A couple of weeks ago (September15th & 16th), we held our first Eisteddfod in Hamburg. We are grateful to Dr Francois van den Berg and his team at the National Eisteddfod Academy for making this possible! For those who have no idea what an Eisteddfod is (or even how to pronounce it!), it is a festival of music, literature & performance dating back to 12th Century Wales! Transplanted from Welsh soil to South Africa, Eisteddfods have a rich tradition here, and thousands of these 'sessions' (the nearest translation of the Welsh word) take place at venues across the country, and beyond, each year.
In the future we hope to have visiting groups of performers perform with us, but 'small is beautiful', and this inaugural event featured only our Keiskamma Music Academy students. However, for some of the younger boys & girls it was their first nerve-wracking chance to stand up on stage and give a performance. Unlike our concerts, most of the pieces were solos, or duets, with an occasional larger ensemble piece. In all we had over 80 entries featuring a wide variety of instruments and musical styles.
Our adjudicator, Mr Neels Boonzaaier, from North West University, seemed to enjoy our music-making. Every student received a certificate, graded bronze, silver, gold or diploma. Mr Boonzaaier had told us earlier that he had to be really 'wowed' to award a diploma, but in fact, several of our students received this honour. By the end of a busy weekend, approximately 25% of entries had received diplomas, 40% gold, 25% silver and 10% bronze. Our adjudicator also gave our group lots of useful advice on how to progress our playing, in particular, to keep practising every single day!
The Eisteddfod came hard on the heels of our UNISA practical exams, so the week was a busy one for Music Academy. A big thank you is in order for Jen and Karen, our recorder teachers, who prepared us for these events.
We did not have a large audience this time; just a handful of friends and supporters popped in, and a few curious cows turned up by the door! However, as always, the surprisingly good acoustics of the Old Hall complemented the magic of the music as it drifted across Hamburg main street on a wild and windy spring afternoon.