Watch the choir perform as they rehearse for the first time together since the pandemic began
A Welsh male voice choir that featured in Italian Vogue and Britain's Got Talent have reunited to mark their 100th anniversary after not being able to rehearse in-person since March 2020.
Members of the choir gathered together at St Elvan's Church in Aberdare to celebrate the milestone of the creation of the group after not being able to meet since the pandemic began.
Cwmbach Male Voice Choir, which is made up of members from 19 to 91, formed on 10 June 1921 during the miners' strike when five singing groups in Cwmbran came together to perform.
Since then, the choir has gone on to survive to the present day, despite being tested by major world events such as the Second World War. The choir has won several Eisteddfod competitions and has many major achievements under its belt.
Chairman Brian Williams reflected on some of the standout performances the choir has taken part in over the years.
He said, "Our reputation enabled us to build up a series of firsts."
"We were the first choir to go behind the ‘Iron Curtain’, performing at a festival in Hungary in 1961, while we were also the first choir to sing at Cardiff Arms Park before a rugby international."
“We’ve performed at the opening ceremony of the 1999 Rugby World Cup finals, appeared in TV ads, including for Penderyn Whisky and Clogau jewellery, made Amanda Holden cry during an audition for Britain’s Got Talent – and even modelled for Vogue!”
In 2019, the choir were asked to take part in a campaign for the magazine with Vogue photographer Clémentine Schneidermann and Merthyr-born Charlotte James where they modelled Gucci suits in their local community.
With over 70 members living all over the Cynon Valley, the group are used to performing around 25 concerts a year including overseas. When the pandemic hit, the choir turned to technology after their in-person rehearsals ground to a halt in early 2020.
They created this virtual performance in June last year to mark its 99th anniversary.
“We’ve been having a Zoom rehearsal every Monday, while our WhatsApp group was great – not only for information sharing but also banter between the members, who range in ages from 19 to 91,” added Mr Williams.
Mike Thomas, the musical director told ITV Wales he felt emotional after being reunited with his fellow members.
He said, "The choir is a bit about singing but it's also more than just singing, it's very much a family, very much a community. There are some people that we've not seen for 15 months."
"We will be singing songs that are very close to everyone's hearts, things that the boys identify with and that they enjoy singing, from a well-established repertoire."
"This choir is rock solid and I think we have another 100 years in us."