The ORPHEUS MALE CHORUS was formed in 1921 by CHARLES D. DAWE, a vocal teacher born in Port Talbot, South Wales (16 Mar. 1888), who came to Cleveland in 1912 with his wife and son. The origins of the chorus stemmed from an incident which occurred when Dawe was giving a vocal lesson in his studio. Disturbed by the noise of hammering outside, Dawe complained to the offending workman, who rejoined that the noise didn't matter because the student had no voice. When Dawe challenged the carpenter to do better, he was so impressed with the result that he asked if the workman, Robt. Walker, had friends who could sing equally well. Walker brought 18 fellow laborers to Dawe, and the resultant Orpheus Male Chorus gave its first concert in Mar. 1921. Under the leadership of Dawe, the chorus grew to 90 members and won prizes in competition for small choruses in the Eisteddfod (competitive arts festivals) in Mold, Wales, including Second Male Voice prize (1923) and Chief Male Voice competition (1926). The latter was the first time the prize had been awarded to a chorus outside Wales. In 1935 the chorus traveled to Russia. Upon his retirement and subsequent death in 1957, Dawe had conducted the chorus for 36 years and had missed only 2 or 3 rehearsals. Karl Mackey succeeded Dawe as conductor, followed by Wyn Morris (1958), HOWARD WHITTAKER (1961), and Cyril Chinn (1963). Upon its disbanding in 1964, many Orpheus members joined the SINGERS CLUB, another Cleveland male chorus.

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Grossman, F. Karl. A History of Music in Cleveland (1972).

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