Gwalia Singers

(Swansea)
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Cantorion Gwalia

(Abertawe)


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Previous decade: the 1970s

 

 

1980

 

As reported in the Evening Post on Tuesday 12th August:

 

 

"Choir clinches a hat-trick of successes

COR GWALIA, male voice choir, Swansea, clinched a hat-trick of Eisteddfod wins this year at Gowerton at the weekend.

   And victory in the contest for choirs with a maximum of 40 voices represented the latest chapter in the success story of the choir which made its competitive debut only last year.

   Mr. Cliff Prosser, choir Press officer, said: "It's only in the last year that we have started to enter competitions. We have been going for 14 years, doing mostly charity events.

   "But we felt like broadening our horizons and entered the Welsh Brewers Choir of the Year competition last year, coming second to Dunvant."

   So after 13 years they struck lucky and haven't looked back since, winning top prizes at the Pontyrhydfen and Rhymney Eisteddfods.

   A £10 cheque and silver cup were the prizes for their efforts at Gowerton, but the honour of winning at the National Eisteddfod that counted most to the choir.

   "For prestige it is the best one to win," said Mr. Prosser. "There's no doubt about it."

   The items that pleased the judges so much were Dilys  Wamal, arranged by Eric H. Thiman, and Arglwydd Da, a 16th century composition by Thomas Luis De Victoria.

  Conductor Mr. Bryan Miles was the man who led Cor Gwalia to their moment of glory and accompanist was Miss Beverley Sanders.

  Cor Gwalia scored 86 points, two ahead of Cor Llandybie with Cor Rhos, Cwmtawe, in third place with 81 points."

 

 

The choir was issued with “new” uniforms and this raised the issue of presentation on stages especially after their success during the year. It was agreed that hands should be tried out placed at the sides rather than in front with a trial carried out for the next few concerts. Due to the cost of the new uniforms it was agreed that they should be the property of the choir and returned should a member leave.

 

 

1981

 

This year saw the choir take its first trip overseas. The visit to Mannheim, Germany (one of Swansea's twin towns) was hosted by the Facco-Chor and took place between the 14th and 20th October. A reciprocal visit was planned for Easter 1983.

 

Cutting from Western Mail

Cutting from the Western Mail, 13th October

 

Photo of choir, families and friends in Heidelberg

Choir members, families and friends visiting Heidelberg

 

The choir had a few disappointments having failed to win at the International Eisteddfod at Llangollen but had been awarded three 1st places at Eisteddfoddau including the third successive victory at the Miners’ Eisteddfod.

 

Photo of choir at Llangollen International Eisteddfod, 1981

 

The choir membership increased to 39.

 

The “Musical Committee” which had been in operation for several years was questioned since the Musical Director was making musical decisions without reference to the Committee. On this basis it was agreed to continue with the sub-committee to assist the Musical Director on his recommendation.

 

The choir had held a prestige concert in the Brangwyn Hall.

 

The choir recorded the Christmas number “Stop the Cavalry” together with the Cory Band. This remains a most popular Christmas recording in the USA.

 

1982

 

Choir photo with trophies

 

Miss Diane Myles was appointed as Accompanist.

 

Due to the increased workload of learning new pieces, choir practices were increased to two per week as in reality they had been for the past year.

 

It was proposed to enter the Pentryhdfendigaed Eisteddfod to try and secure a third successive win and the Rhymney Eisteddfod where prizes were more lucrative rather than the National Eisteddfod.

 

The choir became regular entertainers at Swansea University and Swansea City Council conferences.

 

 

1983

 

Having been successful again at the Pentryhdfendigaed Eisteddfod for a third year, the choir agreed to present a cup to the Eisteddfod Committee for choirs to win in subsequent years – entitled the “Gwalia Cup”. [In reality the choir subsequently won its own cup back several times in future years!]

 

The choir recorded another ‘45 single’ record for Christmas entitled “White Christmas” together with the Olchfa School orchestra.

 

The choir had again been successful in competition including victories in the Rhymney, Cardigan and Miner’s Eisteddfodau. However they were unsuccessful at the Radio Wales and Choir of the Year competitions.

 

The choir entertained the “Facco Chor” choir from Mannheim at Easter.

 

 

1984

 

The Musical Director proposed that a retirement age be established for choir members at 65 since clearly some of the members voices were failing with age. This was rejected by the choir as a whole, identifying that it was the Musical Director’s job to “weed out” failing voices!

 

It was agreed to enter the five major Eisteddfodau during the year, i.e. the National, Cardigan, Pontrhydfendigaed, Rhymney and the Miner’s.

 

The “Musical Committee” was finally abandoned.

 

The choir held an Extraordinary meeting to consider the possible restrictions caused by limiting its size to 40. Despite a strong discussion to raise this to 50 or even 60 it was eventually agreed that there would be no limit and that the size should be left to the discretion of the Musical Director. The choir had 41 members recorded on the books in this year.

 

 

1985

 

The choir’s attempt at the “Grand Slam” of the four Eisteddfodau had not been successful but it had gained three 1st place positions and one 2nd place positions.

 

The choir had made a very successful tour of Birmingham with the Birmingham 51 club and made their first concert at the Coombe Cheshire Home.

 

Photo of choir at Coombe Cheshire home

The choir at Coombe Cheshire Home

 

Concern was expressed that the choir was becoming stale and that recruitment was paramount of new younger members. To this end a recruitment sub-committee was established. Membership stood at 32.

 

The choir visited Mannheim for the second time.

 

A record number of 26 concerts were performed throughout the year.

 

 

1986

 

The choir planned a weekend to Bournemouth and had an engagement at London’s Dorchester Hotel.

 

Photo at wedding reception in the Dorchester Hotel

Performing for a wedding reception at the Dorchester Hotel, London

 

Planning was commenced for the 21st Birthday in 1987.

 

The choir suffered a period of turmoil during this year, which resulted in several resignations of principal officers but survived after reforming.

 

 

1987

 

The 21st Anniversary Concert was held at Bethlehem Chapel in Fforestfach, Swansea on Saturday 31st October. Guest artistes for the concert were Rebecca Evans (soprano) and Nigel Hopkins (baritone).

 

Cutting from South Wales Evening Post

Cutting from the South Wales Evening Post, Thursday 29th October

 

Photo at the choir's 21st Anniversary Concert

The 21st Anniversary Concert at Bethlehem Chapel, Cadle

 

The choir held a special presentation social evening and arranged two trips away to Bournemouth and to Llandudno.

Recruitment was still a concern and choir membership was 34.

 

 

1988

 

The recruitment policy appeared to have been successful and the choir membership had increased to 39.

 

The choir performed well again in the Pontrhydfendigaed and Miner’s Eisteddfodau and had performed in a competition in Cornwall.

 

1989

 

The choir introduced its Patronship scheme and acquired 31 patrons.

 

The choir’s Ladies Section formed several years earlier had organised two supper dances and raised £450 towards new uniform trousers.

 

The choir celebrated New Year with a special outing to Llandrindod Wells.

 

Photo at Shobdon Flower Festival

Another visit to the Shobdon Flower Festival

 

 

Next decade: the 1990s

 

 

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