Welsh choir strikes a chord

By Sunny Liu

The Australian Welsh Male Choir has this year established a brand new CBD chapter at the Welsh Church on LaTrobe St.

Having been running in Frankston for 45 years, the Welsh choir is expanding its CBD presence to attract broader audience and membership.

Musical director Tom Buchanan said in just one month, the choir’s CBD chapter had already recruited 15 choristers and the choir hoped to double that number very quickly.

“Being based in the CBD opens doors to a much larger audience and makes it very accessible for participants to join the choir,” he said.

Being the oldest Welsh choir in Australia, the Australian Welsh Male Choir has toured the UK, Asia, New Zealand and all around Australia.

The only prerequisite for joining this well-established, community-based choir is the love for singing and, of course, being male. Knowledge of the Welsh language is not required.

“The idea is having not trained musicians, but community members to sing in the choir. Our choruses come from very diverse age, cultural and religious backgrounds – just not gender!” Mr Buchanan said.

“Singing is a very enjoyable thing to be part of. Our members would often say being part of the choir, part of a community that comes together to sing on a regular basis, is a life-changing experience,” Mr Buchanan said.

He said Welsh male choirs were very representative of Welsh traditions.

“The Welsh choir tradition grew out of the Welsh men singing at the mines and rugby clubs. And we are trying to sustain that tradition with the choir, our rehearsals and the monthly singing at pubs,” Mr Buchanan said.

He believes the choir helps promote and preserve the Welsh culture and language.

“The Welsh language was banned in Wales for 400 years and it was very much through the music that the language has survived. So I think that’s an important part of the Welsh choirs now to keep that singing tradition going,” he said.

“If you travel through Wales, you will see that every village has a male choir. So it’s a very common part of the expression of the Welsh culture.”

There are currently 60 members at the Frankston chapter and Mr Buchanan said the choir hoped to grow the city chapter to the same size, making the Australian Welsh Male Choir the largest in the country.

The Australian Welsh Male Choir has rehearsals at the Welsh Church at 320 LaTrobe St every Wednesday from 7-9pm.

For more information about the choir or to join the choir, visit awmc.org.au or contact secretary@awmc.org.au

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