Pontnewydd choir director lays baton down
A choir's musical conductor has retired after more than 40 years service.
Musician Walford Hutchings, 79, from New Inn was appointed as the musical director for Pontnewydd Male Choir in 1970, three years after being made the choir’s accompanist.
He was the choir’s third musical director since it was formed in 1904 and conducted his final concert at the choir’s annual Christmas concert which was held at the Salvation Army Hall in Cwmbran on December 22. Pauline Carey has now taken over the role of musical director.
Mr Hutchings was awarded an MBE at the beginning of last year for services to music and the community of Torfaen and after 45 enjoyable years with the choir has decided to call it a day.
He said: "I still enjoy it, but after experiencing some health problems I reluctantly decided it would be time for me to go.
"2012 was an incredible year, so I thought the end of the year would be the right time to go, if there is a right time. I’m pleased to be going out on a high."
Mr Hutchings was born in Pontnewydd on August 10, 1933 to Cissie and John Hutchings and was named after composer Sir Walford Davies.
Born into a musical family, he had his first piano lesson at the age of six and began singing lessons when he was nine-years-old.
He won more than 100 Eisteddfod prizes as a boy soprano and sang with the Pontnewydd Choir.
Mr Hutchings attended Abersychan Grammar School and went on to work at County Hall until he joined the RAF.
Later he went to Caerleon Teaching Training College from 1961 to 1964 and then worked as the head of music at Blackwood Comprehensive until he retired in 1992.
He accompanied many local and international artists over the years, including Pontypool Girls Choir and Pontypool Festival Choir.
He guided Pontnewydd Male Choir through hundreds of concerts and eight foreign tours in his role of musical director.
A black tie event with more than 200 guests was held at The Parkway a couple of months ago to mark his retirement from the choir.
Mr Hutchings and his wife Enid have two children and four grandchildren. He will continue his role as organist at St Mary’s Church in New Inn.