Brythoniaid Male Voice Choir

In June 1964 a local Blaenau Ffestiniog man, Meirion Jones formed a male voice choir which was to become one of the most successful choirs in Wales. The choir was formed to compete in a small local eisteddfod in Hyfrydfa Chapel in manod and following this it was suggested that the choir perform in the local Carnival some weeks later. At this stage there were some fifteen members but due to the encouragement they received, the choir was officially formed and work commenced to attract new members.

From the outset, competing was an integral part of the Choirs activities and, made it’s first appearance in competition at the Llan Ffestiniog jubilee Eisteddfod in 1965. Following success at this Eisteddfod it was decided to make 1966 the starting point for a sustained period of competition which indeed continues to the present day. More members were required however and the Choirs conductor, Meirion Jones, ably assisted by another Choir member, Wyn Morris, began travelling the area visiting possible Choir members and it was through their efforts that the numbers expanded rapidly.

With the increase in numbers followed an increase in the Choir’s success. Between 1966 and 1974 for example the Choirs success could be compared to that of a modern day football team with the following statistics: 26 competitions, 19 first prizes, 3 second prizes. A record to be proud of.

In 1969 the Choir decided to compete in ‘The big one’ for the first time and entered the National Eisteddfod in Flint. The Choir sang ‘ The 23rd psalm’ and secured their first major success with the words of the adjudicator a glowing testament to the quality of the performance, as follows: “We were amazed by the superb singing and cannot find words to express our feelings. The whole programme a circle of pure artistry”.

Further successes followed in 1971 at Bangor which was a unique year in the history of Blaenau Ffestiniog with the Moelwyn Male Voice choir also winning their section at the same Eisteddfod. A unique double for the town.

In 1972 the Choir won first prize at the Butlins Eisteddfod which was a major competition at the time with choirs from all over England and Wales competing. This was the fifth time the Choir had won this particular competition, again a feat which will never be repeated.

But it hasn’t all been competition. In 1975 the Choir made an historic trip behind the ‘ Iron Curtain’ and visited Hungary where they appeared before a panel of Hungary’s most eminent musicians and were awarded a Diploma from the Academy of Culture for their performance. Since this first historic trip the Choir has toured far and wide, which have included two tours of America, two tours of Belgium. Two visits to the Interceltique Festival in Lorient and several tours to Ireland and Scotland. Further National Eisteddfod successes occurred in 1977, 2002 and 2005.

The Choir has innumerable television appearances to its credit and has appeared on stage with some of the finest performers in the world. These have included Dennis and Patricia O’Neill, Willard White, Shirley Bassey, Harry Seacombe, Gwyn Hughes Jones, The Black Dyke Mills Band, Bryn Terfel and more recently the Pet Shop Boys.

The Brythoniaid have many records and C.D’s to their credit and in 1982 were awarded a gold disc by the Sain Record group for their record sales and in 1992 were adjudged the H.T.V. Choir of the year.

In 2001 and after 37 years at the helm, Meirion Jones decided to hang up his baton and left a huge void which would be difficult to fill. The search began for a successor but it was not long before the ideal candidate stepped forward and John Eifion Jones was appointed as the new Conductor of the Choir and continued the success and standards expected of the Brythoniaid Choir.