John S. Davies MBE
John S Davies, one of Wales’ leading choral directors was born in Pembrokeshire. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, where earlier as a student he formed his first choir. The Guild for Welsh Music presented him with the John Edwards Memorial Award for the promotion of contemporary Welsh Music and he received a University of Wales Honorary degree for his contribution to music in West Wales.
On becoming Head of Music at Fishguard High School he followed an already well-established musical tradition there with countless successes in teaching and performance. John formed the Pembrokeshire Youth Choir conducting many memorable performances for several years and making recordings. In a long-standing relationship with the National Youth Choir of Wales, he has auditioned new choristers for a number of years. He is also involved in Royal School of Church Music activities and is engaged in encouraging music in his local community and in local primary schools.
During his time teaching in Fishguard he formed the North Pembrokeshire Choral Union, later to become the Dyfed Choir, which he conducted until 1985. Memorable occasions were performances of Handel’s Messiah, the first to be heard in the new St.Davids Hall Cardiff at Easter 1983 and at his farewell to the Choir. He later founded and conducted the Fishguard Philharmonic Choir for several years. Both choirs appeared on radio and TV and recordings made.
Receiving a special assignment to form an appropriately based choir for a TV performance of Arwel Hughes’ Dewi Sant, John founded Côr Dewi Sant. He has since conducted them on numerous occasions including on radio and TV. He was also advisor and Guest Conductor of Côr Caerfyrddin.
He has figured prominently at the Royal Welsh National Eisteddfod, preparing and conducting its choirs on four occasions, in Haverfordwest, Fishguard, St.Davids and Newport, Gwent and has adjudicated on numerous occasions.In a similar role over recent years he has been twice to Melbourne Australia.
In 1970 he became Founder/Artistic Director of the Fishguard Music Festival (International in 1986), stepping down in 2006. For his services as such he was appointed MBE in 1997. The 1978 Festival marked the inauguration of The John S. Davies Singers. Throughout his Festival tenure he commissioned many new choral and instrumental works, mostly dedicated to him with others as gifts. He has conducted several major British orchestras including the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the BBC Welsh Orchestra, London Mozart Players. He formed his own Westward Chamber Orchestra in 1984.
In 2014 three Festival engagements included a concert in the St.Davids Cathedral Festival on 28 May (Bach , Handel, Vivaldi), on 12 July Handel’s Judas Maccabeus in a return visit to the Llandeilo Festival and on July 25 another concert in the Fishguard International Music Festival. The latter was a reminder of John’s close links with composer William Mathias, in person and in compositions, many of which were dedicated to him and highlighted in the concert.
July 2014. On 1 November 2014 he conducted a performance of Mathias’ St Teilo with the Royal School of Church Music West Wales Choir on what would have been the composer’s 80th birthday.