were like chickens.

0:26:580:26:59

-There were other similes.

0:26:590:27:01

-She'd point at someone and ask

-what kind of sound they had made.

0:27:010:27:06

-Someone else would have

-to make a suggestion.

0:27:060:27:09

-She was colourful.

0:27:090:27:11

-Good conductors

-need to convey their emotions.

0:27:110:27:15

-Sioned did so

-through plain speaking.

0:27:160:27:18

-Some were terrified.

0:27:190:27:20

-Some would be shocked

-at her comments.

0:27:200:27:22

-There was no need to ask

-what had been said.

0:27:230:27:25

-But there on that copy...

0:27:250:27:27

-..probably

-a lovely devotional piece...

0:27:270:27:30

-..written in pencil, was a note

-of what exactly Sioned had said.

0:27:300:27:34

-With Cordydd

-going from strength to strength...

0:27:410:27:44

-..the next step was to release a CD.

0:27:450:27:47

-They recorded the piece

-that impressed her so much...

0:27:470:27:51

-..in hospital after the car crash.

0:27:510:27:53

-John Rutter's Requiem, translated

-into Welsh by Emyr Davies.

0:27:540:28:00

-The CD was launched

-at St Augustine's Church, Penarth.

0:28:000:28:04

-The mark of the greatness

-of any conductor...

0:28:080:28:12

-..is not just to create

-a masterpiece for a CD recording...

0:28:130:28:17

-..but to also maintain that standard

-in a live performance.

0:28:180:28:23

-I'll never forget being at

-St Augustine's Church, Penarth...

0:28:230:28:28

-..and hearing Cordydd

-performing the work.

0:28:290:28:34

-I remember feeling so privileged.

0:28:380:28:41

-The audience was usually close

-when you sang with Cordydd.

0:28:420:28:45

-Seeing people's faces,

-people you respected...

0:28:460:28:49

-..enjoying the performance...

0:28:500:28:52

-..and getting that feeling I got

-before I joined the choir...

0:28:520:28:56

-..and thinking, "She is creating

-something special here."

0:28:570:29:01

-Everyone who left the church,

-and it was packed, was speechless...

0:29:060:29:12

-..because we had been elevated

-to a higher spiritual plane.

0:29:120:29:17

-Everyone was stunned,

-not just by the choir's quality...

0:29:170:29:21

-..and the CD they had produced...

0:29:210:29:23

-..but also that they had maintained

-the standard in a live performance.

0:29:240:29:29

-It's an evening I'll never forget.

0:29:290:29:32

-Sioned and Cordydd had much success

-in the Cor Cymru competition.

0:29:460:29:51

-They reached the semi-final in 2005

-and the final in 2009...

0:29:510:29:57

-..with their enchanting performance

-of Eric Whitacre's Sleep.

0:29:570:30:02

-That competition

-has been a great foundation...

0:30:040:30:07

-..and a fantastic stage

-for choirs down the years.

0:30:080:30:11

-What's great about it...

0:30:110:30:13

-..is that it forces

-or nurtures new choirs to compete.

0:30:130:30:18

-The choral series

-was presented on S4C...

0:30:210:30:24

-..by Sioned's best friend,

-Heledd Cynwal.

0:30:240:30:27

-It was a strange experience

-to interview Sioned...

0:30:270:30:31

-..when Cordydd appeared

-on Cor Cymru.

0:30:310:30:34

-You can't escape the fact

-that you're close to some people.

0:30:340:30:38

-We were both a bit awkward

-with each other.

0:30:390:30:41

-We were both nervous, I think.

0:30:420:30:44

-It was very nice

-to see a close friend...

0:30:440:30:48

-..being successful on that stage.

0:30:480:30:50

-One of the awards

-is given to the best conductor...

0:30:510:30:55

-..or the most promising conductor.

0:30:550:30:58

-I'll never forget that year.

0:30:590:31:01

-Sioned James.

0:31:010:31:03

-She was speechless,

-with a tear in her eye.

0:31:030:31:07

-I was so happy,

-standing next to her.

0:31:070:31:12

-That she was being recognized

-for her work...

0:31:130:31:16

-..for the journey

-she was on with the choir.

0:31:160:31:19

-Competing was certainly

-all-important to Sioned.

0:31:210:31:24

-But concerts with world-famous

-conductors and composers...

0:31:240:31:28

-..counted even more for her

-as regards the choir's achievements.

0:31:290:31:33

-Sioned placed great emphasis

-on working with new composers.

0:31:350:31:40

-Having worked

-with Eric Whitacre in 2010...

0:31:400:31:44

-..she attracted the greats

-Paul Mealor and Morten Lauridsen...

0:31:440:31:48

-..to hold two concerts,

-one in Llandaff...

0:31:490:31:52

-..and one at St David's Cathedral.

0:31:530:31:56

-Sioned was a great innovator.

0:32:040:32:06

-One of her amazing skills

-is the sensuality of sound.

0:32:060:32:10

-Cordydd don't sound

-like a Welsh choir.

0:32:100:32:13

-They'd hate me saying that because

-they're proud of being Welsh.

0:32:130:32:17

-They sound

-like an international choir.

0:32:170:32:19

-She was obsessed with the quality

-of the vowels, the sound.

0:32:190:32:23

-She was drawn to composers

-like myself, Whitacre, Lauridsen...

0:32:230:32:28

-..who are composers

-of the sensuality of sound.

0:32:280:32:31

-It was a marriage

-between conductor and composer.

0:32:310:32:34

-She introduced their music to Wales.

0:32:350:32:37

-Haydn was the father

-of the symphony.

0:32:370:32:40

-Morten Lauridsen is the father

-of the contemporary choral world.

0:32:410:32:45

-I was conducting,

-shivers down the spine.

0:32:450:32:48

-Sioned had tears in her eyes.

0:32:480:32:50

-Here she was, in the presence

-of this great man, with her choir...

0:32:500:32:53

-..singing top drawer,

-absolute top drawer.

0:32:540:32:56

-The place was full in the concert.

0:32:570:32:59

-The whole of St David's turned out!

0:32:590:33:01

-What a gig!

0:33:020:33:03

-It was a thrill, I must be honest.

0:33:060:33:09

-Those minutes were important for me

-to take stock of the situation.

0:33:090:33:14

-That says everything about Sioned.

0:33:150:33:17

-Despite her confidence...

0:33:180:33:20

-..that nervousness

-was still evident.

0:33:200:33:23

-She wanted to succeed.

0:33:230:33:25

-She wanted to reach

-the highest level every time.

0:33:250:33:29

-.

0:33:360:33:37

-Subtitles

0:33:390:33:39

-Subtitles

-

-Subtitles

0:33:390:33:41

-One of Sioned's great passions

-was her love of hymns...

0:33:490:33:53

-..and performing

-new arrangements of them.

0:33:530:33:57

-Sioned was steeped

-in congregational music.

0:33:580:34:01

-Hymns were very important to her...

0:34:020:34:05

-..as was being able

-to interpret them with the choir.

0:34:050:34:09

-She had passion and she had faith.

0:34:090:34:12

-It amazed me.

0:34:160:34:17

-You'd expect a musician

-to focus on the musical aspects...

0:34:180:34:22

-..but the words

-were so important to her...

0:34:220:34:25

-..maybe even more so than the music.

0:34:250:34:27

-Such was her love of hymns...

0:34:300:34:32

-..that Cordydd commissioned

-a new arrangement of Pantyfedwen...

0:34:320:34:37

-..to present to Sioned

-and her husband, Gareth Roberts...

0:34:370:34:41

-..on the occasion of their wedding.

0:34:410:34:43

-She liked rugby...

0:34:550:34:56

-..and Gareth Roberts

-likes rugby too.

0:34:560:35:00

-They got together.

0:35:000:35:03

-I just think he was blinded by her.

0:35:030:35:05

-It was hard not to be blinded

-by those huge blue eyes.

0:35:050:35:09

-They say that the eyes

-are the window to the soul.

0:35:090:35:12

-They certainly were

-in Sioned's case.

0:35:120:35:15

-On 10 August 2010,

-Sioned and Gareth got married...

0:35:160:35:20

-..at Penybont chapel in Llandysul.

0:35:200:35:22

-We were in the deacons' pew.

0:35:220:35:24

-She held my hand

-all the way through it.

0:35:250:35:27

-That was very nice.

0:35:280:35:29

-The choir sang wonderfully.

0:35:300:35:32

-It was a ceremony

-that embraced you.

0:35:330:35:36

-It said a lot

-about her and Gareth...

0:35:360:35:38

-..and everyone who had been

-a part of her life.

0:35:380:35:42

-Sioned had a clear affinity

-for traditional Welsh hymns.

0:35:490:35:52

-She introduced Craig Yr Oesoedd

-to the choir...

0:35:530:35:56

-..and got Jeff Howard to create

-an arrangement for Cor Cymru 2009.

0:35:560:36:00

-You're in the zone,

-really enjoying a song...

0:36:070:36:10

-..and you instinctively look

-into the conductor's eyes.

0:36:100:36:14

-You get a connection

-when you do that.

0:36:140:36:17

-Sioned knew

-when we were enjoying a song.

0:36:170:36:20

-You puffed your chest out.

0:36:200:36:22

-She had to go,

-"Rein it in now, Roche! Rein it in!"

0:36:220:36:26

-Her passion was totally evident.

0:36:300:36:33

-She wanted to make sure...

0:36:330:36:35

-..that the choir performed the piece

-as a Welsh anthem.

0:36:350:36:41

-When we sang it in the competition,

-I remember feeling a thrill...

0:36:410:36:46

-..that she had managed to get Jeff

-to create an arrangement...

0:36:460:36:50

-..that breathed new life

-into something...

0:36:500:36:53

-..that had been so important to her

-since the early years of her life.

0:36:530:36:58

-It was unique.

0:36:590:37:00

-Despite all the success,

-Sioned's roots remained in Newport.

0:37:230:37:27

-She went to Pembrokeshire

-every chance she got...

0:37:280:37:31

-..to escape all the attention

-and to enjoy the peace.

0:37:320:37:36

-Newport Pembs

-truly is my spiritual home.

0:37:360:37:39

-When your life's in order...

0:37:410:37:43

-..that's when you look back

-at what's happened in your past.

0:37:440:37:48

-It was so clear

-that she gave everything...

0:37:500:37:54

-..to conduct this choir

-that meant so much to her.

0:37:540:37:57

-You also think,

-that after a storm dissipates...

0:37:580:38:02

-..it leaves a gaping hole

-afterwards.

0:38:030:38:07

-Every Thursday after a rehearsal,

-I left with that empty feeling.

0:38:070:38:12

-She must have felt it too.

0:38:120:38:14

-When I think of the loss

-she must have felt...

0:38:140:38:18

-..in those final months and years,

-it must have been tough.

0:38:180:38:22

-I think that I could sense it.

0:38:220:38:25

-If you have that storm...

0:38:250:38:28

-..you have to admit

-that you have a duty...

0:38:280:38:31

-..towards what happens

-after the storm...

0:38:320:38:35

-..comes to an end.

0:38:350:38:37

-I think she was a person

-who felt things deeply.

0:38:380:38:42

-She was a rock to a lot of people.

0:38:420:38:44

-That's how Sioned was.

0:38:460:38:47

-If everyone else was OK,

-things were fine.

0:38:470:38:50

-But as for herself...

0:38:500:38:52

-..it was a case of,

-"Let me be and I'll carry on.

0:38:520:38:55

-"I'll deal with things

-in my own way..."

0:38:550:39:00

-After a spell in hospital,

-Sioned lost her battle.

0:39:020:39:06

-A difficult personal battle

-that had been with her for years.

0:39:070:39:11

-I got a phone call.

0:39:130:39:15

-..and I was told...

0:39:160:39:18

-..that she had gone...

0:39:180:39:20

-..and, um, just...

0:39:210:39:24

-..shock.

0:39:250:39:26

-I knew she was ill.

0:39:260:39:28

-To be fair, Gareth had kept

-the lines of communication open.

0:39:280:39:32

-Even so, when you hear that

-about a 41-year-old woman...

0:39:330:39:37

-..who had so much to offer

-and so much to give...

0:39:370:39:40

-..it was just so hard to accept.

0:39:430:39:46

-Yes.

0:39:490:39:50

-I think I broke down.

0:39:520:39:53

-A few days

-after Sioned's private funeral...

0:40:030:40:07

-..Cordydd faced

-a difficult decision.

0:40:070:40:10

-Would they compete at the Eisteddfod

-in Abergavenny without her?

0:40:100:40:15

-For a long time afterwards...

0:40:150:40:17

-..I couldn't shake off

-the feeling...

0:40:180:40:21

-..that something special

-was in danger of coming to an end...

0:40:210:40:26

-..and that all we could do...

0:40:270:40:29

-..to pay our debt...

0:40:300:40:32

-..to acknowledge it

-in a deserving manner...

0:40:330:40:36

-..was to make sure

-that it didn't end.

0:40:360:40:39

-As regards the future of Cordydd...

0:40:390:40:41

-..we would do all we could...

0:40:410:40:43

-..the spadework,

-the difficult conversations...

0:40:440:40:47

-..we would do whatever it took...

0:40:470:40:49

-..because now, more than ever,

-it had to be done.

0:40:490:40:53

-The decision was taken...

0:40:530:40:56

-..to carry on and compete...

0:40:560:40:59

-..but on one condition.

0:40:590:41:01

-That we would go there

-and do everything perfectly.

0:41:010:41:05

-For that fortnight between

-Sioned's death and the Eisteddfod...

0:41:050:41:10

-..everyone pulled together

-to work as a team.

0:41:100:41:14

-There was Huw, with those hands...

0:41:370:41:41

-The very same elements

-that Sioned had were there.

0:41:420:41:46

-I certainly felt, right, I'm giving

-this bloke everything I've got.

0:41:460:41:51

-He's the one standing there.

0:41:510:41:53

-He's the one who bears

-all the responsibility now.

0:41:530:41:56

-The nature of the pieces...

0:42:010:42:03

-..yes, we were going

-from one period to another...

0:42:030:42:07

-..but each one of the pieces

-had a definitive message.

0:42:070:42:10

-There was a reference

-to celebrating life.

0:42:100:42:13

-There was a reference to moving on,

-a reference to remembrance.

0:42:140:42:18

-The irony is, Sioned wasn't there

-to listen to the performance.

0:42:200:42:25

-I don't know how they managed...

0:42:300:42:32

-..to go from the first note

-to the last note.

0:42:320:42:36

-..but they all somehow held

-that performance together.

0:42:360:42:40

-Without a doubt, I got a thrill

-from conducting the choir...

0:42:400:42:44

-..at last year's Eisteddfod.

0:42:440:42:46

-I'm so glad that we were able to pay

-Sioned the best tribute possible.

0:42:470:42:51

-In October 2016, Sioned's family

-and friends gathered...

0:43:050:43:11

-..for a special service

-to celebrate her life...

0:43:110:43:14

-..arranged by Cordydd.

0:43:150:43:18

-It was wonderful

-to sing the old songs.

0:43:180:43:22

-What could be more apt than to tell

-the choir's story through music.

0:43:220:43:27

-That was a very special day.

0:43:280:43:31

-So many people

-from so many fields gathered...

0:43:310:43:36

-..to pay tribute to her...

0:43:370:43:39

-..and to talk about her.

0:43:390:43:42

-A medley of sadness and humour.

0:43:420:43:45

-Cordydd's performance that day...

0:43:460:43:49

-...was almost out of this world.

0:43:490:43:52

-I think Sioned

-would have been in her element...

0:44:020:44:05

-..listening to the performances.

0:44:060:44:08

-She'd have loved being with people

-who meant so much to her.

0:44:080:44:12

-Oh, that was an incredible service.

0:44:180:44:22

-The choir sang like I've never

-heard them sing before.

0:44:230:44:28

-Huw Foulkes, of course.

0:44:310:44:33

-I can't imagine anyone better to

-take the helm and carry on her work.

0:44:330:44:38

-I know that Sioned will be pleased

-that Huw is there.

0:44:390:44:42

-It was a service

-that screamed out Sioned James.

0:44:430:44:49

-As for the singing,

-the choir rose to the occasion.

0:44:550:44:59

-It was so difficult for them.

0:44:590:45:01

-Very difficult.

0:45:020:45:03

-It was a remarkable

-memorial service...

0:45:040:45:08

-..and worthy of Sioned.

0:45:080:45:10

-Sioned.

0:46:030:46:04

-"Through the lavender and tears

0:46:050:46:07

-"Without her,

-the laughter won't echo

0:46:070:46:10

-"Tonight, how can we sing our song

0:46:110:46:14

-"When longing holds the baton?"

0:46:140:46:17

-The englyn by Emyr Davies.

0:46:190:46:22

-What strikes me is the silence

-where there was laughter.

0:46:230:46:29

-Calm where there was activity.

0:46:290:46:33

-And that this person...

0:46:330:46:35

-..who was so full of life...

0:46:370:46:39

-..is now quiet.

0:46:390:46:41

-When I remember Sioned,

-I remember talking.

0:46:420:46:45

-In the first years,

-answering me back.

0:46:450:46:48

-By the end, teacher and pupil

-had become friends.

0:46:500:46:55

-She touched the hearts

-of so many close friends...

0:46:580:47:02

-..and she has left a huge void

-behind her as a friend.

0:47:020:47:05

-I also feel that Sioned

-wouldn't want us...

0:47:060:47:10

-..to weigh ourselves down

-with too much sadness.

0:47:100:47:13

-She was such a positive,

-happy, joyful person.

0:47:140:47:18

-I can hear her now,

-if she thought we were sad.

0:47:180:47:21

-"You nauseate me! Come on!"

0:47:210:47:23

-We have to try to remember

-the happy aspects of Sioned.

0:47:230:47:28

-She would want us to be happy

-through our sadness.

0:47:280:47:32

-She gave people opportunities

-that we could never have dreamed of.

0:47:340:47:38

-Without a doubt,

-the foundation that she laid down...

0:47:390:47:44

-..is something that we will

-celebrate for years to come.

0:47:450:47:48

-I have no doubt either

-that the name of Sioned James...

0:47:480:47:52

-..will be exalted for centuries...

0:47:520:47:57

-..in the world of Welsh

-choral singing.

0:47:570:48:00

-S4C Subtitles by Testun Cyf.

0:48:220:48:25

-.

0:48:250:48:26

Mae'r rhaglen arbennig hon yn talu teyrnged ac yn diolch am gyfraniad cerddorol y diweddar Sioned James. Celebrating the life of the late musician and choral conductor Sioned James.


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