South East Wales

Only Boys Aloud choir's future secured by sponsorship

Only Boys Aloud
Image caption Tim Rhys Evans wanted to inspire a new generation of singers

The future of a boys choir in the south Wales valleys formed by Only Men Aloud has been secured with sponsorship.

Only Boys Aloud were created by Tim Rhys Evans, director of the BBC talent show winning choir, to perform at the 2010 National Eisteddfod in Ebbw Vale.

"It was too special and too important to just let it go with that one performance," said Mr Evans.

The 200-strong choir was formed from groups of youngsters aged 14 to 19 across the south Wales valleys.

A three year deal with the Principality Building Society will include finance for an intensive summer school.

Mr Evans, who had already formed Only Men Aloud to inspire young men to follow the Welsh choral tradition, wanted to reach out to the next generation.

"Some critics said it was just a massive publicity stunt but it couldn't be further from the truth," he told BBC Radio Wales.

"It was a genuine desire to get lads from this part of the world to do something different, to challenge themselves."

The opening concert at the Eisteddfod was followed by another to celebrate golf's Ryder Cup tournament in Newport and an appearance at the Royal Festival Hall in London.

Continued commitment

"It's been a great year - really exciting," said Mr Evans.

"It just blew us away, that opening concert - we just realised it was too special and too important to just let it go with that one performance."

The boys continue to hold weekly rehearsals in ten smaller choirs in rugby clubs and function rooms across the south Wales valleys with new recruits still being sought.

Image caption Boys on board: the raw recruits entertained passengers on a train to Ebbw Vale

Mr Evans said only a handful of boys had left the choir, mainly to go to university, and he was impressed by everyone's commitment.

"Young people have lots to do in their lives like exams, so it's very hard for these boys to balance everything," he said.

"But just coming to that once a week rehearsal is a really good thing."

The sponsorship deal will also include a nine-day summer school at Atlantic College in the Vale of Glamorgan for the most talented young recruits over the age of 16.

A twinning arrangement with the school choir at Eton is also planned.

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