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Australia 1999

October 31 – November 28

Treorchy Male Choir’s second tour of Australia was a staggering month-long visit where 24 engagements were fulfilled across the south and east coast of the country. The tour was unforgettable as the Choir was treated to a VIP welcome in every city and town it visited. Sponsored by Mario Maiola Agency, the Choir performed to packed houses and secured its place in the hearts of the Australians and Welsh exiles that heard them on stage. Andrew Badham and Rhiannon Williams were the music staff for the duration of the tour, accompanied by mezzo soprano soloist Helen May. Also accompanying the Choir was President Brian Bates and Honorary Member Doug Firstbrook.

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Australia 1999: Text

On a bright, but chilly Sunday afternoon the Choir of 57 singers left Wales and headed for London Heathrow Airport to board the Air Malaysia 747 jet bound for Kuala Lumpur. The flight took us over Moscow, Calcutta, Singapore and a what seemed like a stone-throw distance from the plateau of Tibet’s Mount Everest. On arrival at Kuala Lumpar’s international airport, the Choir had a short stop before boarding a second plane. Eventually the 24 hours of travelling ended in Sydney where the Choir was taken to the Koala Inn on Oxford Street.
A free day was enjoyed in Sydney on the following day and plenty of sightseeing was done of the Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Bondi Beach and on board one of the ferries heading towards Manly. Later that evening the Choir was transported to the Panther Evan Theatre in Penrith for the opening concert of the tour. The performance was well received and encores were called for by the 600 spectators – despite the many tired singers on stage!
On Friday, November 5th the Choir travelled across the harbour bridge, stopping in Woy Woy. The choristers passed through the most beautiful scenery of deep blue lakes, lush green forests, mountains, gorgeous harbours and water-side villages.

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Australia 1999: Text

On reaching Newcastle, the Choir returned to the Civic Theatre, beautiful in its ‘old tyme music hall’ interior with red velvet seats, gold pillars, balconies and chandeliers. More than a thousand people crammed into the auditorium, armed with tissues for the tears that flowed everywhere!
On the following night while Pavarotti performed in the Sydney Opera House, the Treorchy men sang their hearts out at the State Theatre. The evening concert, before a crowd of 1,400 people, was a great success. Following the performance the Choir headed for a nearby pub where they were guests of the Sydney Music College Students.
Sunday was a relaxing day to enjoy at the hotel’s rooftop pool, or walking to Sydney Harbour to enjoy the breathtaking sights. The evening was spent in Aristotle’s Café followed by a few drinks in the Brighton Bar.
On Monday the Choir travelled to the Wollongong Sovereign Motel . After dropping off their cases the men headed for the nearby Fig Tree Pub for a few drinks and a great afternoon of fun and laughter.
That evening they travelled for the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, a modern venue with 600 tickets sold in advance and again another great concert ensued.
On the following day the Choir continued its journey to Armidale, stopping in Marrundi for a short break before reaching the luxurious Cattlemaine’s Motel. A free night was enjoyed in the local Ex-Service’s Club, where ultimately a couple of songs were performed for the enthusiastic crowd. On the following night choristers performed at this same Club for a capacity crowd of 550. Armidale was undoubtedly the best concert so far with another thrilling standing ovation.

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Australia 1999: Text

On Thursday, November 11th the Choir headed east towards Glen Innes, a town proud of its Celtic ancestry – the Celts themselves being the largest ethnic group of people in the whole of Australia. Together the many descendants of early pioneers got together to form the Celtic Council of Australia and they decided to erect a megalithic circule of standing stones – the only ones of their kind in the southern hemisphere. The Choir viewed the stones, ate Welsh cakes and drank tea before singing for the very enthusiastic crowd.
The journey further north came to a conclusion on arrival in the sleepy little town of Lismore. It was a short walk from the motel to the city hall for a reception with the Mayor of the city, and the opportunity to listen to a local singer and guitarist perform.
Then it was a rush back to the hotel to change and return to the hall before the evening concert with a capacity crowd of 1,000 people. Many offered to pay for ‘standing room’ only, but were refused entry at the door. The concert was a great success. Every item received massive applause and another standing ovation was enjoyed.
On Friday the Choir left the tropics to the luxurious Isle of Palms, a village of 150 houses on a tropical island in the middle of the Gold Coast with beautiful views of the beach. Each house was designed to accommodate five people in the three bedrooms with two bathrooms, a kitchen, lounge, dining room, garage, verandahs, patio and a private part of the stingray-infested (maybe sharks too!) beach.

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Australia 1999: Text

A two-hour journey up the coast took the choristers to the stunning bright lights of Brisbane, where they arrived at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre. This astonishing concert hall, which sat a capacity crowd of 2,300 people – with many seats situated behind the Choir– was sold out weeks in advance. The evening concert was truly unbelievable as the cheering, flag-waving Welsh made up a large section of the packed hall and greeted the Treorchy men with tumultuous applause. Treorchy left the stage safe in the knowledge that they were the victors of Brisbane.
A free day on the Saturday allowed the Choir the opportunity to visit Carumbin Beach with its white sands and crashing waves on Elephant Rock to enjoy drinks in the Viking Surf Club. At 5pm they made their way to the glitz and glamour of the Seagulls Club in Tweed Heads where a crowd of 700 people crowded the plush red lounge for the concert. Another earth-shattering performance lay ahead!
It was with great reluctance that the Choir left the Isle of Palms on Sunday, November 14th, stopping in Yamba for lunch before reaching Coffs Harbour, yet another gorgeous resort with the sun reflecting off the lakes. Staying at the Big Windmill Hotel the choristers unpacked, changed, boarded the coaches once more and headed for the Ex-Serviceman’s Club. All 600 tickets were sold and the response from the audience was again excellent with another standing ovation.
On Monday the journey continued with a brief stop in Taree for fish and chips and then continued to Gosford’s Ramblers Inn Motel. After a quick change the Choir went to the Gosford Central Coast League Club to entertain the 600 capacity crowd – filled to the brim – of course! The Choir – complete with nine of the newcomers who had arrived from Wales – marched on stage to a rousing applause – a taste of what was to come. Yes, another standing ovation!
An early rise on Tuesday saw the choristers travel to Australia’s capital city of Canberra – an incredibly quiet destination! Although the Canberra audiences are renowned for their ‘conservative’ approach, they warmed considerably towards to the Choir at the performance in the Royal Theatre that night. Returning to the hotel later in the evening, choristers visited the Italiano Club for celebratory drinks.
A free day in the city allowed members the opportunity to explore the many museums, war memorials and government buildings in Canberra. Others enjoyed the opportunity of visiting a local wildlife reserve to see koala bears and kangaroos up close.
On Thursday the Choir departed for Albury, with a concert in the town’s Performing Arts Centre. Another superb concert for 500 spectators followed by an enjoyable social evening at the Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen Club for dinner. An early wake-up call allowed the Choir to prepare for the short journey to Shepparton where members booked into the Park Lake Motor Inn and settled into the tranquil surroundings. The evening concert at the Town Hall with its capacity audience of 500 people was another exceptionally good performance, resulting once more in a standing ovation.
On Saturday choristers were on the road to Melbourne, reaching the splendour of the Bayview on the Park Hotel by noon and enjoying the day to venture through Flinders, Burke and Swanston Streets. The evening concert at the Regent Theatre saw a packed audience of 1,300 people reward the Choir with tumultuous applause after every item, resulting in yet another standing ovation from the delighted crowd.

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Australia 1999: Text

CentreAfter a free day to further explore the many sites of the city and its surrounding suburbs such as St Kilda, the Choir headed for the Frankston Cultural Centre, with its pleasant auditorium filled to capacity with 700 people. Dressed mostly in Welsh rugby jerseys and waving Welsh flags, the audience gave the Choir a terrific welcome on stage, which also included members of the Australian Welsh Male Choir. The final free day of the tour allowed choristers another opportunity to roam the streets and bars of Melbourne and enjoy a social evening. A trip to Morwell was on the itinerary for the following day with an overnight stay in the Coal Valley Motor Inn before performing that evening in the Kernot Hall.

A long five-hour drive was ahead on Wednesday as the choristers travelled west to the 19th century gold-mining community of Ballaratt with its beautiful buildings and quaint streets. The evening concert, before 300 people at the Regent Theatre was another memorable performance, resulting in plenty of loud applause and cheering from the appreciative crowd. With another day on the road the Choir travelled to Mount Gambier on Thursday and settled into the International Hotel before arriving at the Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre. Once again the audience of 550 people rewarded the Choir with a standing ovation.

On Friday the Choir left the hotel at 7.30am, making a brief stop in Taddibein before reaching the western city of Adelaide and undertaking a media reception on the steps of the Parliament Buildings. The evening concert was held in the magnificent Festival Theatre. A capacity audience of 2,300 people filled this splendid auditorium lined with chamfered mahogany blocks to enhance the acoustics.

Loud applause, screams for more, waving Welsh flags - the atmosphere was breathtaking and this was one of the most outstanding performances of the entire tour.

Australia 1999: Text

During the following afternoon the Choir travelled through the beautiful vineyards of the Barosa Valley before reaching the affluent little town of Tanunda and lunched at their local club. At the Brenton Langbein Theatre the Choir found that all 1,000 seats were sold out – and it was the first time for this to occur in the history of the building. The response from this warm and appreciative audience was another unforgettable occasion. Soon enough it was time to race back to Adelaide and return to the Festival Theatre for the second performance of the final day and another outstanding concert occured. Afterwards it was time for a celebratory party hosted by millionaire concert promoter Mario Maiolo, his family, friends and even the director of Air Malaysia, who assured the choristers of extra alcohol on the flight home the following day!

It was a memorable and enjoyable farewell party, as choristers combined to share the tales of this unforgettable month “down under.”

To view the full tour report click here

Concert List

Nov 4 Panther Evan Theatre, Penrith

Nov 5 Civic Theatre, Newcastle

Nov 6 State Theatre, Sydney

Nov 8 Illannarra PA Theatre, Wollongong

Nov 10 Ex Servicemen’s Club, Armidale

Nov 11 Celtic Stones Park, Glen Innes

Nov 11 Town Hall, Lismore

Nov 12 QPAC, Brisbane

Nov 13 Seagulls Club, Tweedheads

Nov 14 Ex Services Club, Coffs Harbour

Nov 15 Central Coast Club, Gosford

Nov 16 Royal Theatre, Canberra

Nov 18 P.A. Centre, Albury

Nov 19 Town Hall, Shepparton

Nov 20 Regent Theatre, Melbourne

Nov 21 Cultural Centre, Frankston

Nov 23 Kernot Hall, Morwell

Nov 24 Regent Theatre, Ballarat

Nov 25 Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre, Mount Gambier

Nov 26 Festival Theatre, Adelaide

Nov 26 Parliament Square, Adelaide

Nov 27 Brenton Langbein Theatre, Tanunda

Nov 27 Festival Theatre, Adelaide

Nov 28 International Airport, Sydney

Australia 1999: Text
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