Monday, February 24, 2014

Cymru am byth (Wales forever)

Every American knows that St Patrick's Day comes in March. Far fewer are aware of St David's Day (March 1), the national day of Wales. Both my father and mother had ancestors who were Welsh and — although I've only been to Wales twice — that ancestry has provided me with a certain unearned pride that grows the more I learn about the land. Today, on his blog, Sean Curnyn posts about the new release of a 1957 recording "Music from the Welsh Mines" by the Rhos Male Voice Choir. That site has links to various places where the music can be purchased. I've just ordered a copy but, since it will come from the UK, I won't have it by this weekend. Part of Curnyn's persuasive description:
.... Below is embedded a YouTube clip that has some samples from the old recording, but its availability should not deter anyone from buying the new release which is substantially cleaned-up and enhanced in terms of sound quality. ....

The clip...below features this Rhos Male Voice Choir singing the very poignant Welsh national anthem, “Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau” (“Land of my Fathers”) followed by two liturgical hymns, “Ave Verum” and “Laudamus.” The fourth and final tune in the clip is “Myfanwy,” an old Welsh ballad of lost love, which, whenever I hear a fine rendition—as this one most certainly is—I am quite willing to declare is simply the most devastating song ever composed, in any language, by any human, anywhere. ....

Every track on the album is astounding in its way, including another Welsh love lament titled “Ar Doriad Dydd” (“On the break of day”), the exceedingly haunting rendition of the Welsh hymn “Tydi a Roddaist” (“O Lord, who gave the dawn its glow”), and about as affecting a musical performance of the 23rd Psalm (in English) as one need ever hear during one’s life on this old earth. ....


I will fly the Red Dragon on March 1st and I will probably watch A Run for Your Money (1949), one of my favorite movies involving the Welsh: a comedy, with Welsh singing and harp playing, and a very young Alec Guiness. Part of Wikipedia's plot summary:
Two Welsh coal miners from Hafoduwchbenceubwllymarchogcoch, David 'Dai Number 9' Jones (Donald Houston) and Thomas 'Twm' Jones (Meredith Edwards), win a contest run by the Echo newspaper.... The prize is 100 pounds each, plus the best seats for an important rugby union match between Wales and England at Twickenham. For the naive Welshmen, this is their first trip to England.

They are supposed to be met at Paddington station by Whimple (Alec Guinness), a gardening columnist on the paper, but they miss each other. ....
And I may watch Zulu, too, if only to hear them sing "Men of Harlech."


Music from the Welsh Mines – Rhos Male Voice Choir | The Cinch Review