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

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

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

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

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

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

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is Europe's biggest cultural festival. The National Eisteddfod

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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different route, through amateur dramatics and then to the Guildhall

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

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training ground to so many prominent Welsh artists. World-

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renowned Welsh harpist Katherine Finch has performed at many a we

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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cross between a massive arts festival and a village fair.

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SPEAKING IN WELSH Oh yeah, and everyone here thinks I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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would expect from a big production I guess.

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APPLAUSE This competition is for free verse.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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APPLAUSE The druids now are going off the

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stage to collect the winner. CHEERING

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

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pimples. Geraint Lloyd Owen.

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The winner of the crown 2011. CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Let me explain in song. THEY SING HAPPY BIRTHDAY IN WELSH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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because before the Eisteddfod concert you have to learn all your

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 58 seconds

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

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

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 58 seconds

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

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

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

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singing competition here. Every judge wear as badge that says

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

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judges were called Bernard! You are judging the musical theatre

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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nothing to do with me. Taxi for every ans!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 58 seconds

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

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

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

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

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

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petticoat would scream and inane message and three or four police

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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concentrating on that then the language it seeps in without you

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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obvious who the next assistant should be.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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the Eisteddfod. This is a little campfire session.

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

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 58 seconds

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

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

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

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

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from Wrexham. Same shirt, a different tune. This

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

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Apology for the loss of subtitles for 58 seconds

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

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

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

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

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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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