As part of our International Cultural Exchange Ensemble Cymru has been invited to perform on the final day of the 11th Welsh Alpine Championships in Champéry in the Canton of Valais (Wallis) in Switzerland.
We will be performing at the closing event of the competition in the presence of the British Deputy Head of Mission and Consul General in Switzerland, Richard Ridout, MBE.
Photo caption: (L to R) Sara Lian Owen, Peryn Clement-Evans, Anne Denholm (photo credit Timothy Ellis)
The programme will be a broad range of music from Wales including music of Grace Williams in the 40th year since her death.
Valais has a shared Celtic history with Wales and apparently the names Valais (Wallis) and Wales come from the same word.
Anne Denholm –Harp (our new principal harpist and official harpist to HRH The Prince of Wales)
Sara Lian Owen – Soprano (originally from Bangor in North Wales)
Peryn Clement-Evans – Clarinet
Ahead of the trip to Switzerland, Ensemble Cymru’s Artistic Director and principal clarienttist, Peryn Clement-Evans said:
“We’re excited to be invited to perform at the Welsh Alpine Championships and to be making new friends in the canton of Valais in Switzerland. We were approached some time ago by Ray Pritchard, a Welshman living in Switzerland and we’re hugely grateful to him and the community of Champéry for making our visit possible.”
The highpoint was a performance of Gareth Glyn’s arrangement of the Welsh national anthem with the youth choirs of Graubünden’s Canton School. Our musicians performed a cross section of chamber music from Wales including music by William Mathias, Hilary Tann, music from Wales bardic tradition, Cerdd Dant (arr. Sioned Webb) and the well-known song Lisa Lan.
Discussion about living through Welsh and Rumantsch
Moderated by the presenter from Radio and Television Rumantscha, Victoria Haas, there was discussion sparked by searching questions from the young people concerning the support to the Welsh language, status of the Welsh language as one of the two official languages in Wales, bilingualism in Wales and comparing its status with that of Rumantsch as one of the four official languages in Switzerland.
Then to close, performances together (us and the choirs) of entrancing Rumantsch folk songs in special arrangements for the project by the composer and bassoonist Gion Andreas Casanova of music by his father, Gion Balzer Casanova.
Music at the Heart of Education.
Graubunden’s Canton School has a brilliant team of 7 music teachers including Christian Klucker, ambassador for our project and Gion Andreas all of whom work so hard with the young people through singing and music throughout the school. Speaking with the school’s Director, I came away with the strong impression of how important the school sees music in helping it and its staff to prepare its young people for life.
The music facilities for approximately 2,000 pupils in the school are fantastic. We suspect that at least one or two of the conservatoires and music faculties in Britian might be jealous of the number of the pianos and rooms dedicated to music.
Thanks to the Director, Gion Lechmann and Deputy Director, Philippe Benguerel of the Canton School for their support. Thanks to Werner Cariget and his pupils for their work preparing questions for the discussion and to Mike Evans for instant translation. Mike’s the only person we know who speaks Welsh and Rumantsch!
We must thank especially the ambassador for the project, Christian Klucker (conductor of Incantanti and Music Teacher at the School) who has worked so hard to ensure the success of the visit. We were especially thankful to him and Erica and their family and neighbours Beatrice and Andreas for the welcome, hospitality and for looking after us.
Working with Chur’s Young Musicians
With the assistance of our interpretors, Toni, Kurt and Karin, we had a lot of fun working with the young instrumentalists (Guitar, recorders, flute, saxophone, clarinet, violinis, violas, cello) from Musikschule Domat/Ems,Felsberg.
Ensemble Cymru’s musicians led on activities to warm up the body, to develop the sense of rhythm and to develop the ability to breathe well and to support the sound effectively. Then onwards to work on Gareth Glyn’s arrangement of Ar Hyd y Nos (All Through the Night) for the Ensemble and the young musicians. The conductor of the orchestra, Ursin Widmer joined us on the second day to conduct a performance at the close of the two days with the children and young people.
We were very grateful to Sibilla Stolz (the orchestra’s Coordinator) for driving us around in the bus (and her husband Rico) and for organising the 2 workshops. We are also thankful to Anita Jehli (head of the school) and her office for enabling us to work with the school’s students and to Kathrin von Cube (Head of Strings), Bettina Marugg (Head of Flute Ensemble) and to Ursin Widmer (Orchestra Director) for working with the children and young people in preparation.
Biggest thanks go on behalf of the Ensemble: Peryn(Clarinét), Sara (Soprano), Oliver (Viola), Jonathan (Flute) and Anne (Harp) to the children and young people for being such fun to work with.
After swapping planes and almost losing our baggage in Gatwick this is Jonathan Rimmer, Oliver Wilson, Sara Lian Owen and Anne Denholme just arrived in Zurich’s main Station on the way to Chur, Graubünden. This is an exciting project with a community that speaks Romansch one of Switzerland’s 4 official languages.