Crickhowell Choral Society – together again!

Posted: 14th November 2021

The Clarence Hall is home to a wide range of organisations who utilise its facilities on a regular basis.  In this feature, we look at Crickhowell Choral Society.

Crickhowell Choral Society was formed in 1981 by local GP David Hiley, who encouraged patients to join his choir for well-being and because he loved singing. Over the last 40 years it has become the flourishing and very popular choir that it is today.

Director Stephen Marshall, the conductor and programme planner, is a musical maestro who calls on his vast knowledge of choral repertoire in engaging both the choir and audiences in a wide-ranging selection of musical tastes. The choir has sung with internationally-known soloists such as Emma Kirkby, Grace Davidson, James Gilchrist and Charles Daniels, and its president is Elin Manahan Thomas, who sang at Prince Harry’s and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding.

The choir’s major event is the annual Crickhowell Music Festival, held during the first bank holiday weekend of May, and it celebrated the festival’s 25th anniversary in 2019. Other events include a seasonal favourite, the Christmas Carol Concert in conjunction with local primary schools and Crickhowell High School, held each year in St. Edmund’s Church. The Clarence Hall is a popular venue for the summer concert, another enjoyable collaboration with local schools.

Crickhowell Choral Society is committed to community involvement and actively encourages the participation of children and young people. A highly successful choral scholarship scheme has been running for several years. Pupils from local high schools with a keen interest in music are eligible to apply for scholarships which give them the opportunity to sing with the choir and as soloists, thereby enhancing their musical ability and experience. Most choral scholars have continued their music studies at undergraduate and graduate levels at universities in Oxford, Cardiff, London and Manchester while others have had placements at other music establishments. The choir is indebted to its scholarship sponsors which include Tracey Smith, in memory of her parents Anne and Brian Smith, and Lady Crickhowell, in memory of her late husband, all such wonderful supporters of the choir.

Until the pandemic struck in 2020, the choir rehearsed in The Bear Hotel for many happy years, and is hugely grateful for the welcome it always received there. Now, with strict rules introduced for choirs and concerns regarding proximity, it has relocated to The Clarence Hall, and has settled in to a different style of rehearsal with open doors, plenty of warm clothes and spacing and, of course, masks. The choir looks forward to resuming its calendar of choral events in 2022.

Find out more about the Choral Society at

Photograph by Tim Evans