By Eifion Jenkins

CÔR DYFED opened the celebrations of its 50th anniversary year in a Passiontide concert at St Katharine's Church, Milford Haven, on Saturday (April 8).

Since 1967 when the choir first formed under the redoubtable John S Davies, it has established a reputation as one of the leading ensembles in west Wales with a repertoire ranging from Renaissance, Baroque to 20th century composers.

Saturday's programme, under musical director Oliver Waterer, was a chance to enjoy the more modern end of that spectrum.

The first half included both the Baroque composer Boyce and the early Romantic Mendelssohn but perhaps the stand-out offerings were two of Poulenc's Motets for the season of Lent.

The choristers met the challenge of these 20th century compositions full-on and ably coped with the complexities of their chromatic dissonances.

Finzi's popular and atmospheric 'Lo, the final sacrifice' brought the first half to a close – a modern take on the glories of Baroque music.

The main event was Fauré's Requiem, which again perhaps owes its popularity to its innovative treatment of an ancient compositional tradition, the requiem mass.

The choir, and St David's organist Simon Pearce, performed with conviction and gave full vent to the optimistic spirit of the piece.

The soprano solo 'Pie Jesu', probably the most familiar section of the work, was beautifully sung by former head chorister at St David's Sophie Davies, while the 'Libera me' and Offertory solos were taken by bass Ieuan Anthony.

West Wales is fortunate to have a choir of such standard, capable of presenting works of this magnitude and complexity and their 50th anniversary programme offers more delights to come which deserve support.

The choir returns to its favourite venue, St David's Cathedral, on July 15 when its forces will be swollen by the addition of the St David's Festival Chorus and the British Sinfonietta for a performance of the dramatic, and operatic, Requiem by Verdi.

Two further concerts at the cathedral are planned for November and December.