When all of this began back in March, we wondered what could we do to keep the community and the music alive. After thought, discussion and planning we decided to travel the world and learn from amazing and talented artists, musicians and other specialists, all while staying safe at home. Here are some highlights.
On this, our first week together on zoom, we visited and supported each other. We spent time as a group and joined in singing "What Does the Lord Require of Me". This video is from our Christmas Concert in 2018 in Lancaster, PA.
This week was our 5th meeting as a group and we decided to start singing some more. We had the fortune to be visited by Meirion Wynn Jones, Composer from Carmarthen, Wales. He created the wonderful arrangement of "Calon Lan" you can hear in the video above from our 2019 Christmas Concert in Bryn Mawr, PA.
Our 6th week brought us a wonderful morning with Welsh poet, Mererid Hopwood and multi-talented musician, Kim Lloyd Jones who together created the beautiful song "Tir Iarll", the first song we recorded while in quarantine.
On our 8th week of meetings we were joined by the renowned Welsh Composer, Eric Jones. Mr. Jones is the composer of many of the choirs' favorite pieces, but the one which is most special to the group is "Y Tangnefeddwyr". Here is a video of the choir performing "Y Tangnefeddwyr on the Grand Concert at the 2019 North American Festival of Wales.
We were thrilled and honored to have a visit from one of Europe's most respected and sought-after voice teachers, Arwel Treharne Morgan. London-based but originally from Carmarthenshire, Arwel maintains a prolific studio of singers from across Europe, the US, Canada and beyond. He discussed all aspects of singing and gave some wonderful advice to the choir.
In June we got a a rare glimpse into the workroom of Welsh textile designer, Cefyn Burgess in Ruthin, Denbyshire. Earlier this year, Cefyn went to the northeast region of India to visit an area that was heavily influenced (in a good way) by Welsh missionaries of the Methodist and Presbyterian churches. Cefyn will share with us some of his experiences and the artwork that he has been working on through the pandemic.
On our 16th week we dove into the Welsh language with Heini Gruffudd. He shared with us some great insights into learning the Welsh language and thoughtful observations about being a human being in Wales today. This is the meeting that led to the development of out Côr Cymry Gogledd America Welsh classes.
On our 20th week we were treated to a concert by Glain Dafydd whose music career includes successes in competitions such as coming second at the Moscow International Harp Competition (junior category), and being a string finalist in both the BBC Young Musician and the prestigious Royal Over-Seas League competitions. Glain has won the Blue Ribbon thrice at the National Eisteddfod and the Urdd Bryn Terfel Scholarship. She was awarded the “City of Szeged Prize” at the Szeged International Harp Competition, Hungary, and won the 4ème Rencontres Internationales de Harp en Île-de-France.
For 2 weeks in a row we received a tour through the world of Welsh Pop music by the famous radio personality Richard Rees and his daughter Ffion. Richard gave us two detailed song lists to help us hear and experience a different side of welsh music. It was a wonderful experience and many of us left with the fun job of finding new albums to buy.
This week we really travelled far, all the was to New Zealand! Our guest, Margot Griffith, has been the President of the Welsh Gymanfa Ganu Association of New Zealand, President of the Wellington Welsh Society, teacher and authority on the Maori culture. Originally from Ferryside, Wales, Margot is a passionate advocate for all things Welsh.
Our special guest on this week was Canadian Welsh New Yorker organist, David Enlow. Among other things, we chatted about how David and his professional church choir are streaming services during this time, he shared practice tips for choristers and organists, and discussed being one of the two cymanfa ganu organists for NAFOW.
We were especially thrilled that one of Welsh-Patagonia’s most beloved people – Signora Luned Gonzalez, was able to join us. As a direct descendant of the founder of “Y Wladfa” (the Welsh colony), Luned will share with us the story of the early years of the settlement, her own journey as a bilingual Welsh-Spanish person, her game-changing work as the headteacher of Coleg Camwy, the rise of Welsh language learning for adults and children, and the cultural activities throughout the region.
We were so excited to have Robat Arwyn join us. He is a musical composer from Ruthin, North Wales, best known for his many Welsh-language songs. His notable compositions include the songs "Anfonaf Angel" and "Benedictus".
It was wonderful to welcome our guest presenter, Welsh music authority and educator, Wyn Thomas from Bangor University, Wales. Wyn is a charming gentleman who walked
us through some of the stories of “Women in Welsh Music - Gwragedd ym myd cerddoriaeth Cymru”. The women were collectors (rescuers) of some of our favorite folk songs, composers of significant works, and are performers on the international stage.