In 1872 the Directors of the Crystal Palace Company planned a “National Music Meeting” there from 27th June to 6th July, at which there would be competitions in music “open to the world.” The existence and reputation of the Aberdare Choral Union was evident in the resulting reaction in South Wales to the advertising of the Meeting.
On Monday, 12th, February of that year a meeting of the leading Musicians of Carmarthenshire,
Glamorgan and County of Monmouth was held at the Temperance Hall Aberdare. It was decided there to form a choir which would compete in Class I for Choral Societies, numbering a membership of not more than 500 voices. A committee was formed of which the:
Chairman: Canon Jenkins
Treasurer: Dr Thomas Price, the celebrated Aberdare Baptist minister;
Secretary: Mr. Brythonfryn Griffiths
Conductor: Mr. Griffith Rhys Jones, “Caradog” then aged 45 years and a publican in Treorchy, formerly a blacksmith at Aberdare.
It was agreed that choristers should be tested and selected in the following proportions
|Aberdare, Hirwaun, Mountain Ash||150|
|Merthyr and Dowlais||60|
|Swansea, Morriston, Neath, Llanelli||100|
|Pencae, Brynmawr, Blaenavon||100|
|Pontypridd, Rhondda, Cardiff||30|
The sectional conductors were:
Aberdare: Rees Evans;
Mountain Ash: D. E. Coleman
Merthyr: Lewis Morgan
Pontypridd: Richard Evans
Tongwynlais: Evan Bazley
Neath, W. Mathews:
Swansea: Silas Evans
Cwmavon: James Richards
Maesteg: Daniel Jenkins
Llanelli: W. T. Rees, (Alaw Ddu)
One committee meeting it was decided that all choristers should pay one shilling at each rehearsal, but details of finance are sparse. It is safe to say, that over a period of two years, the choir’s costs were in the region of £6,000. Dr. Price, the Treasurer, according to his biographer, the Rev. Benjamin Evans, left a great number of diaries, in which financial transactions were recorded meticulously.
The London competition meant absence a week from home. On Monday, the day before their departure for London, the choir devoted their time almost entirely to rehearsal. On Wednesday and Thursday morning the choir rehearsed with the orchestra. But there was no competition, no other choir presented itself. It remained for the choir to justify in performance its claim to the Challenge Cup of £1,000 value. The adjudicators were Sir Sterndale Bennett, Mr. John P. Hullah and Mr. Brinley Richards.
Examinations 16th March 1872
We are glad to learn that Misses Catherine Jane and Jessie Williams of this place, sisters to Mrs. Jenkins, Dunraven (late Miss M. A. Williams), have been examined and passed by Hywel Cynon, Aberdare Eos Dar, and Mr. Tom Williams, Pontypridd, as sopranos to take part in the forthcoming musical competition, which is to be held at the Crystal Palace in June next.
Western Mail 17th March 1872
Abercarn: The South Wales United Choir. A few zealous sons of Gwalia met at the court-room, Crown Inn, to consider what means should be adopted to assist the Welsh choir to prepare for the forthcoming Crystal Palace competition, Mr D. Lloyd in the chair. The following resolution was passed:
“That this meeting admires the spirit pf our Welsh musical friends in uniting together to train themselves with the object of competing for the Crystal Palace £1,000 prize and that a subscription list to be opened for the purpose immediately.”
Western Mail 21st March 1872
South Wales United Choir and the prize of £1,000 at the Crystal Palace. On Monday afternoon another meeting of the promoters was held at Aberdare, Dewi Alaw (Pontypridd) in the chair. Messrs Rees Evans and William Davies were elected to be examiners at Mountain Ash. The chief conductor, “Caradog,” Treorchy, had sent a request to call a general meeting of every member of the choir for rehearsal at Aberdare, and it was decided to hold the first general rehearsal on April 2.
Note: The testing for “voice” has always been a bugbear of Welsh choirs, and at best is has only been accounted as a necessary evil. It is interesting to note the “voice” examiners deputed by the committee of Caradog’s “Cor Mawr,” to test the material of the various districts.
They were: For Merthyr and Dowlais, David Bowen and Meth Lloyd (Ebbw Vale); Aberdare Richard Evans (Hafod) and Mr T. Williams (Pontypridd); Pontypridd and Rhondda, Richard Jones (watchmaker) and Hywel Cynon; Swansea Alaw Ddu and Gwilym o’r Dyffryn (Llanelly); Llanelly, Silas Evans and David Francis (Morriston); Ebbw Vale, Lewis Morgan (Merthyr), and Prosser (Dowlais).
Western Mail 1st May 1872
The rehearsal of the South Wales United Choirs at Aberdare, the united choirs of South Wales, who will enter the great musical arena for the prize of £1,000 at Crystal Palace on June next, assembled on Tuesday at the Temperance Hall, Aberdare. The choristers, numbering 450, they were drawn for Llanelly, Swansea, Cwmavon, Maesteg, Ebbw Vale, Merthyr, Dowlais, and the Aberdare and Rhondda Valleys, and were conducted by the gifted Caradog (Mr Griffith Jones). The following selections, from which the subject for competition will be taken, were rehearsed. “By slow degrees,” (Handel), “Then round about the starry throne,” (Handel). “In tears of grief,” (Bach). “The night is departing,”(Mendelssohn),“Dixit Dominus,” (Leo), “In exitu Israel,” (Wesley, S.) and “All creatures now are merry-minded,” (Bennett). Mr D. Bowen (Dowlais) was at the harmonium, and among the vocalists taking a leading part were, Messrs D. Emlyn Evans, D. Rosser, solicitor (Aberdare), D. Griffiths, D. Davies (Dewi Alaw), Alaw Ddu, Eos Morlais and Thomas Williams (Pontypridd).
South Wales Daily News 11th May 1872
Great effort is sow made by the Mountain Ash portion of the choir to prepare for the coming rehearsal at Merthyr.
Merthyr Telegraph 17th May 1872
Lord Bute and the South Wales Choral Union
Some days since our townsman Mr J.P. Lewis, of the Fellten office, addressed a note to Lord Bute, for a donation towards the expenses of the choral competition which is to take place at the Crystal Palace in June. The communication was made to his Lordship in Welsh, and the following was the reply received, which interpreted from the original for the enlightenment of our English readers:—
Cardiff Castle, Cardiff, May 8 1872
Syr, Yr wyf yn cydnabod derbyniad eich llythyr o’r 7fed, ac amgauaf y swm o £20 tuag at draul y gystadleuaeth gorawl syddl l gymeryd lle yn Llundain.
Eich ufydd wasanaethwr,
Cardiff Castle, Cardiff, May 8, 1872
Sir, I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 7th, and enclose the sum of £20 towards the expenses of the choral competition which is to take place in London,
Your obedient servant,
It need hardly be stated that this generous contribution has greatly encouraged the committee and others interested in the Welsh choir.
19th May 1872
Four months after the appearance of the announcement of the Music Meetings in the Press, the Crystal Palace Company publicised their intention of awarding a prize of £50 for the best design of a Challenge Trophy.
It was stipulated that the trophy should be ‘in silver or gold, or other precious materials.’ It was to be portable and the whole cost of the materials, production and design was not to exceed £1,000. A Committee was formed to judge the entries and the adjudicators, the Slade professors of Cambridge and London Universities awarded the prize to S. J. Nicholl, an architect. The work of manufacturing the trophy from Nicholl’s design was given to Messrs Cox of Southampton Street, Strand, London. It is a silver gilt trophy of Victorian, Gothic design, and consists of three main parts. The cover is surmounted by a coronet supporting various panels or shields on which were to be inscribed the names of its holders. The trophy itself, in the form of a chalice, stands 10 ½ inches and contains filigree and repoussé work. Two enamelled shields appear on the bowl, on which are represented the figures of King David and St. Cecilia. The rim of the bowl is inter-pointed with circular mounted garnets. The bowl itself is supported on a stem pierced by tracery and set with semiprecious stones. Both chalice and coronet stand on an 18 inch square platform surrounded by open tracery and enamelled scrolls on which are inscribed verses from the Book of Psalms. Each of the four corners has a niche in which are placed four silvered figures, Guido Aretino, Palestrina, Handel and Mozart, representing music through the ages.
Western Mail 1st July 1872
Final rehearsal of Caradog’s Choir: The South Wales united choirs assembled on Monday at Aberdare, when three rehearsals took place, the vast building being on each occasion uncomfortably full, and the disappointed crowds took up a position outside. This was the last appearance of the choir prior to its departure for London. Considering the really brief season during which Caradog has had this band of well over 300 singers in hand, it is surprising to find the marvellous command he as last maintains over so great a body of voices. The handsome sum of £220 17s was realised by the rehearsals on Monday, thus far exceeding the takings at any of the other rehearsals.
Western Mail 4th July 1872
The South Wales Choir in London: Amongst others who accompanied the United South Wales Choir on their journey to compete at the Crystal Palace were the Rev. Canon Jenkins and Dr Price, Aberdare. The special train conveying 550 singers and friends left Aberdare at 8.10 a.m. and in reaching Paddington at 6.30 p.m. the choir struck up with true martial fire the magnificent “March of the Men of Harlech.” Throughout the immense arched building which forms the terminus of the Great Western Railway the tones of that song awakened the echoes and startled into astonished interest the busy porters and the crowds of passengers on the platform.
South Wales Choral Union at the Crystal Palace 13th July 1872
[By our own reporter]
THE long-looked for competition for the challenge prize, valued at £1,000 for choral societies not exceeding 500 voices, came off at the Crystal Palace, on Thursday, last week, the result of which was made known to our readers by telegraph in our last issue. Much to the astonishment of the public, only one choir entered into competition, viz., the South Wales Choral Union, under the able leadership of Mr Griffith Jones (Caradog), and it is almost needless to state, many of our readers having previously had an opportunity of listening to their magnificent performances at home, that their success before an audience of something like 10,000 persons in the Crystal Palace was most complete.
Each of the pieces sung drew forth the most unmistakeable expressions of approval from those present, and the warm commendation of the adjudicators. The whole of the London press, too, speak in the highest terms of praise of the Welsh choir, and without further comment we feel we cannot do better than give the following extract from the Times of Monday last:—
“What ensued was the most striking feature of the day, although not a competition. Nevertheless, it was a trial of merit, for the award of the ‘Challenge Prize’ for choral societies not exceeding 500 in number the prize being estimated at a value of £1,000. This was readily awarded by the judges (Sir Sterndale Bennett, Messrs. J. Hullah, and Brinley Richards) to the South Wales Choral Union, one of the freshest, most powerful, best balanced, and musical body of voices to which we can remember at any time to have listened. With such voices as these to help them out, only provided that Handel’s oratorios and other Saxon’ music be admitted at their anniversary celebrations, the Welsh Eisteddfodau might be perennial. When it is remembered that this chorus is almost entirely drawn from the labouring classes of the Principality, miners, colliers, &c., their wives, daughters, and relatives, we cannot but wonder at the excellence they have attained, an excellence unattainable except through assiduous and continued study. The result is satisfactory beyond measure. The pieces selected for the South Wales Choral Union were of no ordinary difficulty which when we name the final chorus from J. S. Bach’s Passion of St. Matthew (‘In tears of Grief’), Round about the starry throne,’ from Handel’s Samson, and ‘The night is departing,’ from Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang, will readily be understood. To these were added the national Welsh air, ‘The Men of Harlech’ (Mr John Thomas’s arrangement,) and ‘God bless the Prince of Wales,’ by Mr Brinley Richards, both of which, sung in the Welsh tongue, were received with the utmost possible enthusiasm. This exhibition of Welsh choral singing was decidedly the feature of the National Music Meetings, and alone sufficient to render them memorable.”
At half-past 4 o’clock, and immediately after the competition, the Welsh choir, again took part in a monster concert, in which the winners of the principal prizes during the National Music Meetings appeared. The choruses Then round about the starry throne,” and The night is departing were again given by the choir with an equally thrilling effect, the volume of sound in the forte parts filling the vast building, and eliciting rounds of applause.
Not the least pleasing part of the proceedings was the hearty reception given to the Welsh Choir at the Large Terrace Dining Hall, by the Welsh residents in London. This took place at half past six o’clock, when a plentiful supply of cold meat, tea, coffee, &c., was served out, and to which, in addition to the choristers, a large number of visitors sat down. The appearance of Mr Henry Richard, M.P., Mr George Osborne Morgan, M.P., and others, was the signal for warm marks of applause. Full justice having been done to the edibles provided, Mr H. Richard, Mr G. Osborne Morgan, Miss Edith Wynne, Miss Annie Edmonds, Mr Brinley Richards, Mr John Thomas, ‘Gohebydd,’ the Rev Canon Jenkins, Dr. Price, &c., ascended a small platform erected on one side of the building, and without any ceremony the chair was taken by Mr Henry Richard, M.P. Inasmuch as no report of the proceedings has appeared in any of our contemporaries, and a general interest being felt in the matter, we give below a lengthened account thereof.
The Chairman first addressed a few words in the Welsh language, in which he remarked that the great majority of those present were Welsh- men, but as most of them understood English tolerably well, and there were many Englishmen present who did not understand Welsh, out of respect to the English he would speak in that language. Turning to the English, he then said Ladies and gentlemen. I always contend that the Welsh people are as loyal to the Queen and constitution as any put of this vast empire. We cannot on this occasion drink the health of her Majesty and the Royal Family because we have nothing to drink it with. We can, however, drink it in our hearts therefore, I propose to you, not as a toast, but as a sentiment.” The health of her Majesty, and may she live long to reign over us.” (Loud cheers, it was followed by the singing of a verse of the national anthem). I may here state that this little entertainment has been provided wholly by a number of Welsh gentlemen living in London desirous of giving a welcome to their countrymen and women coming up from Wales to sustain the honour of the country by a musical contest in the Crystal Palace. (Cheers.) It is very pleasing to find that all parties have joined in this act of reception without distinction of rank or political party. I am happy to be able to inform you that many of them are known to you as neighbours, and include the names of the Marquis of Westminster, Sir W. W. Wynn, Messrs. John Jones, M.P., L. L. Dillwyn, M.P., Osborne Morgan, M.P., Love Jones Parry, M.P., Evan Matthew Richards, M.P., Sir Thomas Lloyd, M.P., and Mr Richard Fothergill, M.P.
I have a letter here from Mr Parry, in which he expresses his great regret at not being h re to-day, having been called to attend the Quarter Sessions in Caernarvonshire, but states that his heart would be with us, and ventured to hope that the Welsh choir would meet with success. (Applause) Well, my countrymen, we have lived to see something like a Welsh Eisteddfod in the Crystal Palace. (Cheers.) A writer in the ‘Times,’ a few days ago, acknowledged that this idea was borrowed from the Welsh Eisteddfodau, and, for the first time in the London press, I saw the plural of the word eisteddfod properly spelt. They are accustomed to pluralise it by adding the letters. Englishmen do not understand how much this offends the eye of a Welshman; but the writer in the lines comes out with the word “eisteddfodau.” Now, the present Bishop of St. David’s, at an eisteddfod held in Swansea some years ago, said those institutions had a must elevating tendency, and it could be said of the Welsh that they had centred their recreations in literary and musical competitions. In nothing have they been more conspicuous than in their love of music, and one of the pleasantest features in the rural life of our countrymen is the way in which the peasantry were accustomed to mingle singing with their labour in the field. In 1790 there came a lull as regards instrumental music in Wales, when such men as Morgan Jones and Will Hopkin disappeared from the stage and this followed until within the last forty years, when the taste for music again revived and spread with rapidity over the whole Principality, until I may be justified in repeating the happily expressed words of an old bard, “Mor o gan yw Cymru ‘gyd,” which freely translated would mean, All Wales is nothing but one sea of song.” Among the quarrymen of North Wales, in the slate districts, and among the ironworks of Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire, choral singing has reached a high degree of perfection. People of the hill district of South Wales are now before us. In that district there are numerous performances of the Messiah, Judas Maccabaeus, and other works of the great masters, and this day you have seen and heard what these men of Monmouth and Glamorgan can do. There are one or two facts that should be known. First, it was a number of working men and women- miners, and colliers, and puddlers, and their wives and sisters that made up the choir to which we have had the pleasure of listening today. Then again they had great difficulty in getting together being labourers, and yet, in spite of all this, some of the best judges of music are prepared to speak in high a terms of praise of the manner in which the choir rendered the various compositions sung today. I have only one other fact to mention namely, that by far the majority of those constituting the choir are my constituents. Well, my countrymen, what we must do are to try and keep the prize in our own hands. Only one thing you will regret today, that is, that there was no other choir to compete with. You would rather have met them all. Whether it was they had heard so much of your competitions that when they found you were coming up they got frightened, I do not know but you must not repose upon your laurels. Depend upon it there are others that will try and snatch the cup from your possession. Go back and pay better attention than you have done before, and by next year I hope to be able to say that the Welsh choir stilt maintain the prize in their hands.
Mr Brinley Richards here stepped forward and informed the company that Miss Edith Wynne would sing two Welsh melodies, both of which had been so charmingly set by his friend, Mr John Thomas (Pencerdd.)
Miss Wynne then sang “Llwyn Onn” and “Clychau Aberdyfi,” accompanied on the piano-forte by Mr B. Richards. It is needless to add that both pieces were given with exquisite taste and were loudly applauded.
The Chairman next called upon Mr G. Osborne Morgan, M.P., to address the meeting.
The Hon gentleman, who on rising was most warmly received, addressed them as Ladies and Gentlemen, or rather he would say “Fellow-countrymen and lovers.” (Cheers and laughter) He felt exceedingly obliged for the hearty welcome accorded him, especially as he came before them in the somewhat questionable character of a deserter from his post in Parliament, for he felt that at that moment he ought to be engaged in discussing the double shift and other questions affecting the working of mines, and the devising of means for affording protection to the lives of the poor miners. He might venture to say it was not his custom to be absent from his place in the House of Commons but if he had “skedaddled” he had run away in good company. (Laughter) When he entered that hall, he did so with a feeling of pride, although he could not help thinking that the poor old eisteddfod was rarely ever mentioned by Englishmen without being snubbed, or something akin to it. It had been said that before accepting any new scheme people first laughed at it, secondly, abused it, and thirdly, adopted it. Now, their eisteddfod seemed to be approaching the third of these stages. What was this musical competition in which they were then engaged but an eisteddfod on a grand scale? Their English friends had been obliged to go back and take a leaf out of the musical customs of Welshmen. He then wished he had been present at the competition, but when he told them he had been engaged in his place in Parliament discussing the desirability of appointing Welsh speaking judges of County Courts for Wales he felt sure his absence would be excused. He had heard since coming into that hall that the South Wales choir ha I gained the great prize of the week, and when lie reflected that they had had no competitors he thought that, so far as that circumstance being against them, it was an argument in their favour, because it showed their reputation was so great that nobody ventured into the list. To all who had taken a part in that contest he wished to express the pleasure they felt in welcoming the choir to that great metro- polis, and in doing honour to ‘yr hen Gymry.’ He hoped they would go back to their homes and tell their friends and neighbours that out of sight was not out of mind. In spite of the distance that separated them, and the great struggle for life for ever going on in that great city, the Welshmen of London had stretched out their hands to greet their fellow-countrymen. The heart of every Cymro still beat for the associations of ‘yr hen wlad.’
Mr J. Hullah, Mr Henry Leslie, and Mr J. Thomas were here introduced to the meeting by Mr Brinley Richards, and in doing so he remarked that a few weeks ago he attended an eisteddfod at Llandovery, where he had had the pleasure of listening to some of the best choral music in that part of the country, but on the present occasion he had reason to be proud of his fellow-countrymen. He had for many years assorted the wonderful instinct his fellow-countrymen had for music, and which, if property cultivated, would lead to great results. These results had been realised that day. He wished to paint out that the bulk of the choral singers who had come up from the Principality were engaged in manual labour, and were not like those around and about London, many of whom had first rate incomes, and every means at their disposal for gaining information and mixing with the best society in Europe. Before closing he wished to state that Sir Sterndale Bennett, one of the adjudicators, but who was unable to be present at that meeting, but who was unable to be present at that meeting, had desired him to express to the choir his great admiration for the manner in which they had acquitted themselves.
Mr Hullah said that was not the first occasion he had regretted not being able to address a Welsh audience in their native language. He only knew one Welsh word, the word “eisteddfod.” He hoped he had not pronounced it very badly, for he had taken a great deal of pains to learn it. (Laughter) It was connected with one of the pleasantest weeks he ever spent, and among a people beaming with hospitality of every kind and ever since lie had been called upon to be umpire or judge at an eisteddfod he looked upon himself as a kind of model Welshman. He had been once more called to sit in judgment upon a body of Welshmen; he was one of their judges on that day, and could endorse with pleasure every word spoken in their praise. But he did not say their singing was perfection; persons who did so well must know it could be better; but it was in many respects most admirable. He would repeat what he had said many times before, he considered the Welsh great in the matter of voice, ear, and musical feeling; but this was not quite enough; a great deal more was wanting before they did justice to the gifts God bad given them. Of course, they would be all there again that day twelvemonths, they had that day walked over the course, and very probably they would have won even had they had competitors but this would be so no longer. This movement was a new thing to many of them. In England they had nothing like it before and they were in that matter rather slow coaches, but they might depend upon it by that time twelvemonth they would have competitors. He sincerely hoped however from the bottom of his heart that the Welsh choir would beat them all, and if they would work with their most excellent conductor, whose enthusiasm, vigour, and earnestness in his work had struck everyone that day, he (Mr Hullah) thought it very likely-at any rate it was quite possible they might keep the challenge cup.
Mr Leslie stated that when he had the honour of receiving an invitation to meet the Welsh choir he felt highly gratified. Although he had no pretence to be a Welshman, he must say that the eisteddfods he did not give it in the plural fearing he might mispronounce the word, were valuable institutions, and he felt greatly interested in the work of that day. Some years ago he married a wife who was born on the borders of Wales, and every year since he had spent a few months in Montgomeryshire. (Loud cheers). He could endorse every word that had been uttered by the previous speakers in praise of the Welsh choir, for they were worthy of praise and he rejoiced in their success. Some years ago he went to Swansea to adjudicate at an eisteddfod, and he was told he could give part of the prize away or the whole of it. He recollected one choir in particular, which he fined in the sum of 92, because they sang in a wrong key. That choir came up to Montgomeryshire in the following year and carried away every prize. He had also given his decision against the Welsh choir at the Carmarthen eisteddfod, the conductor being Mr Griffith Jones, and this, he believed, had since been beneficial to him.
Mr John Thomas said the magnificent music of the choir to which he had listened that day bad filled him with delight. He would not criticize it, being afraid to trust himself, because he could find nothing but superlatives in which to express himself. There were several children of the eisteddfod on that platform. He himself had won his first prize at an eisteddfod, and this had been the first step in his musical career. He believed he could say the same of his friend Brinley Richards; also Edith Wynne and Miss Edmonds. The eisteddfodau acted as a kind of incentive, and enabled them to rise in their profession. He had a scheme before him which he hoped soon to see carried out. It was to form a union of the choristers of South Wales, something like the Orpheonists, Why could not Welshmen do like them, and comedown to the Crystal Palace 6,000 strong? He should not be happy until he saw a similar movement amongst his own countrymen. They were probably aware of the formation of a society called “The Welsh Choral Union.” That society had been formed in London by the amalgamation of the choirs of the various places of worship, and it was a pleasure to find they all took part in it without regard to creed. Since the society had been started it had received the patronage of the nobility, and, last but not least, that of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. He need not tell them that instead of his Royal Highness being the patron of a society in London, he (the speaker) hoped to see him become the patron of a society that would include the whole of Wales. It was a very fine thing to hear Mr Sims Reeves, or any other great artiste, but it would be a very much more desirable thing to hear his (Mr Thomas’s) fellow-countrymen taking part in some great work, and he would not rest until this came about. So long as he had breath in his body he should not forget his country, and felt proud to be one of them.
Miss Edmonds next favoured the company by singing with much sweetness “Y Gwenith Gwyn” and “Yr Aderyn Pur,” both of which were loudly applauded.
The Chairman here intimated that he should be compelled to vacate the chair in consequence of important matters then going on in the House of Commons, including the Mines Regulation Bill. Should any important divisions take place in his absence, he hoped they would tell their friends in Merthyr and Aberdare that they had been the means of seducing him away. He was glad to notice that the great choral prize was not the only distinction won by Welshmen. If he were not mistaken, it was a Welsh lady that took the prize in solo singing, and a Welsh gentleman took the prize in the tenor singing. He hoped they would take to heart the advice given by Mr Hullah and Mr Leslie and be stimulated thereby. He also hoped that by next year their English friends would go a step further, and not merely hold a musical eisteddfod, but carry out in the Crystal Palace an eisteddfod similar in every respect to those held in the principality. He then proposed that Mr Stephen Evans should take the chair during the remainder of the proceedings.
On the motion of Dr. Price, Aberdare, three lusty cheers were given for Mr Richards and Mr Osborne Morgan.
The proceedings were soon afterwards brought to a close by the singing of a verse of God Bless the Prince of Wales,” by Mr Robert Rees, the whole of the company joining in chorus.
The Awarding of the Prize
On Saturday the National Music Meetings were brought to a close when a grand vocal and instrumental concert took place at the Palace. The prizes were distributed by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh. We need not enter upon details further than to say that the Welsh choir again made a great sensation with Round at out the “starry throne,” and, in response to an encore, sang “The night is departing.” The average merit of the performance was a high one, and the interest shown by a very large audience could hardly have been more obvious. Immediately after the concert preparations were made to receive the Royal Duke, whose earnest patronage of English music is doing so much good! The ceremony of distributing the prizes was of a simple character, the winners successively crossing the platform, and receiving their reward from the Duke’s hand, receiving, also, loud and hearty applause from the thousands of onlookers.
As the challenge cup is not yet completed, the South Wales choir sent a deputation, including their conductor, Mr Griffith Jones, the Rev. Canon Jenkins, vicar of Aberdare, Mr Brythonfryn Griffiths, and Mr D. Rosser, (the two latter having acted secretaries to the choir,) to receive the congratulations of his Royal Highness, their appearance being the signal for a demonstration which showed how much the Welsh success had met with public approval.
A grand display of fireworks took place in the grounds at half-past nine o’clock, and, being on a scale of grandeur never attempted at any other place of public resort, afforded the utmost delight to all who, witnessed it, and especially to those who for the first time had place a visit to the great metropolis.
The Return Home
The train bearing the South Wales Choristers, and those who accompanied them, left Paddington at twenty minutes to 10 a.m. on Monday, and arrived at Aberdare about eight o’clock. On approaching then destination it, became, evident that the news of the success of the Welsh choir had gone before. At Mountain Ash some hundreds of people assembled near the railway station to await their return cannons were fired, and demonstrations of welcome were noticeable on all sides, Mr Griffith Jones left the train at this station, and was most heartily received. At Aberdare the greatest enthusiasm prevailed. Some thousands of people filled the approaches to the station flags were suspended from the principal building, and two or three bands of music struck up “See the conquering here comes,” &c. The bells of St Elvan’s, too, rang forth a merry peal. The following mottoes were suspended in conspicuous parts of the town, “Hawddamor i Caradog a’i Gerddorion,” “Groesaw i Caradog, Pencerdd y Byd Henffych well i’r Concw-rwyr,” “Cymru f’o am byth,” “Cyinru f’o am bvth,” Welcome Home,” “Welcome to the Welsh Choir,” &c. Considerable disappointment was, however, felt when it became known that the popular leader (Caradog) had left the train elsewhere. It is only fair to state that the choristers conducted themselves throughout in the moat becoming and praiseworthy manner, and that the secretaries together wit I the Rev Canon Jenkins and Dr Price did their utmost to provide tor their safety and comfort.
Mountain Ash 13th July 1872
On Monday evening, the above choir arrived at this town. Hundreds of the inhabitants eagerly awaited to congratulate them on their success at Sydenham The news of the past week’s proceedings had so aroused the enthusiasm of the populace that their appearance was greeted with the wildest applause the leader of the choir got out of the train at this station, and was most heartily welcomed.
London prize for Welsh Singers 16th November 1872
A meeting of the Welsh residents in London was held on Saturday evening in the Albion-hall, under the presidency of Mr J. H. Puleston, in aid of a project for establishing a prize fund of £100 for competition by choirs of North and South Wales. There was a numerous attendance, and amongst the gentlemen on the platform were Mr Brinley Richards, Mr Watkin Williams, M.P., the Rev Mr Jones, vicar of Rotherhithe, and Mr Morgan Lloyd.
The proceedings partook of a mingled musical and oratorical character, and were throughout of a most enthusiastic nature. Mr Watkin Williams, whilst declaring that he was “neither musical nor poetical,” earnestly supported the objects of the meeting as being a desirable means of promoting and sustaining nationality among Welshmen resident in the metropolis. Mr Brinley Richards, in the course of a long and effective address, stated that the purpose he and those working with him had in view was to raise a prize fund of £100, in order to encourage the study of choral music among their countrymen.
The question, he maintained, was not one of music alone, for there were other important considerations connected with it, especially the means which music affords of giving an innocent and peaceful recreated during the leisure hours of the working classes. They were there also to assert their nationality and their sympathies in a movement in which their countrymen were deeply interested. The word nationality had been interpreted in various ways; but their nationality was one of which they had every reason to be proud, and its result might be seen in a peaceful and industrious people a country comparatively free from crime, and a population among whom loyalty to the Crown had long passed into a proverb. Mr Richards stated the following as the arrangements he proposed for the disposition of the £100, should it, as he had little doubt would prove to be the case, be subscribed:-
If the Challenge Cup Prize be won by the South Wales choirs, who would thereby, in accordance with the generous regulations of the directors of the Crystal Palace, also gain the sum of £100, the “Prize Fund” should be divided among the North Wales choirs which compete but it the South Wales choirs fail to win the Challenge Cup Prize, then the Prize Fund should be divided between North and South Wales choirs. In the course of the evening subscriptions were announced from the Marquis of Westminster, the Earl of Powis, Lady Digby, Sir Thomas Lloyd, M.P., Mr Henry Richard, M.P., Mr Osborne Morgan, M.P., Mr Evan Richards, M.P., Mr Puleston (the chairman), Mr Stephen Evans, and Mr Hugh Owen. The proceedings were brought to a close by a cordial vote of thanks to the chairman.
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