50 Years

This year has seen the Treharris Male Voice Choir celebrate the 50th Anniversary of it's formation in 1961. It goes without saying the choir has enjoyed many memorable events over this period, but perhaps one of the most noteworthy was in fact the choir's very 1st Annual Concert back in those halcyon days of yore!

The newly formed Choir drew it's members from all walks of life, but without doubt, the village colliery (The Deep Navigation) together with the churches and chapels of the area provided by far the greatest number of choristers.

Back in those distant days of community spirit, the new Choir really caught the imagination of the residents of the small mining village of Treharris and it's surrounds.

Such was the enthusiasm for the new choral ensemble, the Choir archives show that queues began to form at 5am for tickets for the inaugural concert. The event took place at the Palace Cinema on ????? 1962 and the venue was literally packed to the rafters! Although times have undoubtedly changed since then the Choir has continued to bring pleasure to many people over the years as well as raising thousands of pounds for charitable causes of all kinds.

50 Years of Treharris Male Choir - 1960s

Musical Director - Mr Ted Hillbourne
Accompanists - Mr David Edward Rees and Mary Lewis-Davies

• The choir was formed on Monday 11th October 1961, rehearsing at Bethel Vestry.
• Choristers numbered 60 – 70 voices
• First concert was held at Brynhyfryd Chapel, Treharris 4th March 1962.
• First "Celebrity Concert" held at the "Palace Cinema" 29th April 1962.
• Recorded radio programme "All Together" at Quakers Yard Grammar School with Stuart Burrows and John Morgan.

• First concert in England (Weston-super-Mare), 1965
• First charity concert to raise funds for the "Aberfan Disaster" – 1966
• First 1000 Male Voice Festival in the Albert Hall, London.
• First Male Voice to sing Cheribini Requiem Mass in D Minor (Latin)
• Made film with Aber Valley Male Voice "Master Singers" based on the tragic Senghenydd Colliery explosion.

50 Years of Treharris Male Choir - 1970s

Musical Director - Mr Ted Hillbourne
Accompanists - Mary Lewis-Davies, W Lloyd, Judith Smallwood, Martin Edwards, J Ward and Elaine Hadley

• Choristers numbered 60 – 70
• First "visit" from overseas choir, namely Fenton High School Choir (USA).
• First visit from Treviscoe Male Choir (the first of many).

• Concerts – Reading, Cheltenham, St Austell, Bolton, Rickmansworth, Worcester, Southam, Watford, Salisbury, Thornbury, Trowbridge, Aylesbury, Oakhampton, Liverpool, Henley-on-Thames, Manchester, Bury St Edmonds
• Music – "Steads 100 Psalms".
• Took part in the recording "Off to Philadelphia in the Morning", a story of the life of Dr Joseph Parry.

50 Years of Treharris Male Choir - 1980s

Musical Directors – Mr Ted Hillbourne (retired after 21 years), Mr Gwilym Morris, Mr Brian McGrath and Mrs Llinos Davies

Accompanists – Elaine Hadley, Rhian Hadley, Ann Marie Ives

• Choristers at beginning of 1980's 60 voices, depleting to 15 by the end.
• First European visit to "St Josefstal Male Choir" in Saarbrucken.
• Concerts – Fishguard, Bristol, Southam, Melksham, Southam, Croydon, Bolton, Watford, 1000 Voices Albert Hall.

50 Years of Treharris Male Choir - 1990s

Musical Director – Mrs Llinos Davies
Accompanists – Elaine Hadley, Sharon Jones and Anna Bowden.

• Number of choristers fluctuated between 30 – 40 voices
• European visits – Austria, Dublin, Germany, Britanny
• Part of the massed male voices to open the Millennium Stadium 1999 in preparation for the Rugby World Cup

• Sang at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff for the Cup Final
• Concerts – Watford, Newcastle, Accrington, Trowbridge,

50 Years of Treharris Male Choir - 2000

Musical Director – Mrs Llinos Davies
Accompanist – Mrs Anna Bowden

• Choristers 30 – 35.
• European Visits – Ballymena, Saarbrucken "St Josefstal Male Choir", Amsterdam, Belfast (Donaghadee Male Voice), Belfast (Sallynoggin Mixed Choir), Buncranna (The Gateway Singers)

• Re-made "Master Singers" with Aber Valley Male Voice.
• Concerts – Trowbridge, Oxford, Reading (International Festival of Falcons), Bolton, Highbridge, Forest of Dean, Truro, Watford

50 Years of Treharris Male Choir - 2010

Musical Director – Mrs Llinos Davies
Accompanist – Mrs Anna Bowden

• Choristers 30 – 35
• Concerts – Ebbw Vale Opening Ceremony of the National Eisteddfod with "Only Men Aloud". Scottish Festival of Male Choirs, Hamilton (Glasgow), Llandrindod Wells,

Over the years we have performed countless concerts in the locality for various charities, Breast Cancer, Macmillan, British Heart Foundation etc in locations too numerous to mention. Even though our numbers may not boast that of the choir during the 60's and 70's the heart and enthusiasm still remains.

Our choristers are made up of men from all walks of life, some retired others still working. The one thing we have in common is our love and enjoyment of singing, socialising, travelling and performing in public.

25 Years of Pleasure (Taken from Programme for the Salisbury Rotary Club Sat 12th March – 1988/89)- Part 1

On Monday, 11th October, 1961, a meeting was convened at the Treharris Workmen's Library with the sole purpose of forming a Male Voice Choir. The meeting was called by Alderman Sam Edwards following many requests from interested men of the locality. The meeting was well attended and the seeds of the choir were sown, ie The Treharris and District Male Voice Choir. The appointed Musical Director was Mr Ted Hilbourne, and David Edward Rees was appointed accompanist to the choir. Practices commenced at Bethel Vestry the following Monday and between 60 and 70 Choristers present. Practices were regular and the only reason for reduced practice numbers was shift work of members.

The first performance in public was at Brynhyfryd Chapel, a capacity audience was present. This weas on 4th March 1962. On 29th April 1962 the choir presented a Celebrity Concert at the Palace Cinema with Kenneth Bowen (Tenor) and Anita Sargeant (Soprano), this concert being sold out three weeks before the night. Concerts came in quick succession at Merthyr, Dowlais and Nelson. Treharris, at this time, was the only choir in the County Borough. Another major concert was arranged at the Palace with Richard Rees and Gerald Davies, two of the most popular artists at this time.

25 Years of Pleasure (Taken from Programme for the Salisbury Rotary Club Sat 12th March – 1988/89) - Part 2

Concerts came in quick succession at Merthyr, Dowlais and Nelson. Treharris, at this time, was the only choir in the County Borough. Another major concert was arranged at the Palace with Richard Rees and Gerald Davies, two of the most popular artists at this time. The Choir was becoming well-known and concerts were held at Brecon, Abergavenny and Maested and was invited to broadcast on the then famous radio programme "All Together", which was relayed on Saturday evenings. The programme was recorded at Quakers Yard Grammar School with Stuart Burrows and John Morgan, the compere being Alun Williams.

At last, on 30th October 1965 the Choir crossed Offa's Dyke to sing for the first time out of Wales at Weston-Super-Mare Town Hall. Concerts followed at regular intervals and the choir was asked to make a film with Aber Valley Male Voice Choir, based on tragic Senghenydd Collier explosion. Following many rehearsals and trips to Senghenydd, the film was completed. It appeared on television on several occasions and was called the "Master Singers". Robert Vas, the producer, took this film to America and won a major award in an International Film Festival.

25 Years of Pleasure (Taken from Programme for the Salisbury Rotary Club Sat 12th March – 1988/89) - Part 3

In 1966 a Gala Concert was arranged at The Palace Cinema, when the choir appeared in concert with the Max Jaffa Trio and Betti Jones, the charming Cefn soprano. In October, the valley was plunged into sorrow by the Aberfan Disaster. Members of the choir were involved and also many friends of members. The Choir's Annual Dinner, due to take place that week at Brecon, was cancelled and immediate plans were made for a concert for the Aberfan Disaster Fund. Stuart Burrows and Elizabeth Rust (two artists who had previously sung with the Choir) gave their services free. Other concerts were arranged for the Fund and one was even arranged at Clevedon by Lilian Jenkins, a Councillor at Clevedon, who was originally a Treharris girl.

David Edward Rees retired as our accompanist and was succeeded by Mrs Mary Lewis-Davies. Concerts were arranged frequently, sometimes eight a month, and the Choir were well served by two local artists, Ethel Clee and Towyn Evans. The Choir had learned the Cheribini Requiem Mass in D Minor and on one occasion it took the bull by the horns and performed this Mass on a Sunday afternoon as Glasbury St Peters Church, and then travelled on to Abergavenny and performed the same work at St Mary's on the same night. This Mass was in Latin and the choir was possibly the only choir performing the full Mass in Wales at this time, performances being made at many churches in the area.

25 Years of Pleasure (Taken from Programme for the Salisbury Rotary Club Sat 12th March – 1988/89) - Part 4

Concert bookings were now getting near to London, with concerts at Reading, Burnham, Caversham, Wexham and Rickmansworth. The choir was also in demand in the Midlands at Bedworth, Malvern and many other places. The choir had been rehearsing some twelve months for the first 1,000 Male Voice Choir Concert at the Royal Albert Hall. This was truly a wonderful concert where 10,000 Welsh exiles were present to enjoy a feast of music. One of the aims of the choir was to encourage young talent and two young artists who sang with the choir at the time were Annette Merriman, a very talented contralto from Cwmaman, and Treharris-born Lynda Adams, soprano. Among the many nights to remember in the early days was one at the Pavillion, Weymouth, when the audience rose to give a standing ovation.

In May of 1970, the choir was asked to entertain the public at Tabarnacle Chapel, Treharris, at a Presentation Night to Dr Elton Foster, who had served the community for 40 years and was then retiring. More nights to remember at the Palace Cinema featured the Foden's Motor Works Band and artists of the opera world, such as Margaret Price, Elizabeth Rust, Marion Studholme, William McAlpine, to name but a few. The ill-health of our brilliant accompanist, Mary Lewis-Davies, forced her to retire and Mary was followed by capable accompanists such as W Lloyd, J Ward, Judith Smallwood and Martin Edwards.

25 Years of Pleasure (Taken from Programme for the Salisbury Rotary Club Sat 12th March – 1988/89) - Part 5

Combined concerts with local choirs were always being arranged, but a combined concert at Reading with Reading Male Voice Choir was a new step and proved a very successful venture. The choir was invited to appear at Cheltenham Town Hall with Rhymney and Dowlais Male Voice Choir, which finished up by candlelight due to a power failure. The visit to Wales of Fenton High School Choir of the USA was a wonderful opportunity for the choir to host this choir following their visit to Llangollen. A wonderful musical evening took place and another bond was made. A visit of the Treviscoe choir was arranged and the choir spent a very pleasant weekend at Treharris. Memories of this fine Cornish choir are still vivid in our memories.

The Treharris choir were invited to St Austell, the home of the Trevisco Male Choir, and a wonderful weekend with a feast of music took place. Many members of the Treharris choir still have visits to St Austell, and Treviscoe Choir members visit Treharris. When a choir member left the area to live in Bolton, the bond was made with Reg Parry, a fantastic worker at Bolton for all charities. He was, and still is, a member of Victoria Methodist Hall at Bolton. It would be impossible for anyone who has been to the Victoria Hall (the home of the Methodists at Bolton) to say anything in any way to fault this auditorium we had the pleasure of singing in. Our visits to Bolton developed into friendly, regular affairs and many friends were made.

25 Years of Pleasure (Taken from Programme for the Salisbury Rotary Club Sat 12th March – 1988/89) - Part 6

Other venues where the choir gave repeat visits were Rickmansworth, Worcester, Southam and last, but not least, Watford, where the Leggetts School Association was formed to assist their school in school activities and in the provision of a mini bus for the school. Members of the Leggetts Association are great friends of the Treharris Male Choir, forming their own "Fan Club" to travel to the Royal Albert Hall when the choir appeared there, to Bolton and even to Treharris for concerts. In September 1975, the choir was asked to provide entertainment for the opening of the new Community Centre at Nelson, at the invitation of the local council. The choir at this particular time was fortunate in having the services of Ann Beynon (soprano). Ann is a Treharris girl with a wealth of talent and had received her training under Valetta Jacopi, a former Principal of Salders Wells and Covent Garden. Ann was always in great demand and never failed to please.

Visits to the West Country were now getting more regular with concerts at Salisbury Thornbury and Trowbridge. With preparations for the Royal Albert Hall concerts, the choir was always learning new music and one piece that will always be remembered in Stead 100 Psalms which was most demanding. The choir first performed this piece at Aylesbury, when the Welsh Appeal Concert Committee invited the choir to sing in aid of the Tony Taylor Appeal. Tony was a New Zealander who was badly injured playing rugby for Aylesbury Rugby Club and was a patient at Stoke Mandeville. The famous Sir Ludwig Guttman, the found of the hospital spinal Unit was present, together with Tony's mother, who was flown from New Zealand to be present at this concert. Sir Ludwig was delighted with the 100 Psalms and congratulated the choir for their handling of the mechanics of this demanding piece so well.

25 Years of Pleasure (Taken from Programme for the Salisbury Rotary Club Sat 12th March – 1988/89) - Part 7

1977 proved to be a very busy period for the choir. This was indicated by the areas covered – Rickmansworth, Oakhampton, Henley-on-Thames, Liverpool, Manchester, Derby, Bury St Edmunds and Bolton. Due to ill health, J Ward resigned as Choir Accompanist, but the choir were delighted to gain the services of Elaine Hadley, as associate of the Royal Victoria College of Music, who was virtually thrown in at the "deep end" at Bury St Edmonds, but emerged with flying colours. A tragic fire occurred at Treharris where two children lost their lives. A concert for the fund was arranged immediately to assist the Arnold family. Our Rickmansworth contact, Mrs Glenys Fenton, had taken up residence in Taunton and was soon involved in organising a concert in an area starved of choral singing.

At a concert in Rickmansworth, Elaine's daughter, Rhian was invited to give some pianoforte solos. It was immediately apparent that Rhian was destined for greater things for she had already won a scholarship to attend the Welsh College of Music and Drama at Cardiff, this being the first step in carving out a musical career for herself. The TV film "Off to Philadelphia in the Morning" was to be made at Merthyr, based upon the life of Dr Joseph Parry. Treharris were invited to take part and the film was shown on television as a three-part serial. The choir were next invited to sing at the London Palladium where a benefit concert was arranged for the ex-boxer Joe Erskine; due to a TV mix-up the concert was held at the Rainbow Theatre. The concert was a memorable occasion, this due to the wealth of talent on the programme and the sporting personalities present.

25 Years of Pleasure (Taken from Programme for the Salisbury Rotary Club Sat 12th March – 1988/89) - Part 8

1980 was again a busy period for the choir; concerts at Watford, Rickmansworth and Battersea. The Merthyr Tydfil 1500 Year Festival was discussed and it was agreed that a massed choir concert would be held at Rhydycar Leisure Centre with Stuart Burrows and Betti Jones. Six days following this concert the choir were at the Royal Albert Hall where 1000 male voices were under the baton of Noel Davies. Back to Bolton in 1981 for the sixth visit, when it was announced that the concerts given by the choir at Bolton had raised £5000 for Bolton charities. This year the choir again visited Watford for the fourth time, although delayed by storms and roadworks on the motorway. A concert with a top guards band was always the choir's ambition; this materialised in 1982 when the choir were in concert with the band of the Welsh Guards at Rhydycar.

Following a concert at Kidderminster with the Carol Hopkin Singers, the choir reached their ambition to Europe. As a result of a letter published in the Western Mail, the choir wrote to Germany to the St Josefstal Male Choir at Saarbrucken and this letter was the start of this visit to attend this fine choir's 70th Anniversary concert. The choir travelled to Germany by coach and arrived to a wonderful welcome by the German Burgomaster with exchange of gifts. On the Saturday night a Gala Concert with the famous German choir and other artists took place, this was a night never to be forgotten; this four day visit to Germany must be one of the highlights of the choirs history: many friends were made and a return visit was imminent. The choir were fortunate to have Alex Robertson, a local man who had a good knowledge of German and was able to make our visit to Germany a greater pleasure.

25 Years of Pleasure (Taken from Programme for the Salisbury Rotary Club Sat 12th March – 1988/89) - Part 9

Following our return from Germany the choir were soon travelling with concerts at Fishguard, Bristol and Southam, these venues within a month. On June 19th 1982, the choir presented its 21st Anniversary Concert when Ted Hilbourne conducted the choir for the last time. Maryetta and Vernon Midgley and William Davies (organist) were the artists and 700 people were thrilled with a feast of music. Under its new new Musical Director, Gwilym Morris, the choir continued with great success appearing in concert with Coleford Silver Band and fund raising concerts at Watford and Bolton. In 1983 we were delighted to have the St Josefstal Choir to visit us and to appear in concert with us. Preparations were made to make this visit hightly successful. This was achieved by the efforts of all members of the choir, the Supporters Society and many friends of the choir.

The concert which also involved the Carol Hopkin Singers was of such great quality it was the topic o conversation for many weeks, following the concert. A social gathering followed at the Empress Ballroom, Abercynon, where 300 people were entertained to a Buffet and a fantastic social evening, which passed into the next day so easily. The choir members German friends departed on Sunday morning when a wonderful farewell was arranged with choir members, wives, hosts and many newly made friends were present to see their coach depart from Treharris bus station. Once again Treharris Male Choir were ready to take part in the Festival of Castles arranged by the Borough with Cefn Coed, Dowlais and Ynysowen Male Choirs with local artist Phillip Joll, Helen Willis and Gareth Jones. Concerts at Melksham, Southam, Croydon were accepted and an invitation to entertain the "All Blacks" Rugby Union side touring the country was readily accepted.

25 Years of Pleasure (Taken from Programme for the Salisbury Rotary Club Sat 12th March – 1988/89) - Part 10

The Rotary Club at Huyton requested the choir to appear in concert at the Huyton Suite Liverpool and Ann Lawrence, Soprano appeared with the choir for the first time. This was an excellent concert with many encores being requested. The ninth festival of 1000 Welsh Male Voices arrived and the Musical Director on this occasion was the Musical Director of Pontardulais Male Choir, another memorable occasion. A new Community Centre was made available at Treharris and the choir were invited to appear during a week of festivities with Betti Jones. At this time, the Choir treasurer had to retire from office due to ill health. Haulfryn Rees had been a devoted choir officer for over twenty years.

Another concert at Bolton with Ann Lawrence was a great success. It would be unfair not to mention and thank Madam Edith Norcross for the professional way she accompanied artists who have performed with the choir at Victoria Hall. Ann Beynon, Cyril Cotton, Betti Jones, Ann Lawrence. What a grand lady in the Autumn of what must be a wonderful musical life. Due to the illness of Mrs Elaine Hadley and the college commitments of Rhian, who were joint accompanists for the choir, we were again fortunate in having the services of Ann Marie Ives who served the choir for several concerts. To add to our problems, Gwilym Morris resigned due to personal reasons and Ted Hillbourne came out of retirement to help out but requested that we apply for a new Musical Director.

25 Years of Pleasure (Taken from Programme for the Salisbury Rotary Club Sat 12th March – 1988/89) - Part 11

We were fortunate in gaining the services of Brian McGrath, who had a good musical background, having wonderful military band experience at Sandhurst. Elaine and Rhian Hadley came back and with concerts at Southam, a massed male voice concert at St David's Hall, Nelson, Treharris and Bristol. The famous Bishop Desmond Tutu was give the Freedom of the Borough of Merthyr and the choir was invited to take part in this ceremony at Rhydycar Leisure Centre.

June 1986, a very sad occasion took place when a memorial service took place at Brynhyfryd Chapel to the lat Lemuel Hughes a founder member of the choir. To compete the 25 years of pleasure, concerts are arranged at Watford and the return visit of Treviscoe Male Choir.