Côr Meibion Llanelli musical director D Eifion Thomas has taken his last bow with the choir.
One of the longest-serving musical directors in Wales, Mr Thomas has completed 44 years conducting the internationally-renowned choir.
“It’s the right time to move on,” Mr Thomas said this week. “I have cherished memories of some wonderful experiences with the choir, both at home and abroad.
“But it’s now time to say, ‘thanks for the memories’, and move on.”
Côr Meibion Llanelli chairman Tony Crossman wished Mr Thomas the best for the future. He also praised the musical director for his work.
“It is widely acknowledged that Eifion is a supremely accomplished musician who achieved a great deal with Côr Meibion Llanelli,” Mr Crossman said. “I am sure I speak for all choristers in acknowledging the years of hard work Eifion has put into the choir throughout a distinguished career in music.
“He has championed the cause of the Welsh choral tradition at every opportunity and has contributed so much to the cultural life of Llanelli and Wales.”
Under Mr Thomas, Côr Meibion Llanelli have been successful at all the major choral competitions that Wales has to offer. The honours list includes five National Eisteddfod first prizes – at Lampeter in 1984, Fishguard in 1986, Llandeilo in 1996, Bridgend in 1998 and Llanelli in 2000.
Mr Thomas initially served as accompanist to the Choir from 1965 until 1974, under the direction of founder-conductor Denver Phillips.
Mr Thomas helped spread the name of Llanelli across the world, with successful tours and visits to Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, Scotland, and England. Mr Thomas has had the honour of conducting the North American Welsh Societies National Gymanfa Ganu on four occasions – Vancouver (1980), Victoria, Canada (1990), Seattle (1994), and San Jose (2001).
As a result of his work in the sphere of music in the community, Mr Thomas was awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship by Rotary International and was inducted into the highest level of Wales’s Bardic Circle in 2007.
In 2000, Mr Thomas was the conductor of the National Eisteddfod Choir when the Festival was held in Llanelli. 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.
Mr Thomas is also a fine tenor soloist 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”.
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.
Mr Thomas is an honorary member of Cor Meibion Llanelli’s twin choir in Germany, the 1870 Singverein of Laudenbach.
Mr Thomas said: “I should also like to take this opportunity of expressing thanks to my family. “Any list of achievements could not have been achieved without the support of my wife Susanne, and daughter Sophie.”
Aled Maddock, the choir’s accompanist, has also stepped down.
The choir has started the recruitment process for new musical director and an accompanist. Anyone interested can email the choir committee on firstname.lastname@example.org
The choir rehearses twice weekly on Monday and Thursday evenings at Furnace Community Hall, 7pm start. Visitors and new members are welcome.