2018 is the year in which D Eifion Thomas celebrates 43 years as Musical Director of Cor Meibion Llanelli.
Initially, he served as Accompanist to the Choir from 1965 until 1974 under the direction of founder-conductor Denver Phillips.
As a result of Eifion’s direction, dedication, and committment, the Choir has achieved world-wide fame as one of the United Kingdom’s foremost male choirs.
This has been achieved, partly, as a consequence of winning the Chief Male Choir category at Wales’s National Eisteddfod on five occasions, winning the Richard Burton Trophy at the Annual Miners’ Eisteddfod on four occasions, and achieving first prize at the Cardigan and Pontrhydfendigaid Eisteddfodau on numerous occasions.
But also – again under Eifion’s direction – the Choir has succeeded in spreading the name of Llanelli across the world as a result of successful tours and visits to Canada, the U.S.A., Australia, New Zealand, Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Scotland and England.
He has had the honour also of conducting the North American Welsh Societies National Gymanfa Ganu on five occasions – Vancouver (1980), Victoria, Canada (1990), Seattle (1994) and San Jose (2001).
Eifion’s expertise in the field of choral performance has been recognised by the National Eisteddfod of Wales by inviting him to be one of three music adjudicators at the 2003 Eisteddfod in Meifod, and the 2011 Eisteddfod in Wrexham.
As a result of his work in the sphere of music in the community, Eifion has been awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship from Rotary International, and was inducted into the highest level of Wales’s Bardic Circle in 2007.
In 1998, Eifion was the guest conductor at the London Welsh Festival of 1000 Male Voices, and was guest soloist at the Festival in 1994, 1996, 2000 and 2002.
In 2000, Eifion was the conductor of the National Eisteddfod Choir when that Festival was held in Llanelli, and the Eisteddfod Choir’s singing under his direction at the Gymanfa Ganu of the anthem “Dyn A Aned O Wraig” still remains as one of the most memorable occasions in the Eisteddfod’s history.
Eifion is a fine tenor soloist in his own right, and has appeared as soloist in performances of Handel’s “Messiah”, Haydn’s “Creation”, and “Mass in Time of War”, Stainer’s “Crucifiction”, Maunder’s “Olivet to Calvary”, Coleridge-Taylor’s “Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast”, and Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” and “Lobegesang”.
The Choir has recorded profusely under Eifion’s direction and appeared on many national network television programmes.
The latest CD produced by the Choir is called “Angel”, and represents a fine cross-section of the current repertoire.
A Gold Disc was awarded to the Choir as a result of record-breaking sales of the Choir’s 1982 disc “Pan Ddaw’r Nos” – which was a ground-breaking compilation of Eifion’s choral arrangements of popular Welsh songs and melodies.
Perhaps one of the most memorable choral experiences was the Choir’s appearance at the Brit Awards in 1993 – sharing the stage with such musical giants as Take That, Elton John, Meatloaf and The Pet Shop Boys.
One of Eifion’s proudest moments was being made an honorary member of Cor Meibion Llanelli’s twin choir in Germany, the 1870 Singverein of Laudenbach.
This was in recognition of his work in developing the friendship between the two choirs over a period of 40 years dating from May 1975.
Just a few, therefore, of the salient points in Eifion’s career during the past 40-plus years, which would not have been achieved without the support of his wife Susanne, and daughter Sophie.