2016 Festival Report

Ottawa – April 2016

The weekend of April 22-24, 2016 was quite overwhelming.

What was going on?  The annual Welsh Festival for a start.  This year it took place in Ottawa and I can honestly state that it was a HUGE success, possibly the best we’ve had.

What made it so successful?  Top of the list have to be Côrdydd (guest choir from Cardiff) and those wonderful Tri Tenor Cymraeg -the Three Welsh Tenors, Rhys Meirion, Aled Hall and Aled Wyn Davies, accompanied by the amazing Caradog Williams.  We have never hosted a choir like Côrdydd.  They were truly brilliant, with a very unusual repertoire – and they were such fun.  We are so truly blessed in Wales to have such incredible singers.

The rapport between the choir and Tenors added to the magic of the Saturday evening concert.  The venue, Dominion-Chalmers church, was chock-a-block, and the acoustics were superb.  Three hours flew by and we the audience would have been delighted to listen for another three hours.

The weekend had started with the Tenors in charge of this year’s Noson Lawen.  Ottawa had supplied us with singers, harpists and a group of recorder players.  Merched Dewi and Meriel Simpson from Toronto added to the programme, as, of course, did Côrdydd and the Three Tenors.  Aled Hall could probably consider a second career as a comedian!

After the AGM on Saturday morning during which Mariwen Thornley, Liz Good and Christine Campney were welcomed as new Board members, there was a full house to support Awr y Plant (The Children’s Hour).  Thanks to local harp teacher, Mary Muckle, several of her young pupils entertained us with their harp solos and duets.  Three of the youngsters acted out a fable about a famous Welsh harpist.  Adding to the entertainment were piano solos, singers and, of course, joke tellers.  Diolch, bawb (thank you all).  A very successful Awr y Plant.

Roy Morris was the recipient of this year’s Gold Award, presented to him by Myfanwy Daives.  It was very appropriate that he be honoured in his adopted home of Ottawa.  Originally from Ystalyfera in the Swansea Valley, Roy has made enormous contributions to choral music, not only in Ontario but also in North America generally. Anyone who has attended previous cymanfaoedd – Ontario or the National- will be familiar with Roy and his enthusiasm in front of choirs, whether formally or informally at Afterglows.

There was a crowd of “hopeful attendees” for harpist Mary Muckle’s seminar. hoping to be the lucky ones chosen for a harp lesson.  As there were far more of us than there were harps, the lucky “winners” were chosen by lottery.  Very humbling!  It may look easy, but believe me it is not.

lDr Paul Birt, Chair of the Celtic Department in Ottawa University, talked to us about the Welsh settlement in Patagonia.  Paul has done much research on Y Wladfa, as it is known to Welsh speakers, and is an expert on the topic.

On Sunday we were back at Dominion-Chalmers because the two gymanfa sessions are the raison d’être of the weekend.  The hymn singing was inspirational and it was obvious that the many first time attendees were truly impressed.

Special thanks for a splendid weekend go the Board and the local organizing committee.  Diolch o galon.

Hefina Phillips