Thursday, July 01, 2010

Chasing the Welsh Patagonia Choir

Next Friday I have 30 minutes to introduce the Welsh Patagonia Choir at the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen, and today have been trying to find out more about them.

A quick search found this article in the Flintshire Chronicle today, but I wasn't sure if they were the same so I left a message on Edward Williams's answerphone. Before he could answer I received an email from Luned Gonzales de Roberts of Patagonia, in Welsh, listing the places where the choir will visit.

CÔR MERCHED YSGOL GERDD Y GAIMAN YN YMWELD A CHYMRU
Byddant yn cynnal cyngherddau mewn wyth canolfan ledled Cymru yn ogystal a chystadlu a chanu yn Eisteddfod Ryngwladol Llangollen.

7/7/10 - Capel Salem, Treganna, Caerdydd gyda Chôr Merched y Garth ac CF1 -7.30

11/7/10 -Neuadd Fach Bethesda, Y Tymbl Cwm Gwendraeth- 7.30

13/7/10 - Ysgol y Preseli, Crymych gyda Chôr Aelwyd Crymych a Chôr Crymych. 7.00

17/7/10 - Morlan, Morfa Mawr, Aberystwyth am 7.30

18/7/10 - Neuadd Llanuwchllyn am 7.30

22/7/10 - Capel Gad, Cilcain gyda Chôr Cilcain am 8.00

25/7/10 - Capel Penuel, Ffordd Deiniol, Bangor am 8.00

So from this I deduce they are the Music School Girls's choir from Gaiman which I heard practising when I made my visit there in 2004. I remember a old red building on the main street and standing outside and hearing the faint music inside.

Edward Williams of Cilcain - where the choir are to sing on the 22nd - filled me in with a few more details: There are about 20 in the choir altogether and they are conducted by Hector McDonald (nephew of Elvey whose book I own). Edith McDonald, Hector's mother, is the organiser.

He told me the concert on the 22nd is a fund-raising one to try and finance the transport of the choir to Bangor and Liverpool.

In my researches I also discovered another surprising fact. In the Lowdham Literature Festival I was asked how many Welsh-speaking people there are in Patagonia today and I guessed 10,000. Later, thinking about it, I thought maybe my guess was ridiculously high. But today I discovered that my guess was, in fact, a little low. There are 25,000 Welsh speakers in Patagonia and 750,000 world-wide. I had no idea - that is much larger than I thought.

Added July 2nd.
In the night I received another email from Luned with more details about the choir, this time in Spanish. This is becoming a very interesting and enjoyable trilingual jigsaw puzzle.

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