For 21+1 years, Trac Cymru has been working to ensure that the Welsh folk traditions can survive and thrive in future years by supporting new generations of musicians to continue breathing their own vitality and excitement into the artforms. The charity has played a significant role in the early development of many successful artists and takes its responsibility to support the launch of new careers very seriously.
Watching proudly as several of the latest emerging folk musicians are now starting to graduate from the National Youth Folk Ensemble of Wales into independent professional careers, the director of Trac Cymru, Danny KilBride, talked about his personal commitment to developing new talent:
“I’ve had a 50-year career in music, literally from being an 8-year-old kid in his mum’s folk band to becoming head of a national charity responsible for ensuring that we can pass our traditions on to the next generations. Rather like going on stage to a large audience who you don’t know, it’s a terrifying responsibility and an incredibly enjoyable privilege. Terrifying, because you’ve got a responsibility to those who steward our traditions and the memory of those who’ve gone before; intensely enjoyable because being responsible for the same journey of delight and inspiration that I had as a kid is incredible.
“We’ve offered training and volunteering internships so that young musicians can get to know how the music business works. Avanc, our National Youth Folk Ensemble, is made up of 11 hugely talented individuals who grew out of our community courses such as Gwerin Iau and Gwerin Gwallgo, and some of them have already gone on to work as part of our staff, others as tutors on our courses, and others into a professional career. Elisa and Rhys Morris have managed to mix at least two out of those three, and more besides.
“Of course, not everyone becomes a professional traditional musician – some of our most talented tradition bearers have never managed or wanted a full-time career. But over 90% of all the young people who have come through the Trac ‘system’ are active musicians, however they earn their living.
“I find it inspiring, because this is the first generation to have opportunities to engage with our indigenous music in ways that I never had. I also find it worrying that this is not the first generation to need something like Trac Cymru to make sure they get those opportunities. That’s why we are asking for public support – so that we can bring our music, and the opportunity to delight and thrive within it, to every young person in Wales.”
In this video, the siblings Elisa and Rhys Morris give us a fascinating trip through their experiences as young people and young adults who have been developing their skillsets with the support of Trac Cymru.
As we take a look back at our 21+1 years to date working to sustain our important national music traditions, Trac Cymru is also planning our future programme of support for the next generation of young Welsh musicians. Please support us by sharing these stories with your friends and colleagues, and join us in posting your own happy memories about Welsh folk music on social media #TRAC21, and you can help us fund our work by making a donation today.