The musical maestro who founded Cornwall’s thriving International Male Choral Festival 20 years ago has been recognised by the Queen with a British Empire Medal (BEM).

Dr Roy Wales, who has spent a lifetime forming and conducting choirs and training choral conductors, was instrumental in setting up, developing and directing the festival - now the largest event of its kind in the world.

Roy, who is currently celebrating his 80th birthday year with a series of concerts and events, was conducting a concert of massed Cornish Male Voice Choirs at the Royal Albert Hall in October 2000, when he had the inspiration to create an international music festival hosted by those Cornish choirs.

He shared this vision with like-minded, influential people within Cornwall’s musical community - bringing together an enthusiastic team of key organisers and volunteers and directing the first three of the biennial festivals before passing on the baton.

One of those founding team-members, John Larke, is as keenly involved today as he was 20 years ago and he said: “From the very first we realised Roy’s ambition and scale for the festival would attract choirs within Cornwall, the UK and across the globe to share their music with as many people as possible in this beautiful part of the world. In the event we have hosted choirs from every continent – it’s a huge achievement.”

Dr Roy Wales said: “Clearly I am very proud of the way the festival has continued to develop and grow since I retired as director and I am delighted that it is now regarded as the largest male choir festival worldwide. I always felt Cornwall was the right place to host an international male choral festival because of the extensive and longstanding male voice choir tradition in the county.”

During the next Cornwall International Male Choral Festival - running from April 29 to May 3, 2021 - 60 choirs of all ages and nationalities will be taking part in 50 events in 40 venues to entertain more than 50,000 people.

The international concerts and competitions will be taking place at Truro Cathedral and the Hall for Cornwall – which will be open once more following major renovations.

Already the 2021 event has signed up a quarter of the choirs who will be singing their hearts out across the county, with internationals registering an interest in attending including choirs from Brazil and South Africa, Australia and the USA, Iceland, Portugal, Croatia and Sweden.

As the choirs themselves sign up, composers from across the globe are vying to pen a winning piece of music for the 2021 event in the hotly contested Composers’ Competition - a jewel in the crown of the festival. The competition deadline is March 31 this year, with the bar for contenders set very high by the last winners who came from Seattle, Shanghai and Surrey.

“Although we have two years between each festival the work doesn’t stop for a minute,” says director and Cornish musical supremo Gareth Churcher.

“Over the twenty years since Roy Wales had his incredible vision, the festival has grown in respect and stature to be internationally very famous and it’s fantastic to have so many choirs and composers queueing up to take part.

“We’re also looking forward to seeing the Hall for Cornwall back in action for 2021, giving singers of all ages and nationalities the opportunity to sing on a world-class stage. It will be a bonus for our established sponsors who have supported the Festival over the years – as well, potentially, as a showcase for a large corporate sponsor such as we have had in the past and hope to attract for next year’s event!”

Full details of the 2021 Cornwall International Male Choral Festival, along with festival films, photos and information from previous events, can be found at or for expressions of interest contact Gareth Churcher - .