Born 1876 – Died Feb 1940, Conductor: 1902-1940
David John Thomas was a native of Trealaw, in the Rhondda Valley, and educated at Porth Grammar School from where he gained a Queen’s scholarship to University College, Cardiff in 1896. He was initially unsure whether to pursue a career in music or teaching but obviously decided on the latter since his first appointment on graduating was to Albert Road School, Penarth. He didn’t stay there long however for, in 1901, he joined the staff of High Street Boys’ School in Barry where he taught until his retirement in March 1937.
Music was obviously his first love. Before moving to Barry he was accompanist for two Porth choirs as well as organist and conductor of the choir at Porth Welsh Congregational Church. In Barry, as well as conducting the Male Voice Choir, he formed and directed the Barry Harmonic Society (mixed choir) from 1916 until 1928 and had been organist at Tabernacle Welsh Congregational Church for twelve years until his death. In his many years at High Street School he instilled a love of music into many of his pupils, one of whom was later to be the choir’s conductor for almost as long DJ himself.
A tribute to DJ in the Barry & District News ended with this extract from In the sweet by-and-by – the test piece from the choir’s first competition success in 1903 and a regular concert number for many years afterwards.
‘So goodbye dearest friend for a while
We shall join you at last in the sky
And we’re longing again for your smile
As we meet – in the sweet by-and-by’