History and Heritage

Diamond Jubilee Organ 1956


From the The Voice, Friday 2nd November 1956, came a story to celebrate the 60th anniversary, or Diamond Jubilee, of Ystalyfera County School:-


This year, the Ystalyfera Grammar School celebrates its diamond jubilee and, to mark the occasion, several functions have been organised. One event, in connection with the installation of the school's pipe organ, took place on Thursday of last week.
In the words of Mr David Morgan, JP, Chairman of the School Governors, who presided, it was an historic occasion for the school. The only drawback was the inadequacy of the school hall facilities to cater for a larger audience. Such had been the demand for admission tickets that the hall could have been filled three or four times over.

Mr Morgan went on to say that the school owed a great debt to the donor of this fine organ. It was his expressed desire that he should remain anonymous, but he could say that the donor was an old pupil and a much-esteemed friend of the school.
Apart from its high traditions as an education centre, the school societies in drama, art and music were of inestimable value, as was evidenced by various public demonstrations over a number of years. There was no doubt that this fine gift would further enhance the value of the school as a whole.
At the end of the speech, before the concert began, Mr Morgan handed the key to the head boy of the school, Winford Brice who, after a fine and suitable speech in Welsh and English, inserted the key in the lock and officially opened the pipe organ, to the applause of the audience.
This was the signal for the musical programme to begin, and very appropriately by an organ recital by Mrs Phoebe James-Williams.

Everyone knows Mrs Williams as an organist and an accompanist of the very highest level, and her capabilities were soon evident when she played 'Sonata in C Minor (First Movement)' by Guilimant: then alternately with vocal artists she further played most admirably (and incidentally displaying what a good instrument this organ was) 8 preludes and fugues by Bach: Military March Number 4, Pomp and Circumstance by Elgar: Melodie Enchante by Tate: the Russian Patrol by Rubenstein: and a Fantasia by T J Morgan on 'Twrgwyn' an old Welsh hymn tune.
The artists were also in good form and a credit to the school. Three young girls delighted the audience. They were totally unaffected and their renderings were a credit to their tutors.
The first to take to the stage was Joan Thornton, soprano. She sang 'Little Road to Bethlehem' by M Head, and 'Voi le Sapete' (by Mozart). She was followed by Mair Thomas, contralto, with 'Can Yr Eos' (by J M Lloyd) and 'I Have Lost My Every Dice' (by Gluck). Delyth Harries, in her school uniform, sang 'Y Blodwyn ger y drws', (by Meirion Williams) and 'O Divine Redeemer' (by Gounod).
Delyth Harries and Mair Thomas also sang duets, first 'Thanks to the God' by S Dickson, and secondly 'The Voyagers' by Sanderson.

The final item on the programme was 'The Halleliwia' from Handel's Messiah, on the organ by Mrs Williams who during the evening had excelled herself.
Tribute must also be given to Mrs Elfed Williams, BA, ARCM, Musical Director of the school, who accompanied the artists on the piano.
The end of a pleasant and unforgettable evening came with the spirited singing of 'Hen Wlad fy Nhadau' with Mrs Williams at the organ.
For those interested, the makers of the pipe organ are Bishops of London and the renovators Harries of Birmingham. It has a two manual with full compass of pedals, tracker action with electric blower, and is a straight pacific organ with no borrowed stops.
All pipes are speaking. There are 23 pipes in the front and none are ornamental. The stops are of the draw type.