Eschoir to take on the world at US festival

By Regina Motalib

A choir group are heading to the United States of America this summer to perform at the North American Festival of Wales.

Eschoir, an all-male voice choir who perform at the Welsh Borough Chapel in Southwark Bridge Road, will be in New York City for a couple of days, followed by the main grand concert in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

They have not been able to participate in the festival since 2018, due to lockdown restrictions.

Founder and director of Eschoir, Mike Williams, expressed his joy over the forthcoming tour.

He said: “We are looking forward to going on tour again. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that we will be singing to an audience and bringing the joy of Welsh music to people.”

The choir, consisting of dapper gentlemen donning black-tie attire, are a perfect fit for their name Eschoir – a play on the word ‘Esquire’ from the high-end men’s magazine.

Eschoir have been singing together since 2009 and are a diverse group with singers who range in age from 20 to 75.

They come from all walks of life – there are students, teachers, bankers, and retired people.


One of their tenors, Trevor Ellis, is the son-in-law of the famous Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas.

Mike said: “The diversity in Eschoir is great and something we are proud of. “When you join our choir you instantly make 20 new friends from all age groups and professional backgrounds.

“We even have a doctor, which helps when we are on tour.”

Eschoir, who have performed at 10 Downing Street, Buckingham Palace and the Millenium Stadium for the Six Nations rugby tournament, were hugely affected by the pandemic, like the rest of the arts industry.

Mike explained: “Lockdown meant we could not perform at our usual events.

“Although we turned to Zoom to socialise, like the rest of the nation, we couldn’t use this medium to rehearse, as we didn’t think it was effective.”

Mike, who grew up in South Wales, is also a conductor for various choirs.

He explained why Eschoir are so well received: “The sound is obviously different, but so is the feeling evoked by dark, rich voices.

“There is a humility to it as Welsh choirs stem back to the coal mines and chapels.

“Many people enjoy singing in the pub as much as singing in a concert. There is no pomp.


It unites us and keeps us connected to our Welsh roots and connects us to London, one of the biggest cities in the world.”

It’s no mean feat organising a consistent strong number of singers, as Mike explained the Welsh take choirs very seriously and the rivalry is on a par with those of football fans.

He explained how the old Welsh idiom ‘Y cythraul canu’, often comes to mind.

He said: “This term loosely means the devil in music or the tense rivalry that can exist between different choirs – especially when they are competing together at the National Eisteddfod of Wales, a week-long festival which goes back centuries.”

Eschoir will also be doing a special performance at the Welsh Borough Chapel to celebrate the chapel’s 150th year, later this year.

Trustee of Borough Chapel, Neil Evans, said: “We are so excited that Eschoir are taking part in the North American Festival of Wales, as part of their tour of the United States this August and September.

“I went to see them perform in the States on their previous visit in 2018 when they went to Brooklyn, New York, and Alexandria, Virginia, which was the venue for the 2018 North American Festival of Wales.

“They had a wonderful and ecstatic reception both from Welsh and American communities.” Neil, who is also the senior press officer at the National Gallery, praised the choir’s singing ability.

He said: “The eclectic ambition and range of programming and the sheer quality of the ensemble singing, and the soloists’ contributions, was something I shall never forget.

“Eschoir are a brilliant group of singers, so if you can’t get to the States we are very much hoping people will come and see them here in Southwark before they travel.”

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