The Borough Welsh Congregational Chapel ~ Capel-y-Boro

Philip Griffiths ~ “From the Moat to Phantom” The Montgomeryshire Society at "The Borough"

Philip Griffiths maybe more familiar with the Music of the Night, but it was music in the afternoon at Borough Welsh Chapel, Southwark Bridge Rd. on Sunday 21st November when the professional singer from Mid Wales shared with an audience of over thirty people his reminiscences and musical highlights of a career in music spanning over forty years.

“From the Moat to Phantom” was organized by the Montgomeryshire Society, a London based organization which has held cultural and social events for people from the old Welsh county for over eighty years. They were joined on this occasion by members of the chapel who had stayed on after the morning service for lunch followed by this enchanting musical entertainment.

The Moat of the title refers to The Moat Farm, some six miles from Newtown, where Philip Griffiths grew up and delighted in riding horses and learning to sing. Both parents were encouraging but it was his mother, herself an accomplished amateur singer, who tutored her young son for concerts and eisteddfodau. And he brought along to the Borough the first silver cup he ever won, at a local eisteddfod. The talk was interspersed with songs, accompanied by Philip himself on the grand piano, which ranged from Folksongs to Welsh classics and hits from the shows in which he has appeared.

By happy coincidence, the Head of the Vocal Department at the Manchester College of Music was himself a Montgomeryshire man, the legendary Gwilym Gwalchmai, who had coached and nurtured generations of Welsh singers. So it was almost inevitable that Philip should go to study with him. It was also at Manchester that he met his future wife.

After a period of study in Manchester, Philip moved to Sussex where he sang for six years in the chorus at Glyndebourne Opera House. While there, it was suggested that he tried his hand at musicals, and the rest, as they say, is history. From Evita to Phantom of the Opera, Philip Griffiths has never stopped working. This year he marks his twentieth year with Phantom, both as a singer and house producer.

“From Moat to Phantom” was a fascinating glimpse of life in the West End, the highs and lows, the stars and the glitz, told with great panache by a charming artist.

John Jones
29th November 2010