"A damn fine band" - HRH Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII)
Founded in or before 1855, Lewis-Merthyr Band is the oldest brass band in South Wales' Rhondda Valleys. Originally known as the Cymmer Military and Cymmer (Porth) Colliery Band, Lewis-Merthyr adopted its present title in 1949.
The band has been highly successful in competition throughout its history, becoming Champion Band of Wales, Welsh League Champions, Miner's Welfare Entertainments (CISWO) Champions and more.
Lewis-Merthyr has represented Wales in the Championship section on eight occasions at the Royal Albert Hall, London, and at the European Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark. The band has also won the Second and Third Section UK titles at the National Championships of Great Britain. Lewis-Merthyr is currently ranked in the First Section nationally and Championship Section in Wales. The band were the 2015 Runner-Up WWBBA Champions; 2016 Runner-Up SEWBBA Champions & overall Runner-Up Welsh League Champions in both 2015 & 2016. 2017 was a particularly successful year for the band and saw Lewis-Merthyr become the WWBBA and - for the first time in 21 years - overall Welsh League First Section Champions.
The band has been equally successful on the concert stage, performing at a wide variety of locations across Wales and beyond, including the Royal Albert Hall, London; St David's Hall, Cardiff & the Brangwyn Hall, Swansea. Lewis-Merthyr has also performed for Royalty, parading through the streets for the visit of His Majesty King George V and Queen Mary to Rhondda in 1912, and the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII, in 1932. Throughout its history, the band has performed with numerous leading artists, including "Signor Foli" (Allan James Foley) in the late 1800's, with Sir Geraint Evans, Glyn Houston and Sir Bryn Terfel. The band also recently featured in a special St David's Day Gala Concert at the Brangwyn Hall, Swansea and at Harrow School, London under the renowned Welsh conductor Dr. Owain Arwel Hughes CBE.
Lewis-Merthyr has featured in a wide range of radio & television broadcasts, dating back to a recently rediscovered BBC Radio broadcast from 1927, and Pathé newsreel footage of the band marching before King Edward VIII in 1932. Most recently the band was featured in the BBC television programme "The Taff: The River That Made Wales" which has been repeatedly screened on BBC Two, BBC Four and BBC Wales. In autumn 2017, Lewis-Merthyr also recorded a special television feature with the renowned international baritone soloist Sir Bryn Terfel, which was screened nationwide on Christmas Day.
Lewis-Merthyr have also featured in a series of major events, performing on numerous occasions at the Principality Stadium, playing to 52 981 people plus international television audience for the Wales vs Italy warm up match for the 2015 Rugby World Cup; to record Pro14 crowds of 68,262 and 62,338 for Judgement Day 2016 & 2018; and for the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 World Golden Oldies International Rugby Festival, which featured 120 participating teams representing 25 different nations from across the globe. Lewis-Merthyr also provided Wales' first all-female band for each of Wales' 2017 Women's Rugby Six Nations Championship home matches, and featured in National Theatre Wales' 2016 “City of the Unexpected” Roald Dahl 100 celebrations, performing across Cardiff city centre to tens of thousands of people, and again being featured on national television. In April 2018, the band supported the 11.2 metre "Man Engine" events at Cyfartha Castle and Ynysangharad Park, Rhondda Cynon Taf, premiering the specially composed Anthem by Helen Woods.
The band has a long history of performing and broadcasting new work, and has held a close association with numerous major composers including Mervyn Burtch and John Golland. The band also gave the premiere broadcasts of Dr. Peter Graham's "Dimensions" and Goff Richards' "Oceans" on BBC Radio in the 1980s. In 2018 the band will give premiere performances of Helen Woods' "Anthem" and Dr. Christopher Wood's "Aberfan".
The band remains thoroughly committed to supporting our local community in Rhondda Cynon Taf, through the presentation of concert performances across the county borough and wider, supporting local events & functions, and providing tuition for local young brass & percussion musicians through our Youth Band programme. The band looks forward to continuing to represent Rhondda Cynon Taf and Wales at the highest level throughout all our performances across the nation and beyond.
Further information on the band and its activities can be found at our website www.lewismerthyrband.com