Choir History

Mountain Ash and District Choral Society is one of the oldest mixed choirs in South Wales with its roots dating back to 1964.

The following brief history relates to the current Mountain Ash and District Choral Society but we know that an earlier society existed (see link at left). Our limited information stems from some old programmes and accounts that were donated to our choir and which relate to the period 1911 to 1913. We’d like to learn more about this earlier society so please get in touch if you have any more information (Sec).

December 1964 saw another birth in Bethlehem, that of the Mountain Ash & District Choral Society.  The first rehearsal was in January 1965, at the former Bethlehem Chapel, High St., Mountain Ash under the baton of Miss Phyllis Morley-Jones (later Mrs George Thomas), with Mr. Lyndon Howells as Accompanist.

The nucleus of the new choir sprang from the ashes of Penrhiwceiber Choral Society, but soon choristers were attracted from all over the Valley and today members travel from the Rhondda, Cowbridge, Merthyr, Pontypridd and Glynneath.  The first year was spent very enjoyably learning a great deal of miscellaneous music whilst preparing for the first concert.  This was held on 13th January 1966, when the main work was Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast – tickets were half-a-crown (25p)!!

3_024_003_Programme_Crystal-Palace-1911_01

Crystal Palace 1911

Founder members:

  • David Jones, Gwyn Evans, Thelma Davies, Bernard Davies, Emlyn Davies, Meirion Williams, Phyllis Brace, Eirlys Jones, Edwin Brace, Don Hunkin, Phyllis Hamlin, Margaret Harris, Edward Thomas, Sal Thomas, Anne Britten, Heulwen Jones, Phyllis Morley-Jones

Phyllis Brace became conductor in 1972 and Eirlys Jones has been the accompanist since 1971. Mrs Brace in turn handed over the musical direction to Andrew Badham in 1991, from which time she has continued to be a busy deputy.

The City of Cardiff Symphony Orchestra has accompanied choir and soloists at annual concerts since 1992 and many well-known singers have been engaged including Beverley Humphreys, Janet Price, Jeremy Huw Williams, Alison Pearce, Jason Howard, William McAlpine, Kate Woolveridge and a very young Lesley Garrett (Elijah, 1983). Former D’Oyly Carte principals and WNO members have also guested.

In 2003, Mountain Ash & District Choral Society formed a twinning link with Chorale Arpège of Montélimar, France. A number of exchange visits have been held, the most recent in July 2006 and many friendships have been formed between members of our choir and those of Chorale Arpège.

Our choir celebrated it’s 40th anniversary in December 2004 with a performance of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ at St Margaret’s Church, Mountain Ash.