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An Uplifting Afternoon of Music with Melbourne Welsh Male Choir
March 24 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm$30
The Melbourne Welsh Male Choir is delighted to announce its first-ever concert in Bendigo’s Sacred Heart Cathedral.
“The Sacred Heart Cathedral’s magnificent acoustics are perfect for the richness and the four-part harmonies of the Melbourne Welsh Male Choir. We know that the cathedral is one of Australia’s largest churches and the third tallest after St Patrick’s Cathedral and St Pauls Cathedral in Melbourne, but we’re confident that we can lift the roof,” says choir director David Ashton-Smith OAM.
“The choir was established in 1984 but has only performed in Bendigo once before- last June at the Ulumbarra Theatre – but we’re determined to stage concerts here regularly. Bendigo is home is so many music lovers and it has also become a cultural hub for all Victorians.”
The 50-strong choir will be joined by Melbourne soprano, Kate Amos. Amos, who won the choir’s Singer of the Year Competition in 2016, and now performs with Opera Australia, will be singing a selection of songs from The Sound of Music – and the audience will be invited to join in.
“Kate Amos, who has extensive performance experience in opera, operetta and musical theatre, is a great addition to the concert. Kate’s vocal versatility is a delight,” Ashton Smith said.
“Naturally, the choir will sing some Welsh favourites including ‘The World in Union’ and ‘Calon Lân’. Both are Rugby anthems but you don’t have to be a footy fan to find them inspirational. We’ll also be singing songs with spiritual dimensions such as ‘You Raise Me Up’ and ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ from Carousel. Also on the program are other songs from musical theatre including ‘Memory’ (Cats) and ‘Anthem’ (Chess).”
David Ashton-Smith OAM, who became the choir’s director in early 2016, is very pleased to have the opportunity to perform again with the choir in Bendigo.
“I have been associated with singing and choral music performances in Bendigo for over 40 years. In fact, I actually won the Bendigo Aria Competition back in the late sixties – it helped kickstart my career,” he said.
Ashton-Smith, whose fifty-year musical career includes principal roles at the English National Opera Company, four years directing the Australian Pops Orchestra and 37 years with the Ashton-Smith Singers of Australia (which folded in December), said the male voice choir makes a unique sound.
“The reduced musical range creates a warm, rich sound. It’s a bit like an orchestra full of cellos. The sound made by a four-part male harmony is simply superb,” he said.
“The lyrical lilt of the Welsh language also enriches the voices. When I sang with the English National Opera Company, I was always struck by the distinct harmonies of the Welsh singers.”
The Melbourne Welsh Male Choir has performed all over the world, from Wales and London to Salzburg, Vienna, Atlanta Georgia and Johannesburg. It was accorded standing ovations at the 2017 Cornwall International Male Voice Choir Festival.
Here in Australia it has starred at events as disparate as the Melbourne Commonwealth Games and the 150th Anniversary of the Eureka rebellion.
“But whether it’s at Albert Hall, Hamer Hall, Sydney Opera House or the Sacred Heart Cathedral, what defines the Melbourne Welsh Male Choir is the richness and harmonies of the combined voices. The choir embodies the great strength of the Welsh choral tradition,” Ashton-Smith said.
“’Whether or not they can read music, the choristers put in the work to memorise all their songs – no mean feat considering the ages of choir members. It means they have a very focussed attitude when it comes to rehearsals. Then when it comes to performing, they visibly rise to the occasion. You can see their collective spirits lift.”
Male choirs became popular in Wales from the late eighteenth century with the rise of non-conformist religions and the 1860s’ revival of traditional Welsh music and the formation of the National Eisteddfod Society. Many choirs were associated with mines and some members of the Melbourne Welsh Male Choir hail from mining families.
The concert runs until 3.30pm without an interval.
For an audio sample, please follow the below Dropbox links: