Like so many choirs, Cantorion was started by chance, in this case, when two couples who lived in Llandrindod Wells decided to sing some carols when they met for pre-Christmas drinks. They enjoyed it so much - possibly due to the drinks - that they met again and were gradually joined by enthusiastic friends who all met up in various houses to sing light, part songs. It all began nearly 50 years ago now but no-one can remember precisely when! The group was soon asked to perform in public and found a ready platform in the churches and music hall in and around Llandrindod Wells.
Once established the choir grew quite quickly. At its maximum strength there were around 45 members but the current number is about 25.
The choir was originally called the After Eights because, in those less disciplined days, choir members were notoriously bad at arriving on time for rehearsals. In the late 1970s however the name Cantorion (Welsh for choir) was chosen. With the addition of Llandrindod we have our full identity – the Choir from Llandindrod.
In the early years the choir sang works suitable for local fetes and village hall concerts, as well as parish churches. Successive conductors began to raise standards and broaden repertoire with madrigals and a capella works. In 1982 a new conductor, Robert Girdler, pushed the standard high enough for the choir to win first prize at the 1982 Pontrhydfendigaid Eisteddfod. By then we were enjoying something of a reputation for performances of unaccompanied sacred music. But the repertoire was never exclusively religious: the choir’s library is full of secular works by Elgar, Finzi, the great English madrigalists and some French songs.
Since its beginning Cantorion has had 13 conductors, each of whom brought something different to the choir in terms of repertoire, interpretation or ambition. Robert Girdler was one who made a lasting change to the choir. The other was David White who came like a dynamo upon us in 2006. Prior to David the choir had often performed with a small amateur orchestra when singing, for example, Faure’s Requiem. Henceforth, David aimed to have an orchestra, preferably a professional one if we could afford it, for all our main performances. This cost us a great deal more money but opened the door to the major classical choral works as a matter of routine.
David’s ambition for the choir was to work successively through more difficult choral works until we reached the pinnacle of choral music, Bach’s B minor Mass. In 2017/8, however, David became gravely ill and eventually did not have the strength to take a rehearsal. He died in December 2018 on the day of our Christmas Concert, our first under the baton of our then, new, conductor, Jeremy Lingard. In June 2022, Jeremy decided to hand on the baton - retirement from Cantorion no easy decision after such a long association as both a singer and then MD.
Hilary Cox, another with close ties to Cantorion has picked up that baton and we wish her well as the next chapter in our history starts in September 2022.
We still haven't sung the B minor Mass but some of us would love the opportunity! We would require additional members to even contemplate it. Interested? Why not visit our Join Us page and consider helping us aim to reach this goal?