About Us

The Hong Kong Welsh Male Voice Choir was founded in 1978.

The saying goes that expatriate Welshmen are known for their predictable behaviour: one will start a chapel, two a committee, three an exiles’ group and four a Choir. Welshmen in Hong Kong are no exception. The Choir had its roots in an impromptu singing of Welsh songs around a piano at the St David’s Society annual ball in March 1977. The singing was not altogether well received and so a plan was hatched to do better at the next ball, the following year. While the second appearance was not exactly of the highest quality either, it was spirited and harmonious enough; and so, bolstered by the support of the St David’s Society, the Hong Kong Welsh Male Voice Choir was officially founded.

By the 1979 – 1980 season, there were over 25 singers rehearsing at the NAAFI in Victoria Barracks. Besides the annual Welsh Ball, there were singing engagements at a folk club, in the submerged tunnel of the cross-harbour railway and at various private functions. An early highlight was representing Wales in an International Artists’ Charity Concert, at which the then Governor, Sir Murray Maclehose, introduced the Choir in memorable fashion, saying that we would sing ‛My Fanny’ (Myfanwy)! In 1982 Sir Harry Secombe attended the Hong Kong ball. He heard the Choir sing and agreed to become its first patron. Sir Harry invited the Choir to perform with him at a concert to be held in Sydney Opera House, but this proposal was rejected by the Australian performers’ union, Equity. The Choir had to wait 25 years to make it onto that particular stage; in 2007, we performed there in a festival of Welsh male choirs, joined for the first time by our current patron, Lord Thomas of Gresford. In the intervening years the Choir’s patron was the celebrated Jack Edwards OBE, campaigner for the rights and welfare of ex-servicemen and their families.

And so the singing continued – supporting Max Boyce on stage and at the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, on cruise ships such as the QE2, with visiting Welsh choirs, and in annual theatrical shows. In 1997, just before Hong Kong was handed back to China, the Choir sang for the last Governor, Chris Patten, at Government House. The Choir is well travelled. The first overseas trip was made in 1983 when we were invited to sing at the St David’s Society Ball in Bangkok. We have made the journey every year since. The Choir also now travels regularly to Vietnam and the Philippines, as well as to international choral events such as the London Welsh Festival of Male Choirs in the Royal Albert Hall.

Although its founders were Welsh, the Choir of today truly reflects Hong Kong’s cosmopolitan nature. Our ranks include Chinese members as well as expatriates from more than a dozen different countries, many of them long-term Hong Kong residents who have established families and businesses here. But quite a number of the Choir’s 74 current members can claim Welsh roots, or have Welsh connections, and we have many Welsh language songs in our repertoire, ensuring that the Choir is truly Welsh in character. The distinguished Welshman Cllff Morgan once said of the Choir that we “not only match the very best for quality but also show an exemplary spirit”. The spirit and enthusiasm are the same as they always have been and we look forward to the next 30 years.

Roll of Honour

HON PATRONS

1982-2001           Sir Harry Secombe, CBE

2001-2006           Jack Edwards, OBE

2007-date            Lord Thomas of Gresford, OBE, QC

FOUNDER & HON LIFE PRESIDENT

1978-2020           Berwyn Evans

CHAIRMEN

1978-83               Peter Harris

1983-84               Terry Brewster

1984-87               Cliff Lamburn

1987-88               Elfed Roberts

1988-89               Richard Davies

1989-90               Mike Benson

1990-91               Tony Gould / Bill Morrison

1991-92               Kevin O’Hagan

1992-93               Barrie Towell

1993-94               Bob Machin

1994-96               Garry Owen

1996-97               Ian Williams

1997-98               Neil Drave

1998-99               Vince Walsh

1999-2000           Harry Planche

2000-01               Bill Morrison

2001-02               Tim Davis

2002-04               John Walsh

2004-05               David James

2005-06               Gerry Osborn

2006-07               Peter French

2007-08               Shane Kelly

2008-09               Simon Clennell

2009-10               Neil Drave

2010-12               Michael Price

2012-13               Martin Astill

2013-15               Nigel Sharman

2015-16               John Pym

2016-18               Mike Hall

2018-19               Tim Davis

2019-20               Andrew Scholar

MUSICAL DIRECTORS

1978-86               Berwyn Evans

1986-87               John Oakenfold

1987-95               John Hayden Edwards

1995-96               Ian Williams

1996-97               Brian Clarke

1997-98               Philip Whelan

1998-2003           Ian Williams

2003-09               Bryan Carter

2009-17               Howard Topper

2017-date            Colin Touchin