Cor y Brythoniaid
History of the Brythoniaid Male Voice Choir
In June 1964 a local Blaenau Ffestiniog man, Meirion Jones formed a male voice choir which was to become one of the most successful choirs in Wales. The choir was formed to compete in a small local eisteddfod in Hyfrydfa Chapel in manod and following this it was suggested that the choir perform in the local Carnival some weeks later. At this stage there were some fifteen members but due to the encouragement they received, the choir was officially formed and work commenced to attract new members. From the outset, competing was an integral part of the Choirs activities and, made it’s first appearance in competition at the Llan Ffestiniog jubilee Eisteddfod in 1965. Following success at this Eisteddfod it was decided to make 1966 the starting point for a sustained period of competition which indeed continues to the present day. More members were required however and the Choirs conductor, Meirion Jones, ably assisted by another Choir member, Wyn Morris, began travelling the area visiting possible Choir members and it was through their efforts that the numbers expanded rapidly. With the increase in numbers followed an increase in the Choir’s success. Between 1966 and 1974 for example the Choirs success could be compared to that of a modern day football team with the following statistics: 26 competitions, 19 first prizes, 3 second prizes. A record to be proud of.
In 1969 the Choir decided to compete in ‘ The big one ’ for the first time and entered the National Eisteddfod in Flint. The Choir sang ' The 23rd psalm' and secured their first major success with the words of the adjudicator a glowing testament to the quality of the performance, as follows: “ We were amazed by the superb singing and cannot find words to express our feelings. The whole programme a circle of pure artistry”.
Further successes followed in 1971 at Bangor which was a unique year in the history of Blaenau Ffestiniog with the Moelwyn Male Voice choir also winning their section at the same Eisteddfod. A unique double for the town.
In 1972 the Choir won first prize at the Butlins Eistedfdfod which was a major competition at the time with choirs from all over England and Wales competing. This was the fifth time the Choir had won this particular competition, again a feat which will never be repeated.
But it hasn’t all been competition. In 1975 the Choir made an historic trip behind the ‘ Iron Curtain’ and visited Hungary where they appeared before a panel of Hungary’s most eminent musicians and were awarded a Diploma from the Academy of Culture for their performance. Since this first historic trip the Choir has toured far and wide, which have included two tours of America, two tours of Belgium. Two visits to the Interceltique Festival in Lorient and several tours to Ireland and Scotland. Further National Eisteddfod successes occurred in 1977, 2002 and 2005.
The Choir has innumerable television appearances to its credit and has appeared on stage with some of the finest performers in the world. These have included Dennis and Patricia O’Neill, Willard White, Shirley Bassey, Harry Seacombe, Gwyn Hughes Jones, The Black Dyke Mills Band and the man himself, Bryn Terfel.
The Brythoniaid have many records and C.D’s to their credit and in 1982 were awarded a gold disc by the Sain Record group for their record sales and in 1992 were adjudged the H.T.V. Choir of the year.
Over the years the Choir have been indebted to many people who have had an influence in many ways on the Choir’s success, Meirion Jones M.B.E., Katie Pleming, Jennie May Ellis, Gareth Jones the Choirs deputy conductor for many years, Elfyn Pugh the Choir President, Elisabeth Ellis who became the Choirs accompanist in 1986 and is still providing invaluable support for the present ‘ boss ’ John Eifion Jones.
To those who have heard the Brythoniaid Male Voice choir singing will agree that it has an unique sound which has given enjoyment to a huge number of people over the years and long may this continue.