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On the 22nd November 1965, the world became a better a place.

Michael was born……….Son, Brother, uncle, cousin, partner, friend.

James Michael Jones was the second son to Raymond and Ronwen Jones and was born and raised in Aberystwyth along with his brother Philip and sister, Helen. In his early years, naturally influenced by the beautiful seaside town in which he lived, Michael developed a passion for the sea and all things maritime. Growing up, he spent a considerable amount of time down at the harbour – usually just watching the boats coming in and out of the port but also, watching the fishermen unload their catch. Even at a young age, Michael was well known and a very familiar figure to the local boat owners. He would use all the persuasive powers known to a child to gain a free boat trip around the bay.

Michael was educated through the medium of Welsh at Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg in Alexandra Road followed by Penweddig Comprehensive School.

Influenced by his mother’s love of music, he began at an early age to learn the piano. He sang in th school and church choirs and went on to become the organist and choir master at St Michael’s Parish Church.

After gaining a Bachelor of Music degree in 1987 from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, Michael accepted a place to study pianoforte accompaniment with Jeanette Massocchi at the Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff.

Following a brief return to Aberystwyth to gain a post graduate certificate in education, Michael again moved south having secured a teaching post in Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg, Aberdar, a role he loved, in which he excelled, and one that spanned his entire teaching career of some thirty years. A rough calculation suggests that in the last three decades, Michael has formally taught more than nine hundred pupils, but has touched the lives of hundreds more across the school through his engagement in musical activities. A committed, passionate and enthusiastic teacher, Michael was appreciated and respected by pupils and parents alike. All who had the privilege of being taught by him recognised his talent, zeal, flair, creativity……..and they loved him! His was the voice on the school answerphone, his was the name known to pupils across the primary age range, his was the face of the public performances of the school choir, soloists and instrumentalists, the face of the local and regional eisteddfodau.

The South Wales valleys were the richer for Ceredigion’s loss. From 1987, Michael immersed himself in all things musical. Having set up home in Cwmdare, a home in which he would live throughout his adult life, and later share with his partner, Matt, Michael committed his enormous talent to Music making. In 1992, he assumed the role of deputy accompanist to a local male choir, and later went on to become the choir’s musical director. Almost at the same time, he was invited by Colstars Operatic and Dramatic Society to become accompanist for their production of ‘Irene’; in 1996 he became their Musical Director and in the next twenty years or so, was instrumental in the overwhelming successes of this successful and talented company, latterly being honoured to be granted life membership of the Organisation. During the late nineties, Michael assumed the role of accompanist to Sioegerdd/Showcase Performing Arts Youth association, supporting Darya, the Organisation’s Musical Director. Their unique partnership, already well established through school choirs and their interchangeable roles as conductor and accompanist with male choirs was to further develop, and together, in 2001, with Michael as founder conductor, they established Cytgord – Cor Merched Cwm Cynon.

2007 saw the birth of a new chamber choir in Merthyr Tydfil…….Con Voce. Michael’s unique and exquisite ability as an accompanist made him the perfect choice to join Jonathan Gulliford to form the musical team. Michael enjoyed the vast, fast changing repertoire of Con Voce and thrived on the many and various performance genres………and the choir were thrilled to have his talent at the piano for some ten years.

In 2011, it was no surprise that Michael joined Dowlais Male Choir as their accompanist. His performances with the choir were renowned and just as with Con Voce, many audience members would comment that they had attended concerts to hear Michael play! His ability to enhance choral performances was exceptional. His unpretentious character, modest approach yet outstanding ability left audiences enthralled. Dowlais Male Choir loved Michael and Michael loved Dowlais Male Choir. The choristers embraced his unassuming nature, his inimitable talent, his flair and innate musicality, his humour, the seamless bond and partnership between musical director and accompanist. The choir are indebted to Michael for his time with them. His memory will be cherished, his presence sorely missed. It seems so incredibly appropriate that the title of the choir’s last CD made with Michael at the piano is ‘Precious Memories’. With that in mind the boys join with Darya in saying, Michael, thank you for the music, thank you for the memories.

Michael was far too modest to know or even dare to imagine just how many people’s lives were enhanced by him. Michael was taken from us far, far too soon, but he lives on in the lives of the children he has taught, the adults he was proud to call friends, the music he has created and the hand-print he has left by touching our hearts. We are the richer for having known him.

To quote from words that would have been very familiar to Michael – the prayer of the Reverend Eli Jenkins from Dylan Thomas’ Under Milkwood:

Oh let us see another day,
Bless us this night, I pray.
And to the sun we all will bow
And say ‘Goodbye’ – but just for now.

This is our hope Michael…. Hedd, perffaith hedd. Goodbye……but just for now.

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