About Aberystwyth Choral Society

History


Geraint John - Founding Conductor

Geraint John: 

Before 1970, there had been a number of choirs in Aberystwyth, notably the Aberystwyth Borough Choral Society.  They had performed oratorios with organ accompaniment in local chapels and churches or in the King's Hall, giving the same work two or three nights in succession.  There were groups associated with the Music Department of the University such as the madrigal singers and, precursor to the Male Voice Choir, the Post Office Gleemen.  However, by the mid-60's the town's mixed-voice choir had died leaving a gap in our musical life.

The idea of a new town choir arose over coffee in the Penguin Cafe, favoured haunt of staff from the Music Department and their friends.  In the early summer of 1970 Geraint John, cellist in the Department's professional string quartet, who had had experience in choral conducting, together with a few friends who were keen singers, decided to find out if there was sufficient support.  A written invitation was sent to specific addressees supported by a more general invitation spread by word of mouth to meet at the old Welsh School in Alexandra Road.  The inaugural meeting on 16 June 1970 filled the school hall and it was immediately obvious that the proposal was enthusiastically supported. 

It was decided quite early on that there should be a pattern of two concerts a year.  At this time, concerts were held in the King's Hall with the first performance at the new Aberystwyth Arts Centre Great Hall in November 1975.  The King's Hall continued to be the venue for the Spring concerts until March 1979 and from then on all concerts have been held in the Great Hall.      

The first performance was of the ever-popular Handel's Messiah. Geraint John conducted the choir from that first concert right up until Spring 2002 when he completed his dedicated service to the choir with a final and extremely well-attended Messiah.  Geraint continued to support the choir both as a Friend of the Society and as a regular member of the audience until his death in January 2018.  He left the choir in the very capable hands of David Russell Hulme.  David is well-known as Director of the University Music Centre.  A professional conductor, David is a world-authority on Gilbert and Sullivan and makes frequent trips round the world to work in his area of expertise.

While still finding time to perform the central classics, such as Messiah and Elijah, the Society has steadily enlarged its repertoire with performances of Mozart's Coronation Mass and Solemn Vespers, Rossini's Petite Messe Solonelle and Stabat Mater, Poulenc's Gloria, John Rutter's Requiem and Magnificat, Haydn's Maria Teresa Mass and Paukenmesse, Orff's Carmina Burana, Elgar's Gerontius and  Musicmakers and Bizet's Carmen.

Every concert is special, with particular memories for those who took part.  We all hope our audiences feel that way too.

Hanes

STORI'R GYMDEITHAS GORAWL

Geraint John - y sylfaenydd a'r arweinydd cyntaf

Geraint John: 

Cyn 1970 bu sawl côr yn Aberystwyth, a'r mwyaf nodedig ohonynt oedd Cymdeithas Gorawl Bwrdeistref Aberystwyth, a berfformiai oratorios i gyfeiliant organ mewn capeli ac eglwysi lleol, neu yn Neuadd y Brenin, gan gyflwyno'r un gwaith ar ddwy neu dair noson yn olynol. 'Roedd grwpiau â chysylltiad ag Adran Gerddoriaeth  y Brifysgol, fel y cantorion madrigal, a hefyd, yn rhagflaenydd i'r Côr Meibion, yr oedd Gleemen y Swyddfa Bost. Ond erbyn canol y chwedegau yr oedd y côr cymysg wedi marw gan adael bwlch ym mywyd cerddorol y dref.

Cododd y syniad o sefydlu côr newydd yn y dre dros goffi yng nghaffi'r Penguin, hoff gyrchfan aelodau staff yr Adran Gerddoriaeth a'u ffrindiau. Yn gynnar yn haf 1970 penderfynodd Geraint John, chwaraewr soddgrwth ym mhedwarawd llinynnol proffesiynol yr Adran, ac a oedd â phrofiad o arwain côr, ynghyd ag ychydig o ffrindiau oedd yn gantorion brwd, fynd ati i holi a fyddai digon o gefnogaeth. Anfonwyd gwahoddiad ysgrifenedig i gyfeiriadau penodol ynghyd â  gwahoddiad  ychwanegol mwy cyffredinol ar lafar, i gwrdd yn yr hen Ysgol Gymraeg yn Ffordd Alexandra. Yn y cyfarfod agoriadol ar yr 16eg o Fehefin 1970 yr oedd y neuadd yn llawn  ac roedd yn amlwg fod cefnogaeth frwd i'r syniad.

Penderfynwyd yn eitha' buan y dylid cael patrwm o ddau gyngerdd y flwyddyn.  Yn y cyfnod hwnnw cynhelid y cyngherddau yn Neuadd y Brenin. Bu'r perfformiad cyntaf yn y Neuadd Fawr  yn adeilad newydd Canolfan y Celfyddydau yn Aberystwyth yn Nhachwedd 1975. Parhaodd Neuadd y Brenin yn lleoliad i gyngherddau'r gwanwyn tan fis Mawrth 1979 ac ers hynny bu'r cyngherddau i gyd yn y Neuadd Fawr.

Y perfformiad cyntaf oedd y bythol boblogaidd Messiah gan Handel. Bu Geraint John yn arweinydd y côr o'r cyngerdd cyntaf hwnnw hyd at wanwyn 2002 pan gwblhaodd ei wasanaeth ymroddedig i'r côr gyda pherfformiad olaf o'r Messiah gerbron cynulleidfa luosog.  Parhaodd Geraint i gefnogi’r côr fel Cyfaill i’r Gymdeithas yn ogystal ag fel aelod ffyddlon o’r gynulleidfa hyd at ei farw yn Ionawr 2018.  Gadawodd y côr yn nwylo tra medrus David Russell Hulme, Cyfarwyddwr Canolfan Gerddoriaeth y Brifysgol.  Yn arweinydd proffesiynol, y mae David yn arbenigwr ar waith Gilbert a Sullivan ac mae'n teithio'r byd yn gweithio ym maes ei arbenigedd.

Tra'n dal i neilltuo amser i berfformio'r prif glasuron fel  Messiah ac Elijah, mae'r côr wedi estyn ei repertoire gyda pherfformiadau o Offeren y Coroni a'r Gosberau Sanctaidd gan Mozart, Petite Messe Solenelle a Stabat Mater gan Rossini, Gloria gan Poulenc, Requiem a Magnificat gan John Rutter, Offeren Maria Teresa a Paukenmesse gan Haydn, Carmina Burana gan Orff, Gerontius a Musicmakers gan Elgar a Carmen gan Bizet.

Mae pob un cyngerdd yn arbennig gyda'i atgofion neilltuol i'r rhai fu'n cymryd rhan ynddo. Gobeithiwn fod ein cynulleidfaoedd yn teimlo felly hefyd.




 
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