1973 witnessed a big upheaval in Choir life when on the 8th of March the Conductor, Ralph Hodges, resigned. A special meeting had been held to discuss certain aspects of the general organisation within the Choir and the musical content of concerts. The numbers had now risen to seventy and many felt Mr Hodges was trying to do too much for he had always maintained a strong position on the Committee and tended to make most of the decisions regarding concerts, music and transport. Whilst this was quite acceptable during the early years when numbers were only around the twenty mark many now felt it was time that a more modern approach was adopted and that the everyday running of the Choir should be left to the Committee.
It was with great regret the Choir finally accepted his decision to retire, for most realised that it was partly through his hard work and dedication the Choir had grown to it’s now very respected position in male voice circles.
Miss Joyce Bellinger had been the regular accompanist during this past year and she was to deal the Choir a double blow by also resigning, thereby leaving the group without without a conductor or a pianist. Bottom bass John Evans, although not wanting the position permanently stepped into the breach and took the Choir for the next few months. A local teacher and long standing member, John had acted in the capacity of Deputy Conductor many times and so the Choir were able to fulfill all it’s commitments during this period.
It was fortunate that the previous year Mr Richard Morgans had joined the Choir singing in the baritone section and he immediately applied for the vacancy. Advertisments had been placed in the local press and although there were three applicants he was finally chosen to take over the baton in June 1973.
A native of Porthmadog in North Wales he had moved south working for soon proved his abilities with the Choir . he came from a family steeped in music and singing and immediately he set about preparing the Choir for competition. Every year, in late Autumn, the Cardigan Eisteddfod was held, and although time was short this was the test he set his sights on. This Eisteddfod was only second to the National and indeed was always referred to a the Semi-National. Held in a huge marquee it lasted late into the night and although the Choir arrived early it wasn’t until 11pm the call came to take the stage. The reward for their efforts was third prize and the satisfaction in knowing that the new man at the top was the right choice.
Later in the year John Lloyd became the official Accompanist. Originally from Crynant in West Wales he lived in Caldicot and taught locally.
There was another trip to Manchester to sing in Timperly again. This time, the Choir stayed at the Glengarry Hotel in Mosside, and a very successful Dinner & Dance was held at the ‘Ship Hotel’ in Alverston on the 27th of May. Tickets were £2 with a choice of 3 set menus, and approximately 120 attended. A visit to Llandrindod Wells in September was amongst the many concerts performed that year. Social events included a visit to John Lloyd’s home town of Crynant and an invitation to sing at the ‘Fugitives’ Club in Newport at Christmas.
The 1973 Annual Concert took place in St. Luke’s Church in Newport (now demolished) on November 1st with guest artists Adrian De-Payer (tenor) and Menai Roberts-Davies (soprano). Tickets were 40p and 20p with programmes selling at 5p. A social evening followed at the Orb Works Club.
The year ended with the usual short concert at the Mount Ballan residential home followed by a visit to the ‘Star Inn’ at Llansoy, run by Allan and Liz Evans. They become firm and generous friends of the Choir with Allan eventually joining as a singing member. The ‘Star’ was soon added to the list of Pubs regularly attended after practice and there was always a warm welcome for Choristers.
From Dave Gould’s Choir History – ‘Dai was There’