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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 May, 2004, 08:56 GMT 09:56 UK
Taiwan tongue twister for choir
Morriston Orpheus Choir
An 80-strong party from the choir will be heading to Taiwan in July
Choristers from the Swansea Valley are learning Chinese as they prepare to become the first male voice choir from Wales to perform in Taiwan.

Members of the Morriston Orpheus Choir are adding the Taiwanese equivalent of the Welsh love song Myfanwy to their repertoire for the concert.

They have been invited by the Office of International Affairs in Taiwan to sing at the National Concert Hall.

A special arrangement of the song Ode to Formosa has been written for the occasion.

A male voice choir is a sound that stirs people and it's always wonderful to go to different countries
Alwyn Humphreys

Members are now getting their tongues around the language at twice-weekly rehearsals before they fly out in July.

They will be following in the footsteps of Luciano Pavarotti, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Shakespeare Company by performing at the venue.

Musical director Alwyn Humphreys had the challenge of adapting a Taiwanese song to make it suitable for an 80-strong touring party.

"We are looking forward to it very much and to furthering our claim to be musical ambassadors for Wales," he explained.

"We always look at singing something that is from the country we are visiting and what I try and do is find the equivalent of Myfanwy.

"A song that that gives them a warm feeling and makes them feel good about their identity. In Wales, Myfanwy perfectly represents that.

Musical director Alwyn Humphreys
Alwyn Humphreys hopes the song goes down well in Taiwan

"The office of tourism sent me three songs to consider and Ode to Formosa is a really nice tune and the choir loves performing it.

"We hope that they know it over there as its a terrific tune which is a kind of a song of praise for the island of Taiwan.

"It will be interesting to see the reaction of a Taiwanese audience to the sort of music we do.

"A male voice choir is a sound that stirs people and it's always wonderful to go to different countries."

Mr Humphreys said choir members were learning the words phonetically and it was likely to remain as part of their repertoire for future engagements.

These include a visit later in the year to the United Arab Emirates and Oman in the Middle East.

"We've always been a touring choir," added Mr Humphreys.

"We will also be going to Aberystwyth for the first time this year.

"We go to places like the Royal Opera House in Sydney and Carnegie Hall in New York and suddenly you go to places like St David's Cathedral in Pembrokeshire and realise you have not been there before."

The concerts will be among the last for Mr Humphreys who is retiring as musical director after 25 years in the post.

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