The Rhos Orpheus Male Choir - Diemwnt Orffiws / Orpheus Diamond
Since its formation in 1957, the Choir has maintained a standard of singing that has delighted audiences not only in the UK, but also worldwide. The choir, as its name indicates, is based in the old coalmining village of Rhosllanerchrugog in north east Wales, once considered the largest village in Wales with a population of over 14,000. It is also known in Wales as the village of the talents due to a long list of poets, authors, and numerous musicians who were born locally. The history of choirs in the village in different forms dates back a considerable time, it now boasts two male voice choirs, two mixed voice choirs and a ladies choir.
Formed initially to compete in the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, the Orpheus competed against some of the best choirs in the world, especially the state sponsored ones from behind the then Iron Curtain. It also competed successfully in the National Eisteddfod of Wales.
During the first few years the choir was under the directorship of J Raymond Williams with J Brian Hughes, now one of Wales’ foremost composers, as accompanist. John Glyn Williams then took over as conductor and remained so until he retired in 2004, having been associated with the choir for over 40 years. It was during this period that he struck up a long working relationship with Anne Phillips who was the choir’s accompanist during most of this period. During his long and distinguished period in charge, John Glyn, as he was affectionately known, oversaw the gradual change and emphasis in the choir’s development. It now became more in demand on the concert platform and in making commercial recordings. It also started travelling extensively abroad, visiting Norway, Germany and Belgium in Europe. Periodic visits have also been made to both the USA and Canada. It was during one of these visits in 1987 that the Orpheus sang before its biggest audience of over 40,000 before a Milwaukee Brewers’ baseball game against Texas Rangers. As the reputation of the choir developed, it resulted in an invitation to sing in communist China, the first Western choir to visit there after the Cultural Revolution. In 1991 an invitation was accepted to visit Israel to perform with the Haifa Symphony Orchestra to perform Cherubini’s Requiem at various concert halls within the country. The choir also travels extensively up and down the length and breadth of the UK and Eire performing in highly acclaimed concerts. For over 40 years, the choir has enjoyed the friendship of choirs from the Markisher Kreis district in Germany; such friendships remain.
Being registered as a charity, the choir also continually performs to raise money for various causes. It has close links with TENOVUS, the Welsh Cancer charity, the British Heart Foundation, Beating Bowel Cancer and a dedicated recording raised over £10,000 for the RNLI. It also has a proud record of incorporating support for more local charities on a regular basis. In recent years there has also been a growing demand for the choir to sing at wedding services, both locally and further afield.