All quiet on the western front

By Keith Clarke

It has been encouraging to see British students finding their voice again in the face of government plans to leave them with horrendously huge debts if they venture into higher education. After a generation of Quiet Satisfieds, the way the new set has taken to the streets with their placards and megaphones has been quite refreshing to those of us brought up in more volatile times. Of course, every legitimate student protest is joined by a bunch of hooligans who just want to smash plate glass, but that’s an irksome by-product of virtually any gathering these days.

What has this to do with music, you ask. Not a lot. But the thoughts were stirred by the fact that at a time when everyone is relearning the art of shouting and making a fuss, one of the biggest shifts in UK arts funding has left an eerie quiet. More than 200 organizations have lost their funding altogether; many more have been dealt cuts; yet there is a singular lack of public breast beating. Perhaps these guys have just had the spirit knocked out of them.


It’s a funny old business. Welsh singer Wynne Evans came to attention playing the part of a caricature opera singer in a series of tv ads for an insurance price comparison website. Kitted up in a tux and sporting a twirly moustache, he intoned “Go Compare” to the melody of the American military song, Over There, his performance creating such an effect that the ad was voted the most irritating on British television. That didn’t stop Evans heading for stardom, releasing an album featuring Mario Lanza show classics which hit the number one spot, appearing on a tv documentary, giving concerts.

Behind the moustache and the Go Compare persona, Evans is a working singer whose less publicized work included a part in the Royal opera’s Anna Nicole. But such was the clamor for his tv personality (Gio Compario) that he was forced into hiding, reported the Daily Star. Now comes news that all the interviews have taken their toll – he has lost his voice.


We have to hope Wynne Evans’ sound was still emerging when he joined the Welsh Guards to record a special album for the royal wedding which currently has the popular press in paroxysms of excitement. What music will actually be played for the event is a state secret, but there might be a clue in the selection on the CD, which Semper Fidelis; Men of Harlech; Pomp and Circumstance; and Love Divine, All Loves Excelling. Evans’ contribution is a “Royal Crown” medley of Welsh national songs.

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