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Report & Results: 2017 Welsh National Eisteddfod

North Wales bands gain the National bragging rights in Anglesey as Northop and a double from Beaumaris lead the way.

Beaumaris
  Beaumaris enjoyed a great National day winning a brace of title sunder Gwnn Evans and Morten E Hansen

The National Eisteddfod of Wales is currently taking place in Anglesey, with many of the competitions and cultural ceremonies being broadcast live on the S4C television channel.

This year the brass band contests, which have a history going back over 150 years, took place in the main pavilion on Saturday.

Views and opinions

Adjudicator Gary Davies was tasked with making the all important decisions in the four senior classes, whilst studio pundits Alex Humphries and Dewi Grifffiths also gave viewers their opinions about the playing.

Four bands took part in the Championship/First Section, with Northop Silver led by Paul Hughes claiming the £750 top prize and the ornate Cwpan Catrawd Tiriogaethwyr Sir Y Flint trophy for the first time since 2007.

It was certainly a confident victory from start to finish according to the adjudicator with Gary describing their opening 'Lord Tullamore' as a 'great dynamic start', whilst the closing item displayed a 'fantastic sound to end'.

In between 'Celtic Dream' featuring the euphoniums of Aled Williams and Carwyn Evans 'flowed effortlessly' as they headed off the challenge of 2015 champion Burry Port and third placed Llanrug.

Hughes makes a final mark

It proved to be a wonderful way for Paul Hughes to leave his mark on the event before he flies out to Norway to take up a new musical career, although he still hopes to return each year to perform as one of the Eisteddfod's ceremonial trumpeters alongside his friend Dewi Griffiths.

He told 4BR: "As you can imagine, the Eisteddfod means so much to me, so to lead Northop to the title and get Llanrug into third place was something to cherish before I leave.

My thanks got to both bands for all their efforts. I'll be back again of course, but this was great leaving present."

Disappointingly, with the contest running a little late in the schedule, the coverage of the top section was cut short as S4C diverted their broadcast to a half empty Liberty Stadium to show the Swansea City versus Sampdoria football match.

Broadcasts of the other competitions was also curtailed somewhat following the decision to hold all the brass band contests on a single day this year; one that meant viewers were unable to enjoy in full the performances that came from Beaumaris Youth, Beaumaris and Crwbin in winning their titles.

Inspired Beaumaris

Led by their inspirational MD Gwyn Evans, Beaumaris Youth (above left with Morten E Hansen) delivered a wonderful 15 minute display of balanced, detailed musicality in taking the £500 first prize and Ivor Jarvis Cup in the Fourth Section.

Opening with Gwyn's own choreographed arrangement of 'Cofian Gwald' ('Remember our Country') written with an Argentinean tango pulse and complete with accordion, they moved confidently through 'Lady Stewart's Air' and a 'March Box Set' arranged by their MD, before rounding things off with 'Adventures in Brass'.

Runner-up was Porthaethwy Menai Bridge who also showed musical variety with the funky 'Brooklyn' opener leading into 'Ellis Island Lament' complete with penny-whistle soloist. Third was Dyffryn Nantlle with neat touch of theatrical playing, especially with their take on 'Phantom of the Opera'.

Cracking set

There was more success to enjoy for Beaumaris in the Third Section, as under guest conductor Morten E Hansen, and with Gwyn playing soprano, they took the £500 first prize with a cracking set.

Opening with 'Fanfare for a New Age' by Goff Richards, they segued into 'Make His Praise Glorious' and the Welsh lullaby 'Si Hei Lwli Mabi' before rounding things off with 'The Heart of a Salvationist'.

Ogmore Valley produced a fine account in coming runner-up, aided by a super rendition of 'Calon Lan' featuring their own version of a young Bryn Terfel, whilst the hard working RAF St Athan was third with a rousing 'March Paraphrase — Men of Harlech' rounding off their programme.

Long term

For Gwyn Evans, the victories have been all about taking a long term approach to player development.

"It's taken three years of hard work, but the investment in youth has started to show the results," Gwyn Evans told 4BR as he looked forward to an evening providing yet more musical entertainment a local wedding.

"The average age of the youth band was just 14 today, and they have so much promise and talent. I'm so proud of them all.

The only disappointment was that we have over 40 youngsters who could have played on the day, so the victory was for them all."

International ties

He added: "It was also great to be able to ask Morten to come over from Stavanger and experience what the Eisteddfod offers at first hand — and not just with the brass band contest. I hope he can now take back to Norway his taste of what Welsh artistic culture is all about.

We want to broaden our international ties at Beaumaris, and I'm sure more Norwegians would enjoy coming here."

Despite there only being one entrant in the Second Section event, Crwbin from near Llanelli produced a fine account to take the honours under Craig Roberts with a bold set that included the PLC opener 'Home of Legends' and finished with 'The Big Mancini'.

As you can imagine, the Eisteddfod means so much to me, so to lead Northop to the title and get Llanrug into third place was something to cherish before I leavePaul Hughes

Results:

Championship/First Section:

Adjudicator: Gary Davies (all sections)

1. Northop (Paul Hughes)
2. Burry Port (Tom Davoren)
3. Llanrug (Paul Hughes)
4. Deiniolen (Lois Eifion Jones)

Second Section:

1. Crwbin (Craig Roberts)

Third Section:

1. Beaumaris (Morten E Hansen)
2. Ogmore Valley (Alice Jones)
3. RAF St Athan (Alan Bourne)

Fourth Section:

1. Beaumaris Youth (Gwyn Evans)
2. Porthaethwy Menai Bridge (Chris Williams)
3. Dyffryn Nantlle (Gwenllian Jones)



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Dr. Stephen Arthur Allen

D. Phil. (Oxon) [Ph.D Oxford University], GBSM, LTCL, ABSM, ALCM, Cert. Ed.