Landmarks 1946-1959

1946

October 16
A meeting was convened by Tom Jenkins and George Neighbour (Secretary and Chairman of the pre-war Choir) to reform the Treorchy & District Male Voice Choir. Stanley Jones was elected Secretary and it was agreed to place scratch notices at the local cinema and shop-windows to advertise the fact.

October 20
A second meeting was held. George Neighbour was elected Chairman, Edward Knapgate elected Vice Chairman and David Jenkins elected Treasurer. It was resolved to visit John Haydn Davies and Tom Jones and invite them to become the Conductor and Accompanist of the new Choir.

October 27
A third meeting was held for the forty men present and it was announced that John Haydn Davies and Tom Jones had accepted the invitation. Rehearsals were to start in November. Contributions were later increased from 3d to 6d per week.

1947

July 20
The first concert was given in Ramah Chapel, Treorchy, where a silver collection of £12 was raised for Choir funds. Soloists were choristers Cas Powell, Eddie Hughes, Jack Hughes and David Davies. It was the first of five concerts given during the year, including an “away” engagement in the Porthcawl Pavilion.

Treorchy & District Male Choir at Gelli CollieryTreorchy & District Male Choir at Gelli Colliery1948

January
At a Committee Meeting it was proposed by William Wiltshire to publish a monthly pamphlet on the activities of the Choir. With a sub-committee of Keri Williams, Richard Williams, Ernest Lewis and W.J. ‘Donna’ Griffiths, the first edition of Excelsior: The Voice Of The Treorchy & District Male Choir was produced. It continues to enjoy a world-wide distribution.

April 1
The Choir gave its first Celebrity Concert at Bethlehem Chapel, Treorchy, with soprano Linda Parker and baritone William Parsons. One of the songs performed was “Close Thine Eyes”, and its composer Ieuan Rees Davies was a member of the audience. He was invited to conduct the item by John Haydn Davies.

May 18
The Choir entered the competition arena for the first time by appearing at the Whitsun Treorchy Eisteddfod in the Park & Dare Theatre with the test piece "Nidaros" and gained second prize.

June 26
The Choir won its first semi-final eisteddfod competition in Llanharan where the adjudicator, Professor Joseph Lewis of the Guildhall School of Music, called Treorchy “A fine Choir. The singing throughout was most expressive. The dynamic passages were intense. A really fine performance.”

September 11
Once again the Choir won a semi-national eisteddfod, this time held in Pontllanfraith where the adjudicator was Douglas Robinson, the Chorus Master at Covent Garden.

October 9
The Choir made its first radio broadcast on a programme called “Export Only” for the BBC at the Reardon Smith Lecture Theatre, Cardiff.

Russell Square Gardens, 1949Russell Square Gardens, 19491949

February 8
At a radio broadcast for the Welsh Home Service in the Park & Dare Theatre the Choir first performed with the BBC Welsh Orchestra and cemented a lifelong friendship with its conductor, Mansel Thomas.

April 2
Following lengthy discussions with Fred Pullin, the Deputy Press Officer of the Natonal Coal Board, the Choir appeared before H.R.H. The Duke of Edinburgh and an audience of over 10,000 people at Wembley Pool, London, for the N.C.B. Boxing Finals. The 150 choristers filed into their seats unnoticed and as soon as the lights in the auditorium were turned off the singers, who were all dressed in colliery overalls with a helmet, turned on their cap lamps to thrilling effect.

June 7
At the Whitsun Treorchy Semi-National Eisteddfod, a Choir of 157 men walked on stage and claimed the first prize for their performance of “Cytgan Y Pererinion”.

August 6
The Choir entered the Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales for the first time. Held in Dolgellau, the Choir’s performance was thrilling, particularly as the audience began to applaud before the end of their last item, “Full Fathom Five”. The Choir was awarded second prize.

1950

February 18
Following the success of its appearance on “Student Songs” during the Christmas period, the Choir was invited to appear on four consecutive Saturday night programmes called "All Together" with presenter, Alun Williams. It was the start of a long-standing friendship with the broadcaster as the Choir appeared on 32 of his programmes over the coming years.

May 6
At the Semi-National Eisteddfod in Sennybridge the Choir was placed a controversial fourth.

May 30
The Choir was awarded the first prize at the Whitsun Treorchy Semi-National Eisteddfod

June 24
For the third consecutive year the Choir won the first prize at the Llanharan Eisteddod where adjudicator Professor Alan Bush of the Royal Academy of Music presented the Choir with his latest composition, "Owain Glyndwr".

August 12
The Choir was awarded second prize at the Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales, Caerphilly.

Festival of Britain Concert, 1951Festival of Britain Concert, 19511951

May 12
The Choir made its first visit to the Royal Albert Hall for a performance in a Festival of Britain Concert. Choristers joined a massed Choir for a performance of "The Rainbow", the story of Dunkirk, under the baton of the eminent conductor, Sir Adrian Boult.

June 9
At a Festival of Britain Concert on Pentre Colliery site, the Choir made its first record. It was a private recording with soloist Sam Griffiths of “Little Liza Jane”.

July 7
The Choir spent a weekend in Ipswich and were asked to sing a number of impromptu songs by Herbert Morrison MP.

October 20
The Choir made its first visit to Birmingham Town Hall. With eight buses filled with supporters, the Choir performed a magnificent concert with soloists Ruth Packer and Bruce Dargave. The event was organised by the Secretary of the Birmingham Welsh Society, D.O.Griffiths, who was made an Honorary Member of the Choir.

1952

June 21
The Choir appeared in Rhondda Music Week at the Pentre Colliery site with soloists Norman Nowakowksi and Mary Kendall.

August 9
The Choir gained the first prize at the Royal National Eisteddfod, Aberystwyth. The most memorable performance was of the 23rd Psalm in Welsh, "Duw Yw Fy Mugail". The adjudicators were so overwhelmed by this beautiful sound that they all put their pencils and notebooks down to listen. Mr. W. Matthew Williams, adjudicator, proclaimed, "If there is singing like this in heaven then I am eager to get there quickly.” It was the culmination of five years of dedicated work by choristers under the baton of John Haydn Davies. It also marked the first time for the Blue Riband to be brought back to Treorchy in 57 years.

December 4
Recordings of the Choir were made at Bethlehem Chapel and placed in a time capsule in the USA to be reopened in 2052.

1953

February 4
The first Choir uniform was issued, including a black blazer with Choir badge, tie and grey trousers, costing £3.10.0 each of which the Choir paid £2. It was first worn at Maesteg Town Hall, an event that also marked the first time for the Choir to hire Brewers Bus Co. to provide transport. They catered for the Choir’s transport for the next 45 years.

April 13
The Choir appeared in the Queen Cinema, Cardiff, for the world premiere of “Helen of Troy”.

May 23
Following a growing friendship with Farquhar MacDonald, the Conductor of the Glasgow Police Choir, a tour of Glasgow was organised. Two concerts were held in St Andrews Hall and during the weekend, they enjoyed a boat trip on the steamer Queen Mary II along the Kyles of Bute.

November 28
The Choir made its first appearance at the Festival Hall, London to perform in the Autumn Music Festival of the London Welsh Association. In the audience were Sir David Maxwell Fyfe and Sir Ben Bowen Thomas.

1954

Ipswich, 1953 Ipswich, 1953 January
The resolution of the Annual General Meeting was to rename the Choir, the Treorchy Male Choir.

April 26
The Choir made its first television programme called "Easter Parade" at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff.

June 5
At a concert in the Park & Dare Theatre, the Choir shared the stage with their friends of the Glasgow Police Choir.

August 7
The Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales was held at Ystradgynlais. For the second consecutive occasion, the Choir was awarded the first prize.

November 25
At a broadcast in the Polikoff Canteen, Treorchy, the Choir performed Thomas Wood’s “The Merchantmen” for the first time with the BBC Welsh Orchestra.

1955

March 1
The Choir appeared in a celebrity St David’s Day broadcast from Sophia Gardens featuring amongst others Mervyn Johns, Hugh Griffith, Rachel Thomas, Dai Dower, Wilfred Wooler, Petula Clark, Donald Houston and the BBC Welsh Orchestra.

November 24
Following months of preparation, the Choir performed, for the first time in the Rhondda, Cherubini’s "Requiem in D Minor" at St Peter’s Church, Pentre.

London's Festival Hall, 1957 London's Festival Hall, 1957 1956

February 23
The Choir made their first commercial recording of "Sospan Fach" and "March of the Men of Harlech" for Qualiton Records in Bethlehem Chapel, Treorchy. They have since recorded almost 60 albums making them probably the most recorded male choir in the world.

February 28
The Walt Disney Film Co, visited the rehearsal room to film the Choir as part of a section of a documentary highlighting many aspects of Welsh life.

August 11
The Choir won the first prize at the Royal National Eisteddfod in Aberdare. This was their third consecutive win.

October 6
The Choir competed for the first time at the Miners' Musical Festival, or Miners' Eisteddfod in the Pavilion, Porthcawl and gained the first prize for their performance of "Dies Irae".

Official Photograph, 1956Official Photograph, 19561957

March 31
In a presentation concert by the Rhondda Recognition Committee Mansel Thomas, conducted his arrangement of "Llef".

May 19
At the Cardigan Semi-National Eisteddfod the Choir gained first prize.

October 5
During the Miners' Eisteddfod, Porthcawl greetings were exchanged with Paul Robeson on a transatlantic link to a studio in New York. The Choir was once more awarded the first prize.

November 2
To celebrate the 21st anniversary of the television programme "The World Our Stage", the Choir performed from Gelli Colliery. They appeared alongside the Scottish Junior Singers who were performing in Edinburgh and the Royal Choral Society and London Symphony Orchestra who were in London. The event was hosted by film actor Trevor Howard.

1958

July 18
The Choir broadcast from the St Athans RAF Base for a BBC "Friday Night is Commonwealth Night" on the eve of the start of the actual games.

August 9
The Choir gained the first prize at the Royal National Eisteddfod in Ebbw Vale. It was their fourth consecutive win.

October 4
Once again the Choir won the Miners' Eisteddfod, Porthcawl.

October 26
To mark Qualiton Record Company’s 100th recording, the Choir and the Cory Band combined at the Salvation Army Citadel, Pentre to record “God Bless The Prince Of Wales” and “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau”, which concluded at 5.40pm. Mr Edwards then dashed to the studio to cut and process the record through the night, with copies available in the Cardiff shops by the following morning. Completed within 16 hours 20 minutes it was recognised as the shortest recording-selling time of any record in history up to this time.

Official Photograph, 1959Official Photograph, 19591959

January 19
In celebration of the life of Welsh composer Ivor Novello, the Choir performed at a concert in the New Theatre, Cardiff, with two of his leading ladies, Oliver Gilbert and Esme Lewis, along with Ivor Emmanuel.

June 21
The Choir gave the first performance of Mansel Thomas’s “Praise Ye The Lord” at the Llandaff Festival of Music in Llandaff Cathedral.

August 8
The Choir gained their fifth consecutive first prize at the Royal National Eisteddfod in Caernarfon.

September 26
The Choir gained their fourth consecutive win at the Miners' Eisteddfod, Porthcawl. The most memorable occasion was the performance of the Coronation Scene from Boris Godounov with soloist Sam Griffiths.