Oxford Welsh Male Voice Choir staged a special concert as part of St David's Day celebrations - including a world premiere.

Choir members gathered for the concert on Saturday (March 2) at Wesley Memorial Church in New Inn Hall Street, Oxford.

They performed Our Land of Song – a newly commissioned piece written by two members of the choir, which has been developed and rehearsed for almost a year.

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It celebrates Wales’s long musical history from early times to the present day and combines the rich Welsh male choral tradition with a fresh, modern interpretation.

Choir chairman Andy Jones said: “St David’s Day is always an important date on the calendar, but this year it was a particularly special concert for the Oxford Welsh Male Voice Choir because it featured the first public performance of a brand-new song that was commissioned, composed and set to lyrics entirely by members of our choir.

Oxford Mail: Oxford Welsh Male Voice Choir“With composer and lyricist of Our Land of Song both in attendance, we were anxious to ensure we did justice to their creative expertise. Judging by the audience’s reaction to the emotive rendition it seems we achieved that goal!”

Mr Jones added that the choir’s membership has grown since the pandemic.

He said earlier: "We quickly gained 20 new choristers, growing the choir from 40 to 60 – larger than it’s ever been in its history!

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"That surge in membership has not stopped. In fact, a steady influx has continued with – on average – a new member joining every two or three weeks. Furthermore, our age demographic is tumbling, bucking the national trend in the male voice choir tradition."

The choir’s biggest project over the last year has been to commission, compose and learn the new song that pays tribute to their beloved homeland of Wales.

Oxford Mail: Oxford Welsh Male Voice ChoirOur Land of Song has been written by two members of the choir – Mac Adams (composer) and Richard Jones (lyricist) - and the choir’s committee is beginning to hope it may become a new Welsh male voice choir classic.

The writers checked carefully amongst the massive back catalogue of Welsh male voice compositions and to their surprise they couldn’t find anything else remotely like it.

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Both the composition and its title appeared to be something quite new and quite unique.

The choir's musical director is Helen Swift and its regular rehearsals are held in Christ Church in Abingdon.

Oxford Mail: Oxford Welsh Male Voice ChoirSometimes after rehearsals some members gather for a pint in the Spread Eagle pub nearby.

Mr Jones said: "The writing team had to make many fine adjustments along the way, with Helen the musical director overseeing the delivery of the final work to a standard that everyone involved could only have dreamed was possible."

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

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