Pupils make music with world-class orchestra and care home residents


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Schoolchildren joined forces with a world-renowned orchestra and a care organisation to work on a pioneering project about the Welsh colony in Patagonia.

Pupils from Ysgol Bodhyfryd in Wrexham spent the afternoon making music with the Hallé orchestra and the residents of the Hillbury care home which is part of the Pendine Park care organisation.

Around 150 hardy souls set sail from Liverpool aboard a clipper called the Mimosa on May 28, 1865.

There are now 5,000 people in the Chubut area who still speak Welsh, and in recent years there has been a significant revival of interest in all things Welsh, particularly since the 150th anniversary in 2015.

Pendine Park have also been collaborating on the project with the textile artist Cefyn Burgess at their homes in Wrexham and Caernarfon.

The work they’ve already done has reached the final of the prestigious Arts and Business Cymru Awards and has been shortlisted in the Arts, Business and Health category.

Pendine Park has brought in the Hallé to extend the project.

Cellist David Petri and violinist Caroline Abbott visited Hillbury where the residents and the youngsters from Ysgol Bodhyfryd sang traditional Welsh folk songs.

According to Pendine Park’s consultant artist-in residence Sarah Edwards, the residents have enjoyed all aspects of their Patagonia project and particularly liked listening to music and singing folk songs.

She said: “We have a long-standing relationship with Ysgol Bodhyfryd and residents really enjoy seeing the children when they visit.

“The children have joined with residents and the Halle musicians in singing the traditional Welsh folk songs settlers would have sung as they sailed to Patagonia on board the Mimosa.

“Residents have even worked with enrichment activity co-ordinator Yvonne Moran to write their own song entitled ‘Journey to Patagonia’.

“We have made our own model of the Mimosa in art classes. It has been a wonderful project involving textiles, music and art.”

Nia Davies Williams, the musician in residence at Pendine Park’s dementia centre, Bryn Seiont Newydd, in Caernarfon, also took part.

She said: “We have also been working on the Patagonia project in Caernarfon. I’ve enjoyed coming over to Wrexham and playing some of the traditional Welsh folk songs with the Hallé musicians.

“Residents and pupils have had a wonderful time and clearly enjoyed the occasion. There has been a lovely atmosphere.

“There are Welsh speakers resident at Hillbury care Home and it’s good for them to be able to hear and join in with songs sung in Welsh.”

David Petri, Halle Orchestra cellist said: “It’s always a pleasure coming to Pendine Park and oday was even more special as we had pupils of Ysgol Bodhyfryd here.

“Residents clearly enjoy having children here and we enjoyed a special afternoon singing and playing traditional Welsh songs as well as a few songs from the shows and a few waltzes. We even had some residents dancing which was excellent.”

Violinist Caroline Abbott agreed added: “It’s been amazing to see the relationship the children have with residents. There is genuine affection there and it’s lovely to see.”

Ysgol Bodhyfryd’s retired deputy head teacher, Heulwen Harris was instrumental in building the relationship between the school and Hillbury.

She said: “My father was resident at Hillbury and I now bring children here once a fortnight so they can work with and get to know residents.

“As well as music workshops we get involved in arts and craft sessions, bulb and flower planting and playing games with residents. We have seen some real friendships blossom and develop between some children and residents. It’s lovely to see.”

Pupil Alys Edwards, 11, said: “I think it’s really nice for older people to get a chance to work with children and the Hallé orchestra. We enjoy listening and joining in with traditional Welsh songs.

“I think music is really important to older residents as it brings back memories of when they were in school. I enjoy talking to residents and hearing what school was like when they were children.”

Fellow pupil Cienna Jones, 11, said: “I love the traditional Welsh folk songs and I have enjoyed hearing about sailing to Patagonia on the Mimosa.”

Hillbury Care Home residents Heather Davies and Catherine Jones-Hayes, say they really enjoyed listening and singing along to the Halle musicians.

Heather said: “I’ve really enjoyed it. And it’s so nice having children here. It brightens up your heart. The children are so lovely and very polite. It’s been a wonderful afternoon.”

Catherine added: “I have enjoyed singing along. The children have been lovely. I like chatting to them and hearing what they are up to at school. The music has been great too.”

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