Abertillery Ladies Orpheus Choir - a timeline
1911 – Abertillery Ladies Orpheus Choir founded by Mr. Tom Bundred.
Mr. Ivor Screen became conductor of the choir.
1938 – The choir disbanded.
1941 – The choir reformed, Elizabeth Williams as musical director, Nance Watkins as accompanist. During the war years, practices were held in the Trinity Chapel at the end of Church St and then at the Miners’ Institute, until it burned down. The choir raised funds for the forces. Choristers paid four old pennies per week. After Elizabeth’s retirement, Nellie Moore became conductor and some practices took place at the police house in Somerset Street.
1950’s – Miss Jean Adams was conductor. Margaret Jones was conductor and contralto soloist. Joy Harvard-King, Cyril Blake and Mrs Purkiss were conductors for a short time.
1969 – Mrs Olga Guley, a teacher at Bryngwyn School, was appointed and conducted for seven happy years until she moved to Weston-Super-mare.
Mr Arthur Cook became conductor and involved the choir in concerts, festivals and Eisteddfodau, particularly at the Porthcawl Miners Eisteddfod where they competed for four years, but never managing first prize. Pianists during these times were Ann Hale and Mary James.
1980 – Gareth Whitcombe, a music teacher at Tredegar Comprehensive, became conductor.
1982 - Gareth Clatworthy, a teacher at Abertillery Comprehensive, became conductor and stayed for five wonderful years. Gareth’s daughter often played the harp at concerts.
1988 – Gillian Clist was conductor for a short time.
1988 – Nigel Weekes, a music teacher, was a memorable and able conductor. It is important to note that Ann Hale remained the accompanist over the long period of eleven different conductors. She was eighteen when she joined and stayed with the choir for forty years until her sad, untimely death in 1993.
1990 – Stephen Harries became Musical Director and worked alongside Sharon Austin who was the accompanist. They both taught at Queen St School until Stephen became deputy headteacher at Rhiw-Sir-Dafydd Primary School, Oakdale.
2000 – The choir produced a CD of their music, ‘As Long as I Have Music’, demonstrating their wide repertoire
2005 – Russell Porter was conductor and Sharon Austin was accompanist.
2007 – The choir sang the backing on a CD for Dawson Smith’s ‘Alexander Cordell - Collection.’
2006 – Stephen Bard became Musical Director and Lyndon Stephens became accompanist.
2007 – Tour to Speyer, Germany to perform with Rheinhausen Ladies Choir.
2009 – Performed in Carmarthen.
2009 – Performed after the National Eisteddfod Proclamation Ceremony at the Gorsedd Circle, Ebbw Vale in preparation for the National Eisteddfod taking place a year later.
2010 – Return visit from Rheinhausen Ladies Choir, Germany – Combined concert at St. Michael’s, Abertillery.
2010 – Sang carols at the National Folk Museum of Wales, St. Fagan’s.
2011 – Dressed as “Edwardian” ladies to perform a concert in the old “Oakdale Institute,” St Fagan’s.
2011 – Tour to Eastbourne to perform at All Saints Church for “The Rocking Horse Charity”.
2011 – Annual Concert with Lleisiau Llanerch Ladies Choir, on tour from Anglesey.
2012 – Sang on an open stage after the Olympic Torch Procession in Brynmawr.
2012 – Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth, special service at St. Michael’s Church.
2012 – Performed at a Celtic Women’s Festival at The Botanical Gardens, Carmarthen.
2013 – Penny Hughes took over as accompanist.
2013 – Awarded first prize at Cwmdu Eisteddfod, received a cup and £125 prize money.