Froncysyllte Male Voice Choir
The Froncysyllte Male Voice Choir (Welsh: Côr Meibion Froncysyllte), also known as the Fron Choir (Welsh: Côr Fron), is an award-winning amateur male voice choir based in the village of Froncysyllte, near Llangollen in Denbighshire, Wales.
Origins & History
Froncysyllte (pronounced vron-cuss-ulth tay) is a small village in the Vale of Llangollen, famous as the site of Thomas Telford's Pontcysyllte aqueduct which carries the Llangollen Canal across the River Dee. Thousands of visitors come to this World Heritage Site each year to marvel at Telford’s engineering skills and the ground-breaking work of the local iron foundries that made the project possible 200 years ago.
The little village and its choir gained some measure of fame in the UK when Universal Music Group signed them up to release the album Voices of the Valley. This album was released on 20 November 2006, and peaked at number 9 on the UK album chart. It became the fastest selling classical record of all time, achieving Gold status in three days and has since sold over half a million copies. A second album was released in December 2007 called Voices of the Valley - Encore which reached number 11 in the UK chart.
In 1946 the people of Llangollen (which is 4 miles down the road), as a gesture to International Peace, decided to ask former enemies, to come together in the friendly competitive atmosphere of a traditional Welsh Eisteddfod. Invitations went out for 1947 and the Llangollen International, Musical Eisteddfod was born. Europe was in the grip of ruin. No one was sure if anyone would come. But they did come, and have been coming ever since.
The villagers of Froncysyllte decided that the Eisteddfod was a good idea and Mr Gomer Powell called a public meeting with the formation of a choir as the object. The Froncysyllte Male Voice Choir was formed at that meeting with J.R. Jones (Joe Jordan) as the first Chairman (Joe never became a Member of the Choir as he maintained that his voice was just too awful), Mr Lloyd Edwards, a well-known local piano teacher was appointed Conductor and immediately became the driving force behind the Choir with his devotion and enthusiasm. Menna Hughes, daughter of Robert Hughes the founder Treasurer and one of Lloyd's pupils was appointed as the first Accompanist. To compete in the Male Voice Competition at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod the Choir needed 60 voices so Wilfred Jones, the leader of the Froncysyllte Youth Club, persuaded the young men of the village to join. He was so successful that the 1947 Fron Choir had the youngest membership of any Welsh Male Voice Choir.
The Choristers stayed together after the Eisteddfod with Watkin Williams (a prominent County Councillor and much respected character in the village) as the Chairman. Lloyd Edwards together with John Richard Davies as his Deputy went on to win major choral competitions and a reputation for excellence at home and abroad. Lloyd Edwards held the Choir's baton until his untimely death in 1970.
The choir has remained closely associated with the Eisteddfod and is a regular competitor in the Male Voice Choir competition. In 1955 the choir hosted the Societa Corale Gioachino Rossini from Modena, which won first prize at the Eisteddfod. The choir was conducted by Fernando Pavarotti, and the win at Llangollen is said to have inspired the choir conductor's son, Luciano Pavarotti, a member of that choir and a student music teacher at the time, to take up a singing career. The Modena Choir were again hosted by the Froncysyllte Male Voice Choir during their visit, with Pavarotti, in 1995.
After the loss of Lloyd Edwards in 1970 John Daniel, a music teacher, conducted the choir for the next 21 years. He is now conductor of Cantorion Colin Jones, who rehearse in the village of Betws y Coed, Eryri. Daniel led the choir to success in both the National Eisteddfod of Wales and the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, notably winning "the double" (first in both Eisteddfodau) in 1977. The choir has had several overseas tours, notably representing the United Kingdom at the Expo World Fair in Vancouver, Canada in 1986.
Val Jones succeeded John Daniel in 1991 and for the next 11 years consolidated that reputation in competition From 2002 until 2009, Ann Atkinson led the choir during one of its most exciting phases, a major recording contract with Universal Music and four "Voices of the Valley" CD's and the "Voices of the Valley - Live" DVD.
Since 2009 the choir has had a first class Conductor in the person of Leigh Mason. and looks forward to continued progress and success as one of the most distinguished Male Voice Choirs in a nation renowned throughout the World for producing Male Voice Choirs of the highest quality.
Visitors are welcome at rehearsals.
Two Little Boys
In October 2008, singer-songwriter Rolf Harris announced that he would be re-recording the song "Two Little Boys", backed by the choir, to mark the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I. Proceeds from the new release will go to The Poppy Appeal.
- Voices of the Valley (2006)
- Voices of the Valley Encore (2007)
- Voices of the Valley: Home (2008)
- Voices of the Valley: Memory Lane (2009)
- Voices of the Valley: The Ultimate Collection (2011)
- The Best of the Fron Choir (2011)