Founder, Honorary Chairman and Life Member
The Toronto Welsh Male Voice Choir (TWMVC) was established in 1995 when its founding member and first president, Gwyn Roberts, gathered together a group of like-minded individuals of Welsh heritage to kindle the spirit of traditional Welsh male voice singing in their adopted country. Although many of the current members still lay claim to Welsh connections, the TWMVC now has members from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds.
THE BIRTH OF THE TORONTO WELSH MALE VOICE CHOIR
As recounted by Founder, Gwyn Roberts
After I came to Canada in 1991, I missed singing with a Male Choir, having been a member of Caernarfon Choir for over 22 years.
Towards the end of 1994, I talked with some members of Dewi Sant Welsh United Church of my intention to start a Welsh Male choir in Toronto. Those members were Harold Woodey, Cy Evans, Dave Boswell, Islwyn Morris, Howell Pritchard, and Alan Lewis who all said they would support me in this venture.
My next step was to find a Musical Director. My friend, Richard Griffith, who was then a member of the Canadian Orpheus, mentioned the name of Tom Bell, Assistant Conductor to Lyn Harry, who lived and worked as a teacher in Toronto. I immediately contacted Tom and told him of my proposal to start a Male Choir in Toronto asking him whether he would be interested in accepting the MD post. After three weeks thinking about it, Tom phoned me, stating that he would be pleased to become the choir’s Musical Director.
My next move was to get an accompanist. My wife, Bonnie, was working for Hicks Morley, a labour law firm in downtown Toronto. Bonnie mentioned that Carla Zabek, her boss, was a keen pianist and perhaps Carla would know of someone who would be willing to help. However, when Bonnie approached her, she asked what kind of music the Choir sang, and requested to see some sample music. Carla loved the Welsh music so much that she told Bonnie she would love to help the Choir out until they get a more professional accompanist. Carla stayed with us until 2000 and was loved and respected by all.
Now that I had a Music Team in place, I sent a letter to the Dewi Sant Welsh United Church magazine, “Y Gadwyn”, stating that it was my intention to start a Welsh Male Voice Choir in Toronto requesting all interested/potential choristers to attend the Inaugural Meeting at Dewi Sant Welsh United Church on the 1st of November, 1995, at 7.30pm. The following people attended the meeting: Brian Bamber, Alan Lewis, Dave Boswell, Bill Davies, Gerry Taylor, Roger Purnell, Howell Pritchard, Phil Jones, Stephen Jones, Harold Woodey, Rev. Alwyn Evans, Islwyn Morris, Don Davis, Cyril Evans, Gus Harries*, David W Riches, Tom Edwards, Russ Clemo*, Art Otley, Howard Dickson and myself. (* came to support the venture).
During the following months I was kept busy drafting “Constitutions and by-Laws”, and applying for charity status (Letters Patent) and registration with Revenue Canada under the Federal Income Tax Act to allow us to be exempt from paying any taxes on earned.