- 1963 Germany
- 1966 Germany
- 1973 Netherlands
- 1980 Netherlands
- 1983 France
- 1986 France
- 1990 France
- 1991 France
- 1993 France
- 1996 USA and Canada
- 1998 France
- 1999 Germany
- 2000 Belgium
- 2001 Spain
- 2003 Hungary
- 2004 Republic of Ireland
- 2005 Czech Republic
- 2006 Canada
- 2008 Finland and Estonia
- 2011 Cyprus
- 2015 Russia
In the busy schedule of Côr Meibion Morlais there have been many tours in the United Kingdom, including in recent years performances in Scotland, Kent and Yorkshire, but there is always the greatest excitement and a special fulfilment to be experienced by touring abroad. Here are a few memories from our most recent tours.
We have sung in many concerts over the years with soprano soloist Margaret Millington, but now it was Margaret’s brother Paul Davies, who lived in Cyprus and arranged a concert tour for us.
The choir, Margaret, wives and supporters travelled out at the end of February, swapping a snowy Ferndale for warm sunshine in Paphos, where we stayed at the excellent Atlantica Golden Beach Hotel. We performed three concerts, the first one in the village of Mandria, the second in the hotel function room for an international group of guests, and the final one in Paphos’ Markideion Theatre where all 400 seats had been sold. The stay in Paphos also afforded us the opportunity to explore the western part of Cyprus, and to sample all the island has to offer by way of food and wine.
Sadly, Secretary Byron Young was taken ill after the Mandria concert and diagnosed with pneumonia – he spent the rest of the week recuperating in hospital and actually had to stay at the hotel for a second week until he was fit enough to fly home. But the rest of the tour party had a wonderful time and enormous thanks are due to Paul Davies for his hard work in planning such an enjoyable concert tour.
FINLAND & ESTONIA 2008
Our 2008 tour was to two countries but took in three cultures as we linked up with a Russian Youth Choir in Narva on the border between Estonia and Russia. In Helsinki we sang in the famous “Rock Church” and in the Eduskunta (the Finnish Parliament) at the invitation of the Speaker Mr Sauli Niinistö, who was especially taken with our performance of Sibelius’ “Finlandia” in Welsh and Finnish. We also took the opportunity of giving an impromptu concert in the chorus room at Finnish National Opera.
Moving on to Tallinn in Estonia we sang at the Oleviste Church and in the Grand Salon of Peter the Great’s Palace at Kadriorg, and in Narva soloist Margaret Millington captivated audiences by singing music from the Russian film “The City of Craftsmen” (“Gorod Masterov”) which was shot in Tallinn. Choristers made the most of the warm, cloudless days and short northern nights – dawn was in the sky at 2am – coming together on their last free day to give a very well received impromptu open-air concert in the Old Town Square in Tallinn.
Our 2006 tour broke new ground for the choir: we spent two weeks in Halifax, Nova Scotia, with ten performances at the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo, plus a recital in the city’s main shopping complex. On this occasion Côr Meibion Morlais was augmented by a group of singers from the Cambrian Male Choir, to whom we are indebted for their support.
At the Tattoo we teamed up with a cast of nearly 2000 performers, striking up excellent professional and social relationships with baritone Derrick Paul Miller, soprano Andrea Jeffrey and popular singer Charlotte Dort, as well as Rhondda’s own Parc and Dare Trumpeters under the direction of Craig Roberts, and an international roster of top armed forces bands and display teams. These included the Band of the Sultanate of Oman and the Queen’s Colour Squadron from the RAF.
CZECH REPUBLIC 2005
The Choir arrived in Prague and the conductor’s luggage arrived in Málaga, but the discovery of a vast Tesco superstore at Brno, our first destination, allowed everyone to take the concert stage in impeccable attire.
We had a full sightseeing programme, including visits to the old town in Brno (a World Heritage Site), the castles of Nelahozeves and Karlštejn, and of course Prague, with the chance to tour the Staropraměn Brewery and enjoy some samples of the product!
On the concert stage, we teamed up firstly with the Brno Academic Choir and then, two nights later, sang in the glorious surroundings of the Lobkowitz Castle at Nelahozeves: the current Prince Lobkowitz turned out to be a former male chorister! We ended our tour by singing in the oldest church in Prague, the 12th century Church of St Martin in the Wall – just across the road from Mozart’s lodgings, where the ground floor café loaned us extra seats for a capacity audience.
Our principal soloist, as in Hungary was Margaret Millington, who won the hearts of her audiences with arrangements of Welsh folk songs, including a medley written for her by choir accompanist Rosalie Evans.
REPUBLIC OF IRELAND 2004
We were taken to Youghal in Co Cork through the generosity of Mr Gerald Sweeney of Ferndale to sing at the wedding of his son Richard to a local girl. We then took the chance to perform a recital on the following evening to a packed church, and also enjoyed a day in the port city of Cobh during a heatwave which, whilst possibly untypical of the west of Ireland, certainly gave choristers a good excuse to try some Guinness.
A week of hot weather, packed with events. Our first concert, before our biggest audience to date, was in the great Basilica of St Stephen in Budapest, one of the largest domed cathedrals in the World. We then linked up with local choirs in the provincial capitals of Veszprém and Székesfehérvár. As always on foreign tour, the Morlais learnt music from the local tradition, in this case “Esti dal”, a song by Kodály, and a chorus from Erkel’s opera “Bánk Bán, both of which required solos, provided in faultless Hungarian by Byron Young and Nigel Morgan and sung to great audience approbation.