Eisteddfod with Wynne Evans

Eisteddfod with Wynne Evans

Welsh tenor Wynne Evans with his take on the annual celebration of Welsh arts and culture, held this year in Wrexham.

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Hello. My name's Wynne Evans. I'm an opera singer and I'm also the


man with a tache that's on your TV every five minutes. If I'm totally


honest with you I'm feeling a bit nervous. I've arrived somewhere I


should know a lot about, but I don't. I'm like a fish out of water.


Even more worryingly, I'm giving a concert here in two days' time and


I have no real idea what this thing is about. This thing, by the way,


is Europe's biggest cultural festival. The National Eisteddfod


Every year the National Eisteddfod of Wales moves location. From north


to south. I brought my family. We've rented a house and we've come


here, to Wrexham. Bye! Bye! It's been described as the capital of


North Wales, and yet it is only a stone's throw from Cheshire and the


English border. Over the week I will be amongst 160 ,000 people to


descend upon Wrexham. And that's where we are heading. So, I guess I


fit the Welsh stereotype. I've certainly got the build. And I even


cry when Wales win at rugby. That's before a beer! When I tell people


that I'm a Welsh tenor they usually ask two questions. The first is, do


you know the aria from the opera from the World Cup 1990? I do. The


second, did you ever sing at the Eisteddfod? To which very to answer


no. I've got a strong Welsh accents but I don't speak the language. As


this is a festival celebrating the Welsh language and its culture I


thought I would never really fit into the Eisteddfod scene. I took a


different route, through amateur dramatics and then to the Guildhall


School of Music and Drama. But the Eisteddfod has provided a valuable


training ground to so many prominent Welsh artists. World-


renowned Welsh harpist Katherine Finch has performed at many a we


shall national, as has my old friend Bryn Terfel and the girl who


became everyone's favourite Maria in the competition, Connie Fisher.


So, I'm in. Here at the Nat, and I'm being thrown in at the deep end.


It is sink or swim time. I'm doing a concert on that pink Pavilion on


Tuesday night. Seeing as I was here, I thought I would take a week to


have a look, to see what goes on at the National Eisteddfod. Wish me


luck. It feels like the whole of Wales has turned up! My first


impression - it's a great social event. And this is where it all


happens, this is the heartbeat of the National Eisteddfod. The Field,


or as they like to call it round here - this is the Maes. So, as it


is my first time on the Maes I'm going to take in the atmosphere.


The lovely thing about Wales, it is a small country. And most people


seem to know each other. A lot of people come here just for that.


Socialising and catching up with old friends. So, it's a strange


cross between a massive arts festival and a village fair.


SPEAKING IN WELSH Oh yeah, and everyone here thinks I


speak Welsh. Apart from the old odd phrase, I don't really.


Diolch. Not a clue! If you fancy the culture, you have to make your


way to the big pint tent. We are here at one of the highlights of


the Eisteddfod, the Crowning ceremony. It is a closely guarded


secret who has won the crown. The rumours running round the field is


that even I might have won it! I've got my translation gear. Let's see


if they do award a winner this year. This is what it is all about - the


crown. This is awarded for a poem. Anyone with enter the competition,


so I'm in moaningst it and poised with my lip mic. The druid in their


robes prepare for the certainlynie. It might seem odd but it is


strangely wonderful at the same time. The ceremony has now started


and the arrival of the hierarchy of the druids are processing in. It is


really like a theatrical show. All the pomp and circumstances you


would expect from a big production I guess.


APPLAUSE This competition is for free verse.


This year the subject matter was veins. So one of the adjudicator


has just come up on stage. I don't know how long it will be before we


find out who the winner is. He's just announced who the winner


is but nobody knows who the winner, is because think enter under an


ailias. And he's given such a brutal adjudication. This guy


leaves Simon Cowell in the dust really. Everybody is looking round


to see where this person is, where they are going to stand up. I want


to stand up who it is but people might think it's me.


APPLAUSE The druids now are going off the


stage to collect the winner. CHEERING


It is brilliant. I've got shivers down my spine, and real goose


pimples. Geraint Lloyd Owen.


The winner of the crown 2011. CHEERING AND APPLAUSE


This is where the party starts, I guess. It's like being a real


famous film star. The red carpet is down. Here's the winner of the


crown, I did a little bow then I got so carried away with the whole


event. I thought I was going to be a bit bored, but actually it was


brilliant. It was really, really exciting. So there we are, Crowning


ceremony is done. And this year is a special year for the Eisteddfod.




Yes, it is happy birthday, but in Happy birthday to the modern


Eisteddfod. 150 years old this year. But that first Eisteddfod in


Aberdare was not without incidents, because the wind blew and the tent


fell down. But in true Welsh spirit the show must go on. They moved all


the competitions to the market hall. I'll just go and check I put those


tent pegs in properly. The tent is still standing, so I can't put it


off any longer. I've got to rehearse for tonight's gala concert.


So I'm off to a local college in Wrexham town centre. We've got to


Tuesday and my big day in the Eisteddfod has come. My concert in


front of all the people in the Pavilion. I'm a little bit nervous,


because before the Eisteddfod concert you have to learn all your


repertoire in Welsh. So all those Italian arias out the window and in


comes the Welsh. The thing that makes me most nervous from links,


the talking to the audience. I hope nobody will rumble me. I think it's


my turn next. It is alright. Keep calm. It might


look a bit messy now but that's So, after a very brief run through,


before I know it, it's show time. That means time for me to take long


walk to the front of the stage and a packed Pavilion hanging on my


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 58 seconds


Phew! That was OK. But also on the bill with me was someone who sings


in Welsh every day, and a favourite with the crowd. Soprano Shan Cothi,


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 58 seconds


singing Welsh lyrics to a familiar Well, it's the morning after the


night before. Last night I was on stage, an environment I'm


completely comfortable in. Next year though I'm judging the main


singing competition here. Every judge wear as badge that says


Beirniad. For the first three days of this year I thought all the


judges were called Bernard! You are judging the musical theatre


competition. Give me a few pointers how I go about it next year. There


are a lot of people competing. Wait for somebody to sock it for you.


You have to be transported out of the ridiculous pink tent. Use that


as your benchmark. Disgruntled mothers. After I'm walking round


the Maes after making their child cry, how do I avoid them? You give


your result and get a taxi. going to be an unofficial judge


this year to see if I can get my ear into it. Let's see in we can


come to the same decision. I've got my Bernard badge and I'm in the


palatial BBC booth to view the This is very sweet, her voice. I


It is interesting watching this, because I know what it is like to


sing on that stage now. It is quite dry out there. Air conditioning can


I see a very good performance, vocally very adept. But I'm not


Well, I've watched all three now, and my winner would be the first


person on, which was Meiriod. And the judges agreed. Casi in the


middle was second and Hannah on the right was third. Well done to all


of them. Mums, remember, I wasn't an official Bernard this year, so


nothing to do with me. Taxi for every ans!


-- Evans. If you did take a taxi it wouldn't take long to find evidence


of heavy industry. The coal mines and iron works gave birth to a


One legacy of the past our buildings like this, the mining


museum. There is bound to be a male voice choir somewhere. I hate to


interrupt just as you're getting to your big moment. To rector of the


Welsh Proms, international conductor, this song you're singing,


if anyone knows about it, it should be you. Yes, my father wrote it. He


wrote the piece on a journey by train from here to Cardiff. He


actually wrote it as the finale for a programme. And specifically it


has an hour men at the end and it has become the standard for


everyone to copy that. If it goes wrong on stage I have been told


that that can solve anything! would be delighted if you would


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 58 seconds


Lloyd George knew my father... They did not so much no bitter other,


being in different ages and that. In 1912 he went the festival was in


Wrexham, it was the height of the suffragette movement. Lloyd George


visited to give a speech in the pavilion. A local newspaper said


the moment the Chancellor opened his mouth, one of those bandits in


petticoat would scream and inane message and three or four police


officers would rush to get them. One which when been taken off in


the arms of a police man, turned to launch a charge pulling the most


diabolical faces I ever saw. I think things have changed since


then it! They let anyone in now, even me, a dodgy Welsh learner from


the heart of Welsh-speaking Carmarthenshire. The time has come


to bite the bullet. My children are fluent Welsh speakers. I have been


on endless courses but had never made that final week to speak the


language. Apparently the secret lies in it and hula Hoop? If you're


concentrating on that then the language it seeps in without you


noticing. Are you ready? This looks like it is going to be real hard


A bad workman always blames his tools! There's something wrong with


the hoop. Let's pretend I'm doing How come she can do it?! Having Fun


whilst learning Welsh. I think a still have a little way to go but


for the fitness video, I'm there! The shadows are lengthening and


people are leaving for the day. But some do not have that far to go. As


with everything else here I have found myself in yet another field,


this time in Jeremy Clarkson's nightmare. People put -- book they


pitched up to a year in advance for the caravan park so they can be


next to friends and family. Would you like a sausage? I would love


one. Where do they come from? shop. The shop on the campsite? Do


you shop there every day and barbecue every night? We do.


you same time tomorrow. And to prove that everyone in Wales does


know each other, I have met up with my cousin, who comes here every


year. You get to know everyone else and you meet friends that you only


see at the Eisteddfod. It is great. And the atmosphere is fantastic.


I'm asking you to think carefully before you answer this question. If


you had to pick a highlight of the Eisteddfod this year so far, what


would it be? That gala concert. wonder if there was in that concert


last night?! Well we have more than two people here so in true Welsh


style, that calls for a sing-song. What are we going to have?


As I said, I have got my family with me for the week so if the kids


are happy, we are happy. Could you do me a favour of? Could you send


me those pants when the Eisteddfod has finished? One thing we are


proud of in Wales is that we make doctor whom here. I think it is


obvious who the next assistant should be.


The Time Lord has dropped me in a strange place. DJ Bethan Albin,


where are we? Welcome to the wild underbelly of the Eisteddfod. This


is the place for camping for anyone over the age of 16. Generally


apparent free zone. So it can be wild at times. What are you doing


here? I have come down as a DJ for some of the gigs. There are all


kinds of things going on, lots of people hanging about with their


friends just chilling, it is a different atmosphere to the rest of


the Eisteddfod. This is a little campfire session.


It is getting so much attention across the UK with the radio. I


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 58 seconds


That was fantastic. Even if I do feel about 120! For the young


people who make it into the pink Pavilion, they can be assured of


some world-class competitions. This is the brass band competition,


which is of a really good standard. Third place went to the local band


from Wrexham. Same shirt, a different tune. This


band are from Cardiff and they came Totally different shirt, totally


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 58 seconds


different tune. This is the band This is a festival with something


for everyone, from babies through to great grand parents. And this


week they made me feel like I'm part of that family. My one regret


is that I did not do this 20 years ago. The highlight of my week had


Welsh tenor Wynne Evans with his take on the annual celebration of Welsh arts and culture, held this year in Wrexham. Despite hailing from the land of song, Wynne is a novice to the Eisteddfod. He discovers just what goes on at the 'National' and why for many it is the cultural highlight of the year.

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