The ultimate recognition that a performer can receive is the appreciation of an audience by way of their applause. Over the years the Dowlais male Choir has entertained visitors who attended its rehearsals. I started to take an interest in finding out of which countries these visitors were citizens.

After perusing the visitors register, it appeared that people from 68 countries around the world have frequented the Choir’s rehersals over the 47 years since the Choir’s formation. It gives the Choir some international status when visitors to Wales chose to attend the Dowlais Male Choir’s evening rehearsal.

A number of years ago Perry Williams, a member of our Second Tenor section, worked in the Welsh Office in Cardiff. In the same building an office existed responsible for arranging the venues for visiting Commonwealth Parliamentarians. Suggestions were made by Perry Williams – if these visiting Parliamentarians would like to sample some Welsh tradition and hospitality, the Dowlais Male Choir responded they would be only happy to oblige, the suggestion became a reality with regular trips from Cardiff to Dowlais, thus giving the Choir an opportunity to perform to foreign dignitaries whose influence might be useful for future venues. It was soon recognised that these visits would be a boost for tourism so the Welsh Tourist Board included the Dowlais Choir’s rehearsals on their itinerary of places to visit. Quite a number of people visiting the area have taken the opportunity to come and hear the Choir rehearse.

I can recall on one occasion, I met the woman who was the MP representative for Yellowknife, a principality located in the Northwest Territories of Canada. This gave me an opportunity to talk with her on the lifestyle of her town. After my conversation on opportunities for work in Yellowknife such as lumberjacking etc, I decided there was no place like home. Perry Williams reminded me of a past incident when the Choir was entertaining some Commonwealth Parliamentarians on a visit: after the visitors had listened to the Choir rehearse, they were invited to partake of refreshments at the Guest Keen Club. The visitors wished to reciprocate the Choir’s hospitality by singing and dancing some traditional items from their native country. I can recall an Australian MP giving a rendering of “Waltzing Matilda” then the representative from Papa New Guinea performed a traditional dance, which gave the Choir a chance to see a more colourful side of an MP’s character.

The Choir’s President, Lord Rowlands of Merthyr Tydfil and of Rhymney, used to entertain foreign visitors on occasions: if there was the possibility of some leisure time in their busy schedule, Lord Rowlands arranged with the Choir’s secretary for them to attend the Choir’s rehearsal. The Choir also receives visits from the United Nations Association International Youth Service (UNAIYS). This organisation is connected with the Merthyr Tydfil Ground Work Trust Initiative for Community improvements. The organisation’s co-ordinator Rolf Brown arranges for the young foreigners to sample some Welsh culture through the annual visits to the Choir rehearsals.

Some time ago, the Choir had a close link with a Bulgarian Male Choir called Gusla, the Choir took its name after their national instrument (equivalent of the mandolin). On past times the Choir entertained visiting some of the state Choirs from Bulgaria. Through these encounters, Dowlais and a choir called Gusla took the opportunity to make arrangements for an exchange visit. In 1979, the Gusla Choir made arrangements to tour the UK, their excursion to Wales was sponsored by the Dowlais Male Choir, who hosted them at the Mountains Hotel in Libanus, Brecon – now a home for the elderly.  The Choir accepted an invitation to perform in Sofia in Bulgaria in May 1980.

Other visits and tours the Choir has undertaken include:

  • 1975 made a visit to Luxembourg
  • 1980 toured Bulgaria
  • 1982 toured the East Coast of the USA including New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia
  • 1983 toured Holland
  • 1993 toured Canada and West Coast of USA
  • 2 tours of Ireland
  • 1999 toured Italy region of Piedmonte
  • 2001 Northern Cyprus

The list below includes the countries where our visitors originated:-

 

Australia Luxembourg Korea Shrilanka
Austria France Malawi Singapore
Barbados Ghana Malaya South Africa
Belize Greece Malta Spain
Belgium Grenada Mauritius Swaziland
Bermuda Guatemala Mexico Sweden
Botswana Guernsey Montserrat Switzerland
Brazil Holland New Zealand Tasmania
Bulgaria Hong Kong Nigeria Thailand
Canadian States Hungary Norway Trinidad
Chile India Palestine Turkey
China Indonesia Papa New Guinea United States of America
Cyprus Ireland Paraguay West Germany
Czechoslovakia Italy Poland Yugoslavia
Denmark Israel Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) Zambia
Dominican Republic Jamaica Romania

England Japan Russia

France Kenya Samoa