The Liverpool Welsh Choral has a singing membership of around 100. It celebrated its centenary in the year 2000. The Choir holds the honour of the Freedom Of The City of Liverpool, in recognition of its long partnership with this wonderful City.
It was founded in 1900 as the Liverpool Welsh Choral Union, following an Eisteddfod held in Liverpool, with approximately 400 voices. As the event was such a success the choir that had been formed for the occasion decided to stay together and chose the above name. In 2003, in response to innovative work on branding and choir image, a decision was made to drop the word “UNION”.
The Choir receiving the Freedom Of The City Of Liverpool
Its first conductor, Harry Evans, was held in the highest regard by composers and conductors of the time as one of the finest choir trainers in the country. He championed the new works of Edward Elgar who became a vice president of the Society together with Edward German and Granville Bantock.
After Harry’s death in 1914 applications were received for Chorus Master including a young Adrian Boult, and at the conclusion of the Second World War the choir appointed Sir Malcolm Sargent as Principal Conductor. Because of his relationship with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra there began an association with this fine ensemble that has lasted to the present day. Thus the Liverpool Welsh Choral became one of Sargent’s three main choirs, the other two being the Huddersfield Choral Society and the Royal Choral Society. There is a sonnet in memory of Harry Evans.
The choir since Sargent’s death has been associated with the finest talent of British conductors including Pritchard, Groves, Gibson, Davies, Willcocks, Handford (who became Principal Conductor after Sargent), Owain Arwel Hughes, Cleobury and many others.
The Choir has about six concerts each season, and rehearsals are on Wednesday evenings between September and late May. As each concert draws near, additional rehearsals may occur. Most concerts are on Saturday evenings with full rehearsals in the afternoon. Rehearsals are held at Liverpool University on Wednesday evenings between September and May, usually from 6.45pm to 9.00pm. Rehearsals are hard work and great fun, helping us to realise our aim, which is: the study and practice of choral music in order to foster the public knowledge and appreciation of such music by means of public performance.
As well as performing regularly in Liverpool’s Philharmonic Hall (below), the choir is committed to taking music into the community of Merseyside and beyond and working in partnership with all local organisations that wish to bring quality arts to the people.
Although the choir has its roots in the Liverpool/Welsh traditions, membership is open to anyone who enjoys singing and making good music.
Many concerts have been memorable, some having specific themes, including one with Andrea Bocelli at the Liverpool Arena, a performance of the Elijah with Sir Willard White at the Philharmonic Hall, as well as a performance of ‘The Armed Man – a Mass for Peace’ conducted by the Composer and our Patron, Sir Karl Jenkins, in the Philharmonic Hall..
There have been concerts to commemorate the beginning of the first World War, the sinking of The Titanic, and the Aberfan Disaster in South Wales.
From time to time, some of the Choir sing at various functions. For example, in 2015 the Shipping line, Cunard, celebrated the 175th Anniversary of the founding of the company in Liverpool, with the appearance of their three huge cruise liners in the River Mersey. The Choir sang on the riverfront beside the Cunard Building.
In 2017, members of the Choir sang in the ceremony to honour the sacrifice of Captain Noel Chavasse VC during unveiling of the Commemorative Paving Stone in Abercromie Square to mark the 100th anniversary of his death. He was the only person to be awarded a double Victoria Cross in World War 1.
The Choir has collaborated with other Choirs to perform joint concerts in Dublin, Edinburgh, New York, and Birmingham. Those choirs made a return visit to Liverpool to hold joint concerts. Foreign visits and performances of the Choir include, the United States, Germany, and the Czech Republic (Prague).
The Choir has produced three CDs, including one of Favourite Welsh Hymns (2017) as part of a series by different Choirs (see Merchandise).
A book of the history of the choir over the first hundred years has been published, “The Liverpool Welsh Coral Union: The first 100 years” by the late Nansi Pugh.