19th July 2024

History

During the First World War there was a branch of the Coventry Ordnance Factory in Glasgow, and in 1917 a Mixed Voice Choir was formed from employees of this factory.  After the end of the War, when the men were demobilised and returned home, the women found themselves redundant – how times have changed! – so the men formed themselves into the Partick Male Voice Choir.

Many other Choirs had been formed from people who had been sent to Glasgow on war work, and quite a few of these folded at the end of the War.  There were therefore new recruits from well outside Partick, and so on 9 June 1925 the Partick Male Voice Choir became the Glasgow Philharmonic Choir.  The first Annual Concert of the newly formed choir took place on 5 March 1926 in Partick Burgh Hall.   We have provided concerts every year, and through the second world war and this unbroken run was only stopped in 2021 with the Covid lockdown.  We took part in the Police Scotland Covid Commemoration Service when the restrictions were over to remember those who lost their life and could not commemorate appropriately at the time. This was a moving event.

Key Activities / Achievements.

Part of the achievement of the choir are establishing personal support mechanisms to allow men to have fellowship and a purpose in working together to gain excellence in making music. This is a highlight for some of our members, and we have some for whom who are unable to participate in concerts but turn up at our rehearsals and give their all.  If this were our only achievement, then this would be sufficient however we have others which are mentioned below.

  • 1950 Llangollen; the event, the Eisteddfod, when the Glasgow Philharmonic Choir under John Rankin won the International Trophy (Male Choir). In other words, we went and played the Welsh Choirs at their own game, and we beat them!
  • In 1960 and again in 1961, the Choir was first in the Male Voice class in the BBC competition “Let The People Sing”, and in 1975 we made an LP recording.
  • In 1972 and 1979 there were Combined Concerts with other Male Voice Choirs: with the Clydebank, Dunblane, Greenock and Paisley Male Voice Choirs in Greenock in 1972, and with the Bannockburn, Clydebank and Dunblane Choirs in November 1979 in the University of Stirling’s MacRobert Arts Centre.
  • In 1990, as our contribution to Glasgow’s being the European City of Culture for that year, the Choir, under the baton of Elizabeth Izatt, organised a very successful Recital Competition for young singers in collaboration with the Woolwich Building Society.
  • We are the only Scottish Choir to have been invited by the London Welsh Male Voice Choir to take part in their bi-annual Festivals of Male Voice which are held in the Royal Albert Hall. We first took part in 1990 then again in 1994, and we participated again in October 2000, 2006 and 2012.
  • In the 75th Anniversary year, (1999-2000) the Choir decided to present a series of concerts in aid of the Prince & Princess of Wales Hospice – one in each of the North, South, East and West of Glasgow, and one outside Glasgow, in Callander Kirk, as well as a special concert in St Columba’s Church of Scotland in London, immediately following the Royal Albert Hall concert. The proceeds from this series of concerts were presented to the Hospice at the Christmas Concert in December 2000.
  • In 2006 we also held a Music for Malawi ion the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.
  • 2011 was the anniversary of the Ibrox Disaster and we were proud to take part on 2 January.
  • From 2012 to 2015 we were busy with concerts as follows. Wales Choir of the World, Royal Festival Hall, Festival of the World 7th July 2012, London Festival of Male Voice Choirs, Royal Albert Hall 13th October 2012, Stars on Parade, Royal Concert Hall 11th November 2013, Voices of the Commonwealth, Royal Concert Hall 1st June 2014 and Glasgow Choirs Spectacular, City Halls Merchant City 25th October 2015. We joined a Treharris Male Voice Choir from Wales on April 2016 to perform in aid of Alzheimer awareness.
  • We have supported the Lanarkshire festival of male Voice Choirs over several years until Covid ended this event which was disappointing.
  • In more recent years we have continued our annual concerts in Christmas and spring and the association with the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice We have supported churches and organisations raising money for their own projects by providing concerts and covering our own costs. Concerts in aid of the charity Bloodwise also took place.
  • In 2017 we hosted a massed male voice concert in the Kelvingrove Galleries to commemorate 100 years since the end of the first world war. We have also supported our former Deputy Conductor in participating in a concert in aid of Ukraine in 2022. 
  • Following the Pandemic, we were invited to offer a performance at the Semper Vigilo Memorial Service for to mark the passing of police staff, Police officers, retirees and family members during the Covid restrictions where funerals were limited, at the Old Cathcart Parish Church 28th November 2021. This was a privilege to be invited.
  • Our recent concerts have been in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall New Auditorium, Glasgow Airport, Braehead, Glasgow Central Station and the City Chambers. Our Christmas concert in 2023 included a Ukrainian refugee as guest Violinist.
  • We operate a Scholarship scheme and provide support to young singers in the form of uniform and travel costs. This has allowed young people to try being part of a choir and have a positive experience around professionals who can mentor them and hopefully continue or have memories to return at some point in the future. We engaged Strathclyde University Marketing Department to do a study on recruitment and this recommended aiming for the more mature men as potential members which we have done.

We value the Patronage of the Lord Provost of the City of Glasgow which anchors us in the city despite a wider membership and we look forward to celebrating 100 years of being a Glasgow institution.  We aim to publicise this centenary in the hope to recruit new members.

On a final note, Covid lockdown prevented some choristers from meeting. We coached some 70-year-olds on the use of zoom, we continued our rehearsals and communion with each other online and even recorded a song over zoom. It’s when you don’t have something you realise its value and we hugely appreciate the ability to get together with friends, support them through life events and make music to a high standard at the same time.