Côr Meibion Pontypridd

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Côr Meibion Pontypridd is a Welsh male voice choir from the Pontypridd area of the Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales.

Background[edit]

Côr Meibion Pontypridd (Pontypridd Male Choir; the name means Choir of the Sons of Pontypridd) was formed in 1949 for traditional Welsh singing.

The choir performs frequently both in Pontypridd and overseas, and has visited Poland, Ireland, the United States and Germany. Links have been forged with Liederkranz Oberensingen, a German male choir from Pontypridd's twin town, Nürtingen.

The choir also performs regularly at the National Eisteddfod of Wales and takes part in the HTV male choral competition. The choir is currently broadening and improving its repertoire to provide a wide-ranging concert program.

The choir is a member of the National Association of Choirs, the Welsh Association of Male Choirs and the Welsh Amateur Music Federation, and is a past winner of the HTV Male Choral Competition and at the National Eisteddfod of Wales.

History[edit]

Cor Meibion Pontypridd was founded following a meeting of a small group of men at the Educational Settlement of the town’s Y.M.C.A. on 19 November 1949. During its early years the choir was known as the Pontypridd Educational Settlement Male Choir. Mr Gwilym T Jones, who at the time was a conductor and pianist, became its first conductor. He had previously conducted choirs including Cwmparc Male Voice Choir, Royal Welsh Male Choir and Treorchy and District Male Voice choir. In 1926, he began conducting for Pontypridd and District Male Voice Choir. Two years later he also began conducting for Llanharan Male Voice Choir.

The choir’s first concert was a private one for the Cilfynydd Old Age Pensioners in the summer of 1950. In November of that year the choir performed in the Shelley Hall at their first annual concert. A month later the choir gave the first of its 14 consecutive Christmas night concerts at the old Graig Hospital. It became a tradition that the choir was entertained to Christmas cake and tea by the Hospital Administrator of that time. The concerts stopped with the reconstruction of the hospital in 1965. The first competition for the choir to enter was at a semi-national eisteddfod held at Llanharan on 23 June 1951. They were awarded first prize and there was a report concerning them in the Pontypridd Observer.

By the time of the choir’s second annual concert in November 1951, they were known as the Pontypridd and District Y.M.C.A Male Voice Choir. They made their first BBC recording in June 1956. It featured in a programme about the centenary of the composing of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau and the Bi-centenary of the building of the Old Bridge. A major concert was also held as part of the celebrations in the Town Hall. This was to be the last concert that Mr Gwilym T. Jones was to conduct. He died on 31 December 1956 and a plaque to his memory was unveiled in the Shelley Hall in September 1957.

Following his death Mr William J. Evans, father of the opera singer Sir Geraint Evans, was appointed leader of the choir in January 1957. Previously, he had formed the Handel Glee Party in 1932 that won prizes at eisteddfodau. He had also formed the Cilfynydd Philharmonic Choir in 1950. Under his guidance, Pontypridd and District Y.M.C.A. Male Voice choir's performances attracted large audiences. The choir performed alongside Sir Harry Secombe and Sir Geraint Evans at the Town Hall Theatre, Pontypridd in November 1959. They won several first prizes at semi-national eisteddfodau. The following year the choir relinquished its connection with the YMCA and its title became the Pontypridd Male Choir. However, by the time William J Evans’ retired from the conductorship in January 1964 the choir was known as Cor Meibion Pontypridd.

His successor was Miss Joyce Durston, the choir’s accompanist since 1957. She had led Cor Meibion Pontypridd during the period of Mr William Evans’ illness and had previously been the conductor of the Christie Singers, a choir of 24 girls. Cor Meibion Pontypridd won the semi national eisteddfod at Cardigan in May 1964, their first eisteddfod appearance under her conductorship. They went to Germany on their first foreign tour in September 1965 and gave a series of concerts in Nurtingen, the German twin town of Pontypridd. The following year, a male choir from Nurtingen visited Pontypridd. Tours continued to occur. During Cor Meibion Pontypridd’s early foreign tours, they received a request from West German Chancellor Kurt Georg Kiesinger in August 1968 to perform at his private palace in Bebenhausen Palace near Stuttgart. The performance was later shown on television.

A twenty-first anniversary celebrity concert was held in Tabernacl Chapel on 19 November 1970. A telegram was of congratulation was received and read out from Stuart Burrows. Two years later, Cor Meibion Pontypridd was one of twelve choirs to perform at the 1,000 voices concert at the Royal Albert Hall. In June 1973, members of the choir were invited to appear on stage with Marlene Dietrich after she heard them sing outside the New Theatre Cardiff where she was appearing. Later that month they competed against twelve other male choirs from Wales and became the first choir to win a choral competition on television. They were presented with the H.T.V trophy and a cheque for £250. The following year was the choir’s silver jubilee year. Cor Meibion Pontypridd marked the event by winning the male voice choir competition for choirs between 40 and 70 voices at the National Eisteddfod held at Carmarthen. It was the first time a choir led by a woman conductor had won in the event’s history. Following further successful concerts and a Polish tour in 1976, Joyce Durston resigned in November 1977. Dorothy Davies-Ingram, who had been the accompanist for Cor Meibion Pontypridd since 1964, was appointed as the choir’s musical director. She had previously been a member of the Shelley Singers. Jonathan Guillford joined the choir as accompanist. Dorothy Davies-Ingram made her debut as the choir’s musical director at the Festival of 1,000 Voices at the Afan Lido Aberavon in December 1977. In 1989 she became the first woman to conduct the 1,000 Welsh Voices at the Royal Albert Hall. The year was also the choir’s 40th anniversary. As part of their celebrations Cor Meibion Pontypridd appeared in a gala concert with Liederkranz Obersingen (Male Choir) of Nurtingen in July at Hawthorn Leisure Centre. During the same year, Dorothy Davies-Ingram decided to change her role and became both deputy conductor and accompanist while Jonathan Gulliford became director of music.

More recently, Cor Meibion Pontypridd have participated in tours. They travelled to the United States in the year of their 50th anniversary in 1999 and returned four years later. Cor Meibion Pontypridd hosted a five-day visit by Liederkranz Obersingen in 2005 to celebrate a 40-year history of friendship between the two choirs. In 2008 the choir staged successful concerts in Cyprus and this year they will visit Nurtingen in southern Germany.

The choir was formed on 29 November 1949 by a group of 19 choristers under the name of "The Pontypridd Educational Settlement Male Choir". Gwilym T Jones was appointed conductor and Miss Agnes Wilson accompanist. The first concert was performed in June 1950. The following year the choir started entering competitions, and were awarded first prize at the Llanharan "Semi National" Eisteddfod, and were again placed first two weeks later at Glynneath.

Llanharan "Semi National" Eisteddfod
Côr Meibion Pontypridd awarded First place

The choir were involved in celebrations of the centenary of the composition of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau and the bicentenary of the Old Bridge, Pontypridd.

Stuart Burrows was the guest artiste at a concert in 1959, and in the same year Harry Secombe and Geraint Evans appeared together for the first time, with W.J. Evans (Geraint's father) conducting the choir.

Joyce Durston was appointed musical director in 1964 and Dorothy Ingram (née Davies) was appointed accompanist. The same year the choir visited Germany as guests of the Liederkranz Oberensingen; the following year the Liederkranz made a return visit to Pontypridd.

In 1966 the choir came second in the National Eisteddfod of Wales at Newtown.

1970 was the 21st birthday of the choir and a celebration dinner was arranged with patrons Sir Geraint Evans and Stuart Burrows, together with president P. Raymond Jones and vice presidents and civic dignitaries attending.

In 1973 the choir took part in the H.T.V. Male Choral Competition. Twelve choirs were in the opening knock-out round and the finalists were Cwmbach and Pontypridd. In the final in the H.T.V. Studios, Pontypridd won.

In 1974 the choir won the National Eisteddfod of Wales for the first time.

In 1975 a Polish choir, "Zzk Henjau", visited Pontypridd. Pontypridd choir visited Poland in 1976 as guests of "Zzk Henjau".

In 1977 Dorothy Davies Ingram became musical director and Jonathan Gulliford joined as accompanist. The choir won the Knight of St. David Memorial Bowl at the Rhymney Valley Eisteddfod, and retained it the following year.

In 1989 Ingram became the first woman to conduct the 1,000 voices in the Royal Albert Hall and after 11 years as conductor to Côr Meibion Pontypridd, changed her role to become deputy conductor and accompanist, with Jonathan Gulliford becoming director of music.

The John Tree Award scheme, contributed to by R.T.J. Tree, choir president, was launched in 1991. The objective of the scheme is to link local schools and the choir. Annual prizes are awarded to musicians/singers at Pontypridd schools, based on talent. Award winners take part in the choir's annual celebrity concert.

External links[edit]