Dec 2, 2008

The Burlington Welsh Male Chorus - "Not Your Average Choir!"

"Founded in 2001, The Burlington Welsh Male Chorus is a Canadian choir based upon the Welsh Male Choir traditions" - An Interview with Julian Murray.

Where is the choir based?

The Burlington Welsh Male Chorus is based in Burlington Ontario, (just West of Toronto)

Who is the choir director? Other officers or positions in the choir?

We have a new Choir Music Director, Janice Beninger and are recruiting a new accompanist to join her in a revamped music team!

How many members does it have?

We have 70 registered members currently. approximately 50% are Welsh or of Welsh descent, then there are the Barbarians - Canadians, Scottish, English, Irish, Zimbabweans, ...

What is the history of the choir. When was it formed?

BWMC was formed in Sept 2001 when a few members from another choir and some new recruits joined with the famous director and arranger Mr Lyn Harry to recreate a Welsh choir in Ontario. Our 1st rehearsal was 23 potential members, and our 1st concert was March 1st 2002!

How would you describe your repertoire? Is it largely traditional?

We have a varied repertoire, usual choir line up of Traditional Welsh folk and hymns/spirituals; and opera choruses. We throw in different instruments when we can (guitar; flute; trumpets) to add colour.

Are there songs that you frequently perform or are known for? That your audience requests?

Gwahoddiad is a favourite of the choir and the audiences, if we dont do it, people always ask why!

As a Welsh choir in Canada, people come expecting to hear that Welsh MVC sound and the traditional songs, so we dont disappoint - but we add in different elements as well to make it interesting

How much time do you spend in rehearsal? How often do you practice together?

We meet once a week on a Friday for 2 hours, then to the pub to welcome the weekend!

Where do your members come from? Is there an audition process?

There is a strong Welsh presence in the Golden Horseshoe around Hamilton/Burlington/Toronto, so word of mouth has led to significant growth as well as links to the Rugby Clubs and pubs! We are a very welcoming choir, we do not formally audition, but each new member is given a voice test to determine their range and which section they belong in (Tenor 1; Tenor 2; Baritone or Bass).

How many performances do you do a year?

We do on average 12 events between September and May

Where have you performed?

All over S. Ontario, Cayman Islands 2003; Wales and Royal Albert Hall London in 2006; Boston; Carnegie Hall New York and Pennsylvania in 2008.

What is the largest audience you've performed before? What was your most memorable?

As an individual choir we sang 2 songs at Carnegie Hall which was a great experience, as well as being part of the massed choir with Bryn Terfel this year. The Royal Albert Hall in 2006 was very moving as part of an 800 voice choir, ex pats coming home to sing!

You have played several gigs with Jon Langford - how did that association come about? How would you describe the shows you do together?

Jon and I know each other from our young lives in Newport, Gwent. He went on to great things with The Mekons* etc, our band split up! We meet up whenever he plays in Toronto,so we got talking last year about a project to put a choir vocal behind his band to do the Skull Orchard songs, so I got a subset of the choir engaged. We rehearsed and debuted it in Chicago in 2007 and wherever its been done its very well received. The cross genres of the hard hitting band and the choir harmony just works and strikes a chord .

Hear The Burlington Male Voice Choir Performing with Jon Langford here:-

Jon Langford & the Burlington Welsh Male Voice Choir on YouTube

What other guest artists or other artists have you performed with?

Don't tell Langford but we sang with Elvis Costello on his encore song at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco in October this year. Bryn Terfel in New York, Jason Howard and Rebecca Evans in London.

You've got a cookbook for sale on your web site - how did that come about? Any favorite recipes in there?

We need money! It was a fundraiser for our 2006 UK tour (we are self funding) how many would you like? Best Faggotts recipe known to man (dating back to 1773). ( Hopefully the ingredient are of more recent vintage...Ed ). Purchase Cookbook HERE

Have you released any recordings? Where can people buy them?

We recorded our annual concert in the spring of 2006, available at concerts or through the website. We hope to record a new CD this year. Purchase CD HERE

Where can people hear the choir online?

There are some pieces on the website and some choir/Langford events on youtube.

What are your plans for the future?

We have just engaged a new music team, so our focus is on solidifying that relationship and growing musically under the new director - she is Canadian , very capable and understands the Welsh culture and loves the sound! We do a major tour every two years, so there is talk of West Coast USA / California in 2010.

Where can people catch you live? Any tour dates coming up?

Our Website has a calendar with all performances, we aim for 1 concert per month in season and have events in dec and through the spring. In discussions with Jon Langford for more events and eventual world domination. Left Coast Eisteddfod maybe?!

Julian Murray

Burlington Welsh

"For those of you who are not acquainted with the work of the mighty "Mekons....Shame on you! Here are links to two of their classic numbers on You Tube:- "Millionaire" "Cockermouth"

Popular Posts