91 Years of Music Making
Portadown Male Voice Choir was formed in 1926. Its origins can be traced back to a mixed choir made up of employees of the linen firm, Spence Bryson & Co Ltd.. This choir had been formed some years previous to 1926 by the late George E Lutton, then manager of the linen manufacturing side of the business. Mr Lutton took a keen interest in a number of cultural activities in Portadown and the formation of the Spence Bryson or Clonavon Factory Choir was his first venture into choral work.
The Clonavon Factory Choir
continued for a number of years with moderate success until 1925 when it was decided that the choir could no longer function due to a lack of support by some members, in maintaining a balanced ensemble. Mr Lutton did however feel that it would be possible to form a male voice choir in Portadown, and for this idea he gained much encouragement and support from the men of the former Clonavon Factory Choir.
The first committee meeting was held in Mr Lutton’s home, 23 Edward Street, which resulted in the choirs’ foundation being properly established. The newly formed choir held its first practice in the “Catch-My-Pal” hall in Edward Street and is now the offices and factory of Wm Sprott’s Bacon Company. Choir practices were mainly held in the canteen of Spence Bryson for most of the choirs first 50 years and then they transferred to Ulster Carpet Mills for several years and laterly Portadown Golf Club.
In the early years the choir performed mainly in concerts and sacred recitals, but soon acquired a taste for festivals and competitions, and in this respect has emblazoned the name of Portadown throughout Ireland and Great Britain. The city of Cork is a special friend to us and we have won various awards there including the premier award some five times. In May 2008 the Choir again had resounding success in both winning the Male Voice section and the Open National asection at Cork. Other Irish towns where Portadown Male Voice choir have excelled include Belfast, Dublin, Arklow.
60th Anniversary 1986
Dungannon, Holywood, Bangor, Coleraine, Newry and of course, home town Portadown, where the name of the Male Voice Choir is engraved on so many trophies, so many times.
One of the highlights for Portadown Male Voice Choir was in 1995 we helped to launch the Irish Rugby Anthem, “Irelands Call” written and composed by Phil Coulter. The choir appeared along side Culwick Choral Society of Dublin and Andrew Stronge on a live performance on Gay Byrne’s “Late Late Show”.
Choir 1999 prior to tour of Canada
The choir have embarked on a number of successful tours abroad; in 1989 we toured West Germany around the Bremen area and received rave reviews in the local musical press. An equally successful tour of Canada was conducted in 1999 and the choir was appreciated by audiences at the various venues where we performed.
In 2006 our 80th year, in october the choir visited Lagrange in Georgia. The visit was again another highlight in the 80 years of Portadown Male Voice Choir, and adds to a plethora of festivals, the Annual Concert and various other functions shows the dedication of conductor Gordon Speers and his band of singing men.