Posts Categorized: News

Alfie Boe ‘can’t wait’ for return to North Wales alongside BGT’s Welsh of the West End

Superstar tenor Alfie Boe says he “can’t wait” to return to North Wales as he gets set to headline Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod this summer. The renowned English singer and actor will open the event alongside Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalists Welsh of the West End at a glitzy evening concert on Tuesday, July 4. 

Alfie, who has appeared at the cultural festival on several occasions, said fans will be treated to “fantastic bloody music” with a hand-picked programme created just for Llangollen. Supported by Welsh of the West End – which is made up of some of Wales’ own home-grown talent – Alfie said fans are in for a great night. 

Speaking about his return to the town, he said: “Performing in Llangollen is very exciting because it’s a real buzz. There’s a great musical atmosphere – everybody’s there from around the world celebrating music and culture and it’s a wonderful thing to be a part of. The last few times I’ve been, I’ve loved every minute. And when you get to play the main stage and you have a day of your own, it’s even better, I can’t wait.” 

Alfie, who has collaborated with many choirs during his career said he’s looking forward to teaming up with Welsh of the West End -  the musical theatre super-group and Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalists. 

Commenting on what fans can expect, Alfie said: “Fantastic bloody music -  a good concert, lots of fun and laughter. My aim is to deliver a good show with lots of different music. It’s always nice to try new songs out with a festival crowd.” 

Book tickets here.

Alfie, who is gearing up for his UK tour this September, said he has lots in the pipeline for his loyal fans including a book and a new album. “I just want to keep coming up with ideas, keep working and doing the best I can. I’m trying my hand at some original songs too so I’ll be drip-feeding them to the public.” 

Welsh of the West End star Steffan Hughes from Llangwyfan near Denbigh, who has been a Youth Ambassador for Llangollen Eisteddfod and also presented the S4C coverage of the festival in 2019, said appearing at the festival with Alfie is a real “full circle moment” having competed in the event for many years growing up. 

 He said: “The Llangollen International Eisteddfod holds a dear place in my heart. A truly unique festival, that I had the privilege of representing as a youth ambassador in my teens. I spent many years competing on that wonderful stage and enjoyed the most varied and high-quality concerts there too. I’m so excited to be bringing Welsh of the West End to Llangollen. We represented Wales on an international stage through our appearance on Britain’s Got Talent, but there’s truly no place like home – and as a Denbighshire boy myself, I’m thrilled to be singing on home turf. We’ll be performing some of our favourite songs from the world of musical theatre and film.” 

 Steffan added: “Sharing the stage with the wonderful Alfie Boe is the icing on the cake. We were a guest act on his UK tour with Michael Ball last year, so we’re very excited to be reuniting with him once more.” 

Fellow members, Jade Davies from Denbigh, sister of Love Island winner Amber Davies, and Mared Wiliams from Llannefydd, who alongside Steffan, all went to Ysgol Glan Clwyd in St Asaph said they are also excited for the event. 

Jade, who has performed in shows such as Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera said: “It’s a dream come true to share the stage with Alfie Boe – someone who I really admire. It’ll be a joy to perform on that iconic Llangollen stage.”

Mared, who is a previous winner of the Musical Theatre International Voice of the Future at Llangollen said: “I’m thrilled to be singing at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod again. Having grown up competing and visiting the Eisteddfod, it’s a lovely feeling to be coming back to perform with professional musical theatre experience behind me.” 

Book tickets here.

The Eisteddfod will be back for its 76th year this summer – the first full length festival to be held since before the coronavirus pandemic. And this year, the Parade of Nations will be back for the first time since 2019. 

Llangollen Eisteddfod executive producer Camilla King said: “There was a lot of excitement last year when we came back for the first time since 2019 but people then were still cautious about covid and travel, whereas this year, everyone’s ready to be back out there celebrating. 

“People can expect to see a lot of the things that the festival has developed a reputation for – fantastic world renowned artists, competitions which showcase performers from around the world, exciting live finals like Choir of the World, Dance Champions and Voice of the Future – where you’ll see some of the top choirs, dance groups and operatic soloists. 

“There’ll also be spectacular international concerts which bring lots of different performers together including The White Flower which see massed forces of Welsh, Bosnian and Ukrainian performers. We’re also delighted that the 2022 Pendine International Voice of the Future winner, Emyr Lloyd Jones, will be joining us on stage as a soloist for this concert. 

On the Eisteddfod line-up will be well known jazz performer and conductor, Guy Barker with his Big Band, collaborating with top soloists such as Tommy Blaze, the lead singer on Strictly Come Dancing, and soul and jazz musicians, Clare Teal, Giacomo Smith and Vanessa Haynes performing a one-off set. “It’s going to be a real summer’s evening party – if you’re into jazz and you like that punchy big band Sinatra sound, this is the night out for you,” Camilla said. 

Commenting about Alfie Boe’s return to Llangollen, Camilla added: “It’s a few years since Alfie has been to the Eisteddfod but he’s a real favourite with our audience. It’s also a brilliant showcase for Welsh of the West End – really talented young Welsh musical theatre stars.” 

Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod runs between July 4 and 9, and features a combination of competition and performance with choirs competing for the coveted Choir of the World title and the Pavarotti Trophy. Each year around 4,000 participants take to the stage with around 25,000 visitors attending. There will also be lots of entertainment on the outside site including workshops, talks, international showcases, outdoor theatre performances and circus skills. The Eisteddfod will also crown the 2023 dance champions with the Lucille Armstrong Trophy, in addition to the Pendine International Voice of the Future event. 

Tickets are available here or on 01978 862001. 

Cân i Llan (A Song for Llan): Songwriting competition for untapped talent officially launched!

Calling all budding contemporary music stars: a new songwriting prize has been launched to discover and support grassroots popular music, giving a platform to the next generation of original commercial music artists.

Cân i Llan (A Song for Llan), is open to unsigned individuals and bands aged 14-22yrs, writing and performing in any contemporary commercial style, from any country and in any language. Acts must submit two examples of original song material to enter, and selected acts will perform sets of up to 8 minutes in the first round on Sunday 09 July. The best writers continue to our live final that evening.

The stage of the Royal Pavilion Llangollen has played host to a starry line-up of popular music acts during the 76 years of the International Eisteddfod, including Status Quo, Van Morrison, The Stereophonics, McFly, Jools Holland, Kizzy Crawford, Elles Bailey, Shirley Bassey and The Manic Street Preachers.

Could you be the next act to join their ranks? Apply by 28 June to find out.

Entry Fee: £5 visit our main website to pay.

Call for singers to join 200-strong choir

A search has been launched for singers from across North Wales to join a massed choir of 200 voices to call for world peace. 

The performance at Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod will pay tribute to the thousands of men, women and children massacred in the 1990s war in Bosnia and shine a light on the desperate plight of those currently suffering in war-torn Ukraine. 

The concert, called The White Flower: Into the Light, will be held at 8pm on Wednesday, July 5, just a few days before Srebrenica Memorial Day on July 11 to remember the 8,372 Bosnian Muslims who were massacred in in 1995. 

The White Flower motif has been adopted as a symbol of remembrance in Srebrenica and the 11 petals of the flower represent the day the genocide began. 

The theme of the concert was chosen to reflect the founding purpose of the Eisteddfod, an iconic event which was established in 1947 to promote peace in the aftermath of the Second World War. 

It will feature extracts from the haunting mass for peace, The Armed Man, by renowned Welsh composer Karl Jenkins as a centrepiece of the programme. 

Volunteers are needed to join the huge, specially formed choir, one of the biggest ever seen in North Wales. 

They will be accompanied by the acclaimed NEW Sinfonia orchestra that will be making its debut headline appearance at Llangollen Eisteddfod. 

NEW Sinfonia conductor Robert Guy has issued a call for singers of all ages  to sign up for the choir, with rehearsals due to get underway on May 13.  

He said there will be no barriers to taking part in this stirring occasion, adding: “It is not restricted to those with previous concert singing experience. We are opening it up to all comers, all they need is a love of singing.”    

At the heart of the choir will be a group of keen amateur singers who belong to the hugely successful NEW Voices project already established by NEW Sinfonia.  

Robert said: “It’s thanks to the huge success of our NEW Voices project that we already have a core group of enthusiastic amateur singers ready to step up and sing at Llangollen. But we need lots more singers, especially tenors and basses.  

“We will need 200 voices in all so we are urging anyone with a passion for singing and a desire to take part in this momentous event to sign up quickly now.”  

NEW Voices includes refugees who have settled in North Wales following conflicts or persecution in their own countries. They have found solace in singing together and made new friends through the common language of music. 

Among them is a young Ukrainian conductor Polina Horelova who with her young family was forced to flee her home city of Mariupol after the Russians invaded and razed the city.  

It is hoped Polina will conduct the traditional Ukrainian folk piece River Song during the concert of remembrance. 

Robert added: “We are proud that NEW Voices comprises such a wide mix of musical abilities and a range of nationalities. We encompass singers from Wales, Ukraine, Iraq, Iran, Algeria and El Salvador, among other countries.  

“For our White Flower: Into the Light programme we need sopranos, altos, tenors, basses and young voices too; we encourage everyone to come forward.  

“There will be regular rehearsals so people need not fear that they are not good enough or lack confidence. We are here to guide them through the whole wonderful process.” 

Rehearsals will be at two hubs, one in Tŷ Pawb community arts centre, Wrexham, and the other at St Asaph Parish Church. They meet on Saturday mornings from 10am-12 noon. There is also a facility for people to join rehearsals via Zoom video conferencing technology. 

Llangollen Eisteddfod Executive Producer Camilla King said: “We have been thinking about doing something on this theme and scale for some time but it is only this year that the various strands have come together to create what promises to be a magical evening. 

“It is heart-breaking to look back on the Bosnian war and realise that a whole cultural identity was under attack.  

“As well as the relentless murdering of the population, its entire heritage was targeted, artworks destroyed and cultural icons demolished. Now just two decades later very similar monstrosities are happening in Ukraine right now. 

“We wanted to put on a concert to highlight that humanity at its heart is so much better than this. We wanted to reflect the ethos of peace, friendship and cultural diversity which is at the very roots of the International Eisteddfod and is the reason why it was founded in the first place all those years ago in 1947. 

“It will be a thought-provoking, contemplative evening but it will also be uplifting as it highlights important themes of hope, togetherness and overcoming division.”  

Camilla added: “I am expecting demand for tickets will be high as there is no doubt in my mind that this will be a truly unforgettable evening. We invite everyone to come along and enjoy.” 

For more details about the concert at 8pm on Wednesday, July 5, visit: https://international-eisteddfod.co.uk/events/wednesday-evening/ and to sign up for the choir or get more information email at  voices@newsinfonia.org.uk and robert@newsinfonia.org.uk or call Robert Guy on 07725 050510. 

A new look for Llangollen 2023

If you’re reading this story you may have noticed that our website has had a colourful refresh! This new look represents our new branding, designed by North Wales-based design agency View Creative. 

Launched in May 2023, the re-brand has been just one part of a strategic review process that has been ongoing since 2019, ensuring that we update all areas of our business to be fit for the future. We’ve been working on the re-brand since September 2022 and numerous staff, board, volunteers, funders and a myriad of other friends and colleagues have been involved. 

As with all areas of our work, we remain committed to our founding principles: using the tradition of eisteddfodau, friendly competitions and showcasing the arts and culture, as a means of promoting international peace and friendship. We hope our fresh new look will help us achieve this whilst attracting new audiences and supporters, and aligning us with other leading international festivals. 

Hopefully one of the first things people will notice about the new branding is the vibrant colour palette. This has been collated through reviewing our photographic archive, inspired by the colours of international costumes, flags and parades over the last 76 years. Our visitors frequently tell us that the visual vibrancy and bold colour schemes of our events stick in their memory. 

Inspiration has also been drawn from our incredible town and its surroundings, looking at shapes and how these can be translated into typography and graphics. Shapes are inspired by iconic natural and man-made features in Llangollen, the original logo and the magnificent floral displays which are such a unique aspect of our Eisteddfod. Importantly, the brand works bilingually, balancing both our place in Wales and the wider world. 

The new brand makes use of the Welsh letter LL that for many conjures thoughts of Welsh language and place. Ll (upper case version: LL) is a digraph (two symbols that count as one letter), the 16th letter in the Welsh alphabet, and the start of over 400 place names across the country, including of course our incomparable hometown. 

Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod is a truly unique and incredible annual event. The 2023 edition runs Tuesday 4 – Sunday 9 July and comprises a buzzing outdoor site, world-class evening concert series, and diverse mix of traditional and contemporary music and dance competitions. To find out more see all events here. 

Sing with us!

Sing with us! / Canwch gyda ni!

Come and join Lleisiau Llan, a choir of massed Welsh and international voices, singing together for The White Flower; Into the Light. Weds 05 July. 8pm, in the magnificent 4,000 seat Royal Pavilion, Llangollen.

Produced with our friends at NEW Sinfonia and in collaboration with Remembering Srebrenica, The White Flower is a concert of remembrance and hope, featuring NEW Sinfonia, soloists from Bosnia, Wales and Ukraine, with works including extracts from Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man.

For a sign-up form email: voices@newsinfonia.org.uk

Everyone welcome, all music provided with rehearsals in venues around NE Wales during May and June.

Don’t miss out! / Peidiwch â cholli allan!

Concert tickets £16-£40 available from our website https://international-eisteddfod.co.uk/events/wednesday-evening/

Review of Motto Usage

Having considered the public response at length, the Board has voted to continue using T. Gwynn Jones’ motto. However, we are committed to a public discussion in the future, to ensure that the Eisteddfod motto is reflective of the world we live in today and the world we want to live in tomorrow.

In discussing our approach to language as an organisation, and developing a new Welsh Language Policy (which we will be sharing soon), we believe it is only right to consider many different voices, and to question how language continues to evolve.

We would like to thank those who have contributed constructively to this meaningful discussion; arguments have been made very powerfully both for keeping the Eisteddfod’s motto, and for commissioning new poetry. To ensure clarity of meaning to our audiences across the globe, the Welsh and English language versions of the motto will appear alongside each other wherever possible.

Our focus now is on delivering an Eisteddfod which will bring together communities from around the world, in a joyful celebration of the power of music and dance to create understanding and harmony.

Review of Motto Usage

Byd gwyn fydd byd a gano. Gwaraidd fydd ei gerddi fo
Blessed is a world that sings. Gentle are its Songs

The words above form the motto of Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod. Written by T. Gwynn Jones in 1946, they were commissioned as a poetic description of our purpose and have beautifully served the organisation for 75 years. They form a significant part of our history and the motto can be seen adorning our artwork, competition trophies and home, the Royal International Pavilion.

We are currently reviewing our entire organisation to ensure that we are meeting the standards expected by the Charities Commission, our public funding bodies and our audiences. Part of this process involves considering who we are now, who we want to be in the future, and how we communicate this. After sharing samples of a new ‘look’ with a number of stakeholders during a feedback process, we received advice from trusted external partners who work regularly in Welsh, that as part of our continued renewal, we should be aware of potential misinterpretation when translating our motto from Welsh into other languages.

Many Welsh speakers would know that in the context of T. Gwynn Jones’ couplet, the words ‘byd gwyn’ mean ‘blessed’, coming from ‘Gwyn eu bid’, the opening words of St. Matthew’s Beatitudes in the Welsh translation of the Bible. However, a literal translation (including those provided by online translation tools and apps) is instead, ‘white world’. We felt that having had this brought to our attention, it was responsible to embark on research and consultation to clarify this issue and consider potential ways forward. This included speaking with numerous Welsh and non-Welsh speakers, Welsh language experts and advisors, both within and outside of our organisation, locally and further afield, and our funders. Their unanimous advice was that the motto is beautiful when read with an understanding of the nuances of the Welsh language, but that for non-Welsh speakers and new generations of audiences and indeed Welsh speakers, the intended meaning is not clear enough.

T. Gwynn Jones’ words have travelled from Llangollen around the world, spreading the Welsh message of peace, and our motto has served us tremendously well for 75 years; we are rightly proud of it in its intended meaning and translation. As Llangollen Eisteddfod continues on an important path of renewal of our purpose in a modern world, the Board has agreed that this presents a rich creative opportunity to consider Welsh as a living and evolving language.

Our current motto and much-loved shield will remain part of the Eisteddfod’s visual identity in 2023, and the Board will spend the next 5 months in consultation with our stakeholders on the best way forward for 2024 and beyond.

In response to this review being picked up by media and individuals on social media, we wish to provide some additional context that we feel has been misunderstood or misrepresented. We want to clearly state that we have not at any point implied any racism. The Eisteddfod is, and has always been, a beacon for togetherness. We also wish to emphasise that we fully understand that the majority of Welsh speakers do not read the words ‘byd gwyn’ within the context of the motto as anything other than ‘blessed’. This is a matter of translation by the method most likely to be used by non-Welsh speaking audiences around the world. And finally, we cannot state enough that we stand by the sentiment of the words as intended by T. Gwynn Jones.

To clarify some of the points in Professor Gruffydd Aled Williams’s letter to the Western Mail on 22 March 2023, we would like to make it clear that the Arts Council of Wales did not advise the Eisteddfod to discontinue the use of our current motto. The advice offered on this subject was in the context of an informal conversation about the consultation on a new brand. They agreed with us that discussing the motto, and the nuances and impact of words and language in an international context, was part of a process of examining a new brand identity. The Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod is independent from the Arts Council of Wales and we are not one of its revenue funded organisations.  We have been successfully awarded with two grants from The Arts Council: ‘Building bridges across the world’ – to support a meeting place at Llangollen 2023 for global performers to experience Welsh festival traditions, and ‘Emerging Voices of Wales’, a new project that explores the multicultural and multilingual nature of modern Wales.

Our small staff team and invaluable group of volunteers will now focus on delivering the exceptional 2023 Eisteddfod that our audiences expect and deserve.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees of Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, 15.03.23 (updated 28.03.23)

Solo Competitions Now Open!

This summer from 04-09 July, we’ll be presenting our first full-length Eisteddfod since the pandemic, with a new improved outdoor site, the annual Parade back, bigger and better than ever, and some exciting new competitions on our closing Sunday.

We are thrilled to announce that our Solo Vocal & Instrumental competitions have opened for applications (closing 24 March), we’ve added new categories including an International Accompanist Prize, and don’t forget that you can still apply for our new Dance competitions and Instrumental Ensemble categories (Young Folk & Community Bands)….

View full details on our dedicated competitors website www.eisteddfodcompetitions.co.uk

2023 Choral applications now OPEN!

After a roof-raising return in 2022, celebrating our historic 75th anniversary, it is a huge pleasure to announce that the 2023 Choral Syllabus is LIVE! Next summer from 04-09 July, we’ll be presenting our first full-length Eisteddfod since the pandemic, with a new improved outdoor site, the annual Parade back, bigger and better than ever, and some exciting new competitions on our closing Sunday.

Some things never change, though, and competitors can rely upon our warm welcome to make them feel right at home. Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod is located in the idyllic mountain town of Llangollen in North East Wales, with our main competitions taking place in the magnificent 4,000 seat Royal International Pavilion.

We are continually working to improve our offering, and so this year we’ve made applying much simpler. We’ve also separated our competitions into syllabuses for choral, dance, soloists and instrumental groups, with choral released first and the others to follow shortly (dates to follow).

We look forward to welcoming performers from around the world to share in the joy of friendly competition!

View the full syllabus and online application form on our dedicated competitors website www.eisteddfodcompetitions.co.uk

Or open the syllabus PDF here: 2023 Choral Syllabus Final