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Brinley Lawrence

I was born and grew up in a village in English-speaking Wales, near to Newbridge in Gwent. One of my earliest memories at the age of three is of being in the chorus of a children's operatta one Christmas night. My father conducted the chapel choir in Mynyddislwyn - as did his father before him - and throughout my childhood there were concerts and singing festivals (Cymanfa Ganu) where one sang with fervour the "hymns and arias" we still sing today.
I attended an all-boys' school, Lewis' School, Pengam. Despite the disadvantage of there being no girls, male competitiveness meant that it was as important to win a singing competition in an eisteddfod as a sporting event.
In the years that followed, at university and beyond, my obsession was Drama and Literature, so in a sense singing with the choir brings me full circle.

It is fun singing in the choir. I joined in 1990 at the instigation of a work colleague. Perhaps choral singing should be recommended for all unreconstructed workaholics. When you are concentrating on singing with others and learning music, there is no time to dwell on the frustrations of everyday employment.
In a male voice choir you experience a comradeship which extends beyond the music. It is significant that singers make every effort to attend practice nights. Although they are likely to be from very different backgrounds, their united effort is to sing in harmony. The result is that you have about you men you can rely on, a proper sense of community.

I recall with pleasure discovering the skill and musicality of our conductor, Bob Jones, as we prepared to join other choirs and sing Haydn's Creation and later Handel's Messiah in Bath. Our visits to France were memorable not only for joint concerts with the choir in La Flèche but also for the three-hour musical lunches. In 2009 we shall meet them again, and also revisit Cornwall to sing with the Hayle Male Voice Choir.
The regular occasions are pleasurable too: those of singing in the wonderful villages of Wiltshire where we live - and raising money for charity through song and performance.

To be honest, it is the performance I enjoy of all kinds of music. In the future, that may be an Indie Boy Band - but preferably Katherine Jenkins before Wales wins the championship (again!).