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Llangwm Village Voices was established to provide opportunities to minimise social isolation in rural Pembrokeshire and to bring together people and give them a sense of belonging, identity and purpose. This manifested itself in an incredible village opera based on the true stories of those who fought in WW1 and those left behind. It was played in venues around Pembrokeshire in 2014-2018 to celebrate the centenary of the conflict.
In 2020, the same team came together and proposed another opera, of an entirely different genre – a rock opera – entitled ‘Little Things’. The concept was to use the story of the friendship of St Aidan & St David but to project it into the dystopian future of 2122, where the planet has undergone an environmental disaster. The key message of the play would be that, like St David’s words “Do the little things”, it is not too late to save the planet if we all pull in the same direction.
The support given by Ancient Connections was for a first phase in this project, to write the words and compose the music, to engage singers, professional and non-professional from each region and to make a series of videos that could be used to leverage more funds in the future.
The team enlisted writer Peter George to write the Libretta and composer Sam Howley to create the musical score. They worked with Fishguard/Wales-based choir Bad Habits and Ferns/Ireland-based choir Chord-On-Blues; as well as several local school groups.
Here are the films they created:
Non, the mother of St David is cast out to sea in a boat without a sail at the mercy of the elements.
The year is 2122 and the Earth has had an environmental disaster. The Celtic saints David and Aidan return to remind mankind that it is only by doing ‘The Little Things’ that balance can be restored to the planet and society.
There are food and water shortages and the people that remain are forced to leave their homes in search of the precious commodity, water. This piece conveys the anger of our future generations.
Young people from Wexford and Pembrokeshire, celebrating the importance of bees to the health and wellbeing of our planet.
Choirs from Ferns in County Wexford and Llangwm in Pembrokeshire sing together to celebrate Saints David and Aidan.
For more information or to get in touch with Llangwm Village Voices please click here to visit their Facebook page.
Ancient Connections, held a spectacular outdoor community event in St Davids Bishop’s Palace on Monday 29 May supported by local communities, artists, traders, visitors and project partners. The sun shone and over 4000 people enjoyed the lively occasion.
Highlights of the day included guided walks with Wexford-Pembrokeshire Pilgrim Way and St Davids Cathedral, a beautiful choir concert and performance by Span Arts and members of Côr Pawb, and demonstrations by the Tywi Centre’s master builders and makers.
Cardigan-based festival organisers and performers Small World Theatre, also created a spectacular Pilgrim Parade with pupils from Ysgol Penrhyn Dewi. Their two giant puppets of Saint David and a sea monster led a crowd through the town and into the heart of the festivities.
“It was a sight to behold!” said Ancient Connections project manager Rowan Matthiessen. “We’ve been so fortunate to work with amazing Welsh & Irish artists, volunteers, partnering organisations and community groups throughout the 3-year project. Over 12,000 volunteer hours have contributed to making the project a success.”
Siobhan McGovern, Co-project manager continued, “The Pilgrim Fayre was a genuine celebration showcasing some of the finest talent, produce and crafts produced in West Wales. We wish to thank St Davids Cathedral and the Bishop’s Palace for supporting and hosting us, and everyone who took part and joined us.”
Cllr Thomas Tudor, Chair of Pembrokeshire County Council, who was at the event to greet delegates over from Ireland said, “We were delighted to welcome our Irish colleagues and friends to an event that truly represented the creative collaborations this project has achieved.”
Click here for more info on the event as well as similar events in the area.
The Festival of Ferns was a community festival, led by Wexford based events company Lantern. The festival celebrated Ferns’ unique heritage as the site of St Aidan’s monastery, ancient capital of Leinster, seat of Diarmuid Macmurrough, the Gaelic king who is said to be responsible for the Noman invasion of Ireland.
During April and May 2023, Lanterns artist Caoimhe Dunn worked with schools and community groups to create beautiful puppets and costumes for the parade. She coordinated 12 fantastic workshops which had over 300 local participants.
The festival itself took place in Ferns on the bank holiday weekend of June 4th and 5th 2023. The Sunday had a music trail around the pubs in Ferns with over 15 bands playing throughout the day and night and a beautiful concert in St Edans Cathedral by traditional singer-songwriter Melanie O’Reilly.
Monday’s festival was launched by a parade from the cathedral to Ferns Castle with 85 participants from various local groups. The event continued with a festival in the castle grounds and performances from local musicians, choirs, dancers and medieval jousting from the Horse Men of Eire. The event was attended by around 2500 people from the local area.
The event could not have happened without the contributions of:
In addition we would like to thank Small World Theatre for bringing their giant Dewi Sant puppet over from Wales to join the parade.
The community of Ferns hope to fundraise in order to make the festival an annual or bi-annual event.
The Allabair Trio Concerts took place in May 2022 and June 2023 in St. Edan’s Cathedral, Ferns, with music performed and composed by Melanie O’Reilly also featuring David Creevy on guitar and Brewen Favreau on Uillean Pipes/Low Whistle, with guest choir, the Chord On Blues led by Mary Moulds. The concerts premiered new songs inspired by the connection between St. Aidan and St. David.
Ferns Heritage Project are organising a concert to take place in St Edan’s Cathedral as part of Ancient Connections Creative Camino pilgrimage project, which begins its journey from Ferns to St Davids in May 2021. The concert will feature original songs inspired by the music of O’Carolan and will present a premier performance of the first phase of a three-phased suite inspired by the themes of Ancient Connections and written by Melanie O’Reilly. The event will feature local adult and children’s choirs as well as local musicians – Ferns Comhaltas.
Melanie O’Reilly, vocalist and professional music teacher will conduct workshops with the adult choir in preparation for the concert. The choir will join Melanie and her group in the specially composed piece to be premiered at the concert. Composition of phases 2 and 3 will be inspired by workshops in Ferns and St. David’s taking place after the initial concert.