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Cwmamman Choral Society

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Cwmamman Choral Society, October 1921. Please click on the above image to enlarge.

The Cwmamman Choral Society were formed in 1916 under the conductorship of Oliver Stanley Jones, who was also organist at Brynseion Chapel, Glanamman. Stanley Jones was reputedly self-taught, but from a musical family comprising of singers, musicians, choir conductors and adjudicators. His brother, Morgan Mathew Jones was Brynseion Chapel's first organist. Stanley's niece, Madam Blodwen Jones-Davies was a contralto singer and National winner. Stanley's Uncle was John Pencrug Jones, the veteran conductor of the Brynamman Male Choir.

The Cwmamman Choral Society were also referred to as the Bryn Seion Choral Society. Their first work was Mendelssohn's "Hymn of Praise" which was performed on the evenings of Thursday the 16th and Sunday the 19th of March 1916. Madame Thomas of Llanelly and William Amman Michael R.A.M. (who later joined the Thomas Beecham Opera Company) took the leading parts at the performances. Other works performed by the society included "Elijah" and "St Paul" in 1917 and "King Olaf" in 1919.

The first competition entered by the Cwmamman Choral Society was the National Eisteddfod which was held at Barry in 1920. Later that year, they participated in the high class Mountain Ash Festival, where they won first prize, despite competing against reputable choirs such as Mid-Rhondda and Briton Ferry. The prize at the Mountain Ash Festival was the largest ever offered in a choral competition in Britain at that time and amounted to the sum of £250. The Cwmamman Choralists also received a magnificent challenge shield for their performance of "The Shower" by Elgar and "The Silent Land" by Cyril Jenkins. It was stated that Cwmamman's conductor, Stanley Jones had understood the pieces better than the others and had entered into the proper spirit, giving intellectual renderings of both pieces.

Unfortunately due to the industrial crisis at that time, they were unable to enter into the following year's eisteddfod at Carnarvon in 1921.

In August of 1922, the National Eisteddfod was held at Ammanford and Cwmamman Choral Society again won first prize; the sum of £200, competing against five other choirs. The test pieces performed were:

  1. "Lord our Redeemer" by J. S. Bach
  2. "Fleur-de-lys" by T. Hopkin Evans
  3. "Ode to the West Wind" by Cyril Jenkins

Scores for the competing choirs at Ammanford Eisteddfod were as follows:

  Piece 1 Piece 2 Piece 3 Total
Cwmamman 87 76 89 252
Nottingham 78 84 86 248
Treorchy 82 85 79 246
Mountain Ash 76 79 90 245
Mid-Rhondda 80 76 80 236
Rhondda 78 81 75 234

Cwmamman Choir's victory concert took place at Brynseion Chapel, Glanamman on Tuesday the 22nd of August 1922 and although the choir did not sing for the packed audience, some of the choir members performed solo's. These included:

  • Madame Blodwen Jones-Davies: Contralto
  • Stephen Rogerson: Tenor
  • Owen Morgan: Bass
  • Miss Blodwen Rees: Soprano

Councillor John Phillips who was chairman of the choir committee, informed the crowd that the choir had been invited to sing at Swansea Theatre in order to raise funds for Swansea Hospital. The poor industrial climate made it difficult for the choir to take up the offer but Mr and Mrs Folland had made it possible by offering to cover the cost of all the expenses. Councillor John Phillips then presented conductor Stanley Jones and Griff Jones, the 16 year old accompanist, with a substantial cheque each.

Amman Valley Chronicle; 10th August 1922 edition
Amman Valley Chronicle; 31st August 1922 edition

Thanks to Tommy Davies for the photo of Cwmamman Choral Society 1921.

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