The Cwmbach Choir was formed in 1921, and has survived to the present day even though it was severely tested by periods of hardship, depression and the Second World War. During it's 90 years it has flourished and built up an enviable record of success in competitions and concert performances.
Its success in competition,particularly eisteddfodau, was established in its early days. The first taste of success was second prize at Treorchy in 1928, followed by Cardiff in 1938 and Ebbw Vale in 1958. The first prize was ultimately achieved at Port Talbot in 1966 and repeated in 1968 at Barry.
During the 1950's when the Although in recent times the Choir has not been nearly as active in the competitive arena, it was successful in taking First prize in the Male Choir competition at the Limerick Festival of 1996 in Ireland. In 1997, the Choir took part in the International Eisteddfod at Roodeporte, Johannesburg, South Africa where they competed in the Folk Music Competition. They not only came fourth out of seventeen strong groups but also were the highest placed non-African competitor.
The musical repertoire of the Choir is wide and varied. It includes music for all tastes, ranging from operatic choruses, spirituals, hymns, folk music and popular ballads. The Choir maintains the great tradition of male singing by including the 'big guns' of, 'Nidaros', 'Castilla', 'Comrades in Arms', etc., in its programme. It also has an extensive range of religious music, including major works such as the 'Cherubini Requiem Mass'.
The Choir has had the privilege of sharing the concert platform with some world famous artists, Paul Robeson, Sir Geraint Evans, Stuart Burrows, Dame Gwyneth Jones, Constance Shacklock, Patricia Kern and the internationally renowned guitarist John Williams, to name but a few. The Halle Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra, the Black Dykes Mills Band, the Band of the Welsh Guards and the South African Naval Band are examples of the well-known orchestras and bands with which the Choir has worked.
During the last 40 years the Choir has travelled extensively both nationally and internationally. It has appeared at the Royal National Festival Hall, the Albert Hall, the Barbican, the National Exhibition Centre, St. David's Hall and at numerous Cathedrals throughout the British Isles.
The Choir's first visit abroad in 1961, was by invitation to take part in the Bela Bartok Festival at Debrecen in Hungary. They were the first Welsh choir to sing behind the 'Iron Curtain' and the impression created resulted in a further invitation in 1978 and again in 1986 for the Festival's 25th Anniversary where they reached the final of the competition.
Since 1961 the Choir has visited and performed in France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Ireland and Spain. Inter-continental travel commenced in 1990 with a tour of On Canada repeated in 1995.
In 1996 the Choir celebrated its 75th Anniversary. It performed 23 concerts during the year, the highlight being the Gala Concert given at St. David's Hall, Cardiff when the Choir was joined by the renowned Italian soprano, Nuccia Focile, and the Internationally famous baritone, Jason Howard. In autumn, 1997 a concert tour of Johannesburg and Capetown, South Africa took place. In 2001 the Choir returned to Canada, but this time to Vancouver and Vancouver Island in British Columbia, for what was, according to press adulation, probably their most successful tour ever. In 2002 the Choir represented Wales at the Interceltique Festival held in Lorient Brittany, in 2003 undertook a short tour of Jersey and in 2004 visited Malta and Gozo where they were very well received being the first Welsh choir to visit Gozo. 2005 saw a return to Vancouver and in the following years trips to Venice, San Marino and Cyprus were taken.
In the last few years the Choir became involved with memorial events relating to the 70th anniversary of the sinking of the "Arandora Star" ship, with performances in the Catholic Cathedral, Cardiff and also in Liverpool where memorial plaques were erected. On a visit to Italy the Choir visited Bardi - the spiritual home of many Italian immigrants who settled in Walesand from where fifty of the victims hailed. The Choir sang in a Mass at the church of San Francesco and placed a floral tribute in the beautiful memorial chapel especially erected in Bardi cemetery.
The Choir has produced a number of records, cassette tapes and CD's. For the first occasion of the World Choir performance at the National Stadium in Cardiff, Dr. Owain Arwel Hughes invited Cwmbach Male Choir to make a cassette which was sent to choirs all over the world as their learning tape in preparation for the 10,000 Voice Concert in 1992.
Cwmbach Male Choir was also the first choir invited by the Welsh Rugby Union to perform at the famous Arms Park, to entertain the crowd and lead the singing prior to an International rugby match, and it was again invited to perform at the International between Wales and Ireland in March 2005 when Wales won the Grand Slam.
In February 2010 the choir undertook a short tour of Paris.They were invited to join in celebrations of the Tenth Anniversary of the opening of the Stade de France in Paris. Whilst there the Choir sang in the chapel of Notre Dame de Paris in an extremely successful charity concert for the Paris Welsh Society.
A second short tour of 2010 was to Northern Ireland. The Choir started early on Friday 23rd October when they boarded a double decker coach. The choir took part in a joint charity concert with the Queens Island Victoria Male Choir, and performed to a capacity audience. The following morning the Choir were delighted to take part in a mass at the Saint MacNissi Catholic Chapel in Randalstown,County Antrim. They also performed a Charity Concert at the St. Menisci’s Parish Centre Randalstown on the Sunday. All proceeds went to the new Palliative Care Unit situated there.
Since its inception the Choir has upheld the tradition of Male Voice singing in the Cynon Valley and further afield. It is the fervent hope of the present Choristers that the high standard, which has been set and maintained during the Choir's long existence, will continue well into the future.