Welsh conductor dedicates Lifetime Recognition Award to deceased wife


A leading Welsh conductor and choral master has poignantly dedicated his Lifetime Recognition Award to his wife and lifetime musical partner recently killed in a car accident on leaving a concert performance together.

Llanelli-born John Hywel Williams received the award for his life-long dedication to the music, culture and youth of Wales at a recent glittering black-tie award ceremony, hosted by Carmarthenshire Radio and in the presence of County and Civic Dignitaries and heroes from across the region.

The prestigious ultimate award of the ceremony reflects a lifetime of 60+ years of voluntary dedication and a name of a man synonymous with pioneering work in choral leadership and musical excellence spanning thousands of young people across Wales.

In poignant memory

In a poignant gesture, John Hywel dedicated his award to his wife and lifetime musical partner Jean Hywel who earlier this summer was tragically killed in a car accident shortly after leaving the concert stage together.

“I am deeply touched to receive this award”, said John Hywel who is still recovering from his car crash injuries. “The pleasure I may have brought to others is only a fraction of the pleasure my work has brought to me. My only regret is not to be able to share this award with my beloved wife Jean but I share this award with her in spirit and in the love of the life and music we shared together.”

A lifetime of dedication and 8,000 pupils

Despite disabilities as a child due to polio and meningitis, the acclaimed and legendary conductor, teacher, choral expert founded of numerous Welsh choirs including the Llanelli Choral Society, Nova Singers, Trinity Male Choir and the world famous Hywel Girls’ Choir & Hywel Boy Singers.

John became a chapel organist at the age of 11, forming the first of many choirs in his early teens – including the Hywel Girls’ Choir. He was also a teacher in regional schools for over 35 years, an organist for the various chapel and churches for over 30 years. An international adjudicator and choral expert, the number of children John has taught, nurtured, inspired and given life changing opportunities to are staggering  – over 8,000 pupils and choristers.

Pioneering choral music around the world

A true pioneer in British music and in putting Wales on the world map of choral singing, John Hywel and his choirs have reached audiences in their millions with broadcast reaching an incredible 120 countries world-wide. John holds the record of taking the first ever British choir behind the formidable iron curtain of Eastern Europe and the first ever British Amateur Choir to tour the Soviet Union – all with Llanelli’s young children – historic events which captured the attention of the international press.  Thousands of children have seen the world thanks to his musical endeavours with 25 international concert tours spanning Eastern & Western Europe, North America with life-changing experiences including  performing across the world’s most prestigious concert halls including The Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow – Russia’s largest concert hall, Numerous repeat performances at London’s Royal Albert Hall., The Sofia Opera House in Bulgaria, The Royal Festival Hall London, a Eurovision broadcast from Belgrade, singing at the Vatican for the Pope, performing for HM The Queen and other Royalty… the list goes on with over 800 concert performances and broadcasts given to audiences in their millions.

From ‘no auditions’ to Eurovision Winners

But across all his activities, John Hywel has always believed that all children should be given opportunities – irrespective of ability, education or social circumstance. He has never believed in auditions and has welcomed all children and pupils with open arms – rehearsing week in week out with and over 7,500 rehearsals training and teaching them – and even donating scholarships to those in need.

Some of his Llanelli choristers have gone on to star in world-famous opera houses, others gone onto win the Eurovision Song Contest,  but all choristers – and thousands of them – can look back at the wonderful experiences they gained thanks to John.

The award also reflects his dedication to his community across generations. Grandmothers now have grand-daughters and grandsons in his choirs and performances.

A Historic Reunion of Voices Unite in Song

In a wonderful sign of support for John’s dedication and ongoing musical endeavours in the face of his wife’s tragic death, a Giant Reunion Choir of ex-choristers of the Hywel Girls’ Choir is coming together from across the UK and abroad, for a historic performance on Saturday 19th December in Llanelli. With a cast of 300-massed voices and musicians, the “Great Christmas Fantasia” will see the Grant Reunion Choir perform the symphonic sounds of the acclaimed British Sinfonietta Orchestra. Eurovision Song Contest Winners Brotherhood of Man will be returning to Wales to join fellow past-choristers for this unique performance.

John Hywel is no stranger to awards, being made a member of the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for his services to British music and youth. He has also received the Paul Harris Fellowship from Rotary International for his services to international music and was conferred a prestigious Fellow of the London College of Music for his leading achievements across the field of music.


Facts & Figures

·         60+ years: Lifetime dedication of John Hywel Williams

·         8,000+ choristers: taught by John Hywel Williams

·         7,500+ rehearsals: led by John Hywel Williams week in week out for decades.

·         800 concert performances: given by John Hywel Williams, reaching audiences in their millions

·         120 countries: reached by television and radio broadcasts by John Hywel and his choirs across the world

·         25 international tours: undertaken by John  Hywel and his choirs

·         1st: John Hywel Williams took the first British Choir on a concert tour behind the historic and formidable Iron Curtain of the Cold War

·         1st: John Hywel Williams took the first British amateur choir on a BBC-television concert tour of the Soviet Union