07 May 2020
A heartfelt performance of the famous Welsh hymn Calon Lân by a digital choir put together by top tenor Rhys Meirion has gone viral on social media with more than 180,000 views.
The 130-strong choir, which included members from across North Wales and as far afield as Australia, was assembled virtually for the S4C special Côr Digidol Rhys Meirion.
Calon Lân was originally written in the 1890s as a hymn, with words by Daniel James and the tune by John Hughes, but it's now also firmly established as a Welsh rugby anthem.
As well as parts being sung to the original music, other sections of the iconic hymn were performed to an eclectic mix of tunes including Mack the Knife and The Rose.
Blaenau Ffestiniog-born Rhys, who was raised in Tremadog and now lives in Pwllglas, near Ruthin, was in the middle of filming the third series of Corau Rhys Meirion when the coronavirus lockdown was imposed.
Rhys said: "We were filming a choir of Awel y Coleg residents and local youngsters in Bala which was all about bridging generations when we were forced into lockdown. We were left thinking what could we now as clearly bringing a choir together wasn't going to be an option."
The idea to form a digital choir was inspired by the Facebook group Côr-Ona, which is a play on words using 'corona' and the word 'choir' in Welsh.
The group, masterminded by Anglesey singer and choir conductor Catrin Angharad Jones, was set up to allow choir enthusiasts to sing and share their favourite songs and hymns. It has turned into an online phenomenon notching-up over 40,000 members since it was formed on March 17 to help people that feel lonely during self-isolation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Rhys added: "We saw that Catrin Toffoc had started Côr-Ona which had very quickly gathered a big following of more than 46,000 members. We thought a digital choir would work and got in touch with Catrin."
"The choir has shown us the power of music and how singing together is so important to the Welsh nation. The members were proof that people still want their musical fix and through the wonders of modern technology, we were able to do it. Like everyone else at Cwmni Da, I'm blown away by the response on social media to the video of Calon Lân. To see it has had more than 180,000 views and still rising is incredible."
Côr Digidol Rhys Meirion was commissioned by S4C's Entertainment Content Commissioner, Elen Rhys, in response to the coronavirus crisis.
Elen said: "The positive reaction we've seen in response to the heartfelt performance of Calon Lân has been phenomenal. It proves that music can bring us all together even though we're all apart.
"It's not a myth that Wales is the Land of Song, and we're very proud that it has reached such a wide audience. With a smile on our face and a song in our hearts, we can support each other to get through this crisis."