Hong Kong’s very own Welsh Male Voice Choir performed at the HK Fan Zone Festival last night in the New Central Harbourfront park. Hong Wrong caught up with Simon Clennell and chairman Nigel Sharman…
Do you have to be Welsh to join your choir?
Nigel: Certainly not, no! We have a fairly small percentage of Welsh people in our choir – the rest of us come from all over the place. From England, Scotland, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
Would you let a girl in? What if she was a really good baritone?
Simon: No, you have to be male – that’s the only condition!
What is the history of Welsh Male Voice Choirs? Is it something to do with mining and Margaret Thatcher?
Nigel: It’s a bit to do with Margaret Thatcher I think, but they were going long before she had a go at them.
Simon: It’s certainly to do with mining and the traditions of the valley – every Welsh village had a pit, a chapel, a pub and a choir in the old days. Most of the mines have closed, and you could blame Margaret Thatcher partly for that but the choirs are still going. Not just in Wales but all over the world. To our knowledge, we’re the only one in Asia.
So a choir was set up in the seventies in Hong Kong – do they tend to be a thing in ex-British colonial states?
Simon: Yeah, I think it probably is a colonial thing. Though, not necessary, as we occasionally go to festivals – we sung at the Royal Albert Hall and you actually get Welsh Choirs coming from places like Slovenia, which is extraordinary but it happens. But the Hong Kong Welsh Male Voice choir was formed by a group of Welsh expats in 1978, so we’re just over 35 years old. Originally it was just Welsh – it was a small group just formed to perform at the St David’s Ball that year. But it’s grown since them to around 65 members from about a dozen nationalities.