The history of the Sydney Welsh Choir
The Early Days
The Welsh Rugby Union tour of Australia in 1978 inspired the formation of the Sydney Welsh Rugby Club, whose teams made an immediate impact with their singing at the post-match celebrations. A male voice choir was created at the club, broadening into a mixed choir in 1980. Margaret Hughes was Music Director from 1981 to 1999, building up the choir into a separate entity with an international reputation. The Sydney Welsh Choir has outlived its parent rugby club, which was wound up in 1997.
The Nature of the Choir
From the outset it has had a core of Welsh-born members but has increasingly attracted singers with no obvious Welsh link, though it is amazing how many Welsh ancestors can be discovered by a spot of genealogical research. The one attributes all the choristers share is a love of singing, a unifying force providing harmony that is social as well as vocal. The repertoire is extremely broad – oratorio, hymns, opera, folksongs, stage musical numbers, quality popular songs and modern choral pieces. Over a quarter of the songs are in Welsh, a language that looks unpronounceable to most Australians at first glance, but is quite phonetic and soon becomes a manageable challenge.
Performances & recordings
The choir usually makes 10-20 public performances a year, most of them full concerts. The choir has sung in such famous venues in Sydney as the Opera House, Sydney Town Hall, Convention Centre, State Theatre, Queen Victoria Building, Stadium Australia and Conservatorium of Music, though most concerts are held in local churches, clubs, schools and retirement villages. Special occasions at which the choir has performed include the Royal Easter Show, Darling Harbour Christmas Pageant, and at the official Australia Day Luncheon. Apart from overseas tours the choir has done a lot of travelling within Australia, with concert tours to South Australia, Queensland and more recently very successful tours of Tasmania and Victoria. We have made many visits to Canberra and three tours to the far South Coast focusing on Merimbula and Narooma. We also give concerts in other parts of rural NSW such as at Dubbo, Port Macquarie and Gunnedah.
The Choir has produced several CDs.
The choir plays a central role in the Welsh community of Sydney, especially with its St David’s Day Celebrations. The Choir’s quarterly newsletter, The Clarion, and this website and Facebook are important links with the general public. The choir is grateful for the help it has received from its patrons.