Sunday, May 20
by Sam Pritchard, sophomore bass
Drake Choir began its second full day in Wales, the “Land of Song”, with a two-hour drive through the beautiful Welsh countryside on our way to the northern part of the country. We passed herds of sheep grazing on rolling hills that reminded us all of being back home in the Midwest.
Our first destination was Erddig, an early 18th-century county estate that is often described as the “jewel in the crown of Welsh country houses.” The house sits on a breath-taking property consisting of lush gardens and scenic views of the neighboring hills. While the building itself has a long and impressive history, most notable was the legacy left by the property’s owners, who maintained a tradition of honoring and preserving the memory of the many servants who worked on the estate. The landowners not only had portraits painted of the servants, but also wrote humorous and, often, extended poems to accompany them. For example, Thomas Pritchard, who served as head gardener for 40 years in the nineteenth century, was described with “Our Gardener, old and run to seed, Was once a tall and slender reed.” These paintings, photographs, and rhymes fill the walls in the house’s lower level, and provided a wonderful perspective on the individuals who made the estate what it was, and who are often forgotten by history in favor of the wealthy aristocrats.
Later we traveled to Flint, Wales, where we joined the Flint Male Voice Choir for our evening concert. In contrast to the grand medieval cathedrals we have seen, this unassuming parish church was an intimate venue in which to share music. It didn’t take long for our singing to invoke some hearty Welsh praise. The Flint Male Voice Choir performed a wide variety of selections, including a stirring rendition of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” which they learned especially for us.
A custom we have quickly come to love in Welsh singing culture is the social gathering that follows the concert, called an afterglow. The afterglow consists of food, drink, and song, as we were serenaded by the Flint men with a number of traditional Welsh folk songs, sung in true pub fashion. Ill-equipped to return the favor with any comparable American songs, we resorted to joining in and singing with them, which seemed to be more than all right with the “boys.” We truly had a wonderful time sharing song and stories with the people of Flint!
Here is the link to 36 Sunday photos: