Fiercely protective of its reputation as a land of song, Wales demonstrates its fine voice most affectingly in its ranks of male voice choirs. Although found all over the country, it is in the southern, industrial heartland that they are loudest and strongest. Their roots lie in the Nonconformist religious traditions of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when Methodism in particular swept the country, and singing was a free and potent way of cherishing the often persecuted faith. Classic hymns like Cwm Rhondda and the Welsh national anthem, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land of My Fathers), are synonymous with the choirs. Each Valleys town still has its own choir, most of whom welcome visitors to sit in on rehearsals. Ask at the local tourist office or library, and take the chance to hear one of the world’s most distinctive choral traditions in full, roof-raising splendour.

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