AVANC: The Youth Folk Ensemble of Wales
Young traditional musicians on the brink of working professionally in folk music have come together to create Wales’ first national Youth Folk Ensemble, AVANC. trac has invited fifteen of our most talented young musicians to hone their skills under the artistic direction of Calan’s Patrick Rimes before taking their show on the road to festivals around Wales.
The ensemble aims to train young musicians aged 18-25 in performance skills which will help them into a career as professional folk musicians, as well as representing Wales’ folk music on major stages. Their task is to perform at the highest standard, reinterpreting traditional Welsh music for new and modern audiences. Patrick leads the ensemble supported by tutors Sam Humphreys and Gwen Màiri. Many of the musicians met at trac’s folk music, song and dance course for teenagers, Gwerin Gwallgo. They come from all over Wales and the ensemble’s line-up features fiddles, harps, whistles, cellos, guitar and pipes.
Growing out of the annual Gwerin Gwallgo course, the Ensemble provides the next step for musicians older than Gwerin Gwallgo’s age range of 12-18. It was piloted by trac in 2017/18 with support from the Arts Council of Wales and the National Lottery, running two successful rehearsal weekends. The 2018/19 ensemble is supported by the Colwinston Charitable Trust, bringing the young musicians and their tutors together for three rehearsal weekends. The Trust is best known for supporting opera, classical music, and the visual arts, and derives its main income from royalties from the London production of The Mousetrap, Agatha Christie’s famous murder mystery.
The Ensemble rehearsed in November, February and July to prepare for their festival performances. This year they have impressed audiences at Cwlwm Celtiadd, Tafwyl, Sesiwn Fawr Dolgellau, the Interceltic Festival in Lorient and the National Eisteddfod.