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.

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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