|Only Men Aloud|
Picture: James Davies
“If we turn back 6 years or so we were doing it as a hobby, so to speak.” OMA’s first tenor David Fortey recently told Andy Howells, “I guess it’s an old cliche but entering and winning a BBC talent competition absolutely changed everything. It changed all of our lives and a lot of us, myself included, had a chance to focus on music as a full time career and it hasn't stopped since.”
David and other members of OMA split their time between performing and mentoring younger choir groups including Only Boys Aloud and Only Kid’s Aloud. “The male choir tradition stems back centuries in Wales and OMA is part of that tradition with a slightly more modern twist,” David continues “the key thing is these days we're hearing more stories about the more traditional groups who have to close down because they are maybe elderly and can’t carry on. We are immensely proud to give something back to the community and to the tradition of male voice choirs, so they can continue for another hundred years or so. For us it does get hectic at times, we find ourselves on the road performing and singing and then we might be back teaching - it offers variety.”
Variety is also the order of the day as Only Men Aloud prepare for their forthcoming Christmas concert at Cardiff's St David’s Hall. The Classical Brit award winners will showcase their eight piece vocal harmonies as they add their magic touch to Christmas classics and best loved songs from the musicals, among them standards such as White Christmas and O Holy Night and dazzlers including Putting On The Ritz from Top Hat and Razzle Dazzle from Chicago.
“The good thing about the OMA repertoire, Tim Rhys Evans who is the musical director puts his mark on all of our music. Every single one of us loves Christmas so you get the traditional right up to the present day. Everything is given the OMA razzle dazzle as it were and really makes one great show. We have fun doing it, the audiences enjoy it and it puts them in the right spirit for Christmas.”
“The last year or so we’ve been an 8 piece ensemble,” continues David, “Tim is writing and arranging music for the group which is almost one and a part so each one of us has our own individual line and are kind of responsible for making the whole thing tick. Everything has its challenges because the repertoire is diverse, we kind of have the traditional which you'd have the choir to sing and then it branches out to endless possibilities which offer its own challenges. You’re always switching styles and going from one thing to the next the good thing is all the guys are accomplished singers and musicians so it’s a good challenge to have.”
David also says there will be a few surprises in the show, “We have got a few new songs and some good Christmas medleys which I won’t spoil. I’m looking forward to a few of those they are going to be good fun.”