Musical Team

Musical Director – Helen Allen

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHelen was born in Cardiff but grew up in the small village of Taffs Well at the base of the RhonddaValley (famous for many Welsh choirs!!).

She began taking music lessons at the age of 8 in both the piano and violin. However, finding the violin “too squeaky”, she decided to concentrate solely on the piano. It became apparent early on, much to her teacher’s amusement, that Helen had a tendency to explore all musical genres other than classical. She did this by engaging with school orchestras and choirs and this helped lay the foundations for the years to come.

Despite not pursuing music as an academic subject at university, Helen always found a piano nearby to play during her varsity years. After leaving University, Helen took a year sabbatical and went travelling across several countries and continents. Upon returning to Wales she realised that music was a passion she very much wanted to pursue and now draws on the many musical influences from the countries she visited.

Since 2002, Helen has held the positions of Accompanist & Deputy Musical Director at various choirs including Llantrisant Male Voice Choir, Cantorion Pontyclun Ladies Choir (6 years) and Caerphilly Ladies Choir. She has also helped out at Llantrisant Ladies Choir, Bargoed Male Voice Choir, Affinity Choir and with Songbirds.  She has enjoyed performing with the various choirs at concerts and tours in Wales, Jersey, Vienna, Bratislava & recently the Albert Hall.

Her other musical interests include setting up a local community singing group ‘Cor-us’  and being the keyboard player for a local band ‘The Sheds’ which was led by her late, close friend Philip Blight (Helen regarded him as a great source of music inspiration, fun & perfection!). Helen has also helped with the awareness raising campaign for Shine Cymru ( Spina Bifida and hydrocephalus charity) by creating a “scratch” choir of experienced and non-experienced choristers in just 6 weeks in order to perform at the Senydd.

Despite not following any traditional music route, Helen achieved her Grades 6,7 & 8 in pianoforte during 2008-2010 and is currently studying the ABRSM Diplomas in Music Direction and Instrumental /Vocal teaching. She is also a freelance teacher and her ‘day job’ at WCVA (Wales Council for Voluntary Action) also supports voluntary organisations across Wales.

Though her experiences and love of music, Helen firmly believes in the benefits of health & well being that singing and being part of a choir brings to individuals. She believes that such opportunities should be available to everybody of all ages and levels, be enjoyable by all and something the community should embrace and take pride in.

Helen therefore, was delighted to accept the position of Musical Director for Cantorion Pontylcun Ladies Choir when offered to her in March 2013.

Accompanist – James Saldivar

James pic

James was born and grew up near Penzance, Cornwall and started taking piano lessons from the age of six. Throughout his teens he represented the UK at the European Student Convention, winning the piano category five times and also placing in piano at the International Student Convention in America. He gained distinction at grade eight when he was fifteen and also while getting his diploma from the London College of Music just over a year later.

James has recently graduated from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) with a Bachelor of Music (Hons) in Piano Performance (studying under Mary Dullea). In his final year he won the acclaimed Mary Rees Chopin prize.

As a freelance musician, he is ever in demand as a piano teacher, concert pianist and accompanist whilst heading up his own jazz function quartet and is currently writing, recording and performing his own original songs.

James has been the accompanist with Cantorion Pontyclun Ladies Choir since January 2013 and receives high praise for his accompanying and solo performances at their concerts.

Find James on Facebook “James Saldivar”