ROYAL WELSH MALE CHOIR
A CENTURY OF SONG
Treorchy has maintained its international reputation as the birthplace of a rich musical culture which continues to this day. Treorchy Male Choir has been at the very forefront of this tradition for well over 125 years, but many other musical organisations have contributed greatly to the image of the valley of music, of which the town of Treorchy is undoubtedly a jewel in the proverbial crown.
For almost a century a second male voice choir existed in Treorchy and during its heyday, spearheaded Wales's universal image of the Land of Song. The Royal Welsh Male Choir dominated the musical headlines with its outstanding concert performances for royalty and heads of state while undertaking pioneering overseas tours the likes of which had never been seen before, or for that matter, since. The “Royal Welsh” as they became known, certainly left an indelible mark on audiences the world over with its awe-inspiring concert performances.
Yet their origins were unequivocally linked with the Treorchy Male Choir which was formed back in 1883. The history of the Treorchy, or “Treorky” Choir of the late Victorian period is already well documented and provided the very foundation from which the Royal Welsh was able to grow and flourish.
With two Royal National Eisteddfod wins (Brecon 1888, Llanelli 1895) to their name, the original Treorky, under the baton of maestro William Thomas, had long-since been favourites of the Countess of Dunraven.
In turn she introduced them to the House of Windsor and ensured the royal seal of approval was granted with a command performance for Queen Victoria and the Royal Family at Windsor Castle on November 29 th 1895.
Yet their origins were unequivocally linked with the Treorchy Male Choir which was formed back in 1883. The history of the Treorchy, or “Treorky” Choir of the late Victorian period is already well documented and provided the very foundation from which the Royal Welsh was able to grow and flourish. With two Royal National Eisteddfod wins (Brecon 1888, Llanelli 1895) to their name, the original Treorky, under the baton of maestro William Thomas, had long-since been favourites of the Countess of Dunraven. In turn she introduced them to the House of Windsor and ensured the royal seal of approval was granted with a command performance for Queen Victoria and the Royal Family at Windsor Castle on November 29 th 1895.
Such an illustrious early history catapulted the Treorky Male Choir's grandeur and success onto the international stage. It also proved the death-knell of the Choir in its original guise. With continual offers of celebrity concerts and possible overseas visits on the horizon, the sharp, business-like mind of their Secretary, W.P.Thomas, the Manager of the Ocean Coal Company, foresaw a bright future for the singers. However, it would come at a price. Supported by their conductor, William Thomas, an agreement was made within a matter of weeks following a celebratory banquet at the Drill Hall, Pentre. It was clearly impossible to take advantage of the celebrity status and opportunities afforded them with such a large choir of men. Modes of transport were limited, many singers had wives and children dependant on them and full-time employment at the local colliery to consider.
Those clearly were the reasons behind the difficult decision, following much soul-searching by the musical director, to re-invent the Choir as a professional outfit of twenty or so first-class singers. Carefully choosing his choristers, dependant on their musical ability (while also ensuring positions for his own sons), along with acclaimed soloists in baritone Aneurin Edwards and tenor William Todd-Jones, a new Choir was moulded which could embark on an exciting future together. With their royal seal of approval already granted following the Windsor concert and with Thomas himself becoming the recipient of a bejewelled baton, his new ensemble, the Royal Welsh Male Choir was formed in the early months of 1896.
Clearly, tensions ran high between the new and the old. Although the Treorky Male Choir continued for a short while under the baton of chorister John Bebb of Cwmparc, its key personnel, musical staff and management had departed the ranks for the new choir, leaving them ill-equipped to continue. Within a year they were defunct, not to rise again until the latter part of World War I. In the meantime, however, the Royal Welsh reached the very pinnacle of their ability, flying the musical flag for Treorchy, Rhondda and the Principality.
No longer did they compete for prizes, but instead concentrate solely on concert repertoire and performance. Undoubtedly the separation of the two choirs had been a difficult one to overcome, animosity ran deep and many would say continued for several generations, never truly coming to an amicable conclusion.
It was a separation that would continue to cause waves of “cythraul y canu” during the first half of he 20 th century for sure, particularly when both choirs were under the direction of the same conductor and on occasions performed together.
They also rehearsed on the same evenings – Tuesday and Thursday – in the adjoining lower school off Glyncoli Road!
For the early days however, the offers of concert engagements were received in great number. One season of concerts in 1897 saw net profits of £2,500 alone. They conducted highly successful performances at the Crystal Palace, Queen's Hall and other London centres of music, also visiting the chief halls of Scotland, Ireland and every part of Wales. Continually they appeared in many notable functions, including a special reception at Edinburgh Castle for His Royal Highness Prince George, the second Duke of Cambridge, who died just a few short years later without legitimate issue.
This was also an organisation that would reap the reward of performances for all manner of royalty, both British and foreign. They sang for the Imperial Majesties when they visited Wales on King George V's acceptance of the Chancellorship of the University of Wales and during those early days the veteran statesman Gladstone “gratefully acknowledged the valuable services of the Choir in a highly-prized letter”.
Before the turning of the century they were engaged to perform at the 64th Annual Festival Dinner of the Linen and Woollen Drapers Institution at St James's Hall, London, being described as an organisation “composed of Welsh miners and the most successful male choir in England!” The Choir appeared in the Lord Mayor's Banquet at Manchester in one year, the Trades Congress when at Pontypridd, the Complimentary Banquet by the Cardiff Town Council to the 41 st Regiment when on their march through Wales and the Incorporated Society of Musicians.
The country's chief music critics admired them, wrote eulogistically as the best performances they had ever heard and in no small measure contributed greatly towards philanthropic causes while also building up impressive financial reserves of their own. Acting as Choir Secretary and Manager, W.P.Thomas proved a forthright, dominant force in the Choir as he was in the Ocean Colliery. With William Abraham (Mabon) M.P. as the President of the Choir, the welcomed the dawning of the 20 th century with confidence in their abilities and enthusiasm for the future. The Conductor, William Thomas was becoming recognised as a national hero and the recipient of shoals of congratulatory letters in his time. Alberto Randegger, the Professor of Singing at the Royal Academy of Music, was so overwhelmed with one particular performance that he wrote, “I have never heard better voices in England or on the Continent. The tenors were especially magnificent”.
By 1900 they charged an average 40 guineas per concert, plus overnight accommodation and travelling costs. One of their undertakings was a performance in Pentre of Dr Ebenezer Prout's opera “Damon and Phintias”, with Todd Jones in the lead role. As the local press exclaimed, “no praise too flattering could be bestowed upon the choir upon this magnificent undertaking”.
A visit to Ireland in 1901 received many moving letters and news items of congratulations. None more so than the words of R. Sample:
We bid you farewell, noble sons of the mountains
And dank rocky valleys of home little Wales
Your songs are as pure as the trill of the
And wild as the rush of your own winter gales
Farwell loving friends, you blessed sons remind us
That heaven, after all is not far away
Come back to old Ireland our friends
With voices as bright as the blossoms of May.
Continuing their close association with the Dunraven family, they made one particular visit to the Castle in 1906 that received local newspaper coverage. “The Choir, although numerically but a shadow of its former self, fully maintains its high reputation” and greatly impressed the special guest at the banquet dinner. Joseph Hodge Choate was the American Ambassador to England from 1899 to 1905 and forged a new era in Anglo-American relations. Dedicated to public service, he was a founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History and an active participant in charitable enterprises. So impressed was he by the Royal Welsh Male Choir that he exclaimed , “I am highly pleased with the excellence of the singing, Come to American where you will create a great sensation”. With his support the seed was planted and blossomed – an overseas tour was soon underway.
On October 5 th 1906 the sixteen choristers boarded the 2,900-passenger White Star Liner Cedric for an extensive tour of the United States of America. Organised by their American agents, J.B. Pind Lyceum Bureau of New York, the tour opened in Brooklyn.
With William Thomas as Conductor and Hugh Hughes as Accompanist, the choristers who undertook the tour were: William Jones, Todd Jones, Tom Felix Evans, Gomer Jones, Thomas Jones, Ben Evans, David Powell, Evan Davies, David White (Tenors), Gwilym Thomas, Aneurin Edwards, Evan Thomas, Idris Thomas, William Thomas, Jones Jones and E.T.Jones (bass). Their performances across the country were recognised as pioneering by any musical organisation's standards, let alone one from the Rhondda.
One can only imagine, the reaction of those young Welsh miners when they first stepped foot on foreign soil and were faced by the many fascinating people and cultures across the Atlantic. The tour, which lasted until early 1907, was a sensation, resulting in a special audience with none other than one of the United States of America's most progressive Presidents in its history, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt.
Their first visit to South Africa followed later in 1907, this time with a soprano joining the ensemble in Alicia Maud Cove who performed several solo items with choristers Todd Jones, Felix Evans and Aneurin Edwards. Once again, their pre-eminence on the concert stage, particularly in Johannesburg and Pretoria resulted in tumultuous ovations.
Organised by Arthur De Jong, a theatre agent based in present-day Zimbabwe, the Choir became comrades in song with the Matabeland Cambrian Society. The highlights of the tour included not only meeting its indigenous people and experiencing the fruits, trees and wildlife of this wondrous land, but also a very special performance at the grave of Cecil Rhodes and the Shangani Memorial.
However, it was their well-documented Colonial Tour of 1908 and 1909 that firmly established them as international artistes. They left Treorchy by train on July 9 th at 6.25am with hundreds of well-wishers at the station.
Boarding the DSS Pericles at Plymouth, a three mastered sailing ship originally launched to transport wool for the Aberdeen Line, the choristers spent 14 months away from their homeland.
The Choir was specially honoured by Earl Crewe, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, with letters of introduction to the governors of the Colonies visited, each of whom attended the concerts in state. Following weeks at sea they gave their first performance in the Antipodes, covering fifty thousand miles, fulfilling 310 engagements, the highlight being a grand performance before a colossal audience of 55 choirs in Sydney, Australia. Further concerts took place in New Zealand, Tasmania, British Columbia and Canada with particular highlights in Melbourne, New York, Boston and Philadelphia. It was also a known fact that some choristers never returned home to Wales, finding new opportunities – and occasionally wives – in foreign lands!
Slowly ill-health began to take its toll on William Thomas and by 1910 it was decided to appoint a Deputy Conductor to assist him in his role. The young, aspiring musician, Gwilym T. Jones of Cwmparc was appointed and remained faithful to the Choir for over thirty years. A new Deputy Accompanist, Cyril Jenkins, was also appointed and performed for them in 1912 when King George and Queen Mary visited Treherbert during their celebrated tour of Wales. Administratively changes took place with the appointment of John Davies of Gelli as Chairman, Edward Rees as Treasurer and Jos Williams as Secretary. Under their organisational skills, the Choir once more was set to return to Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania on the start of a world tour in the early part of 1914 but this was cancelled due to the growing hostilities.
The Great War of 1914-1918 clearly restricted the movement of the Choir, but their time was spent performing for the troops, raising funds for charitable causes such as the Red Cross and giving concerts in hospitals for wounded soldiers. By 1916 William Thomas himself relinquished the position of Conductor following twenty hugely successful years.
With Gwilym T. Jones at the helm and Richard Davies as accompanist, they toured South Africa for the second time, performing for the Duke of Athlone, Princess Alice, General Smuts and General Hertzog. During the next few years they also sang for the Duke of York, later King George VI, the Duke of Kent, Princess Beatrice, the Duke of Gloucester and the King and Queen of Greece. Between June 5 and 9 1920 the Royal Welsh Choir gave a series of concerts at the Cardiff Conference of Federation of Master Printers and Allied Trades of the United States, Great Britain and Ireland.
During the same year Gwilym T. Jones spread his musical wings still further, forming the 120-strong Treorchy Vocal Union at Noddfa Chapel and accepting the rather controversial invitation to become the new Conductor of the Treorchy & District Male Voice Party. Such an appointment clearly resulted in plenty of deep conversation over several pints of ale at local hostelries. Ironically the choirs themselves would occasionally combine under their new leader also, particularly at the various funerals and memorial services ahead.
The combined choirs performed side-by-side to pay their respects to their founding father in Conductor William Thomas who passed away on April 10 th 1920 and received many hundreds of mourners at Treorchy Cemetery. Born in Trecynon, Aberdare in December 1834, he trained as a blacksmith but soon developed a talent for music. He first competed with a small choir of only 18 members on the powerful test piece “Hallelujah to the Father” by Beethoven in an eisteddfod in Aberfan and won the first prize. In 1871 he was one of the 450 voices of the South Wales Choral Union, known as Cor Mawr Caradog, under the baton of Griffith Rhys Jones.
William Thomas came to Treorchy, accompanied by his parents and wife, to become chorusmaster of Noddfa Chapel at the end of 1873. He was a deacon of the chapel for thirty years. A leading member of the local Cooperative movement, he was also appointed the Attendance Officer for Ystradyfodwg School. A well-known musician and one of the most important conductors in the country, William Thomas led hundreds of gymanfaoedd ganu during his lifetime. He took up the baton of the Treorky Male Choir in 1885, remaining at the helm until 1896 when he formed Royal Welsh Male Choir. Under his direction the Royal Welsh flourished and he led them until ill-health forced his retirement to in 1916 where he lived his final years in Kimberley Road, Cardiff. He left five sons and three daughters, one of whom was the accomplished soloist Cissie Thomas.
Five years later the combined voices paid a final tribute to one of Wales's foremost baritone soloists in Aneurin Edwards. Aneurin toured America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa as a soloist with the Choir and was best remembered for his heart-wrenching performance of “Thou Art Passing Hence”. It was that item which moved 3,000 people to tears in Adelaide when he performed it in memory of the late Prime Minister of Australia. He was a popular singer throughout the country, his most famous item being “Make New Friends But Keep the Old”. He had the distinction of possessing one of the largest amount of Eisteddfod trophies and won the most substantial prize money of any baritone in Wales.
Conductor Harry Evans, a well-known adjudicator during this period, spoke of him as the most careful and perfect soloists he had ever heard. His solo performances with tenor William Todd Jones produced some of the most memorable concerts in the history of Rhondda music-making. Aneurin was a stalwart member of the Royal Order of Buffalos. He continued singing until August 1924 when his health began to fail him. He died in March 1925, aged 52 and his funeral procession of choristers from both the Treorchy & District and Royal Welsh Male Choirs performed on foot from his home to the graveside.
Not all encounters between the Royal Welsh and Treorchy & District Male Choirs were amicable. A problem arose during the late 1920s and early 1930s when the Treorchy & District enjoyed a renaissance of competition wins under Gwilym T. Jones. It had become apparent that members of the Royal Welsh Male Choir – a concert performance organisation, not a competitive one – made up the first two rows of the competition choir. Clearly, their expertise was welcomed on the one hand. On the other it created a sense of animosity amongst the large-scale Treorchy & District Choir, whose members learned that the Royal Welsh singers were being paid to appear. During such economic hardships as experienced in the South Wales valleys of this period, this revelation was the cause of further disharmony and a contributing factor to the demise of the Treorchy & District Choir by 1943.
The Royal Welsh Male Choir made its second visit to Australia in 1922, again receiving the heroic musical welcome from thousands of supporters in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. By 1926 it was increasingly obvious that Gwilym T. Jones, who had been appointed organist and choirmaster of Bethlehem Chapel, was finding it difficult to remain dedicated to both the Treorchy & District and the Royal Welsh Male Choirs. Whilst one was a competitive choir, the other depended on concert performances and although both benefited massively from the expertise of Mr Jones, it was no longer possible for him to conduct both. It is interesting to note that during certain competitions the Royal Welsh would make up the front rows of the Treorchy & District Choir to assist them with their performance. Sadly, this arrangement would eventually cause a major disagreement between both musical organisations as one was an amateur choir, while the other were professionally paid singers – a luxury in the 1920s depression. On relinquishing his role in the Treorchy & District Male Choir, it was ironic that Royal Welsh Male Choir tenor soloist, John Isaac Jones, was appointed his successor!
In 1932 the Royal Welsh and Treorky & District choirs joined forces again to pay tribute to tenor soloist William Todd Jones. Born in Troedyrhiw, Merthyr Tydfil in March 1872, he came to River Row, Penyrenglyn as a baby and while still a boy began working as a miner in one of the Bute Collieries.
From a young age he started his singing career in the village's Royal Exchange where he sang in Penny Reading Concerts. Unable to read a single note of music, he refused any formal training from Madame Clara Novello Davies but rose to become one of the finest singers in Wales.
The “Todyn” as he was affectionately known, gained prize after prize in the eisteddfod arena, claiming a first prize at the National Eisteddfod of Wales. As a soloist he opened many music festivals throughout the United Kingdom. He enjoyed audiences with King Edward VII, King George V and David Lloyd George who called him the “God Sent Tenor.” During a performance in New York he was even allegedly approached by international tenor Enrico Caruso and they exchanged tips on performance. According to reports, during the visit to New Zealand the gold magnate Llewellyn Williams rewarded him handsomely for a private concert. He spent his final years in Pencader, where he continued to perform locally until the week of his death in 1932. He left a wife, Maud, and nine children. His funeral in Treorchy was one of the largest ever seen in the history of the Rhondda.
The Royal Welsh Male Choir enjoyed their next royal performance in April, 1938 on the visit of Queen Mary to Cardiff. Gwilym T. Jones was taken to the royal box and presented to Her Majesty who proclaimed the Choir had been the “star turn”. The Queen joined in the thunderous applause and said the singing was the “most heavenly” she had heard. During the same year they enjoyed their third tour of South Africa where they performed for General J.B.M. Hertzog, President of the Union of South Africa from 1924 to 1939 and General Jan Smuts, the prominent South African and Commonwealth statesman, military leader and philosopher. He served as Prime Minister of the Union of South Africa from 1919 until 1924 and again from 1939 to 1948.
Throughout the 1930s the Choir made a series of sound films for Pathe, Paramount, British Gaumount and Butchers Film Company. With the advent of World War II, some members were called to serve in distant lands, while the remainder of the Choir continued to hold fundraising concerts for the war effort (more specifically the Red Cross) and perform for the troops. During this period they also sang for Princess Beatrice, Duchess of Gloucester and the King and Queen of Greece.
Their fourth visit to South Africa was abandoned because of the outbreak of war and the lack of shipping space in the years afterwards prevented another trip overseas. In 1944 the Choir welcomed a new member of the musical team with the appointment of Mary Carpenter Edwards. A graduate of the Association of the London College of Music, she was an experienced pianist and organist. She also found love in the ranks of the Choir by marrying a member of the tenor section.
Administratively, further changes took place with the appointment of Roy Meredith as Treasurer while Evan H.Wiltshire of Tynybedw Street, Treorchy, was elected Secretary following the departure of Caradog Lodwig. The Choir also enjoyed an impressive list of Patrons during this time, including Colonel John Blandy Jenkins JP (Llanharan), Commander Claudius G.Pendill USN, Countess of Plymouth, Will John MP, Dick Wells, (President of Rotary America), William Davies (Pontypridd), Mr and Mrs F.R.Browning Jnr (Whitchurch), Dr and Mrs Fyner, (Pontypridd) Weisz Marcl, (Principal Soprano, Vienna and Beyreuth Opera House) and J. Thomas (Treorchy).
In 1945 the Choir held its Golden Jubilee, announcing it had been formed in 1895 – the year of the Royal Command Performance. Previously, the Choir had used several dates indicating they were formed in 1883 or 1885 – the dates of the actual formation of Treorky Choir and secondly, the date in which William Thomas was appointed as Conductor. To celebrate their fiftieth year the Choir held a celebratory concert at Bethania Chapel, Treorchy.
Shortly afterwards, Gwilym T. Jones departed as Musical Director, and played a pivotal role in forming Cor Meibion Pontypridd, allowing the position of Conductor to become vacant and eventually filled by musician T.D.Griffiths. In 1947 the Royal Welsh Male Choir sang at the Reception of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers in Cardiff, again enjoying widespread acclaim.
ROYAL WELSH MALE CHOIR 1946
Conductor: TD Griffiths
Accompanist Mary Carpenter Edwards
1st Tenors: Les Edwards, J.Jones, G.Thomas, Jack Evans, D.Parsons, C.Williams, Dan Jones, M.Phillips, W.Williams
2nd Tenors: T.Chapman, J.Hughes, C.Pratt, R.Davies, H.Morris, D.E.Williams
1st Bass: D.Bebb, O.Evans, R.Meredith, J.Davies. W.E.Lewis, I.Morgan
2nd Bass: B. Davies. Jack Jones, W. Thomas, D.Davies, H.Price, E.H.Wiltshire, I.Jones
On October 16 th 1946 the rival Treorchy Male Choir was reformed under the baton of the eminent John Haydn Davies who transformed this group of raw musical recruits into an internationally famous musical organisation. While Treorchy Male Choir rose to become a household name, its colleagues at the Royal Welsh Male Choir undoubtedly viewed their success with envious eyes. In June 1948 the new Treorchy Male Choir entered their first competition at the Treorchy Eisteddod and it was pointed out that a group of Royal Welsh Choir members, who had also joined Treorchy were singing with Cor Meibion Pontypridd on the day of the competition – possibly because of the association with former conductor Gwilym T. Jones who was now their Conductor. It certainly sent alarm bells through the Treorchy camp for having a “choir within a choir” was clearly dangerous and a recipe for future disasters. Treorchy won the event by five clear points over Pontypridd.
Admittedly those Royal Welsh singers, all experienced voices, were of assistance to the early days of the Treorchy Choir, with the likes of Leslie Edwards and Tom Griffiths so readily helping out but this situation could not continue. However, it was a further two years before the subject was discussed in a Special General Meeting and the rule was passed not to accept choristers who were still members of other choirs. In truth, John Haydn Davies himself made it clear that the new Treorchy Choir would not experience the same level of disharmony he had witnessed first-hand while Deputy Conductor of the defunct Treorchy & District Choir during the late 1930s.
During the 1950s the Royal Welsh Male Choir continued to appear regularly in venues throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland while also making commercial recordings for Decca Records Ltd. One of the many highlights was a performance at the National Choral Festival in County Cork which was attended by their patron, the Countess of Plymouth. They also performed two operas by Welsh Conductor Arwel Hughes. The opportunity to tour overseas eluded them for some time until the latter part of 1960 when they boarded the RMS Queen Mary bound for the United States of America. On November 13 th they performed in the First Class Lounge for the Remembrance Sunday concert. A new conductor was in place, in John Samuel, with Mary Carpenter Edwards as the faithful Accompanist.
ROYAL WELSH MALE CHOIR, 1960
1st Tenors: L.Edwards, L.Evans, T.Jenkins, D.Parsons, M.Philips. G.Thomas, W.Williams, C.Williams
2nd Tenors: R.Davies, H.Morris, T.Rees, D.E.Williams
1st Bass: O.Evans, R.Meredith, R.Bebb, E.Richards, J.Williams .W.E.Lewis
2nd Bass – D.L.Davies, H.P.John, S.Sault, W.Richards, E.H.Wiltshire (Secretary) D.J.Philips. B.Davies
Five years later and the Choir returned once more to the United States of American and Canada for another successful tour. Soloists for the tour were soprano Anita Williams, harpist Eleanor Dwryd and Master of Ceremonies, Barry Ashton of the Royal Shakespeare Company who narrated excerpts of the works of Dylan Thomas.
The Choir gave 36 concerts in six weeks, performing to a total of 67,000 people. The tour included Ontario, Wisconsin, New York, Kentucky, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Louisiana, Indiana, California and Texas. During the visit to the City Of Winnipeg, John Samuel (who lost two stone in weight during the tour due to the exhaustive schedule) was presented with an Honorary Citizenship from the Mayor's Office. The highlight of the entire tour was a performance on NBC's famous Ed Sullivan Show with millions of regular viewers.
ROYAL WELSH CHOIR 1965
Patron: Countess of Plymouth
President: James Griffiths MP
Musical Director: John Samuel
Accompanist: Mary Carpenter-
PRO -Evan H. Wiltshire
Assistant Secretary: Keith Nokes
Librarian: Trevor Rees
Auditor: Arthur Smith
Deputy Conductor: Roy Meredith
Baggage Master: Leslie Edwards
Treasurer: Gerald Lloyd
Tenor: Tudor Jenkins
The Royal Welsh Male Choir Vice Presidents:
Dr F. R. Armstrong (Treorchy)
Mr Thomas E. Griffiths (Treorchy
Mr Wilfred Brierly (Manchester)
Mr Bell Jones (Caerphilly)
Mr Tudor S. Davies (London)
Mr Iorwerth Thomas MP (Rhondda West & President of Treorchy Male Choir)
Alderman Helena Evans (Cardiff)
Mrs E.M.Williams (Treorchy)
Mr A John Jenkins (Wilkes Barra, USA)
Col Idris Evans (Treorchy
Mr Percy Griffiths (Treorchy)
Mrs M. Jones (Emporia, Kansas, USA)
Following the resignation of John Samuel, the well-known accompanist Bryan Davies of Ferndale, accepted the challenge as Conductor. Bryan, who later became known as the accompanist for Stuart Burrows, Bryn Terfel and Dennis O'Neill at his masterclasses in the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, maintained the high standards of the Choir during his tenure. He was succeeded by John Jones of Aberdare who led them on their last tour of the United States in 1975 where they performed in venues along the West Coast from Washington State to San Diego in California before flying to Canada and New York.
Although the 1980s allowed choristers the opportunity to appear at further prestigious engagements, including London's Royal Albert Hall during the intermission of the World Brass Band Contest, the future looked more uncertain. With an aging membership and few new choristers joining the ranks of this esteemed organisation, the Royal Welsh Male Choir suddenly faced its gradual and sad demise. Quite simply, this once world-famous musical entity was literally “dying of old age”, leading to their eventual decision to disband in the early 1990s.
It was indeed the end of a great era of choral singing, during which time the Royal Welsh Male Choir continually flew the flag of Welsh music throughout the United Kingdom, as well as its many ambitious and prestigious overseas tours to lands previously musically unconquered by Welsh performers, to its long list of royal command performances throughout this illustrious career. They had indeed represented the Land of Song and their music will continually resound throughout the valleys of their birth.