Gwerin Gwallgo is a high-energy four-day residential event for young people between 11 and 18 years of age, usually held during February half term. It takes place at Glanllyn, the Urdd Residential Centre in Bala and attracts around forty young people.
What happens on the course?
There are instrumental, vocal and clog dance lessons during the day, with informal sessions, concerts, twmpathau and more in the evenings, and opportunities to take part in some of the fun outdoor activities which Glan-llyn has to offer too. Towards the end of the course, there’s also a chance to perform.
Players need to have their own instrument, and be able to play at least to a basic standard. Instrumentalists are asked to tell us their approximate level of experience when they book, from the following options:
- Relative Beginner: you have a basic knowledge of your instrument, you can play easy scales and a few simple tunes
- Intermediate: you’re a more assured player with a reasonable familiarity with different tune types
- Advanced: a confident player with a significant amount of experience
There is no need to be able to read music, nor to know anything about folk music. As is traditional with folk music, most of the workshops are taught ‘by ear’.
These are open to everyone from beginners to experienced singers. No previous experience of folk songs is needed.
Often there are two clog dance classes, intermediate and advanced, to cater for different levels of experience.
The list of tutors over the years has included some of the top names in Welsh folk, including Jordan Price Williams, Aneirin Jones and Patrick Rimes of Vri; Oli Wilson-Dickson (Alaw), Bethan Rhiannon (Calan), Rhys Morris (Avanc), Huw Williams, Gwen Màiri, Dan Lawrence, Branwen Haf Williams, and Gwenan Gibbard.
What do people say about it?
“I come from a small rural town, so Gwerin Gwallgo has allowed me to meet other young people with a similar interest in Welsh folk music. It has also given me the chance to work with inspiring and supportive tutors. The experience opened my eyes to how lively and exciting the Welsh folk music scene is at the moment. I look forward to returning every year to meet old friends and see how much I’ve developed since the last time. I am now also fortunate enough to be a member of the Youth Folk Ensemble of Wales, mostly thanks to the time I spent on this very special course.”
“The enthusiasm and dedication of the tutors and organisers is astonishing. Please, let everyone know how much we parents appreciate that! The children do too, but that’s already obvious.”
“… It’s the one place where she really feels she belongs, and belongs to something Welsh in a way that makes her really excited and inspired. She doesn’t get many chances to play folk with others, and this is an invaluable opportunity for that. The quality of the musicians there, the teaching, is so superb, and the achievement of the concert at the end quite mind-blowing!”
The bigger picture
Gwerin Gwallgo helps us to bring on the next generation of professional musicians and tutors as well as those who just enjoy folk music and dance for the fun of it. Young bands such as Beca and Tant formed there, and older teenagers have the opportunity to return as volunteers. Some, such as Aneirin Jones of Vri and Rhys Morris of Avanc, have gone on to become assistant tutors and then full professional tutors on the course. Many other ‘graduates’ joined the Youth Folk Ensemble of Wales, currently performing as Avanc.