Guest Musicians

Throughout the years the Treorchy Male Choir’s music staff has often included deputies and assistants, while on occasions they have relied on guest musicians to assist.

Also guest organists have been a regular feature for many of the Choir’s recordings and concert engagements, including Anthony Lewis, D.R. Rees, Idris Lewis, Bruce Denham, Charles Clements, David Bell, Hazel Davies, Huw Tregelles Williams, Canon Graham Holcombe and more recently David Geoffrey Thomas.

Sir Adrian BoultSir Adrian BoultHowever at concert engagements the appointed music staff of the time has changed very little considering the Choir has performed 1,800 concerts since 1946.

During John Haydn Davies and Tom Jones’s long period in charge there was very little call for guest musicians, although naturally there were occasions when the Choir participated in massed choral events when specific conductors and accompanists were appointed. It was under such circumstances that the Choir performed under the baton of Sir Adrian Boult, Mansel Thomas, Frank Wright and Arwel Hughes during the 1950s and 1960s.

With the exception of one concert in Hope Chapel, Bridgend in 1962 when he was too ill to play the piano, Tom Jones was replaced temporarily by none other than Mary Carpenter Edwards, the long-standing accompanist of the Royal Welsh Male Choir.

There was of course the period when the maestro became ill prior to the National Eisteddfod of Wales in Swansea. Throughout the summer and autumn of 1964 a member of the Choir’s Second Tenor section, Cas Powell, was called upon to conduct the Treorchy singers in rehearsal and for a particular concert in Abercarn. BBC musician Alwyn Jones also led them through a radio broadcast.

Once John Haydn recovered sufficiently to return to the Choir he decided the time had come to appoint a third member of the Music Staff and so John Cynan Jones became the new Associate Conductor. His first concert was at Acton Town Hall in October 1965 and he conducted the Choir several times over the next three years, more notably leading them to victory at the Cardigan Semi National Eisteddfod and the National Eisteddfod, Bala in 1967. On this occasion a deputy accompanist was sought owing to the ill health of Tom Jones. For a short period it was a young student name Marion Williams who fulfilled this role and was commended by the adjudicators for her masterly performance.

John Cynan became the new Conductor of the Choir in January 1969. Within two years Tom Jones passed away and it was Jennifer Jones who replaced him. Together Jennifer and John Cynan led the Choir for seventeen years in perfect partnership.

Bryan DaviesBryan DaviesThroughout this era there were of course the occasional engagements when other musicians were called for to fulfil the role if either the conductor or accompanist couldn’t attend. Some of the guest accompanists during this period included John Samuel, the former Conductor of the Royal Welsh Male Choir and later Pendyrus Male Choir and accompanist to tenor Stuart Burrows.

The Choir’s close friend and arranger of music Bryan Davies of Ferndale has also guest accompanied the Choir from the mid 1970s through to the present day in almost fifty concerts. His contribution to the Treorchy Male Choir has been immense and in 2007 he was presented with Honorary Membership.

In 1975 a local pianist and former pupils of John Cynan’s, named Neil Johnson was appointed the Choir’s Assistant Accompanist and also performed in the ranks of the Choir. It was a role he fulfilled for the next two years.

During periods of ill health, John Haydn Davies, the Conductor Emeritus replaced John Cynan on the podium and continued to play an active role in this regard until his final concert in Colston Hall, Bridgend in 1977. During this period Jennifer Jones also raised the baton at Treorchy, becoming the first woman to conduct the Choir at a concert with Harry Secombe in Rhondda Sports Centre, Ystrad. Her deputy, Neil Johnson accompanied her that evening.

Neil JohnsonNeil JohnsonThe few occasions when John Cynan did not conduct the Choir in concert was at St David’s Hall, Cardiff in July 1984, when Owain Arwel Hughes raised the baton to Treorchy and Cwmbach Male Choirs, accompanied by the Halle Orchestra as part of the Welsh Proms series of concerts. It was an occasion which was repeated in the following series of Proms in the summer of 1985 and again for the Rhondda In Harmony Concert in 1988.

In 1985 Bryan Davies ’s own daughter, Sian, accompanied John Cynan at a concert in the Stour Centre, Ashford. Also for a short period a Deputy Conductor was appointed. John Beddoe joined the Choir on their tour of Canada and remained with them before being appointed Conductor of Llantrisant Male Choir shortly afterwards.

When the Choir was due to make a commercial video for their tour of Australia in 1986, heavy snow made it difficult for the Conductor to attend the filming but it was Ieuan Morgan, the famous Treorchy bandmaster who appeared on the screen which was transmitted “down under”. Also in 1986 pianist Jane Gordon performed for one concert while Jonathan Gulliford of Cor Meibion Pontypridd played at two engagements, both due to the unavailability of either Jennifer or Bryan Davies.

Throughout the early part of 1988, John Cynan again was taken ill and this time Jennifer Jones led the Choir through five concert engagements, including the Good Friday Concert at the Park and Dare Theatre. She was accompanied by Bryan Davies for four of these concerts, while Jonathan Gulliford returned to the Choir for a single performance. When Jennifer herself resigned as Accompanist later that year a young pianist named Jeffrey Howard, who would later become a leading light with the choirs Serendipity and Only Men Aloud, accompanied the Choir in Hinkley. Bryan Davies, Sian Davies and Jonathan Gulliford fulfilled the concerts for the remainder of the year, before Marion Williams made a welcomed return to the Choir after seventeen years in Kent and was appointed Accompanist.

Dr Alwyn HumphreysDr Alwyn HumphreysWhen John Cynan himself resigned as Conductor, Jonathan Gulliford returned once more to the Treorchy family and conducted them in six concerts throughout the summer of 1991 before John Jenkins was appointed to the post.

It was John who appointed a young musician from Mountain Ash, called Andrew Badham, as his Deputy and he remained with Treorchy for two years before becoming Conductor of Cwmbach,. It was a role he would later vacant to return to Treorchy as John’s successor in 1997. In fact, on some occasions Andrew also accompanied the Choir when Marion was unavailable and on one occasion a young pianist named Robert Marshall played the piano at the Annual Concert in Treorchy in October 1993.

Owain Arwel Hughes followed in his father’s footsteps several times throughout the 1990s to conduct the Choir at various events, particularly at the Welsh Proms in St David’s Hall and in the World Choir events in Cardiff Arms Park. His nephew, Meuryn Hughes would also lead the Choir as Conductor for less than a year in 2006. In 1995 an Assistant Accompanist was appointed to the Treorchy Male Choir named Heather James. The former work colleague of Conductor John Jenkins, played in several concerts during her three-year period as part of the Treorchy music staff and assisted with the transition between Marion Williams and her successor, Rhiannon Williams.

Edgar TaylorEdgar TaylorAgain Bryan Davies and Jennifer Jones came to the assistance of the Choir during the period before Janice Ball was appointed as the Choir’s fifth Accompanist in 2002. During this period a Deputy Conductor was also appointed to Andrew Badham, named Edgar Taylor and he joined the Choir on their tours of Scotland in 2002 and Australia in 2004, conducting several items in various concerts and also two full engagements.

In 2004 a new Deputy Accompanist was appointed named Helen Roberts, the accompanist for the Silver Ring Choir of Bath who was studying music at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff. Helen was later appointed Accompanist when Jan herself became the Musical Director.

For the next few years several different musicians took the opportunity to conduct the Choir at both rehearsals and engagements. Jennifer Jones played the piano and conducted the Choir several times. The Choir welcomed two guest conductors in Dr Alwyn Humphreys MBE, the Conductor Emeritus of Morriston Orpheus Choir and Dr Haydn James, of the London Welsh Male Choir to lead the Treorchy men in various concerts. Both of whom were since made Honorary Members of the Choir. Dr Humphreys’s wife Joy, who is the Musical Director of the Morriston Orpheus Choir, also came to Treorchy to take the Choir in rehearsal.

In more recent years - when under the baton of Jeffrey Howard - the Choir continued to rely on a number of key musicians to assist when their conductor was engaged elsewhere. It was during this time that Ryan Wood was introduced to the Choir and became their Deputy Conductor in 2017.

The sheer magnitude of talented musicians who have either conducted or accompanied the Treorchy Male Choir during the past seven decades is testimony to the high regard in which the organisation is held.