A PROUD HISTORY
Abertillery Ladies Orpheus Choir was founded in 1911 by Mr Tom Bundred. The choir has been a vibrant part of the community for over one hundred years with only a short break during World War 2. Mrs Nan Elder, who was a founder member, reported that the choir grew from a handful of members when originally formed by Tom Bundred and she was pleased that it had grown from strength to strength. Choir numbers have varied between 30 and 60 choristers over the years.
The ladies choir disbanded in 1938 and reformed in 1941. Once it was reformed, the choir often sang in the Abertillery Drill Hall in order to raise funds to send comforts to HM Forces. The choir often competed in the annual eisteddfod which was also held at the Drill Hall. It was a very important event and many competitors took part. The choir was successful at one of these events and choristers were delighted to win first prize in the ladies choral competition.
The choir took part in several Celebrity Concerts at The Pavilion Theatre in Porthcawl and this must have been a very popular venue for the choristers.
Over the years, the choir competed in many Eisteddfodau. The most important cultural event was the Llangollen International Eisteddfod and the choir was proud to take part on five occasions. The last visit to Llangollen was in 1960 during the year of the Six Bells mining disaster when forty five men lost their lives. When the choir walked onto the stage, it was announced that they were from Abertillery and a two minute silence was held in memory of the men that had died. It must have been an incredibly emotional experience but although the members of the choir were in tears they bravely managed to sing the test pieces.
One of the long standing members of the choir was Barbara Bevan who continued paying her contributions even when she went to live in Bath for four years. Her mother was also a member of the choir and Barbara had fond memories of the years that she and her mother were members, together. Barbara’s mother loved singing and later in her life she became a vice president and supported the choir until her death in 1997.
Barbara documented her memories of sixty years to mark the choir’s 90th Anniversary. We are indebted to both ladies and are grateful for Barbara’s work and efforts which enables us to piece together a history of the choir.
From the 1970’s onwards, the choir veered away from competitive singing and became more involved with community events by performing in the Abertillery locality. The choir supported religious services and entertained people in senior citizen clubs and residential homes. The choir supported charity concerts with performances and often made donations from their own contributions to worthy cause such as the Tyleri Court Day Centre Minibus Appeal. The choir is very proud of their support of charitable events and has raised many thousands of pounds over the years. It is still a very important feature of the choir to be a non-profit making organisation and to support charitable events, whenever possible.
The choir has performed further afield and undertaken tours to North Wales, Ireland, Isle of Wight, Germany and Eastbourne. During recent years it has also performed in Carmarthen, the Millennium Centre in Cardiff, St. Fagan’s, the National Botanical Gardens of Wales, and other interesting venues.