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July 10th…Powis Castle, etc…

We left on the bus for Powis Castle at 9:30, since we were scheduled to sing there as an Eisteddfod outreach concert (sorry, forgot that we did sing from 3:50 to 4:05 on Friday afternoon as another outreach concert, but since we only did 3 pieces & were cut short, I kind of forgot about that!)…We got to the castle in the drizzle at 11am, then were told that the gardens don’t open until noon and the castle doesn’t open until 1pm…so why did we need to be there so early? I won’t go into the utter chaos that was the entire “courier” job the Eisteddfod did…needless to say, we all know if Nick had been allowed to be in charge, things would have been much, much smoother in Llangollen!

Thankfully the sun started peeking out as we wandered the absolutely beautiful gardens, then we sang on the steps of the courtyard to quite a decent audience who loved us. Carolyn was a bit afraid of her high D-flat since she had partied with the rest of us, but it sounded fine to me. The sound seemed to carry well even though we were outisde, and we even heard a final chord echo back to us from across the valley! We sang the Karlsens, Shenandoah and Ezekiel while Kevin was kind enough to tape again…thanks again Kevin! We had some pre-made sandwiches, some ate in the tea room, then toured the inside of the castle and left at 2pm to go change out of our concert blacks (yes, they insisted on our formal wear for singing in the courtyard!)…

Back to the Eisteddfod in our Choral Project polo shirts…the biggest shame was that we weren’t going to be able to perform Ah El Novio or Ezekiel for anyone at the Eisteddfod, so we decided we would go ahead & sing them at the Friendship Tent at 5:45 (early enough not to compete with the Choir of the World concert itself), which was for spontaneous performance…we collected a decent little crowd, and the barbershop group was clamoring for more… :)

Since the provided food wasn’t great, Ryan, Ben, Jack, Johnathon, Melanie & I had Indian food from one of the food stands in the festival area, with nice hot Welsh cakes for dessert (fried biscuits with raisins), then we got in line for the Choir of the World concert. Since it is a paid-admission concert with only an area at the back for festival competitors to sit, they had told us to get in line to be able to get seats, especially together. Most of the choir watched, but Daniel didn’t want to, and Nick stayed with Daniel to keep him company. They heard some of it still over the loudspeakers.

Mariakonen was first up, they are the ones who beat us, but we hadn’t heard their first round repertoire…but based on what we saw then, they weren’t expressive enough to reach the back of the tent, and their sound was pure tone and nice, but a bit boring choice of rep…yes, this made many people bitter… :/ The Swedish chamber choir was a bit more expressive, but still just okay…then the barbershop! We knew if we had made it into that round, the barbershop would be hardest to beat, which is why we had chosen our rep accordingly…the first two pieces were flawless barbershop, but just okay…but their final piece was absoultely hilarious! A whole parody of familiar tunes making fun of the Welsh, with outstanding choreography that left us all in stitches! We knew there was no way they wouldn’t win. The winning mens chorus (92 voices!) from Wales performed last, and they even had tuning issues that somehow gave Melanie a giggling fit since she thought they were so badly out of tune…Our Romanian friends from the night before were the performance to entertain us while the judges were deciding, so we loved hearing them again…needless to say, the barbershop group rightfully won and we cheered mightily for them!

We got back to the bus in record time so we beat some traffic getting out and back to Ellesmere…most of the choir was tired & went straight to bed (Melanie included), but some of us weren’t tired, so we went to the common room, not expecting much excitement…however, the other Swedish choir who came in 3rd below us was also staying at our dorm, so they joined us! That was even more fun than the Romanians the night before! Erik, who was talking with Peggy, Denise & me for a bit before we introduced ourselves did a double-take when I introduced myself…haha! He was not expecting a non-American name obviously! Before he had the chance to ask, I said I was mostly Swedish, but from immigrants who came to the USA over a century ago and I have not yet had the chance to visit Sweden myself…We traded songs for quite awhile, and yes I got it all on video this time…with only 2 sopranos (Maly & Carolyn) & 3 altos (Peggy, Denise & me) but plenty of men, we did amazingly well balance-wise…It was a real shame everyone else was so tired they couldn’t enjoy this…we gave them one of our sampler CDs, and at breakfast the next morning, Erik came over and gave a CD to Denise…

I finally got to bed around 2:15 after my shower, but I was so paranoid about waking up early enough I woke up at 5am, then 6am, then 6:30, then since we were only one door away from the bathroom, people kept accidentally opening our door since they were so tired! haha…needless to say, I slept on the bus on the way to Oxford…

Next: onto Havant via Oxford…but since now there are others waiting for the library internet, I’ll have to wait until later to tell you about meeting Andy & Marcus for dinner with Melanie…at least they said they will come to our last concert in Havant tonight, so I hope they make it! 😉

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