Dylan Thomas once asked “How are the Tenors at Dowlais?”

I am pleased to respond by saying they are doing fine

 A choir is an organisation that is always evolving; there is a different sound in the present choir’s voices to how it sounded when the original choir began performing. There are some older people who will always be biased towards the old choir’s resonance.

In past times, choral societies were made up of families who shared the same interest, due mainly to their similar upbringing either by attending Sunday schools, school concerts, Urdd Gobaith Cymru, etc. One former chorister, Bill Edwards, once informed me:-

“Male voice choristers were a special breed of people.” 

One could say it’s in the blood. Over the years there have been many close family ties in the choir such as brothers, fathers, Sons, cousins, etc. who reverberated a parochial sound.    

Most choirs these days are experiencing dwindling membership. This is evident by the number of choristers who travel to choir practices at Dowlais from far and near. Some choristers have left other choirs for various reasons, others have rejoined, there are those new members who had no affinity with another choirs. All of them together make up the sound of the choir. It’s an interesting note that some of the present membership includes those from:- 

 

Bargoed Male Voice,

Cardiff Athletic Choir

Cefn-Coed Male Voice,

Cwmbach Male Voice,

Cor De Cymru,

Eddw vale Male Voice

Lynsey Glee Party

Oxford Male Voice

Rhumney Silurians Male Voice,

Tredegar Male Choir

Treharris Male Voice

 

Over the years the choir has attracted choristers who travel some distance from outside the borough to attend choir practices; some of those choristers journey from such places as Aberdare, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Ebbw Vale, Nelson, Treharris, some choristers travel from Cwmbran and Monmouth showing their dedication to male voice singing and their loyalty to Dowlais Male Choir. The Musical Director, John Samuel, lives in Caerphilly and journeys to Dowlais twice a week. With improvements in the road networks, distances between Cities and Towns have become more bearable for the traveller. 

The sound of the choir has changed over the years, but the choir’s blend of voices, no matter the period of time, has always echoed around the principality with its unique intonation. Past Musical Directors have arranged compositions of music to suit male voice choirs: some of those arrangements are unique to the Dowlais Male Choir, thus helping to create a choir with a unique repertoire.

Wyndham Carey, a former member and past chairman of the choir had a talent for putting his own words to music. A television series in the 1970s called “Vandervalk” was located in Amsterdam involving the exploits of a detective. The theme music from that series became quite a popular piece of music; Wyndham Carey had an inspiration to compose a set of words about the choir, set to the Vandervalk theme tune. It was performed originally by the Lifeguards, and then adopted by the choir for an after concert song. There may be some new choristers who have not heard the song: this is an opportunity view the words.    


The Dowlais Sound

 

 

Words Wyndham Carey                                                   Theme tune from Vandervalk

 

There is a sound in the air, you can hear it everywhere

It’s the Dowlais Male Voice Choir

To hear them sing is a wonderful thing, of their songs you will never tire

Hear that sound,

Hear that Sound,

There is music in that sound; it’s the sound of a hundred men

Hear and there,

 Everywhere,

Hear their voices fill the air

It’s the Dowlais Male Voice

They sing with one voice

From the first to the last Amen

 

They’ll sing of life and of love

They’ll sing of the God up above

They’ll sing the old and the new

They’ll bring some Hiraeth to you.

Carl Llewellyn