Back in the summer, one of the distinctive experiences we had whilst preparing for our “Octet” tour was a visit to the home of Ann Thomas, Cefn Ydfa; the subject of the Welsh folk song, Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn (Shepherding the White Wheat).
If you’re not familiar with the background of the song, it describes the tragic loving relationship between Wil Hopcyn and Ann Thomas. Ann belonged to a family of affluent farmers from a small village in South Wales, Llangynwyd near Maesteg, but Wil was only a local thatcher and poet. Ann’s motherwas adamany that Wil wasn’t good enough for her daughter and therefore she forced Ann to marry the son of a local squire and a few days before the wedding, Wil left the village for Bristol. Months later, he returned home and when he arrived, he discovered that Ann was dying. As Wil held Ann in his arms, she relaxed and smiled because of her love for him, and then died. Ann was 23 and Wil died 14 years later after writing a song in memory of their love. Both are now buried in Llangynwyd.
Composer John Metcalf, and two of the Ensemble’s members had the opportunity to have their photos talen in front of Cefn Ydfa and it was a great opportunity for the musicians to play the main melody of the song on the farmyard. This is Peryn and Nicola reminding you of the melody.