Exhibition ended on
Sunday 22 May
Sunday 22 May
Press Release 11 April 2005
MORRISTON ORPHEUS CHOIR 1935 – 2005 EXHIBITION OF MEMORABILIA
Swansea Museum welcomes the onset of spring with a song in its heart! The main gallery of the Museum will be the venue for a celebration of the life and times of what has become possibly the most famous male voice choir in the world…. the Morriston Orpheus Choir! The Welsh are generally regarded as a melodic nation, apart from when they were perhaps fighting off those they regarded as invaders or oppressors, and as has often been observed “if you find a crowd of Welsh people, in Wales or without, you are also sure to find a choir!”
The Morriston Orpheus Choir is delighted that Swansea Museum has agreed to mount an exhibition of the Choir’s memorabilia accumulated during the past seventy years. The exhibition will be held at Swansea Museum, Victoria Road, Swansea from March to May 2005. “This will be a fascinating opportunity to travel with the Choir throughout its years of history at home and abroad” said Clive Williams, spokesman for the Choir”. “It will also be a chance for local people to find their relations in pictures of the Choir and to read about the start of male choral singing in Wales.
We are grateful to Peter Davies, the Choir’s Archivist, and Roger Gale at Swansea Museum for all the research and preparation they have undertaken to mount this exhibition” added Clive Williams. Members of the Choir will have the chance to exhibit their plaques marking their Life Membership or Long Service. The flags of all the countries visited by the Morriston Orpheus Choir will be on display.
The Methodist Chapel movement was certainly a major influence in the formation of the Orpheus, established in 1935 from a basis of an earlier less organised group of choristers. April 1935 – at the Parish Hall, Morriston and thereafter the Wesleyan Chapel in the town – saw the Choir sending out the first rich notes that would eventually echo around the world, as well as this country. September of that year saw the Morriston Orpheus perform at the Aberavon Eisteddfod, Choir members travelling there by train and paying their own admission! The Choir fees were then three pennies a week, payable at Sunday night practice; with unemployed members paying one penny. The members mainly came from the heavy industry in the region, a celebration dinner at the Mackworth Hotel Swansea marking the first year's success, the Choir now one hundred and fifty strong, a resolution passed that such would be their final strength!
Over the intervening years the Morriston Orpheus has prospered and become legendary, singing worldwide, and invited to perform at the opening of the Welsh Assembly and many royal occasions. It has sung on many continents, and even mastered Chinese to sing at the capital city of Taiwan, Taipei. The Choir has received countless tributes and awards, and in the new exhibition the Museum hopes to tell the story of those years of success, illustrated by the many memories, souvenirs and artefacts that the choir has amassed.
The nature - and make-up - of the Choir has certainly changed, now attracting members from all walks of life, but what has not changed is the devotion to music, and an enthusiasm for singing that positively thunders out onto the world's stage.
Call in and see what has created this magic, listen to the voices joined in celebratory song, and gain a deeper insight into the underworld of Orpheus! Admission to the exhibition is free, as it is to the Swansea Museum in general.
Swansea Museum is located at
The Maritime Quarter,
Swansea. SA1 1SN.
and is open Tuesday - Sunday ; 10am - 5pm (Last admission 4.40pm) The Museum is closed on Mondays except Bank Holidays
The exhibition runs until May 22.