A collection of themed contemporary and historical recordings of DWS music making and spoken word
- Christmas Music
- Summer Music
- Spoken Word
- The Service of Thanksgiving in July 1975
- The school hymn and psalm
We are grateful to the University of Huddersfield (Music Technology Department) for enabling us to share our music making, now digitised and with the sound enhanced. These recordings are identified by an asterisk in the title. Our thanks to Mr John Peel who made the original tapes of Christmas and summer concerts and parts of the closing Service of Thanksgiving in 1975. Thanks too to BBC Radio Cymru for permitting us to reproduce extracts from programme recordings. These recordings have the BBC logo and are in Welsh and also to Gillian Green MBE, of Live Music Wales, for facilitating the recording by girl choristers from Llandaff Cathedral Choir School of the school hymn and school psalm. And finally, thank you to everyone who has contributed - both in the last and in the 21st century.
'Hodie Christus Natus Est' by Benjamin Britten from 'A Ceremony of Carols' is here sung unaccompanied by a small group of singers as they leave the school hall, by candlelight, at the end of the Christmas Concert. Their voices fade away as they sing down the empty corridors towards the dining room. It was something of a tradition to sing 'The Hodie' at Christmas at the beginning and end of the concert. Here is the final page of the programme from the original concert. Some scraping of chairs by the audience can be heard.
The choir (or perhaps The Madrigal Society) sing 'This Little Babe', with piano accompaniment, from Benjamin Britten's 'Ceremony of Carols' for the annual Christmas concert.
The music department at Dr Williams' school often provided new, exciting and exacting musical challenges. In the 1960s we were introduced to Benjamin Britten and Kodaly.
Editor's choice: Listen to the chairs scrape and a clearing of throats as everyone stands in the school hall as the organ strikes the introduction to sing this Welsh language carol that, for me, conjures a celebration of Christmas at DWS
'Torches', composed by John Joubert and published in 1951, quickly became another stalwart in the DWS Christmas repertoire. Here it is sung by the choir with piano accompaniment. An unknown soloist sings the second verse .
The school choir is accompanied on the piano in 'Deo Gratias' from 'Ceremony of Carols' by Benjamin Britten. Mrs K.M. Thomas head of Music led the school choir, working alongside Miss Wendy Edwards at this time. See 'Deo Gratias' listed on the Christmas Concert programme for 1965
The school choir, singing from J.S. Bach's 'Christmas Oratorio', is accompanied here by the organ. There is some coughing and scraping of chairs at the beginning of the track.
A Recitative from J.S.Bach's 'Christmas Oratorio', we believe the soloist here is Eirian Davies. Eirian went on to make a career as an opera singer. Here she sings solo, accompanied by the organ. Other singers (unknown) can be heard at the end of the track.
From J.S Bach's 'Christmas Oratorio' . We believe the soloist is Eirian Davies. There is an organ accompaniment.
A choral piece from J.S. Bach's 'Christmas Oratorio'. You can hear everyone stand, chairs scrape, a few people cough as the organ plays. Then the choir begins to sing.
'Holy Night'- Gruber. We think this recording was made in 1965. The choir sings the second verse. Click here to see the original concert programme . 'Holy Night' is accompanied by the organ. The school hall at Christmas would have been bedecked with greenery, with holly and ivy gathered by the pupils, entwining the library balcony.
Unaccompanied voices sing this Welsh 'Plygain' (Matins) carol in Welsh, by an unknown composer. At the time of writing the singers are unknown.
'Joseph hoff, rwyf wedi blino….' is the first line of this carol by Elfed 1860-1953. At the time of writing the identity of the singer is unknown. She starts quietly, sounding increasingly confident and strong as the piece progresses.
Recorded by the Junior Choir in 1971, the singers are accompanied by piano and tambourine. The nonsense words ' Ding Ding' punctuate the piece. Originally a Czech Folk tune
This well loved traditional Welsh carol was always a part of our Christmas celebrations. It would have been sung by the whole school both in assemblies and also at our Christmas concerts.
A traditional English Carol here arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams and sung by the choir or possibly the Madrigal Society circa 1967
Concluding every annual Christmas concert, 'Oh Come All Ye Faithful' is sung here by everyone in the hall. There is an organ accompaniment and a soaring descant. Here is a link to the final page of the 1965 Christmas Concert programme.
Immediately after singing this traditional English carol, a dozen girls would process slowly away from the hall singing the Recession, known as the 'Hodie' from Benjamin Britten's 'Ceremony of Carols'. This can also be heard on our Christmas Audio selection. Then it was Christmas and home!
Pupils of Dr Williams' School were chosen to be part of the Merioneth Youth Choir. One of the songs sung by the Junior Youth Choir was Mûn a Bugail (Nymphs and Shepherds). Here is a picture of the choir at the event.
Members of the school choir took part in the Youth Choir which sang at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in 1949. Twelve pupils in the 5th and 6th forms, known as Parti Deuddeg ('Party of Twelve'), won with the entry ‘Y mae Afon’ (There is a River) by Daniel Protheroe. The recording is produced with permission from 'Cwmni Gwyn'.
The Senior Choir sing the final item on the programme for 'A Summer Serenade' 1974 to a piano accompaniment by Christine Ellis
Accompanied by piano, the Senior Madrigal Choir sing 'Breadbaking' for the 'Summer Serenade' concert.
The Senior Choir sing 'As Torrents in Summer' with piano accompaniment by Christine Ellis for the 'Summer Serenade' concert in 1974.
The Senior Madrigal Choir, accompanied by the piano, sing for the 'Summer Serenade' concert 1974
The senior choir, accompanied by Christine Ellis at the piano, sing Bizet for the 'Summer Serenade' concert July 1974.
The Junior Madrigal Choir sing this Neopolitan song for the 'Summer Serenade' concert in July 1974, piano accompaniment.
Set in the style of Handel by V. Hely-Hutchinson and sung by the Senior Choir, with piano accompaniment by Christine Ellis, for the 'Summer Serenade' concert.
This arrangement by V. Williams of a traditional English Folk song is sung by Hannah Lovegrove with a guitar accompaniment. Part of the programme for 'A Summer Serenade' in 1974.
'The Troubadours', from the Upper Fourth, sing 'I would that my Love' by Mendelssohn to a piano accompaniment for 'A Summer Serenade' in 1974. At the time of writing the identity of the singers and the pianist is unknown.
An extract from the programme recorded in 2008 which interviewed ex pupils to talk about their experiences at school. This extract includes pupils talking about their daily experiences and impressions of the school.
An extract from the programme recorded in 2008 which interviewed ex pupils to talk about their experiences at school. This extract includes pupils talking about teaching & learning at the school
An extract from the programme recorded in 2008 which interviewed ex pupils to talk about their experiences at school. This extract includes pupils talking about the school musical tradition.
The recording is in Welsh.
An extract from the programme recorded in 2008 which interviewed ex pupils to talk about their experiences at school. This extract includes pupils talking about manners at mealtimes, staff experiences with pupils and attitudes to the talking of Welsh in the staffroom.
The recording is in Welsh
An extract from the programme recorded in 2008 which interviewed ex pupils to talk about their experiences at school. This extract includes pupils talking about sports and climbing Cader Idris at the school. It also includes a member of staff talking about the closing of the school in 1975 and her relationship to the older staff at the school.
Born in 1926, the daughter of a local schoolmaster, Elinor describes being sent to DWS as a day girl aged 9 in 1936. At this time day girls were segregated from the boarders . She remembers her inspiring English teacher, Dorothy 'Do' Davies, Miss Nightingale the Quaker Headmistress , a visit by Dame Sybil Thorndike and Lewis Casson (with The Old Vic Theatre Company) during the war, bloomers, liberty bodices, gymslips, suspenders, velour and panama hats, chemistry and cookery, singing the National Anthems of the allies on Peace Day, the 'new' hall, library and orchestra pit and being called Dr Williams' 'Pink Pills'. Elinor defines 'grannie's luggage' and 'smiles'.
This recording of an article found in a DWS school magazine tells the story of a performance in the school hall of 'Macbeth' in 1941. Sybil Thorndike played Lady Macbeth. Her husband, Lewis Casson, played 'Macbeth'.
Touring with the Old Vic Theatre Company, which had relocated from London to Burnley during the War, Sybil Thorndike and Lewis Casson performed right across the North of England and Wales. They played community and school halls - a far cry from the glamour of the London Theatre. On April 2nd 1941 they played DWS, much to the excitement of the school. A page from an autograph book records the signatures of the leading actors of their day and this story written for the site also recalls the occasion 'DWS Changes from 1939-45'
A conversation with Vera Gibbon about her school life, she mentions her English teacher 'Do' Davies, music teaching, sport. There are also contributions from Nesta Wynn Jones who was a pupil in the 1950s and 60s about her memories of 'Do', fundraising for the school swimming pool, elocution lessons and not being able to speak English until she was eight. Vera describes participating in school concerts and the 'calming' influence of Miss Nightingale, the Quaker headmistress, who did not believe in punishments and for whom 'owning up' and 'saying sorry' was all important.
Vera Gibbon has also written her memories which are on the site
An interview between Nesta Wynn Jones (ex pupil) and Margaret Hewitt, who taught English at DWS from 1965-67 (her first teaching post). Miss Hewitt talks about her experiences in a rather regimented environment, and her teaching responsibilities. She also reflects on her impressions of life for boarders at school, and Miss Lickes's (headmistress 1947-69) influence on the school.
Radio Cymru’s ‘Cofio’ programme presented by John Hardy, 11 April 2015.
An interview by Dr Lyn Davies in 1984 of Dilys Elwyn Edwards talking about the influence Dr Williams’ School had on the development of her musical career.
Read more about Dilys Elwyn Edwards on our 'Women in History' page.
This recording is an extract from the Address made by the Archbishop of Wales, the Very Reverend G.O.Williams D.D. at the closing service of Dr Williams' School at St Mary's Parish Church, Dolgellau. The Archbishop praises the excellence of the singing and the demeanour of the girls, brought to him for confirmation, over the 18 years he has known the school. He notes that very few pupils (in his experience) were 'affluent, powerful or nobly connected' and laments the 'runaway inflation' and 'the tragic consequences it has on such charitable institutions'. 'Great harm will be done' he says (referring to the Government intentions of the day) 'unless other ways are found of providing boarding education for those, who for any reason, stand in need'. The influence of the former members of DWS can 'Go on speaking in hidden ways for generations to come.' A news cutting about the service is available in the gallery on this site.
This recording is reproduced here by kind permission of The Church in Wales.
Note: There is a background hum throughout the recording which we have not been able to edit out from the original cassette recording.
Accompanied by Mrs K. M Thomas at the organ, the congregation sings 'Am brydferthwch daear lawr'. There is a descant on the second and last verse.
Accompanied by Mrs K M Thomas at the organ, the choir sings the Anthem 'We Love the Place Where Thine Honour Dwells' a paraphrase of psalm 84 from Brahms 'Requiem'.
This was the processional hymn at the Service of Thanksgiving. It was sung by the choir and an unnamed soloist .
There is a slight background hum to this recording.
The congregation sings Psalm 121, known to the school as 'The School Psalm'. Mrs K M Thomas plays the organ.
Recorded originally on a cassette tape recorder the sound is occasionally a little 'wobbly' and there is a faint background hum.
The School hymn is sung for the last time.
School hymn and school psalm
The DWS School Hymn has been recorded by Girl Choristers of Llandaff Cathedral School, conducted by Simon Lovell-Jones. The recording is dedicated to a former DWS pupil and one time member of the music staff, the composer Dilys Elwyn Edwards (1918 – 2012). We would like to thank another former pupil, Gillian Green MBE of ‘Live Music Now Wales’ , for facilitating the recording.
Girl choristers from Llandaff Cathedral School choir sing Psalm 121 conductor Simon Lovell- Jones. This was known as the 'The School Psalm'.
This recording is dedicated to Old Girl and a member of the music staff, the composer Dilys Elwyn Edwards 1918 – 2012. We would like to thank ex-pupil Gillian Green MBE of ‘Live Music Now Wales’ for facilitating the recording.