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The year 2004 marked the 75th Anniversary of the Cambrian Hall. The Hall was officially opened on September 1st, 1929 by Marion Malkin, wife of Vancouver Mayor William Harold Malkin, and this was followed by an afternoon and evening concert at which capacity audiences enjoyed traditional music of the Welsh homeland. The historical significance of the structure was recognised by the city of Vancouver in the 1980's when it was listed as a heritage "B" building.
The cornerstone at the front of the Cambrian Hall pays tribute to the members of the Cambrian Society (as the Welsh Society was then known) who were donors to the building fund and also to those who had assisted in erecting the building. Among the donors were prominent Vancouver citizens, such as Chris T. A. Spencer, a member of the Spencer's Department Store family, Thomas Edwards, a leading Vancouver businessman, and Jonathan Rogers from the Ceiriog Valley, a builder and philanthropist who spent 26 years serving on the Vancouver Parks board. The land on which the Hall is situated was sold to the Society for one dollar by Joseph Jones from Prestatyn, the owner of a Vancouver dairy and a long-term school trustee.
Since 1929 the Cambrian Hall has seen its fortunes rise and fall. It remained a welcome home to the Vancouver Welsh Community through the lean years of the Depression and the Second World War largely as a result of the determination and devotion of members of the Society. Throughout the years, the Hall has been home to typical Welsh cultural events and has been the focal point for the Welsh community's contributions to the cultural life of Vancouver.
In the 1970's the Lower Hall was completely renovated, almost entirely through volunteer labour. A club bar license was obtained and the Red Dragon lounge provided members with a new social centre.
Fifteen members started the Vancouver Welsh Men's Choir as a division of the Welsh Society in 1980. Its growth and accomplishments during the 1980's led the Choir to become an autonomous body by mutual agreement in 1987. The Choir concerts continue to enrich the Vancouver musical landscape to this day.
Entertaining concerts is the Orpheus Choir's hallmark. Combining a rich history of male choir standards with new and unexpected arrangements of contemporary works this choirdelivers beyond expectations. You are as likely to hear a clever arrangement of a children's tune or folk song as an opera chorus, Welsh hymn, sea shanty, Brodaway hit or spiritual.
The Orpheus men are all amateur yet deliver a professional engaging performance from memory. Each performance guarantees an emotional ride through familiar, new, rousing, humorous and classic repetoire.
The choir annually tours BC to enrich smaller communities with choral entertainment. Recent BC destinations include Nelson, Trail, Powell River, Nanaimo, Duncan, Victoria, the Okanagan and the Gulf Islands. In 2003 the Orpheus Choir toured the Maritimes performing at Halifax, Fredricton, Charlottetown and Sydney to rave reviews.
The Vancouver Orpheus Male Choir is renowned as host to many visiting Welsh Male choirs. In 2006 they performed joint concerts with the Gwent and Cwmbach Male Voice choirs.
See Vancouver Orpheus Male Voice Choir for more details.
Clive Morris is an old friend of Welsh Society member Neville Thomas from their university days in Wales. On a visit to Vancouver from Sydney, Australia at Christmas 1995, Clive waxed enthusiastically about the spirited Dylan Thomas Society that they had 'Down Under' and urged the formation of such a group in Vancouver. Clive was so persuasive that Neville arranged for Alan Jones and Ted Langley to meet with him. Following that meeting, Alan, Ted and Neville became fully immersed in the planning of a Dylan Thomas Society in Vancouver to bring together people in the Pacific North-West who were admirers of Dylan's considerable works. The term Circle was adopted instead of Society to emphasize the warm, intimate nature of the group of people we hoped to bring together.