Clements gained widespread respect and admiration for his gifts as an organist and accompanist. As a young man he had been invited by the Hungarian violinist Jelly d'Aranyi to accompany her on tour, but his natural diffidence led him to decline the invitation. Within Wales, however, he was known as one of the best accompanists in the business, and his services were much in demand not only at concerts and eisteddfodau but also at the Gregynog Festival in the 1930s. He accompanied many of Wales's best known singers. In 1926 he accompanied Dora Herbert Jones and Owen Bryngwyn on some of the earliest electrical recordings made by HMV, and later played for artists such as the bass Richard Rees. He accompanied a performance of Brahms' Requiem at the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff in 1938 and in 1944 was the official accompanist at a concert given by international artists from the Allied forces at the National Eisteddfod in Llandybïe.
Appointed organist of Seilo chapel in Aberystwyth in 1917, he opened a new organ there in 1934 to his own design: his playing was one of the principal attractions of the Sunday services at Seilo, and he can be heard on record playing the Seilo organ on a Qualiton recording issued in 1958. When Seilo chapel closed in 1989, the organ was relocated to the Anglican Cathedral in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Clements conducted the National Eisteddfod choir at Aberystwyth in 1952, and was also a very successful conductor of the Aberystwyth Madrigal Choir for forty years from 1931. The Madrigal Choir would perform his own arrangements of Welsh melodies, but only a few of these were published, largely because Clements was too great a perfectionist. But his published arrangement of a Dutch melody, ‘Ein Duw sydd noddfa gref’, and his setting of a Bach theme, ‘Cariad Crist’, became popular concert and competition pieces.
Clements, who was unmarried, appeared to his colleagues a rather shy and lonely character. Not an inspiring lecturer, he nevertheless took great interest in his students, encouraging them and bringing out innate talent, and displaying a quizzical sense of humour. They in turn had the greatest respect for him.
From around 1973 his health began to fail, and he died ten years later at Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen, on 17 April 1983. Following cremation in Shrewsbury on 22 April his ashes were buried in Aberystwyth.
Dr Rhidian Griffiths, Aberystwyth
Published date: 2017