Our 2013 trip to the Llangollen International Eisteddfod was even more successful than usual!
To set the scene, we had absolutely fantastic weather; blue skies, blazing sun and no thought of the normal Llangollen uniform of wellies and waterproofs.
Tuesday 9 July
Our journey to North Wales was in air conditioned comfort (thanks Alison!) and Jo Courtney transformed our (sometimes) truculent teenagers into Dylan Thomas's "pig-tailed angels", plaiting about 30 heads of hair during the journey.
The plaits had been requested by the organisers of the opening evening concert who had invited the choir to reprise "The Happy Wanderer" as sung exactly 60 years ago at the Eisteddfod by the Obernkirchen Children's Choir. There were 2 of the original members of the choir in attendance at the concert, and they were delighted to hear the song sung so beautifully, as were the audience.
Wednesday 10 July
The next day was a busy one; the choir were entered in two competitions: Children's Folk Choir and Senior Children's Choir. The Folk Choir competition was first, followed by a quick dash to the Town Hall in the town centre for the preliminary round of the Senior Choir competition. When I say Senior, I mean Senior - some of the members of the other choirs had beards! Back to the site for the results of the Folk Choir competition and to find out whether we had been "staged" in the Senior Choir competition.
As we entered the site, we bumped into Wynne Evans, better known as the "Go Compare" man. He was very friendly, and happy to have his photo taken with the children, although he drew the line at actually singing the famous song. He was pleased that someone in our group had recognised him for something other than the famously annoying advert. Kudos to Rhianwen!
A respectable score was received in the Folk Choir competition and then the news that against all expectation we had not only got through the preliminary round of the Senior Choir competition, but that we had come first by some way in that round!
Everyone took the time before the next round of the Senior Choir competition to get some food and have a look around the various stalls on site. And then it was time to warm up and get back on stage for the competition. This competition had 21 choirs in total taking part (as well as the 11 in the preliminary round) and we were one of the smaller and younger choirs taking part, so our final score putting us in the top half of the choirs was very pleasing.
Thursday 11 July
Today, just one competition to focus on; the Show Choir / Glee Choir competition, in which we were competing under the name 'Ysbrydoliaeth' ('inspiration'). A rehearsal in the morning, in a local school; the heat didn't make things easy as the Victorian costumes (all put together by Gabi) were not particularly skimpy!
Us parents knew that the audience were in for a treat, as some of us had had the privilege of seeing the final run through of the 10 minute "mash-up" of songs from Sweeney Todd the musical, but we didn't dare to dream of what happened next!
Ysbrydoliaeth were first on stage, a very nervy position to be in, but they absolutely blew us all away! There were 4 other choirs taking part in the competition, and each one of them had interpreted the brief slightly differently. Each one of the choirs also had members mainly at the upper end of the 12-25 age range, so the competition was very tough indeed.
About 20 minutes after the final choir had performed, the results were announced. The adjudication was read out, and Ysbrydoliaeth had no negative feedback. Next the actual marks...and we were ecstatic to hear the judge announce that we had scored 94!
We didn't have to wait long to establish that the next nearest mark was 91 and Ysbrydoliaeth were crowned International Show Choir of the year 2013!
We all went absolutely crazy! Rhianwen sobbed out her interview with Sara Edwards of BBC Cymru, and near enough everyone else just sobbed (or screamed). Gabi and Christian ran up to the stage to claim the bronze plaque and cheque given to the winners, and we took our celebrations out of the Pavillion and into the blazing heat outside to scream and cry some more!
Many texts were sent, many Facebook updates made and later that night many drinks were taken (by the parents of course!) to celebrate this victory which will long be remembered by everyone who had the privilege of being there to see the children reap the rewards of their hard work (not forgetting Gabi, Christian and the rest of the hard working Nidus team of course!).
The journey home was quite quiet as everyone recovered from the exertions and excitement of the day before, but everyone was still high on the thrill of the victory of the previous day.
All in all, the Llangollen International Eisteddfod of 2013 will be remembered for a very long time by all of the children and parents who were there, and it's given us all an appetite for Riga and the World Choir Games next year!