On the first of September 1966, following Cardiff RFC´s 35-0 defeat of Cardiff & District, a group of supporters came up with the idea of forming a choir to improve the standard of after-match singing. The Cardiff Athletic Male Voice Choir first met on the following Monday, 5th September, in the old Skittle Alley at the Rugby Club, and still rehearses at the club on a Monday night. There were twenty-five members present for the first meeting, one of whom still sings with the choir today, Vice President Ray Rees.
The choir made their first TV appearance within weeks of being formed, welcoming the Australian Rugby Team to Wales.
If you have any information about what the choir got up to between 1966 and 1984, please let us know!!
In October 1984, the choir took part in the ninth London Welsh Festival of 1,000 voices at the Royal Albert Hall.
In October 1986, the choir made a return journey to the Royal Albert Hall, London, for the tenth London Welsh Festival of 1,000 Voices.
The choir travelled to Scotland in February 1993, and gave a charity concert at Blair Gowrie. Later that year, they participated in the World Choir at the National Stadium in Cardiff.
The choir´s inaugural Annual Concert took place in November 1994, and was followed closely by a trip to Swindon to take part in a multi-choir concert hosted by Swindon Male Voice Choir.
Thirty years of the choir were celebrated with a concert on 2nd May 1997.
1998 was a busy year, with a trip to Ireland in March, which included a concert with Kilkenny Youth Choir in St Candice´s Cathedral, Kilkenny, and a massed choir event in a dome tent on the Arms Park in June, with soloists including a young Charlotte Church.
In 1999, the choir performed with the Elgin Choral Union from the USA in June. Later in the year, the Rugby World Cup was held in Wales, and this was a particularly busy time for the choir, with filming for the BBC, Sky Sports, New Zealand and Australian television, as well as many concerts and events for visiting supporters.
In September 2000 the choir changed its name to become the Cardiff Arms Park Male Choir, helping to raise the profile of the choir and perpetuate the name of the Arms Park. One of the highlights of that year was hosting the Welsh Male Voice Choir of South Africa in a concert at St James´ Church on the 3rd November.
In 2002 the choir sang live on BBC´s Grandstand during the Six Nations, and sang on the pitch of the Millennium Stadium before Wales beat Fiji in the Autumn internationals. They also hosted the Toronto Welsh Male Voice Choir and gave their Annual Concert at Llandaff Cathedral with Peter Karrie, the Wessex Male Choir and the Llanishen Fach Primary School choir.
The Welsh team performed well at the 2003 Rugby World Cyup, and the choir met them at their Hensol base to welcome them home. Earlier in the year, the choir had performed with Max Boyce at a St David´s Day dinner.
In 2004 the choir opened the Macdonald Holland House Hotel on Newport Road, Cardiff, sang for over 5,000 people at the Millennium Stadium and once more performed at the the Royal Albert Hall. The highlights of the year, however, were the two tours undertaken in May. The first was to the Czech Republic, with concerts in Plzen and Karlstejn Castle, whilst the second (only eight days later) was to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Male Choir of Brittany in Pleyben, France.
The choir celebrated their fortieth anniversary in 2006 with a series of high profile events.
In February they recorded a TV advert for the BBC with Goldie Lookin Chain.
In April the choir sang at a ceremony at City Hall at which the Freedom of the City of Cardiff was granted to Sir Tasker Watkins.
The choir´s fortieth anniversary tour started in the exotic land of England, with participation in Canoldir Male Choir´s fortieth anniversary concert at Symphony Hall, Birmingham. From there we travelled to Milan, then in to Switzerland, including a performance with a local male choir in Le Brassus, and then on to a choir festival in Chatte in the South of France.
The main highlight of the celebrations was the Massed Male Choral Celebration at St David´s Hall on 17th June 06 (pictured below). The concert featured over 400 singers in a massed male choir made up of choristers from Canoldir, Dowlais, Gwent, Kenfig Hill, Maesteg, Neath, Penybontfawr, Pontarddulais and, of course, the Arms Park choir. They were accompanied by an orchestra of 53, and guest artists were the Llanishen Fach Primary School choir and Hayley Westenra.In September, the choir rounded of their celebrations with a special dinner at Cardiff Rugby Club.
In 2007 the choir travelled to Germany, giving performances in Heilbronn, Satteldorf and Stuttgart. Later in the year the choir performed alongside AngloAmerican rock group Foreigner at St David´s Hall, Cardiff. The South Wales Echo review mentioned the choir, as did the review in the Times, which described the choir as “dapper old boyos”!!
In 2008 the choir made yet another visit to the Royal Albert Hall, and 2009 was a year of massed concerts, with the AngloWelsh Festival taking place in Birmingham and Cardiff. The choir also travelled to Poland with Canoldir Male Choir and performed in Scotland in August. Highlights of 2010 have included a concert tour to Santander in Northern Spain, singing at a high-profile Ryder Cup function, providing pre-match entertainment on the pitch of the Millennium Stadium before Wales played Australia and participating in the Wales Festival of Remembrance at St David’s Hall.