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USA 1993

Atlanta, Georgia
February 8 – 13 1993

Treorchy Male Choir’s second visit to the United States of America was due to the very successful World Choir organisation that held a concert in Cardiff Arms Park with 8,000 choristers and a star-studded line-up. When the director, Wyndham Lewis, decided to hold a similar concert in Atlanta, Georgia, he wanted a choir to spend a few days in the American city as a “scouting” party to attract the attention and support of musical organisations over the other side of the Atlantic. It was with delight that Treorchy was chosen to fulfil this role and therefore were flown to Atlanta for an all-expenses paid five-day tour to perform 12 engagements in locations throughout the city. Musical Director for the tour was John Jenkins, with Marion Williams as accompanist and boy soprano soloist Oliver Sammes.

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USA 1993: Text

An early morning rise saw the touring buses leave Treorchy at 4.15am to reach Gatwick for the BC VC10 flight across the pond. During the flight John Jenkins, Chairman John Davies, oldest member Ieuan Lawrence and youngest member Dean Powell were interviewed by the TV company Teledu Map who joined the touring party for the visit. On arrival at Atlanta airport it was revealed that one of the stewardesses was celebrating her birthday and so the Choir sang to her by the Arrival Gate!
Then it was time to board the Greyhound coaches and head to one of three hotels, either the Clarion, Hilton or Marriot North West. Once settled into the rooms it was time to embark on the first performance of the tour at the Moorhouse Glee Club rehearsal room in Moorhouse College.

Firstly the Treorchy men were privileged to listen to a rehearsal of the College Choir which was inspirational. The Welshmen also performed in return and members of both choirs had a very pleasant evening together. Afterwards the Treorchy choristers had food in the Damon’s Restauarnt, sang “Happy Birthday” to one of the diners and enjoyed the rest of the night at the nearby Fitzgerald’s bar.

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USA 1993: Text

With a free morning to venture around Atlanta, the Choir left the hotel later in the day to perform at the Georgia Pacific Building. The site of a former movie theatre, where “Gone With The Wind” enjoyed its world premiere, the building is now home to offices and suites. The Choir performed on the first-floor balcony to the passing public where many stopped to listen. A few hours later and they were transported to the Martin Luther King Jr Centre, to learn more about the good work the Foundation (which is based there) does for the poor people of the city. One of the highlights of the tour was the opportunity to perform at the Crypt and Eternal Flame of the great civil rights leader, which was indeed a very moving experience.
The next “concert venue” was The Underground Shopping Mall, where the Choir again sang to the passing public as Marion performed on the electric organ. The remainder of the evening was free for the choristers and they found a new watering hole at the Fanny Moon Bar before enjoying a tour of the Coca Cola Centre and returning later to their respective hotels.

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USA 1993: Text

On Wednesday the coaches left the hotel at 9.45am for the first performance of the day in Atlanta Civic Centre. At this venue the Choir performed on the Black Entertainment Television network and appeared on the Bobby Jones Gospel Explosion Show. The television studio was abuzz with “organised mayhem” and the Choir gave a rousing performance on the religious programme. The audience cheered loudly at each performance and John Jenkins was introduced to Bobby Jones who thanked and blessed him. The moving speakers, the religious intensity and the incredible response from the crowd made this a memorable experience. Treorchy was the first Welsh – and possibly even white – choir to appear on the programme.
An hour later and the Choir reached their next destination, the Peachtree Centre Atrium, another enormous shopping mall where they sang once more to the passing public before moving on to the George Dome. This is the largest cable-supported domed stadium in the world and is the venue for the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons. It has a seating capacity of 71,000 and was planned to be the venue for the World Choir concert in 1994. The choristers performed a selection of items for the camera crew before returning to the hotels to change into their evening dress suits.

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USA 1993: Text

At 5pm the Choir arrived at the Ben Hill Methodist Church. This was a splendid church where an excellent meal was provided. It was an evening the members will never forget for not only did the Choir become involved in the
proceedings but received the most incredible welcome from the congregation. Senior Pastor Dr Cornelius Henderson shouted out names of some of the congregation to read a verse from the Bible. Also members of the Treorchy Choir were called to read and the service continued with the involvement of all present.

The commitment, happiness and religious beliefs of the congregation were overwhelming. The performance by the Choir of “Were You There” left the crowded church in a state of utter disbelief. Some threw themselves to their knees and cheered as the Choir sang the word “trembled”. The response was absolutely breathtaking.

Then the Treorchy men joined hands with a male member of the church and this string of men (black, white alternatively) sang “Jacob’s Ladder” as they positioned themselves around the inner wall of the church. The total commitment to their religion and the sincere singing of their faith left the Treorchy men spellbound. The evening was certainly a truly emotional experience, a feeling admirably expressed by Chairman John Davies in a moving and exhilarating speech from the pulpit.

On Thursday morning the Choir travelled to the Marriott Marquis Hotel, considered the most magnificent hotel the South has ever seen. The awe-inspiring architecture, has the feature of a soaring 50-storey interior atrium. The Choir performed in one of the spacious suites before a selected audience of potential financial supporters.

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USA 1993: Text

ChurchThen it was heard that CBS National Network Television wanted the Choir to perform “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” which was filmed in the Peachtree Atrium – complete with a new, makeshift arrangement by the Conductor an hour or so beforehand! Later that day the choristers returned to the Hotel for another performance before an invited audience, followed by a buffet meal and a final night in Fitzgeralds.

Friday was a free morning when the choristers enjoyed their last few hours in Atlanta before visiting the George State School of Music. The Choir was welcomed by college dignitaries and performed at the State School theatre. The Treorchy men were privileged to listen to the University Singers.

Then it was time to head to the airport, avoiding an unbelievable hailstorm by hiding under a bridge! At 8.30pm the plane finally departed Atlanta International Airport bound for Gatwick, marking the end of yet another memorable tour for the Treorchy Male Choir.

Concert List

Feb 8 Moorhouse College

Feb 9 Georgia Pacific Building

Feb 9 Martin Luther King Centre

Feb 9 The Underground

Feb 10 Civic Centre

Feb 10 Peachtree Mall

Feb 10 The Atlanta Dome

Feb 10 Ben Hill Methodist Church

Feb 11 Marriot Marquis Hotel

Feb 11 Peachtree Mall

Feb 11 Marriot Marquis Hotel

Feb 12 Georgia State University

USA 1993: Text
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