A pint of beer to sing in Welsh

By David Amaya

Welsh, the ancient language spoken by Celtic tribes, is becoming popular in the heart of the city thanks to the Australian Welsh Male Choir.

The powerful voices of its 70 members were mixed with those of the public in mid-July, during the event Singing in the Pub, where people got the chance to learn a bit of this old language while enjoying a pint of beer.
According to the choir’s musical director Tom Buchannan “the essence of a Welsh choir is singing in pubs and that is why we wanted to bring this tradition to the CBD which has many of the most popular pubs in Melbourne”.

Tony Dickinson, who has sung with the choir since its foundation in 1973, recalled that it started with a small crowd which used to gather in a pub in Frankston after work.
“This is like going back to the roots. We used to be four or five people singing while having some drinks and after 45 years, we have a choir that is part of Melbourne’s history,” Mr Dickinson said. “This is the second time we have run this event in the city and it’s great to see so many people coming out for a fun evening.”
Besides singing in pubs, Melbourne’s first Welsh choir is well-known for singing at rugby matches, churches and official events. It also has travelled around the world and recently, it spread its tradition around Asia.
These achievements were recognised during the launching of its album in the Melbourne Welsh Church in LaTrobe St.
“We just started rehearsals in the CBD this year and that is why we chose that hub for the launch,” Mr Buchannan said.
Although some of its members don’t speak Welsh, the choir has helped preserve this language that comes to life every time these gentlemen start to sing.
They also sing some songs in English to encourage people to join them, and after some songs and some beers people get confidence to sing in Welsh.
“You don’t need to be the best singer, you don’t need to speak Welsh, but we will teach you what you need to know’, Mr Buchannan said.

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