Llangollen Eisteddfod’s message to the Philippines at carol concert

A special message to the typhoon-ravaged Philippines will be made from the stage at Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod Carol Concert.

The heartfelt words of sympathy and support will go out on behalf of the Eisteddfod from the Royal International Pavilion at the Concert on Sunday, December 15, to the nation which is still reeling from the shock of Typhoon Haiyan which struck so ferociously last month.

The strongest recorded typhoon ever to hit land killed more than 5,000 people and has made four million homeless in the Philippine islands.

It has also prompted the Eisteddfod to look at rewriting its constitution so it can help raise funds for this and similar disasters in future – the International Eisteddfod’s own status as a charity complicates its ability to raise money for other charities.

It is an especially appropriate stage as the purpose of the Carol Concert is to raise funds to help overseas competitors take part in the International Eisteddfod which was founded in 1947 to promote international goodwill.

Last year one of the choirs they helped was the Hail Mary The Queen Children’s Choir, from Manila, who made the 6,900 mile journey and took the Junior Choir of the World crown.

Eilir Owen Griffiths, Musical Director of the Eisteddfod, said: “We feel we have a special bond with the people of the Philippines and our hearts go out to them as they face a very difficult Christmas.

“Last year we helped the Hail Mary The Queen Children’s Choir experience the magic of Llangollen and there couldn’t have been more popular and excited winners of the Junior Choir of the World.

“It would be wonderful if through this Carol Concert we were able to help another group from the Philippines attend – over the years they have enriched this wonderful cultural celebration and been very successful too.”

Last year’s success, which was gleefully reported over a live television link to an early morning audience in the Philippines, wasn’t the first stage triumph for the Pacific islands nation – the Santo Tomas Singers are the only choir to have twice won the coveted Pavarotti Trophy while in 2011 the Adventist University of the Philippines Ambassadors took the trophy home.

The Eisteddfod are to use their links to the Phillippines to offer help to choirs interested in attending this year’s event in July with the Carol Concert playing a major part in raising more than £20,000 in bursaries for competitors from overseas.

Eisteddfod Chairman Gethin Davies will issue the message from the stage and he said: “We have a long and proud tradition of welcoming our friends from the Philippines to the Eisteddfod and this concert has played a vital part in bringing so many this great event over the years.

“They bring such colour and enthusiasm and a tremendous tradition of singing which means they are always popular visitors to Llangollen.”

This year’s Carol Concert will see legendary Welsh tenor Trebor Edwards and BBC Last Choir Standing finalists’ A Handbag of Harmonies, from Chester,  among the performers.

Joining them at the Songs at Christmas event will be Welsh soprano Helen Belton, Tanya Bilous, a Ukrainian student from Glyndwr University who is actually making her own Ukrainian costume, brass ensemble Deva Brass and choirs from Ysgol Bryn Collen and Ysgol Gymraeg y Gwernant.

It’s virtually a home fixture for Trebor, a farmer from just down the road at Betws GG, near Corwen and one of the most successful singers in Welsh recording history with more than a quarter-of-a-million albums sold.

The award-winning Handbag of Harmonies barbershop singers who reached the final 15 of BBC’s Last Choir Standing competition, have performed at concerts throughout the UK, as well as co-producing the ‘Across the World’ anthem for the BBC’s Cultural Olympiad, performed to an audience of 5,000.

Adding to the festive spirit will be community carol singing conducted by Eilir Owen Griffiths and accompanied by local pianist and singer Elen Roberts.

The Songs at Christmas concert takes place at the Royal International Pavilion at 7pm on Sunday, December 15. Tickets are £7.50 (£5 for concessions) and are available from the International Eisteddfod Office: 01978 862001 – for more details go to the website on http://international-eisteddfod.co.uk

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