Founded in 1970, Risca Male Choir has established an enviable reputation with its diverse performance styles and trendsetting programmes.
The choir’s competition successes have included the title Male Choir of the Year, winning the Welsh Choral Challenge shield, the National Eisteddfod, the Bronze Medal from the Malta International Choral Competition, Male Choir Winners at the International Choir Festival of Jersey and in February 2013, the winners of the Majestic Battle of the Choirs.
The repertoire of Risca Male Choir includes traditional material, operatic and music theatre items, and original compositions from the world of classical music. A highlight from the classical field was a much-acclaimed performance of Cherubini’s Requiem in D minor for male voices and orchestra. The choir has given many première performances of works by contemporary Welsh composers, including particularly music by Mervyn Burtch and Richard Roderick Jones. A performance of Beowulf and Grendel, a large scale work by Mervyn Burtch for male voices and brass band, resulted in the choir being given the 1997 WS Gwynn Williams Award, recognising its contribution to music making in the community, and also its continued promotion of new Welsh music. In November 2000, Risca Male Choir was invited to perform the cantata Owain ab Urien as part of a centenary celebration of works by the Welsh composer David Wynne. In May 2005 the choir combined with Crosskeys College Choral Society and the Welsh Sinfonia for a performance of Verdi’s Nabucco. In April 2006 the choir took part in a prestigious performance of Beethoven’s Choral Symphony at the St David’s Hall, Cardiff, featuring Bryn Terfel and conducted by Gareth Jones. In 2009, at the invitation of Welsh National Opera, Risca Male Choir took part in performances of Carbon 12, a specially commissioned choral symphony about the natural and social histories of South Wales, by Errollyn Wallen. A more detailed write-up of this event can be read within our Latest News section. In 2010 the choir combined forces with Crosskeys College Choral Society and the Welsh Sinfonia, as part of its 40th anniversary programme, to perform Verdi’s Requiem.
The choir is famous for its unique theme concerts, one of which was turned into a feature length television programme called A Partridge in a Pear Tree. Other television appearances have included The Magic of the Musicals, which featured Bryn Terfel, Peter Karrie and Catherine Zeta-Jones, an appearance on the National Lottery’s first birthday broadcast, and in the summer of 1998 a performance on GMTV’s Breakfast Show. In January 2000, Risca Male Choir featured in the BBC Millennium Songs of Praise from the National Stadium in Cardiff. Further television appearances have included Can they hack it? and the FA Cup Classic. Risca Male Choir also sang at the televised Gary Speed memorial international football match at Cardiff City Football Stadium.
The many recordings involving the choir include Bryn Terfel’s We’ll Keep a Welcome which reached Gold status. The choir has made an interesting collection of live concert recordings including Risca Male Choir Sings the Movies, Risca Male Choir Mining the Archives and Risca Male Choir in a Winter Wonderland. In September 2007 the choir also produced a single for the Children in Need appeal.
The choir has undertaken many successful concert tours, including visits to Spain, Gibraltar, France, Germany, Scotland, Ireland, and the Czech Republic. Three highly-acclaimed visits to California have been particularly memorable. The Choir celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2010, and part of the celebrations included a concert tour with performances given at St Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna, and the Mariacki Basilica, Krakow. There was also an impromptu performance in the 700 year old Wieliczka Salt Mine Cathedral, and most movingly, a short choral tribute at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
In August 2013 the choir made a visit to Germany singing at the magnificent Naumburg Cathedral, and at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig, the first Welsh male choir to do so.
In September 2015, Music Director Martin Hodson MBE retired after 36 in the position. Alongside him, after a period of almost 30 years, accompanist Julie Bevan also retired. The position of Music Director was immediately filled by Geraint Davies, and as at time of writing, the position of accompanist has yet to be filled.