In my home coal-mining community of Trimdon Village in County Durham, growing-up in the 1950s, pit-head baths and working men’s clubs were the domain of miners who found a togetherness through dangerous and unpleasant work. Week-ends in the pubs and working-men’s clubs were their playground when copious amounts of Federation beer were drunk as an extra measure of manhood. A real sense of community pervaded every aspect of the culture and the Trimdons shared key cultural functions with other mining communities on the North East coalfield. This was annually celebrated at the Durham ‘Big Meeting’ when villages openly shared this common bond.

Slideshow - David Rose, In A Welsh Male Choir
David Rose
A young David Rose with his father, Wynyard Road 1954

Singing at Sir Bryn Terfel’s wedding in 2019 at Caersalem Newydd Baptist Chapel, Mynyddbach, Swansea

Singing Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau and Flower of Scotland to a capacity crowd at the rugby international in the Millennium Stadium Cardiff, February 2022.

A St. David’s Day online concert in March 2021, accompanying Welsh soprano Ellen Williams.

An Anniversary Concert poster.

Chatting with Sir Bryn just before the start of Dunvant Male Choir’s 125th Anniversary Concert backstage at the Brangwyn Hall, Swansea.

Taking their bow after the finale of the 125th Anniversary Concert in the Brangwyn Hall, Swansea (from L-R), Annabel Thwaite (pianist), Sir Bryn Terfel, Lauren Elizabeth Williams, Angharad Morgan, Jonathan Rogers (Dunvant Male Choir’s Musical Director).

Dunvant Male Choir Performing the Welsh hymn, ‘Tydi A Roddaist’ at the 125th Anniversary Concert in the Brangwyn Hall, Swansea.

The 125th Anniversary Concert Programme order for the Evening.

One for the album, me with Sir Bryn Terfel, the world’s current greatest bass-baritone.


My parents Ralph and Sadie Rose, valued education highly, and after passing my eleven-plus I went to Bede Hall Grammar School in Billingham and eventually joined the teaching profession after graduating from Swansea University in 1973. Swansea has become my ‘second’ home while my roots will always remain in Trimdon, where I was ‘bread and buttered’. A significant cultural difference between the pit villages of the South Wales coalfield and those in County Durham was obviously the Welsh Language. The chapels in Wales, where male singing was cultivated from a young age, and where male voice choirs were a key part of the culture were absent during my formative years. My childhood desire to sing never flourished but finally at 67 years-of-age I took what was left of my longing and gave it one last chance here in Swansea.

The conundrum was finding an outlet that would support my fading voice and help me to overcome many years of conditioned self-doubt. So, when I attended an open rehearsal of Dunvant Male Choir in 2018, and the hairs on the back of my neck prickled in a way I had never previously experienced, I knew exactly what to do. Throwing my insecurities and self-doubts to one side I joined the Choir in December that year, and tried to justify my attendance at practices by climbing a very steep learning curve. Fortunately, from day one I received a very warm welcome from all the Choir members and within a few short weeks I felt a part of their community.

If I had thought that listening to an outstanding male choir perform was awesome, it was nothing compared to what it is like to sing in the heart of one. During the last four years, I have found the lyrics of most of the Welsh items challenging to learn and many of the notes difficult to find without guidance and a lot of practice. Some of the Welsh ‘standards’ are completely new to me and that is probably the greatest challenge of all, as expectations of cultural knowledge naturally loom large throughout the Choir. For the first few months I thought the whole experience was going to be too difficult, as I hung on using every strategy I could muster. I passed the singing test and was integrated into the Second Tenor section of the choir, though it took a few more weeks to understand what T2 meant. As I settled, I grew more and more comfortable and eventually, sang in my first-ever stage performance in 2019. Over subsequent performances my nerves have been soothed by the support of everyone around me.

My highlights while being a member of Dunvant Male Choir are many, but have certainly included performing on tour in North West England and singing in the ceremony at Sir Bryn Terfel’s wedding.

It has culminated in two recent stunning events. The first was being part of the Choir that sang the two national anthems on the pitch in front of 73,000 rugby supporters at the Millennium Stadium before this year’s international between Wales and Scotland. What a feeling that was!

The second involves Sir Bryn Terfel who has a long-standing association with the Choir, and which he was part of during his youth. In 2020, when Dunvant Male Choir wanted to celebrate its 125th Anniversary Year at the Brangwyn Hall in Swansea, as the longest continuously singing choir in Wales, he agreed to participate. However, covid caused an inevitable delay and the Choir was forced to perform ‘on-line’ concerts for those barren two years, while the UK was in isolation.

That was until last weekend. On April 2nd 2022 the Anniversary Concert finally took place. As the world’s greatest bass-baritone Sir Bryn was inevitably the star of the show, and what a performance he put on. The Choir was lucky enough to accompany him for the rendition of the beautiful Anfonaf Angel, and I was fortunate to chat briefly beforehand with the great man.

On a personal level, perhaps my favourite recollections of being part of Dunvant Male Choir have centred around the camaraderie that exists during rehearsals and in the changing rooms before a performance, where there have been many laughs and practical jokes. The warmth of my return after serious illness was very touching and when the Choir boomed out their first number I simply could not sing because I was too emotionally charged by the song’s sentiment. I can genuinely say that the experience of singing with Dunvant Male Choir has been an uplifting joy. After more than sixty years of waiting, I have finally achieved a lifelong ambition to sing, when I thought that experience had escaped my grasp forever.

David Rose


Page added 6th April 2022