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Ticket find summons up musical memories; 1883 TOKEN DISCOVERED AS WORK ON SCHEME NEARS END.

Byline: SION MORGAN

BUILDERS putting the finishing touches to a multi-million pound project to refurbish Llanelli library have made a 129-year-old discovery which gives an insight into the building's cultural heritage.

As work on the pounds 3.8m scheme, which includes a new concert hall nears an end, researchers have been piecing together the library's musical past after a concert ticket dating back to 1883 was found.

Intrigued by the builders' discovery, staff set to work to find out more about the ticket found in remarkably good condition during renovation work.

A spokesman for Carmarthenshire Council said: "It was from Miss Thomas' Concert held on January 9, 1883, at the library in Vaughan Street.

"An article about the concert appeared in the Llanelly and County Guardian two days later, on January 11, which declared the event a thorough success."

The article said the audience were very appreciative of the evening's classical music which consisted of "some of the finest selections of the old masters," such as Handel, Mendelssohn and Meyerbeer.

The identity of Miss Thomas however remains a mystery to council staff despite the discovery that one of Wales' most revered composers also sang at the concert.

Dr Joseph Parry played second on the bill during the evening.

The Merthyr Tydfil born musician is today best known as the composer of Welsh hymns Myfanwy and Aberystwyth, the hymn tune of which is used today in the National Anthem of South Africa.

In 1865, he was admitted to the Gorsedd at the National Eisteddfod of Wales and was later appointed Professor of Music at Aberystwyth University College.

He died in 1903 aged 62, 10 years after his performance in Llanelli.

But it was the mysterious Miss Thomas showcasing her "fine voice" who was the main attraction in 1883.

The Llanelly and County Guardian article reported that she was "highly appreciated," in spite of suffering from a cold.

According to the report, the evening did however belong to Miss Annie James who "eclipsed any former efforts in her magnificent renderings" and it was her songs "which were the gems of the evening - giving as they did scope to her varied powers, in taste, expression and style."

Miss James "brought down the house, and created a very marked impression," according to the article.

The opinion on Dr Joseph Parry was that he "was never heard to better effect," and "he was in fine tune" and his performance was "much enjoyed."

The National Anthem brought an end to the evening performance and "Miss Thomas and those who aided her were congratulated upon the pecuniary and musical results of their labours."

Carmarthenshire council's executive board member for libraries and heritage, Gwynne Wooldridge said: "This exciting discovery is a fitting message from history that this hall is once again a venue for the community."

The pounds 3.8m library refurbishment project is part of wider modernisations across the town, including the East Gate development, which will boast a theatre, cinema and several restaurants.

The work has included protecting and preserving the older part of the building - the Grade II-listed Athenaeum - which is one of the oldest buildings in the town centre.

The new library will have an improved reference facility, two exhibition areas, a public hall suitable for conferences and concerts, as well as a caf, meeting rooms and a children's library.

"Following the major refurbishment work, the newly renamed Athenaeum Hall can now be used for a variety of functions such as conferences, theatre performances, art exhibitions, gala performances and wedding receptions to name a few," said Coun Wooldridge.

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* The ticket to a 19th century concert unearthed at Llanelli Library
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 10, 2012
Words:607
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