By Philip Adams

(The following Choir Trivia – Amusing Factual Incidents are not in chronological order)


1.  On Saturday May 29th 1982 the choir came very close to performing in casual clothes at the Arch St Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. Unknown to them, at Heathrow, their luggage had been put on a later flight to New York. While the main choir travelled on to Philadelphia, some members stayed behind at JFK airport. When the luggage arrived it was quickly transferred to a mini bus which headed off at speed for Philadelphia arriving approximately half an hour before the concert.

2. The mode of transport used to ferry the choir from their hotel to the concert at the Immanuel Church, Los Angeles on Friday May 25th 1990, were not luxury coaches as one might have expected, but two yellow school buses, the second of which was too dusty, so the one bus had to make two separate trips.

3. The most unlikely choir rehearsal was called for by Musical Director John Samuel at 10.45 am in the canteen of the Glendon Campus in Toronto on the morning of Monday May 31st 1993. It was followed by an afternoon performance at the Victoria Park Secondary School, North Yate, Ontario, where adults and schoolchildren were able to ask questions relating to Wales and Welsh Choirs, which were answered by the Musical Director.

4. The choir, which reformed in 1965 did not have a choir uniform until 1970 ( i.e. dinner suits and bow ties ) For the first five years and nearly 50 concerts, members wore the darkest jackets and trousers they could find, with a black bow tie – the latter of which came in all shapes and sizes. Blazers and greys were first worn in 1977.

5. While performing at a concert, at the Ainon Hall in Tonyrefail on Friday April 18th 1969,  the choir was in the middle of singing the 23rd Psalm, and at the point ” Yea, though I walk the vale of Deaths Dark Shadows”, when a member of the audience collapsed and died.

6. When the choir won first prize at the National Eisteddfod at Ruthin on Saturday August 11th, 1973, over half of the choir couldn’t speak welsh. As the entire adjudication was in welsh, most choristers only realised that they had won when they saw their fellow choristers jumping for joy at the end of the adjudication.

7. One of the greatest pieces of inspiration came from second tenor Colin Walters, who thought he would take a bottle of champagne with him on the bus to the National Eisteddfod at Ruthin on Saturday August 11th, 1973 – just in case !!! On the long journey home he made sure that he got on the coach with the choristers who were lucky enough to be taking the Welsh Guards Cup back with them to Dowlais. He “popped ” the cork and poured its contents into the cup which was passed round the choristers to take a drink – a memorable moment for all who were able to participate.

8. The choir has competed at the National Eisteddfod on three occasions, 1973 Ruthin, 1974 Carmarthen and 2002 St David`s but has sung at the Eisteddfod Pavilion five times.  Another occasion being at Ebbw Vale on Fri July 30th 2010 at the Eisteddfod`s Opening Concert along with five other male choirs, Only Men Aloud and Only Boys Aloud. Also at the  Gowerton Eisteddfod on Tuesday August 12th 1980 when they all climbed into the ring and sang the National Anthem at a British Welterweight Boxing title fight, featuring Colin Jones.

9. When the choir performed at the First Christian Church, Canton, Ohio on Wednesday June 2nd 1982 the organisers allowed more people into the church to see the concert than it had seats for. After extra chairs had been put in the aisles, they placed over a hundred extra chairs in the corridor outside the main auditorium. From their positions they were unable to see anything – they could only hear.

10.  Before he had sung a note at the choir`s Annual Concert at Rhydycar Leisure Centre on Saturday November 3rd 1990, Bryn Terfel, dressed in his black tails, apologized to the audience. He was wearing brown shoes as he`d forgotten his black ones.

11. When the choir shared the stage with the Cory Band at the Colston Hall, Bristol on Saturday 25th October 1975, both choir and band had been invited back to the Grand Hotel after the concert. Not having instruments to pack away, the 80/90 choristers made their usual dash to the Hotel to find a small buffet laid out, which they promptly demolished, grumbling that the organisers had been pretty sparing with the food. The 25/30 members of the band turned up to find the buffet, that had been arranged for themselves, had been turned into empty plates and crumbs.

12. It is a recognised fact, that there were 13 founder members of the choir at the very first meeting in October 1965, but because the names were not documented there isn’t anyone who is able to recollect all 13 by name.

13. The choir`s first recording was made at St Tydfils Church, Merthyr, on Saturday January 23rd ,1971. A car horn can be clearly heard on one of the tracks.

14. Arguably, the best official photo ever taken of the choir was at Rhydycar Leisure Centre on Sunday November 27th, 1977 when all choristers were put into rows according to their height. The photo appeared on the reverse sleeve of the choir`s 4th LP recording ” Stronger Than Steel “.

15. The choir`s accompanist Granville Lewis collapsed and died at the piano whilst performing with the choir at their St Davids Day concert on Saturday February 28th 1981. A lady who was accompanying the local school choir at the very same concert that evening offered to play for the choir in the second half of the concert, even though she had never set eyes on any of the music before. Her name was Annette Moore, who became the choir`s accompanist for the next 18 years, and holds the distinction of being the longest serving of any of the choir`s conductors or accompanists. She is now one of the choirs Life Members.

16. The official name of the choir is the Dowlais Male Choir and not as many people think, the Dowlais Male Voice Choir. When the choir was formed in 1965 it was called the Dowlais Male Voice Choir, but it was unanimously voted at an AGM some years later that the word ” voice ” be omitted. It was felt that the title already had the word ” choir ” in it and the word voice was not needed. The constitution was amended accordingly.

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