Dafydd Jones is as dependable and durable as the slate mined from his home town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. A real cornerstone of the choir. This is his personal account of times spent with the choir.(Ed.)
I was born in the slate quarrying town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. It boasts two male voice choirs, a mixed choir and a ladies choir. You can also include a brass band.
Initially, at the age of 8, I chose to follow my brother Ted, and joined the Royal Oakley Silver Band.
I received fantastic grounding in reading music. Also I experienced the thrill of performing at concerts and competitions.
One memorable occasion was winning the Regional Finals at Bolton.
We then went on to compete in the National Finals in London.
Brass bands have always been close to my heart. Our recent joint concert with the Royal Welsh Band was a very emotional one for me.
Dafydd Jones and the Denbigh and District Male Voice Choir
I was recruited by my friend, Clwyd Wynne, who was also a colleague at the time.
That was 27 years ago. Clwyd is now Deputy Musical Director.
As well as a choral member I have been choir secretary on two occasions.
There are many positive aspects to being part of a choir. A real sense of achievement following a good performance is satisfying.
The friendship and camaraderie with other members is valued and appreciated.
As we’re a small choir certain venues such as churches and, in particular, St Asaph Cathedral seems to enrich the sound produced by the choir.
Dafydd Jones Memorable Choral Times
In terms of choral experience, the 1000 voices concert at The Royal Albert Hall takes some beating. I shall never forget singing ‘The Creation’ with the accompanying light effects.
I have also been a member of three National Eisteddfod Choirs. Following the 2001 Denbigh Eisteddfod, Beryl Lloyd Roberts established a Choral Society, specifically to perform major works of classical composers such as Haydn, Verdi, and Gounod.
Unfortunately this was not sustainable due to the reduction in members, particularly tenors and basses. In December 2018 the choir gave its last concert.
Wendy, my wife, was secretary throughout the choir’s seventeen years existence.
Dafydd Jones Musical Influences.
There are many influences, particularly from my early years in Blaenau.
However, just after I retired, Rhys Jones, who wasn’t enjoying good health at the time, asked me if I could ‘chauffer’ him to the BBC studios in Bangor to record his weekly radio programme ‘Taro Nodyn’.
Being in his company for more than ten years was an enthralling experience. He was passionate about every kind of music. His mind an encyclopaedia of facts and dates about all the classical and modern composers.
This was intertwined with an array of stories and jokes. He would always say “stop me if you’ve heard this one”.
I never did because I knew it would be just as fresh as the first time he’d told me.
In addition to choral singing I admire the emerging younger soloists who are fast making a name for themselves.
Names such as Steffan Lloyd Owen, Rhodri Prys Jones, Steffan Hughes and John Ieuan Jones, the latter two having appeared in concert with our choir.
Dafydd Jones Choir Highlights
Looking back on choir highlights the 25th and 30th Anniversary Concerts have been memorable. Also the celebrity wedding that we were invited to perform at in 2018.
Looking ahead, although I’m not a sporting person, I can imagine how proud the choirs feel performing at international rugby matches at the Principality Stadium at Cardiff.