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‘We were determined Covid wouldn’t finish us off’: the Welsh choir who sang through the pandemic

The Dunvant Male Choir has endured world wars, industrial decline and mining disasters. How would it handle rehearsals on Zoom?

Every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, their faces pop up: Norman, Nigel, Alan, Dai and the others. It’s become second nature to close the door at 6.30pm, click the Zoom link, check if everyone’s well, ask if anyone’s fled beyond Swansea, have a laugh. Then the men mute themselves, and the singing begins.

They sing along on their own, watching their friends’ silent faces, imagining the rousing sound they make all together, from the heart, from the gut: singing to each other hymns, spirituals and songs from musicals. The Dunvant Male Choir (DMC) is Wales’s longest-running male singing group, and it has kept going despite Covid-19. Last year was meant to be a celebratory year, the group’s 125th anniversary, with concerts planned to recognise their endurance and survival, including a gala concert last June featuring Sir Bryn Terfel, the world-renowned bass-baritone who began his career with the choir as a student (he loved them so much they sang at his wedding).

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