Blog: Men Who Sing - a documentary film for music makers far and wide

Marketing & Communications Officer Alex McGeever takes a look at documentary film Men Who Sing and what makes its characters tick ahead of our screening + director Q&A on 20 October.

Men Who Sing is a film that starts as it means to go on, easing us into the seaside town of Rhyl, North Wales, with calming establishing shots accompanied by the local choir’s delicate tones.

The group in question, Trelawnyd Male Voice Choir, has a proud history dating back to 1933. With an average age of 74, however, it faces a battle to survive.

Protagonist Ed ponders life with some stylish headphones

Widower Ed Williams – all too aware Trelawnyd has sung at more funerals for former choristers than external events – ponders his own future as much as that of his cherished choir as he begins making arrangements for the sale of the family house. While clearing the premises, Ed requests the help of his son, Dylan, a filmmaker who has spread his wings and relocated to Sweden. Dylan returns home to find his father at a crossroads, grappling with the uncertainty of later life and what change could mean for the tonic of weekly choir practice.

This intergenerational relationship is at the heart of Men Who Sing, mirrored in the conflict between musical tradition and modernity. As the lifeblood of the local community for so many years, the choir provides a space to share anecdotes and experiences, ups and downs, and the wonderful camaraderie that lays the foundation for Ed's well-being. But could this nostalgia be misguided, scuppering their attempts to welcome aboard a new legion of 'brown-haired men' and preserve their heritage? Or might it be a broader indication of the choir’s incompatibility with the present day? 

Gwyn indulges in a hobby outside singing

In short… far from it. Just take Merf, for instance, who shuns his own bad news to focus on the group’s renaissance, or Gwyn, who scoffs at a cancer diagnosis to walk a plane wing for charity. The story of Trelawnyd’s members reveals a broader resolution which we often see embedded in the fabric of leisure-time music groups of all genres, shapes and sizes: a means of expression, of combatting melancholy, of making life work.

Whimsical and touching in equal measure, Men Who Sing is a memorable depiction of these human ties that strike a chord with family and friends alike. As Ed duly notes, being part of a group is ‘a lot more than just singing’. It’s ‘the feeling of blending voices and being together with your mates, like a band of brothers helping each other’; that unspeakable joy at the first note played or sung – the magic of music making to which we can all relate. 

Curious about the history of Trelawnyd Male Voice Choir or how the filmmaking process dovetailed with rehearsals? Watch the film and have your questions answered by the director himself on Wednesday 20 October!

Book ticket for film + Q&A