JP2 Foundation concert with the Cambrian Male Voice Choir

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JP2 Foundation concert with the Cambrian Male Voice ChoirAs part of the JP2 Memorial Festival 2013, the British chorals, the ‘Cambrian Male Voice Choir,’ under the music direction of Mro Frederick Nicholas, will be perform an Easter Concert at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour & St Gregory the Great Parish Church, Kercem, Gozo,

The concert, to which the general public is warmly invited to attend, is taking place this coming Wednesday, the 10th of April, starting at 7.30pm, immediately as the church service ends.

Late in the 19th century, the discovery of coal rich seams in the Rhondda Valley resulted in a mass migration to the once idyllic landscaped area. Within the valley, in the small village of Clydach Vale, a choir of over a hundred men was formed by the employees of the local colliery and became ‘The Cambrian Colliery Male Choir.’

The choir continued to grow throughout the early 20th century. They were very active in the arena of local and National Eisteddfodau and gained the reputation of being an elite male choir.

In 1930, 1931 and 1932 it set a unique record as the first choir to win at the National Eisteddfod for three consecutive years.

With the onset of World War II the choir disbanded. The present choir was reformed in 1947 under the baton of Mr D.R.Lewis a young man of exceptional talent and dedication. Within three years the choir grew in strength to 110 voices.

Unfortunately shortly after reforming there became a shortage of ‘top tenors’. The choir made the extremely difficult decision to disband. Undeterred, with a determined and resolute attitude, a number of them reformed immediately under the name ‘Cambrian Gleemen’ with about 40 voices.

It quickly re-established the tradition of performing at Eisteddfodau, charity performances, appearing on television and singing regularly on radio etc. Many of the celebrities who sang in concert with the choir were world famous names amongst whom were – Sir Geraint Evans, Elizabeth Vaughan, Charles Craig and Delme Bryn Jones.

In the competitive field the choir won numerous prizes in Eisteddfodau, they grew in number and in stature and were once again named ‘Cambrian Male Choir’

Throughout the history of the mining industry many workers were maimed and killed due to the arduous nature of the work. The Cambrian Colliery had more than its fair share of deaths and the choir lost many men as a result. In 1965, 32 miners lost their lives at the No.1 Pit.

Though none of the miners were members of the choir, it had a profound effect on the choristers lives as well as the community of Rhondda as a whole. Membership dwindled and interest was at low ebb, when their conductor left them the choir hung together by a thread. In the years to follow, their pianist Mrs Muriel Rees was their rock and the choir began to break new ground musically.

One of the choristers, Mr E. Davies took over the conductorship for a while and in 1973 a new conductor was appointed, Mr Paul Bennett. In him they found an exceptional music director and new ideas were soon formulated.

In 1978 the present musical director Mr Fred Nicholas, joined the choir. Fred initially was only going to stay three months, to help the choir with a forthcoming tour to Miami. Fortunately he is still with us. Our present day accompanist Mr Brian James hails from another small mining village of Cwmaman in the Aberdare Valley.

The choir activities are various and widespread. They have sung on numerous occasions at the Festivals of 1000 voices at the Royal Albert Hall.

They have given concerts across the length and breadth of Britain and have performed concert tours in America, Germany and Canada. They still take great pleasure in the fact that they were the first Welsh choir to perform in Disneyworld Florida. In Germany, they have formed a lasting friendship with a choir there, the Frohsinn Male Voice Choir in Simmern and have reciprocated by hosting the Frohsinn in Rhondda several times.

Amongst other events the choir participated in a stage production of the works of the author Gwyn Thomas. Actor Glyn Houston required a local choir to help him with the production and he chose the Cambrian.

The choir has also participated in the Welsh Association of Male Voice Choirs ‘Choir of the Year’ Competition, winning the title on two consecutive occasions. They were the Majestic Choir Competition Runners Up in 2008.

The Choir has also taken part in the Festival of Welsh Voices held at the Royal Albert Hall, London in October 2010. They have also been part of Festival of Remembrance both locally in Rhondda as well as The National Festival in Cardiff. Their last tour was of Scotland in April 2010.

The Choir are now on a tour of Malta.

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