Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School
John Gethin Evans (1920-1993)
Music Master, September 1956 to July 1981
Gethin Evans will be remembered for contributing a great deal to the musical activities
of the school, as well as for his organisation of many musical events in the town and
surrounding area. He possessed a fine baritone voice which we rarely heard, particularly
after his illness that took him out of school from the Spring of 1959 until the beginning
of the 1960-1961 school year. Together with P.E. Phillips, and in his short period
of overlap with T.R. James, he prepared the school choir for several of the concerts
that were performed in the Coliseum in the spring or summer terms.
He was also a vocal tutor on some of the Glamorgan Youth Choir residential courses at Ogmore Camp, deputy conductor of the Cwmbach Male Voice Choir, and a chapel organist.
Gethin was regarded with affection by his students and they formed long-lasting friendships with him.
Gethin married in 1945 and brought up two children a boy and a girl. Gethin’s
son, Ieuan Rhys Evans is the Cardiff-based Welsh actor known professionally as Ieuan
Rhys. Ieuan has appeared in film, television and radio - working in both the English
and Welsh languages.
Below, we reproduce an article that appeared in the 1981 edition of The Aberdarian. Written by Simon Thomas, it was one of a short series from the magazines that outlined the careers of staff who were about to retire. It includes the 25 years that Gethin taught at the school.
Transcript of The Aberdarian article.
Mr. GETHIN EVANS, Music Master
After 25 years here as Music teacher, Mr. Evans retires at the end of the summer term, no doubt to a musical life no less active than it has been in the past.
He came to this school in 1956, after five years at his first teaching post (Nantymoel), and has remained ever since. He was born, however, in Llangennech, a village near Llanelli, and received his early education in Llanelli. After leaving school however he had to do War Service, from 1940 to 1946, and it wasn’t until peace came that he had the chance to pursue further education. Therefore, after a short spell in the Tinplate Works, he studied at Aberystwyth University at the suggestion of a solicitor friend. He spent five years there; the first was spent doing his “Intermediate”—the equivalent of ‘A’ levels ! — and what’s more he was already married ! Music as a vocation was a natural choice, as a history of musical participation stretches back through four generations in his family !
He still recalls his first visit to Aberdare, made in 1956, when he competed as port of a quartet in the Eisteddfod Genedlaethol—and he won ! Since that time, of course, Mr. Evans has seen a lot of change in the school curriculum and structure but his view on all this is a very stoical one—that everything changes and the most important thing is to make the best of things according to the pupils’ best interests.
During his career at this school Mr. Evans has served under three headmasters — Mr. Warren, Mr. Gwilym Williams and latterly Mr. Noel Thomas. He has also taken very active participation in musical events, both inside and outside school, as one might expect. He has, for example, run a school choir and since 1960 has been a teacher-tutor with the County Youth Choir. Outside of school, he is deputy-conductor of the Cwmbach Male Voice Choir; organist and deacon at his English Baptist Chapel; and an adjudicator, and member, of the Committee of the County Youth Eisteddfod. His stay at the school has seen a flourishing music department, with many former pupils having achieved high standards in later life, becoming professors or professional musicians.
Mr. Evans is careful to point out that he does not view his leaving the school as “retirement”—for him it is just a change of occupation. Retirement will come when he is eighty. Until then music and his chapel will fully occupy his time, and a time which, I’m sure, will be very happy for him.
SIMON THOMAS (6 Alpha)
Thanks to Judith Griffiths for making a copy of the 1981 Aberdarian available
to the editors.