Hirwaun Eisteddfod
A two day venture 26.05.1923

A considerable increase in the number of entries and in the attendance were notable features of the Hirwaun Second Annual Semi-National Eisteddfod held on Whit-Monday and Tuesday. It was realised last year when the ond-day semi-national eisteddfod was held, that the accommodation at Beaton’s field was not sufficient, for this season, thanks to Mr. A. Cornish, chairman of the committee, a spacious building in the in the Wagon Repairer’s Company’s Yard, was placed at the committee’s disposal. The necessary decorations had been carried out by Mrs. Boyns and helpers, and a being committee, with the general secretary, Mr. J.R. Boyns, made the necessary arrangements. On the first day there were Band Contests, March Competitions and Ambulance Competitions, when, despite the dull weather conditions, and attractions of where, there was a good attendance whist on the second day, the Male Voice and Choral Competitions attracted several thousands.

This year’s officers were; Presidents: Messrs. W.A. Jenkins, M.P.; George H. Hall, M.P.; vice-president, Captain M.H. Whitting, Llanishen. Patrons: Mrs W.T. Rees, Crickhowell, Rev. J.R. Dewi Williams, Rhymney; Messrs. Illtyd Williams, W.M. Llewellyn (High Constable), Ald. W. Thomas, Aberdare; J.O. George, David Harris, C. Higginbottom , Richard Buxton, C. Harding, W. Pugh, M.E., and D. Ernest Williams. Conductor, Llew Ogwy: Adjudicators: Music, John Williams F.R.C.O., A.R.C.M., Rhos, Wrexham. W.J. Watkins, F.R.C.O., A.R.C.M., Merthyr; Philip Thomas, Neath; ambulance, Drs. Ieuan G. Thomas, Ben Thomas, Hirwaun, and Henry Banks, Aberdare; literature and orations, Rev. W. Crwys Williams, Swansea; Rev. Llynfi Davies, M.A., B.D., Swansea; arts and crafts, Mrs. W. A. Jenkins, Swansea: Mrs. J.R. Dewi Williams, Rhymney; bands, Mr. D. Edward Fiddler, Liverpool. Accompanists Prof. R. Howells, Aberdare; Miss Esther Scott, C.C.W., Abercynon; Mr. Tom Richards, L.L.C.M., Hirwaun. General Secretary, Mr. J.R. Boyns, Hirwaun; assistant secretary, Mr. Tom Cornish, Hirwaun; treasurer Mr. W.G. Brett, Trecynon; committee, Messrs. A. Cornish (Chairman), Mr. H. Hamon, D. Stephens, Sam Thomas, Elias Thomas, Josiah Morgan, Thomas Jones, Tom F. Jones, J.L. Renowden, Tom Beynon, John Drew, John Davies, Tom Jacobs, Tom Davies, Isaac Davies, M.E., David Price, Charles A. Collier, George Collier, Martin Davies, Frank Williams, Mrs. Boyns, Mrs. Parry, Mrs. Haman, Mrs. Williams, Mrs. Cornish, Mrs. James.

First Day

Mr. G.H. Hall, M.P., for the Division, was president for the first day, and in his address, and he was afraid they had not given the thought to coral and instrumental music during the last 20 years as they should have done. They seemed to have been considering some of the more superficial things instead of probing down into the depths and getting hold of things that really mattered, and he was, therefore, very pleased that Hirwaun had provided such facilities as they had for their second annual eisteddfod. At Mountain Ash they had reached their 29th, and succeeded in raising a substantial sum for the Cottage Hospital. As to their great national movement, he felt that if it were taken out of the life of the people of Wales, then there would be but a poor shell left, and while they all gloried in the success of the national movement, still it was very necessary to have such local institutions as they had at Hirwaun. He could tell them that it had his best wishes. He trusted that its success would be ascertain and that it would help to kindle that desire in the hearts and the minds of the people as he was handed down to them by the pioneers of the movement – a love for all that was best in art, literature, poetry, and music, and all that was for the well-being of the community. (Applause)

Eight bands competed in the Class C and D March and selection competitions, namely, Llwydcoed Silver Band (I. Oliver); Penallta Colliery and District, (W.B. Williams); Baldwin Workmen Silver Band (W. Layman); Guest, Keen and Nettlefold Silver Band, Dowlais (T. Moore); Abercynon Colliery Workmen’s Silver Band (W. Gill); Melingriffith Volunteer and Cadet Corps Band (T.J. Moore); Pontypool Town and District Band (J.B. York); 5th Batt. Welsh Regiment Band, Mountain Ash. “In Sunny Lands” was the piece for selection test, while the bands had privilege of own selection in the March test. The adjudicator, Mr. J. Fiddler, in his adjudication on the selection test, said the competition was very keen, the highest four bands being very close as the number of marks. He awarded the prizes as follows;

Selection 1, Penallta Colliery and District Band (D.J. Stevens); 2. Melingriffith Volunteer and Cadet Corps Band, (T.J. Moore); 3. Guest, Keen and Nettlefold Silver Band, Dowlais (T. Moore).

March: 1, Pontypool Town and District Band (J.B. York); Penallta Colliery and District Band (D.J. Stevens).

The test piece in Class A band selection competition was “II Trovatore,” six bands competing, namely, Ynyshir and Wattstown Silver Band, (T. Moore), Aberaman Original Band (R.S. Howells), Cory Workmen’s Silver Band, (J.G. Dobbin), Park and Dare Workmen’s Silver Band, Baldwin Workmen’s Silver Band (J. Layman), and 5th Batt. Welsh Regiment Band. Mr. Fiddler also adjudicated here, and mentioned that whereas a cornet solo spoilt the efforts of a band in the C and D Class, it was a euphonium that was responsible this time for one of the bands receiving less marks than it otherwise deserved. He accorded the first for the selection to Cory Workmen’s Silver Band, saying that their playing was most consistent, they kept good tune, and introduced more variety than the others. The good performance of Aberaman Original Band had earned them the second prize, whilst Park and Dare Workmen’s Silver Band, who he placed for third prize, had given a “merited performance.” As to the March test Park and Dare had the first, and Aberaman Original second, whilst Ynyshir and Wattstown Silver Band were place third (without a prize).

The ambulance drill tests attracted thirteen squads, whilst there were 45 entries in the individual competition, both proving keen and interesting. To the adjudication on the squad drills, Dr. R. Thomas said it had been very difficult for them to choose the winners. Most of the teas were generally spares, though one made the mistake of treating a “fracture” on the wrong side through not reading the directions properly. He awarded first place to Aberaman No. 1, with 87 marks, and second to Ferndale No. 1, with 82 marks. The team that came third was Treharris, with 79¼ marks, who, he said, would have done better had they and been so long in their rendering of first-aid.

In the individual ambulance competition, Dr. Ieuan G. Thomas said he found the great fault, and that was the lack of using common sense and judgement. He awarded the first prize to Mr. David Morgan, Bedlinog, who had 59 marks out of a possible 60, while the other competitors, Messrs. Emrys James, Aberaman; W. Jackson, Abercynon; Henry Griffiths, Bedlinog; T. Aubrey Rees, Treharris, tied for second place, each receiving 58 marks each. Dr. Thomas presented £1 1s to be divided amongst four runners-up which gift was heartily appreciated.

Second Day

At the opening of the proceedings on the second day, Llew Ogwy (the Rev. D. Llewellyn Morris, Pengam), speaking in Welsh emphasised the need of a proper spirit prevailing at the eisteddfod. The eisteddfod had affected Welsh life and character, and had preserved of great educational value in Wales. Welsh history was part of the Welsh Eisteddfodau. The Welsh Eisteddfod was described by King Edward VII, as the most uplifting national organisation in the world. It was 800 years old, and history traced the Gorsedd as far as 4,000 years ago. The majority of Wales, leading men had risen from the stage of the eisteddfod. Mr. David Lloyd George, Mr. Ben Davies, and Dr. Parry were products of the small eisteddfodau. He introduced Mr. John Williams, F.R.C.O., F.R.C.M., Wrexham as another product of the eisteddfod. Mr. Williams being the youngest Welshman on record to gain the F.R.C.O. His concluding reference was of John Thomas (Pencerdd Gwalia), who was harpist to Queen Victoria, received a salary of £2,000 per annum. The audience conducted Llew Ogwy, then sung the Welsh National Anthem, Prof. Richard Howells being the accompanist, after which Miss Blodwen Davies Jones, Hirwaun rendered “Yr awn a garaf fi,” as an opening solo.

The president for the day was Mr. W.A. Jenkins, M.P. who was accompanied by Mrs. Jenkins. In his address he complemented the officials and the committee upon their excellent organisation, and the large amount of work which they had put in to make the Eisteddfod a complete success. It had been said that the music was not a practical are but he considered it was one of the most practical in the world. What would they do without their beautiful Welsh hymns to which they turned when in the hours of joy and sorrow. To the young people he appealed to work hard for those principals which helped to make the world a better place that what they found it. (Applause)

Chief Choral

The principal attraction was the Chief Choral Competition (minimum 120 voices). When this took place, there was an audience estimated at 7,000, and the renderings of the four choirs competing were a source of considerable delight. The test pieces were; (a) Chorus “The Night is Departing,” and (b) part song, “Ar Hyd y Nos,” the choirs singing in the following order

  1. Trecynon and District United Choir (William Gwynne)
  2. Port Talbot Choral Society (Tom Davies)
  3. Mid-Rhondda Choral Society (Roderick Williams)
  4. Cardiff Harmonic Society (Roderick Williams)

The first prize of £70 was awarded to Mid-Rhondda, who received 83 marks for both the chorus and the part song, making a total of 166. The adjudicators said it was an excellent body of voices, each one being rich, and the balance excellent. As to the part song, the opening was very effective, the tone was good and well balanced. They felt that it was a pattern of real good part singing. They maintained this high standard of singing right through. The treatment was light, and they had a good attempt at expressions. With regard to the chorus, the opening was rather slow, but the balance was so good that they had at all times, a good chording. The singing was clean and full of grip. The imitative parts were well done. The ending was thrilling.

As to other choirs, the remarks were as follows:

No. 1. Chorus 78; part song 74; total 152. Good voices, but in the chorus was tone was disappointing, and lacking in warmth. The balance was good. The opening was rather slow. The bass lead on the word “therefore” was weak Sopranos were sharp in the top A’s. The imitative parts were well down. The Sopranos and altos came in beats too soon on the last phrase. What was really lacking was tone. The opening of the part song was good, but the bass was inclined to be cloudy. More could have been done with the humming. The attack at the alto lead was not clean and the tone and the hearty treatment. A more delicate rendering would have been better.

No. 2. 79-80 = 159. Good voices, but there was lack of unity in the sopranos in the part song. The balance could have been better, and the bass was weak. The rendering of the chorus in general was good, and what was really lacking, was balance.

No. 4. 78-74 = 152. The part song gave the impression that there was some uncertainty about it, and it was not spontaneous enough. The final was particularly fine. The opening of the chorus lacked precision, the tempo was good, but the phrasing was weak. There was a feeling of tiredness and uncertainty, and they failed to maintain the interest.

Eisteddford Cup

Special thanks to Cyfarthfa Castle Museum & Art Gallery for Picture

In the Chief Male Voice competition (minimum 100 voices), “Jesus of Nazareth,” (Dr. Parry), the first prize of £40 and a silver cup given by Captain M. H. Whitting, Llanishen, the parties that sand were: Penywern, Dowlais (Mr. Evan Thomas), Merthyr Vale and Aberfan (Mr. Septimus Ashton), Ogmore Vale (Mr. Theo Beynon), Burry Port (Mr. William Lewis L.T.S.C.), and Rhymney (Mr. Abel Jones.)

In their adjudication, in which they awarded first prize to Penywern, Dowlais, Mr. Watkins and Mr. Williams and said:

Party No. 1 (95 marks), were an excellent body of voices, and the tone was magnificent throughout. The balance was good and the movement was clean. The solo and the last movement were great masterly sung, and the climax was really thrilling.

Party No. 2 (83) had good voices, but the tone was generally disappointing; it was not well controlled and got metallic at times. The balance could have been better, the first bass being inclined to overdo it. The solo was excellently sung, and the phrasing was admired. The last movement lacked meaning, and the pitch was suspicious throughout. The tempo was rather fast and the singing was hurried to be effective.

No. 3 (80); Good voices, but the tone was inclined to be ordinary in the loud passages. The balance was good on the whole. The solo was also very well sung. The “Rosana’s” were very effective indeed. The singing here was beautiful, but it did not last long. They lost all the effect and the pitch suffered in the unison passages. The last movement was taken up in a spirted manner, but the 1st bass was inaccurate and somewhat marred the effect.

No. 4. (82); Voices very good, and the tone was very good, and the tone was very good, particularly in the soft passages. Balances very good, in fact, the blend was gorgeous. The pitch of the solo, however was suspicious throughout, the whole of the last movement suffered from faulty intonation. The tune and rhythm was a great worry to the choir.

No. 5 (93); Excellent body of voices, Blend was beautiful. The solo was well sung. The “Chorus of Angels” would have been better sung to “6” which is the vowel for opera lips. Singing in the vowel of “A1” seemed to disturb the atmosphere. The Chorus of Shepherds was very beautiful. The singing of the last movement was dignified but lacked unity and tenors.

With a poem titled “The Slave,” the Bardic Chair presented by the Merthyr Furnishing Company, and a prize of £3 3s was won by “Cannir Nos,” out of eight entries. In his absence the Rev. J.R. Dewi Williams, Vicar of Rhymney, was chaired. Crwys conducted the ceremony when congratulatory verses were recited by Llew Ogwy, Mab y Mynydd, Rector of Merthyr Teify, and Crwys. The audience joined in singing “Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau,” Llinos Gwalia, of Rhymney loving the soloist.

For the Children’s Choir competition (10 voices, under 16 years of age), the test was “Telynau’r Wig,” (Dr. David Evans). The choirs sung in the following order: Penrhiwceiber Young Choristers, (W. Morris), Dinas Juvenile Choir, (George Owen), Cwmaman Juvenile Choir, (F. Jones), Llwydcoed Juvenile Choir (D.J. Griffiths), Ynysybwl Juvenile Choir (Tom Jones), Ferndale Prize Juvenile Choir (Brinley Williams), and Ramoth Juvenile Choir (Tom Harris). The first prize of £8 and a silver medal to conductor given by Mr. D. Chesterfield, Glyn Neath was won by Ramoth, with 90 marks.

The adjudicator stated their voices were very good and clear and balance good. Opening was beautiful, the singing was charming, full of variety and interest and the rhythm was kept alive.

Ferndale won the second prize with 88 marks. Their voices were good, and matured, but there was too much affectation in the singing, while the enunciation was faulty. As to the others the remarks were: 1 good, but, the time was uneven, balance good on the whole. The opening was rather choppy. 2 Voices, balance, and tone were good but for the altos getting out of control. The singing was intelligent, dignified and graceful. 3. Very good, voices, balance on the whole was good. In the opening tempo the altos were indistinct, and slurs lacked clearness, but they improved later, and the rendering became more effective. 4. Good voices, balance fairly good, but unfortunately, the pitch of the altos was faulty. 5. A large choir witch voices more matured sing was broad, and the treatment very bright.

The New Tredegar Orpheus (D. Aeron Parry) and Hirwaun United Choir (George Collier), entered the second choral competition (maximum 90 voices), the test piece being “Salem Bur” (Dr. D. D. C. Williams). The first named secured the first prize of £30, having 96 marks.

The adjudication stated they had good voices, clean tone, and gave a happy opening. Theirs was a fine dramatic rendering, and the singing was wholly void of mechanical procedure. Hirwaun United Choir had 88 marks. Their tenors and basses were “raw.” The voices did not equal the quality of the winning choristers. First opening was given in good harmony, but there was a little unison in second movement. The last part was too much like a chorus rather than a part song.

In the second male voice competition (maximum 80 voices), “Martyrs of the Arena,” the parties were: 1. Aberdare (W. Beddoe Stephens); 2. Cwmbach United (Herbert Davies); 3. Blaenllechau Radical Party; 4. Fforestfach (Willie Thomas); 5. Trecynon (T.J. Stephen, A.C.); 6. Hirwaun (George Collier). The first prize was awarded to Fforestfach, the adjudication being as follows:

No. 1 (73). In the opening there was not quite enough unity in the second bass. The rendering generally lacked definite rhythm, with an inclination to force voices. No. 2 (78). Better unity than the first. Tone rather muffled, but much safer chording. The choir showed more contrast in the movements. No. 3 (72). Opening too broken and forcing voices sent pitch up immediately. The expression was too exaggerating, intonation was inclined to be sharp all the way through, which spoiled the ending. No. 4 (89). Good blended opening with bass and full choir, Quartette showed a careful tone and style. The latter portion was very well sung, except the last phrase. The whole rendering was exceptionally good. No. 5 (70). The opening had the bass sharp, and this puts the whole choir sharp. By the time they got to the end they were quite toned out of tune, and the accompanist wholly gave up playing. No. 6 (79). Opening lacked dignity. The body rather too cloudy, and not enough unity shown at end of phrase.

Page 3 no life shown, rather too muttered in effect and again intonation uncertain. After recite the choir was too slow entering. Quartette opened fair, but was not so good in loud passage. Page 9, 2nd tenor entry very careful, but 1st tenor too splashy. Last page good at “pouring,” but last phrase forced.

The other competitions resulted as follows: Translations (Under 14): William Owen, Penderyn; Recitation (under 16) “Testament y Sant” Kitty Rees, Hirwaun. Boys solo (under 10 years). “The First Violet” Brynmor Jones, Ferndale. Children’s recitation (under 12) “Y Caeglar Bach” (the Rev. W. Crwys Williams, Swansea, the author of the poems, adjudicated) Kenneth Hugh, Cwmbach. Englyn “The Tongue” Mr. H. Lloyd (Ap Hefin), Aberdare. Pianoforte solo (children under 16), “Cradle Song” Elvin Davies, Swansea. Translations (English to Welsh), “Reeton’s Art of Public Speaking” Peredor Girls’ solo (under 14). “Fair Cambria” divided between Helena Jones, Ferndale, and Phyllis Jones, Penrhiwceiber Essay, “Self-Esteem,” divided between Ethleus and Ieuan Cynon. Soprano solo, “Hymn to the Sea” Miss Ethel Davies, Resolven. Open recitation in Welsh “Cyfielah Morfa Rhuddlan” Mr. Tom Parry, Garnaut; Carmarthenshire. Tenor solo, “Lend me your aid,” Mr. M.J. Edwards, Mountain Ash. Bass or baritone solo, “A Ballad of Glyndwr’s Rising” Mr. Ben Date, Nelson. Open recitation (English), “Falls of Lodore,” Ben Davies, Mountain Ash. Open pianoforte solo, “Andante and Rondo Capriccioso,” 1. Miss Amorella Hill, Mountain Ash (86 marks); 2. Miss Nina Jones, Bridgend (85), who received consolation prize from Mr. J.O. George. Contralto solo, “He that filleth the hungry” (Bach); Miss Gladys Price, Hafodyrynys, Pontypool. Solo (boys and girls under 12), “Children’s Saviour” Dilys Jones, Penrhiwceiber. Consolation prizes awarded to Brynmor Jones, Ferndale, and Emlyn Smith, Hirwaun. Humorous short story (English or Welsh) D.R. Davies, Llwydcoed.

Evening Concert

Following the eisteddfod a concert was given by the renowned Rhymney Ladies’ Choir under the conductorship of Miss Mary Richards U.C.W., assisted by Miss H. F. Pugh (soprano), Miss Bessie Davies (contralto); Mr. Tom Thomas (tenor) and Madam A. R. Edwards (accompanist). The chairman was Cllr. D. Tyssul Davies, Aberdare, who in his opening remarks, mentioned that the Eisteddfod Committee had to go to a considerable expense last year in erecting marquees, but this time the Wagon Repair Co. Ltd, had been good enough to lend gratuitously that spacious building. He was looking forward to a huge guidance on the credit side of the Hirwaun Eisteddfod in 1923. Their organisation was going to remain of a semi-national character. The selections were “Queen of the Night” “Beauteous Morn” (German), “Beautiful Lily” (Davies), “Yr Haf” (Gwilym Gwent), “Bells of Aberdovey” (Fletcher), “Alawen y Bryniau” (F.T. Davies), “Hush my Babe” (Sullivan), “The Cloud” (Fletcher). The items of Miss R. Davies included; “Song of Thanksgiving” (A. Bitsen), “Norwegian Boat Song” (Aspinall), whilst Miss Pugh rendered “Open the Gates of the Temple” (Knapp), and “Love’s a Merchant” (Carea). Mr. Tom Thomas also sang solos, and appeared with Miss Pugh in “Hywel a Blodwen” (Dr. Parry), which was deservedly encored. The constant applause and the encores demanded showed how much the items were appreciated, and a very enjoyable concert concluded with the singing of the Welsh National Anthem.

The chairman referred to the impending retirement of Mr. A. Cornish, as manager of the Wagon Repairs Depot, and hoped the local residents would at some future date worthily recognise his services to the eisteddfod. Hearty applause greeted these remarks.

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