Gamlakarleby Manskör was founded on the 4th of January 1915. On that day, the choir gave its first concert. The concert was held for the benefit of poor schoolchildren in the town of Gamlakarleby. The town is since 1977 named Kokkola.
Valter Nyström directed the choir. He was also the one who took initiative for founding this choir. The choir consisting of twenty men was immediately a success during its first concert. The success raised interest for the male choir and the following year the number of singers had already increased to 32. The choir continued rehearsals conducted by Valter Nyström.
The first official concert was held in the so-called Brandkårshuset (fire-brigade house). Then followed a concert tour to Vaasa, Pietarsaari and Seinäjoki. During a short period of time, the choir had performed in seven concerts, of which four were in the hometown Gamlakarleby. This was the beginning. Many years have passed. Gamlakarleby Manskör will celebrate its 100 birthday in January 2015. The choir has kept on working with shifting success. Today there is around 30 singers in the choir. Lars Junell is the chairman
The following former chairmen of the choir have been appointed Chairman of Honour: Fritiof Holmqvist (1945), Einar Cederberg (1953), Karl Erik Andersson (1976) and Vidar Häggblom (1994), Kurt Haldin (2011). The text is written by Allan Sandström.
Gamlakarleby Manskör traditionally performs in Gamlakarleby and Karleby on different kind of occasions. The spring concert on the eve of May Day on the 30th of April is appreciated among the home audience and also by spectators from far away. Gamlakarleby Manskör have appointed the following persons Dirctors of Honour: J.A. Lybäck (1938), Herman Remell (1950), Eino Lindell (1976) and John Storbacka (1988).
Several directors have replaced one another during the years. Among these, the composer Erik Fordell should be mentioned as one of the colourful directors that have conducted the choir. He conducted Gamlakarleby Manskör during two short periods, first a few years in the 1950s and later in the 1970s. In the 1990s, a lady. Karl Gustav Sundman left us as director. He conducted us from autumn 2001 to march 2018. Our current director from august 2018 is Martti Laitinen.
Gamlakarleby Manskör's own song, is "Bottniska hav", the text is written by Allan Sandström. and it is set to music by Selim Palmgren.
Gamlakarleby Manskör traditionally performs in Karleby on different kinds of occasions. The spring concert on the eve of May Day on the 30th of April is appreciated among the home audience and also by spectators from far away. Gamlakarleby Manskör has also been active to perform in different parts of the world. Guest performances in Kokkola's twin towns in Sweden, Norway and Denmark are part of the choir's routines. In 1978 the choir made a trip to the USA and performed in six different places, e.g. New York. It has been said that the Statue of Liberty in the harbour of New York City gave polite applauses when Gamlakarleby Manskör sang to her.
A few years ago, Finlands Svenska Manssångarförbund (FSM) was represented by Gamlakarleby Manskör at a cultural event in Riga, the capital of Latvia. A trip the participants surely remember.
On special occasions, Gamlakarleby Manskör performs in dress-suit, otherwise in a neat suit.