Sunday 6 July - Sweeney Todd day 1
The older members of the choir, who make up 'Ysbrydoliaeth' left Cwmbran early in the morning, arriving on the Llangollen International Eisteddfod site in time to eat lunch before starting rehearsals with the rest of the cast of Sweeney Todd. There was a lot of work needed just to make sure the chorus (comprised of Ysbrydoliaeth, Ysgol Glanaethwy and Ysgol Morgan Llwyd) were able to get on and off the stage at the right times, at the right speed.
The principal members of the cast soon joined the rehearsal, and I have to say that there are few sights more incongruous than Bryn Terfel in shorts, t-shirt and flip-flops singing as Sweeney Todd, while simultaneously trying to shush the ladies arranging the flowers in front of the stage.
Monday 7 July - Sweeney Todd day 2
After a peaceful night, we were up early to travel back to the Eisteddfod site for make up, costume and the dress rehearsal. The children were made up to look, well, I can only describe it as zombie-like, with pale white faces covered in black smudges. Their costumes were "peasant-chic", and they all looked quite scary. Back stage, during breaks and before the show itself, Bryn and the other stars of the show (Wynne Evans, Shan Cothi) mingled with the chorus, chatting with them and having their photos taken. Bryn even indulged in a little photo-bombing...
Sunday 13th July - Results Day!
No rest for the wicked, and we were all up early in order to get to the results and awards ceremony which was taking place at 9am on the Sunday morning at the Arena Riga where we had watched the opening ceremony.
Christian and Madame were a little taken aback when, having been told "conductors this way", and imagining they were being shown to their seats, they ended up processing into the Arena Riga with all of the other conductors, with a capacity audience screaming and cheering at them!
We sat nervously through the presentations for 2 other categories, until finally the moment came when the results for the Children's Choir - Champions Competition were announced. We got more and more excited as the silver medal scores were announced and got higher and higher up the silver medal score band. And then it was us! 78.64 points. A silver medal, and only 1.36 points away from a gold medal. A fantastic achievement for a small choir from Wales, putting Nidus Children's Choir in the top 20 children's choirs in the world!
After the awards ceremony, the children once again had a chance to mix with other choirs from all over the world, and exchanged Welsh gifts and souvenirs with people from South Africa, Indonesia, Germany and many other countries too numerous to mention.
The rest of Sunday was spent in relaxation and recovery
Monday 14th July - last day in Riga
Our flight was home was at 1:15pm, so we had time in the morning for our own "awards ceremony" with Christian giving a certificate and medal to every choir member as their very own memento of the World Choir Games. In return, Rhianwen presented Christian with a box of "Maestro" chocolates as a token of the choir's appreciation of all of the hard work he has put in with them over the years.
Our flight home went smoothly, as did our coach trip back to Cwmbran from Stansted. We were delighted to be greeted by a small group of fans, waving Welsh flags and then it was time to go home and to reflect on all of the sights we had seen and all of the experiences we had shared during our 6 days in Riga.
And now, it's all over. Six years in the planning, a massive amount of work put in by Heidi, Gabi, Christian, Madame and Nick as well as the parents involved in booking flights, ordering and altering dresses and suits, sourcing sponsors, designing new hoodies and t-shirts, distributing cases, rucksacks and souvenirs to the children, and probably many other things I've forgotten to mention.
I think it's fair to say that we've all come home with wonderful memories and firm friendships having had a once in a lifetime experience. I hope this (rather lengthy) post has given you a flavour of our time in Riga.