Choir helps celebrate University Building’s centenary

One of the oldest male voice choirs in Wales, the Penrhyn Choir, will join forces with staff and students of Bangor University to celebrate the centenary of the Main University Building today  (Thursday 14 July 2011) at 11.00.

It will be exactly one hundred years to the day since King George V opened the impressive new building on a ridge above the city of Bangor. Penrhyn Choir will be giving a special performance during the morning Degree Ceremony, at which over 200 students will graduate.

Penrhyn ChoirPenrhyn ChoirUniversity Registrar Dr David Roberts said: “The link between the slate quarrymen of north west Wales and the establishment of the university in Bangor is one of the great, inspiring features of University’s history. The Penrhyn quarrymen – and many other working people of North Wales – gave, often from meagre wages, to support the campaign for higher education in North Wales, and it is very fitting that the Penrhyn Choir will help us to celebrate this particular centenary,”

The Penrhyn Choir will perform three pieces during the ceremony:

  • Y Bryniau Melynion by Gareth Glyn (words by Ieuan Wyn)
  • Benedictus by Robat Arwyn
  • Gwahoddiad arranged by John Tudor Davies

The Choir performing during the Graduation Ceremony, to mark the 100th anniversary of the University buildingThe Choir performing during the Graduation Ceremony, to mark the 100th anniversary of the University buildingThe Penrhyn Choir will be conducted by Owain Arwel Davies, who originates from the Ogwen Valley, graduated from Bangor University and is now Head of Music at Ysgol Tryfan in Bangor. The accompanist will be Olwen Jones, a native of Anglesey and former student of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff.

The University was first housed in the old Penrhyn Arms Hotel. A campaign was begun to raise funds in order to erect a permanent purpose-built home for the University.

£20,000 was provided by the government of the day, but the bulk of the money came from the donations of ordinary people, students, school children, citizens of Bangor- who contributed £6,000.  Donations were collected from and further afield, including from the residents of almshouses in Llanuwchllyn.

Two substantial donations were received, one from the Drapers’ Company- who still retain links with the University, and who provided £15,000 for the Library and £17,000 from John Prichard Jones, a well- to do London merchant, who rose to success from lowly beginnings in Newborough and how funded the Prichard Jones Hall, which bears his name.

Competing against 82 other architects and a shortlist of five, architect, Henry Hare, won the national competition to design the building.

A renowned architect, Henry Hare had been the President of the Architect’s Society in 1902 and later became President of the Royal Institute of British Architects between 1917-19.

Despite his high profile, his original plans were not accepted without adaptation- and were never competed in full- though the 1960’s library and building extension enclosed the quad following his original plan.

The building is Grade 1 Listed, as one of the finest examples in the UK of Edwardian  public architecture in the Neo Gothic style.

An exhibition about the building’s history can be viewed in the Vice Chancellor’s corridor until the end of the year. Visitors should call at the Main Reception Desk for directions.

Publication date: 13 July 2011