Chepstow & Usk Singing Club to Present The Karl Daymond Bursary Concert

St Mary’s Priory in Chepstow will be filled with music on Saturday 30th September to celebrate the Karl Daymond Bursary donated to two students from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Local Welsh music students Tomos Owen Jones and Maisie O’Shea will each receive £1,000 towards their studies at RWCMD. The bursary has been raised at The Singing Club concerts over the past few years, in memory of its founder Musical Director Karl Daymond.

Karl won a scholarship to The Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and trained at The National Opera Studio, sponsored by Glyndebourne Opera. As a principal baritone, he sang with English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, the BBC Proms and Covent Garden to name a few. He performed The Pirate King from The Pirates of Penzance at The Royal Variety Performance and was twice a soloist in front of 70,000 at Old Trafford.

Karl Daymond at his beloved piano – Copyright: Suzanne Moore Osley

After retiring from touring, Karl settled in Chepstow and founded The Singing Club in 2007. Karl’s aim was to create an all-inclusive community choir, encouraging people who had never sung in a choir before, people who didn’t read music and people who thought that they could not sing. His firm belief was that if you can talk, you can sing.

Over the following ten years, Karl, who was a larger-than-life character, ensured that The Singing Club was involved in many madcap performances, including being the improvised soundtrack to the silent film Ivanhoe at Chepstow Castle, dressed in medieval costumes, and performing a singing protest at the increase of Severn Bridge tolls, dressed up as Rebecca Rioters.

When Karl tragically passed away suddenly in 2017, his old school friend and fellow musician Jayne Thomas took on the job of Musical Director of The Singing Club. Jayne is a music graduate of Goldsmiths College, London. She accompanies Cwmbach Male Voice Choir and teaches piano, music theory and voice. Jayne has successfully led The Singing Club for the past six years, including keeping the group going with Zoom sessions through the Covid-19 pandemic years.

“The term ‘Choral chaos’ given to The Singing Club at the National Eisteddfod in Abergavenny in 2016 aptly sums up the enthusiasm and hwyl that Karl inspired in his singers,” says Jayne. “No one could step into Karl’s shoes, the aim has been to pull together to keep Singing Club going as it’s his legacy. Karl felt that everyone’s voice should be heard. He was an advocate of fairness, freedom and equality, but he also felt that singing should be fun. In the now immortal words of Dafydd Iwan, ‘Yma O Hyd’ is so true of The Singing Club and we are really looking forward to celebrating Karl’s legacy at the Bursary concert.”

Jayne Thomas and The Singing Club performing at Castell Roc, Chepstow Castle 2023 – Copyright: Chepstow Photographic Society

The Bursary Concert will feature a wide range of music with pop, folk, gospel and classical songs performed by The Singing Club. Other performers include Chepstow Male Voice Choir where Karl was once Conductor, Chepstow Chatelaines female choir, also founded by Karl and now led by Jayne, Chepstow-based VB Samba band and the recipients of the Karl Daymond Bursary Tomas Owen Jones and Maisie O’Shea.

Issa Farfour will compere the evening. Originally from Syria, Issa and his brother became friends with Karl when they met him at music lessons. They performed a Syrian song with The Singing Club when they first arrived in Wales. Issa is now a TV journalist and recently won ITV Newcomer of The Year Award.

The Karl Daymond Bursary Concert will be held at St Mary’s Priory, Chepstow on Saturday 30 September at 7pm. Tickets: £10 from Hannah’s Music & Chepstow Mencap.

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