Well we made it there and back, though a few are still at large in Canada and/or the USA. Suffice to say the jet lag hit most of us to different degrees, but it was a great tour. Thankfully both Toronto and Kingston had recovered from the harsh cold weather and we were lucky to have a few great days taking in the sights, including the CN Tower and a maple syrup farm. It really was a farm and not a visitor’s centre as some of us had anticipated. Niagara Falls was breathtaking and a few choristers managed a chorus of Gwlad, Gwlad in the tunnels looking out into the falls.
Our first performance was at the Selwyn Outreach Centre in Peterborough, Ontario on the Monday evening, to support the The Abbeyfield House Society of Lakefield’s gala launch and fundraising concert. Dewi Jones, uncle to Eryl in our tenor section, is President of the project. We were joined that night by Rhythm and Grace, a very talented family of six performing siblings and their parents, who sang, danced and played multiple instruments. Three younger siblings are in training to join the family band. It was a memorable evening and we had a very warm welcome, including meeting several Welsh ex-pats in the audience. We were also pleased to meet the Mayor of Selwyn Township, Mary Smith, who gave us a certificate of appreciation.
By Wednesday we were a bit fresher for our performance at the Beacan Church in Beaverton, Ontario, where John Grant, the Mayor of Brock Township ,also presented us with a certificate of appreciation, saying “We’re all Welsh tonight”. Delyth received a welcome plaque from Terry O’Neil on behalf of Brock RFC; in return she presented him with a signed Cardiff Blues shirt, donated by the Blues. The proceeds of this event were for their local food bank. Earlier that day we were also fortunate to be greeted by Andy Letham, Mayor of the City of Kawartha Lakes, over lunch at St Dave’s Diner on Highway 35. Meeting three mayors in a week will be hard to beat!
The Ontario Welsh Festival weekend at Kingston went very well, albeit Bus B was delayed on the way, but that was soon forgotten. The original Bus B hit a van on its way to the hotel, a window shattered, thankfully with no one on the bus, and a replacement bus arrived nearly 2hours later! Bus A on the other hand had Claudio the Italian bus driver who has since tweeted his appreciation for our rendition of O Sole Mio and the Italian National Anthem.
The festival got off to a great start with a very entertaining Noson Lawen. The festival audience loved our lively acts and everyone enjoyed socialising at the afterglow. On Saturday evening our gala concert was a success, and choristers probably enjoyed it as much as the audience. Rich was presented with a boxed glass maple leaf in appreciation of the choir’s attendance at the festival. We were commended by many as the best choir they have had in a long time, not only for our performances at the Noson Lawen and the varied gala concert, but also for our enthusiastic participation during the festival weekend.
We presented a photograph of the choir, framed with a ‘wordle’ border consisting of the tour repertoire (titles only!), at the main events and we received various Canadian themed pin badges along the way.
We were fortunate to receive a warm Canadian welcome throughout our stay and made many lovely memories and some new friends along the way. Dewi Jones in particular became a regular, following us to Kingston for the festival and joining us on our last night meal, where tour awards were given out. To name a few: Meurig from the bass section won the Lost Property Award for The suitcase that went to Frankfurt; Mike Bryant ( Anne Derbyshire’s husband) was awarded the Supporters’ Award for a clean sweep of selling choir recipe books on tour, and the Impersonator Award went to Bryn Teribl a Rhys Gwirion (Llinos and Trefor).
All in all it was a memorable and enjoyable tour, which I think we can safely say is another great achievement for Côr y Gleision. Thanks to everyone who worked hard to arrange it, and who supported us along the way. Who knows where the next and future invitations may come from?
Delyth Jones, Chair