Canada & West Coast USA

September 23 – October 7 2000

The dawn was far from being distant as, in hushed tones of an early morning start, choristers crept through the wet and windy South Wales morning to board one of two coaches headed for Heathrow Airport. With a typical high-spirited mood the men reached the coaches before an early valley sunrise, dressed in the burgundy tour shirts, filled with excitement for what promised to be another successful tour's for the Treorchy Male Choir

San FranciscoSan FranciscoIt was two years in the making for Honorary Member Ed Fraser, who planned the first trip with such minute detail, way back in 1994. But the time had come to make a return tour, this time incorporating Canada into the busy schedule, along with a full-length tour of the west coast of the USA. Conductor for the tour was Andrew Badham, with Rhiannon Williams as accompanist and Justine Platt as soprano soloist.

The Choir arrived at Terminal Three of Heathrow Airport by 10am and were greeted by tour operator Jim Strachen, complete with his army of helpful airport staff, eager to escort the entire troop of 67, including 63 choristers, through the check - in desks. Boarding a United Airlines 777, at 10.45am, the majority of the Choir sat together in the economy compartment.

With a brief stop in Hare International Airport, Chicago, the Choir reached Vancouver, Canada to be greeted by Ed Fraser and his wife, Marge, along with their friends and helpers, Dick, Diana and Deborah Aldrich who had also travelled north for the weekend. Also present was Honorary Member Douglas Firstbrook who
had travelled from Adelaide, Australia. Travelling across one of many bridges linking the downtown area, choristers admired the colourful skyline, and after such an arduous day were delighted to reach the Best Western Hotel in downtown Vancouver.

Vancouver IslandVancouver IslandThe following free day saw choristers explore this beautiful city, starting at the Steam Clock in Gastown and enjoying a trolley car tour of the many sights including Stanley Park and the Lion’s Gate Bridge. By evening it was time to travel to Tenth Avenue and the venue for the first concert of the tour, the Tenth Alliance Church. With an impressive interior, choristers were glad to hear that almost 300 tickets had been sold, mostly by members of the large Vancouver Welsh Society who had assisted Ed Fraser in organising the performance. The choristers walked on stage in typical military fashion and from the onset of the first note were assured that this would be a first class concert.

The Choir was invited to a supper with the Cambria Welsh Society in their club nearby. Serving a large buffet and plenty of drinks behind the bar, Treorchy joined forces with members of their male voice choir to give a few songs.

On Sunday the Choir travelled south towards Tsawwassen and boarded the British Columbia Ferry. Once the coaches were safely parked on Deck Two, choristers walked to the open-air level, which allowed such commanding views of the beautiful surrounding scenery. Choristers stood in awe at the views, sailing between the mainland and Vancouver Island. Reaching Swartz Bay, they travelled to Victoria, reaching the Strathcona Hotel by 1.30pm.

VictoriaVictoriaThat evening two yellow school buses transported the Choir across town to the massive University of Victoria campus. Boasting its own theatre, the choristers walked on stage amid rapturous applause from the 800 members of the audience, a sure sign of another excellent concert. For the remainder of the evening, the choristers settled into one of the five bars in the hotel, mingling with the hundreds of sailors who had docked in Victoria from one of the American naval ships.

Monday was a free day to explore more of Victoria, before departing the following day to cross the border into the United States of America on board a ferry. Approaching the city of Seattle, in Washington State, choristers were treated to a truly breathtaking view of the skyline, complete with its many skyscrapers and the famous Space Needle tower. In complete contrast was the amazing sight of the snow covered Mount Rainer that seemed but a short distance away. Arriving at Port Angeles, Seattle, the Choir journeyed to the concert venue for the evening, the Admiral Congregational United Church of Christ. The audience were very appreciative of the Choir with a standing ovation for "Memory" alone!

A free day in Seattle was enjoyed by the choristers who were able to venture to the top of the magnificent Space Needle. With a certain amount of apprehension they walked into the glass elevators and at lightning speed were shot hundreds of feet into the sky before reaching the observatory deck high above the city. The views at 605ft were outstanding, as choristers posed for pictures overlooking the skyline, highways, harbours and lakes.

After returning to the ground, they boarded the monorail system to the shopping centre of Seattle near Pine Road, and with the whole group still together, walked the main streets towards the harbour and fish market. The evening concert was at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church filled with local Welsh Society members who rewarded the Choir with another enthusiastic standing ovation.

On the following morning the Choir undertook a journey to the town of Vancouver in Washington State, passing the famous Boeing airfield on the way. Turning off Highway 5 the Choir made their first stop of the day at the Backwood's Cafe in Eco-Park, a timber building, which depended on solar heating and was occupied by a group of lumberjacks. A performance of “Men of Harlech” thrilled the workers, who were also rather shocked at Stuart Hill’s amazing agility at climbing a telegraph pole!

SeattleSeattleThe trip continued into the mountain passes as the Choir headed for the visitors centre in Mount Saint Helens. This overlooked the famous 7,500 ft high mountain, a live volcano that erupted in 1980, claiming 27 lives and totally devastating countryside over a 17mile radius. The effect of the volcano, which reduced the mountain from its original 10,000ft, completely destroying one side of it, remains as visible today as it did 20 years ago. Enthralled by the extraordinary view, many of the choristers also watched a film depicting how the eruption occurred. It was quite an incredible visit and the singers were all grateful for the opportunity to see the site of the USA's last volcano to erupt.

The 90 members of the well-known Vancouver USA singers welcomed the Treorchy men with a meal and had a most enjoyable social evening. After the food was served it was time for the Choir to assemble at one end of the large reception room and perform "Men of Harlech" for the Vancouver choristers, many of whom were hosting members of the Treorchy Male Choir for the following two nights. The Vancouver USA Singers President, Martha Wasden, presented Andrew Badham with a USA flag as a token of their appreciation for the visit.

Mutnomah FallsMutnomah FallsOn Friday September 29th the Treorchy men visited the Vista Building overlooking the Columbian Gorge and Mutnomah Falls, the highest waterfall in the USA. They stopped in the village of Cascade followed by the salmon farm, with its many deep ponds playing host to the vast display of fish. Soon enough it was time to return to Vancouver for a concert at the First Church of God. There was most certainly a great deal of enthusiasm about tonight's concert, the Choir was on top form, and with a capacity audience of 1,200 people awaiting their arrival, they knew this was going to be a great event. The concert was excellent from the very first note. Displaying the magnificent sound that Treorchy has boasted for generations, the audience sat totally enthralled with the performance. Following the concert they all headed for the Cafe Pacific bar in downtown Vancouver, where the Choir enjoyed a social evening together, basking in the glory of a great concert.

On the following morning the Choir headed further south towards Medford. Reaching Sutherlin just after noon they made a stop at the Apple Peddler restaurant for lunch. Both coaches reached the Reston Motel in Medford, Oregon at 4pm, with some of the members rushing to the indoor swimming pool to relax for a short while before the time came to return to the Greyhound buses and head for the concert venue.

The performance was held in the Southern Oregon University Concert Hall, in lovely Ashland, filled to capacity with 450 people. Once again, it was an outstanding performance, with an enthusiastic audience who rewarded the Choir with a standing ovation. Sunday was an early start for the Choir as they performed in two morning services in the vicinity of Medford at St Mark's Episcopal Church and Eastwood Baptist Church.

Both services had a distinct Welsh atmosphere about them with the performance of hymns and solos before the Choir gathered outside the second church for a tour photograph together. The following day was spent on the bus, stopping only once for a very short break and eventually reached the Eureka Inn, Eureka by 6pm. The Choir settled into this historic hotel for a champagne reception in the oak-panelled main foyer, complete with high-backed leather chairs and a massive fire place. Then it was over to the century-old Samoa Cookhouse, the only logging camp dining room left in the west of the country.

On the following morning the journey south to California continued. After a short trip they stopped at a the Pacific Lumber Company in Scotia, a vast timber work, opened in 1869 in the mountains, and were treated to a guided tour of the plant. From there it was a journey through the Avenue of Giants. The road passed through groves of the largest trees in the world. The Choir stopped for lunch in the lovely town of Garberville and at 6pm they arrived in the town of Santa Rosa, right in the heart of the wine-producing Napa Valley, famous for its world-renowned chardonnay. This was an overnight stay, enjoyed all the more by the visit to the Third Street Aleworks in the centre of the town.

St Paul's Episcopal ChurchSt Paul's Episcopal ChurchAt 11am on Tuesday the Choir arrived at the world famous Korbel Champagne Cellars to enjoy a tour of the vineyard and wine-production room, followed by a champagne tasting session in the cellar rooms - a most enjoyable way to start the day.

Arriving at Sunnyvale later that day the choristers were given the news that Justine Platts, the soprano soloist for the tour, had fallen ill with a throat infection.

She was unable to sing in the Sunnyvale Concert, probably the most significant engagement of the trip, because this was Ed and Marge Fraser's home church.

Therefore Dean Powell and Rhiannon Williams were asked to fill the spaces with individual performances. Once more the Choir gave an outstanding performance, reflected in the amount of applause from the capacity audience who rose in a standing ovation as the final notes of "My Way" drifted through the church.

A free day allowed the Choir the chance to enjoy the sights of San Francisco and on Thursday the Choir headed south to Monterey for a few hours visit to Fisherman’s Wharf, the Aquarium and Cannery Row.

That evening it was time to travel to the St Paul’s Episcopal Church for the evening performance. A splendid venue indeed, with good acoustics and an impressive organ which a local organist, John Park, played for "Sanctus" and "Gwahoddiad". The Choir again gave a first-class performance before retiring to the Penny Farthing pub where they had entertained Joan Fontaine on the previous tour in 1994. She had also sent them best wishes for this tour.

One the following day the Choir travelled north along the Californian coastline, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and checked into the elaborate Sheraton Four Points Hotel in San Rafael by 2.30pm. This splendid auditorium of the Marin Centre, with its magnificent acoustics, proved a more than capable venue for the Choir’s final performance on this enjoyable two-week tour of the western states. At 8pm the concert began before an audience of approximately 800 people, an enthusiastic crowd who showed such incredible appreciation of the performance that it was only too obvious this would be a memorable final engagement.

San FranciscoSan FranciscoThe evening party was held at the Ross Valley Brewing Company. A buffet had been prepared and the bar staff were equally as prepared to quench the thirsts of so many dry Welshmen! At midnight chairman Roger Morse gave a magnificent end of tour speech, thanking the music staff, tour organisers, bus stewards, for their contributions towards the success of the Treorchy Male Choir Can-Am Tour 2000.

As a token of thanks, he presented Marge and Ed with their gifts and Ed followed the speech with a few words of thanks of his own. Andrew Badham also gave a short speech, reinforcing his belief that wherever the choir performs they give 150 percent of their best to ensure a successful concert. As a sign of their thanks, the choristers rewarded the Frasers, Andrew and Rhiannon with a standing ovation. At 12 noon on the following day the Choir arrived at San Francisco International Airport and gave a short concert for the fellow travellers, rounded off with "Star Spangled Banner", amidst an enthusiastic applause!

The 10th overseas tour was undoubtedly a very successful experience and stood as a testimony to the fact that Treorchy Male Choir remains one of the greatest musical institutions in the world.

To view the full tour report click here

 

Concert List

Sept 23 10th Avenue Alliance Church, Vancouver

Sept 24 University of Victoria

Sept 26 Admiral Church, Seattle

Sept 27 Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Seattle

Sept 28 Backwood Café, St Helens

Sept 28 Vancouver Singers Rehearsal Room

Sept 29 First Church of God, Portland

Sept 30 South Oregon University, Medford

Oct 1 St Marks Episcopal Church, Medford

Oct 1 Eastwood Baptist Church, Medford

Oct 3 Presbyterian Church. Sunnyvale

Oct 6 St Paul’s Episcopal Church, Salinas

Oct 6 Marin Centre, San Rafael