Rhos Male Voice Choir

The renowned Rhos Male Voise Choir is to visit Beverley Minster on June 8.

The choir was formed in the village of Rhosllanerchrugog in 1891, and so has just last year celebrated its 120th anniversary, making it one of the oldest and longest-running choirs in the country. Members of the choir are proud to uphold the finest traditions of Welsh male voice choirs.

The choir have sung in the past in America, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. They have performed at many well-known venues, including the Chicago Opera House, the Liederhalle in Stuttgart, Birmingham Town Hall, the Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool and London’s Royal Albert Hall

The choir are delighted to be able to add Beverley Minster to this distinguished list.

The membership of the choir currently stands at about 60, with ages ranging from teenagers to members who are well into their 80s.

Quite a few members have passed their golden jubilee (50 years) mark.

The choir has twice won the BBC Radio Choir of the Year competition, been successful in the HTV Festival of Welsh Choral Music and won the Gold Award for the best choir at the Glarner Music Festival in Switzerland where they defeated 112 other choirs. The choir has also sung at the Royal Variety Performance.

In February this year (2013) the choir won the male voice choir semi-final of the S4C “Cor Cymru” (Choir of Wales) competition, and are due to perform in the final, to be broadcast live on S4C in April.

Last year (2012) the choir retained its title as the best male voice choir in the National Eisteddfod, held in the Vale of Glamorgan, having won the previous year (2011) a bit closer to home in Wrexham.

The choir performs all around the UK, often singing at charity events. In December 2012 the choir sang at concerts to raise money for Nightingale House Hospice (Wrexham), Age UK in the Wirral (at St George’s Hall, Liverpool) and for the children’s medical charity Sparks, raising more than £13,000.

Members of the choir come from all walks of life: there are those who worked in the mines around Wrexham as well as a wide variety of other backgrounds, including teachers, firemen, opticians, travel agents, shopkeepers, and lawyers.

For many members of the choir, Welsh is their first language, and much of the choir’s repertoire is in Welsh. Rhosllanerchrugog has the highest percentage of Welsh speakers of any of the districts around Wrexham, and the language is of great importance to the choir.

e choir’s repertoire includes a wide range of musical genres, including traditional Welsh hymns and folk songs, songs from the shows, operatic favourites, and traditional choral pieces composed for male voice choir.

Last year (2012) the choir included for the first time the avant-garde piece “Rondes” composed by Swedish musician Folke Rabe - the does not have a conventional music score, but includes directions to the choir such as “Quickly whisper your telephone number” and “Quickly change position with someone next to you.” There is no text for the piece – just a series of sounds and noises that go beyond language.

The choir also sings many modern pieces, including a number by the celebrated modern Welsh composer Brian Hughes who has strong links with the choir.

Singing is in the blood of the people of Rhos - a village of just over 9,000 that at the last count had five adult choirs, as well as numerous school choirs and young people’s groups.

The choir is frequently asked to perform at Rugby internationals in Cardiff, singing both teams’ national anthems on the pitch before kick off. Last year (2012) the choir had the honour of singing at the “Grand Slam” decider between Wales and France (which Wales, of course, went on to win!) – and the choir also sang as Wales began their Six Nations campaign this year (2013) against Ireland.

The choir’s most recent CD “1891” was recorded in 2011 to mark the 120th anniversary.

It is also, perhaps, of interest that the village of Rhos is about seven miles from Froncysyllte, where, it is said, there is another male voice choir.