South East Wales

Treorchy Male Choir's Haydn Erasmus dies at 93

Haydn Erasmus presenting a life membership of the choir to Tom Jones
Image caption Haydn Erasmus presented Pontypridd-born star Tom Jones with life membership of the choir

The last remaining pre-war member of one of Wales' best known choirs has died, aged 93.

Haydn Erasmus played a key role when Treorchy Male Choir reformed in Rhondda after World War II in 1946.

John Cynan Jones, an old friend and former conductor of the choir, said Mr Erasmus had three passions in his life - his family, his choir and the boys' club movement.

The choir said it was deeply saddened by the news.

"He was the last remaining member of the pre-war choir. An absolute pillar of the choir for seven decades," Mr Jones told BBC Radio Wales.

More recently he was known as the "elder statesman" of Treorchy.

"He was a great man, and I don't use that term lightly," said Mr Jones.

"He had three great passions in his life - his family, his choir and the boys' club movement harnessing outstanding talents especially on the soccer field."

Mr Erasmus began his working career in the coal industry, but then moved to work at the EMI factory in Treorchy.

As a result of his work there he received the BEM (British Empire Medal for services to industry).

Image caption Haydn Erasmus was described as an outstanding singer with a "particularly rich baritone"

He sang with the original pre-war choir before it was disbanded, and when it was reformed in 1946 he was one of the reforming members.

"Choirs are the lifeblood of the Rhondda valleys. It was part of our social set-up," said Mr Jones.

"We had this wonderful influx of young men coming back from the forces, looking for something to do, and Haydn was instrumental in getting them together under Mr John Haydn Davies.

As a singer Mr Erasmus was outstanding, he added.

'Stalwart member'

"Haydn had a particularly rich baritone voice which had a special unique quality which helped to blend together the other members in the group."

The choir said in a statement: "During his lengthy membership he witnessed the choir's unparalleled competition success at the National Eisteddfod, appeared in over 1,500 concerts, recordings and broadcasts, royal performances and tours to Switzerland, Strasbourg, China and Australia.

"Haydn rarely missed a concert and was a stalwart member of his section, becoming a dependable, conscientious mentor to many new choristers."

Over the years Mr Erasmus served as a committee member and chairman with the choir, and in recognition of his contribution was appointed vice-president in 2007.

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