||Land of my Fathers, Land of Song
Being a Worcester man born and bred, and Worcester being so close to Wales (just go due East on the A44 to Bromyard, Leominster, Kington and there in Radnorshire is Wales for you!) there must be quite a lot of Welsh/Celtic blood in my veins. If not, then certainly in temperament. Wales is indeed a Land of Song
as Shirley Bassey, Max Boyce
, Ivor Emmanuel
, Tom Jones, Gladys Morgan (yeah! really!!), Harry Secombe, all the male voice choirs, the unending supply of singers at the Welsh National Opera Company, Eisteddfod, rugby "singers" etcetera etcetera all bear testament. There is a certain irony in that having widely travelled the world, I never learned Welsh and have only visited Wales twice since leaving the Royal Navy in 1967.
Despite my naval musical joke about Whales, whales, b***** great fish are Wales. They swim in the sea, we have them for tea. Those b***** great fish called Wales
I greatly admire Welsh singing and their airs and harp music are wonderful and wish that my tiny repertoire of things Welsh will someday be extended.
Since writing the above in April, 2000, I have had in recent years the good fortune in meeting the Welsh folksong duo, Mainbrace
at the annual Maritime Festival in Bremen-Vegesack. Tony Fraser and Michael O'Leary-Johns (oh yes, he really is Welsh!) are for me examples for us all in the performance of folk music. No instruments or music stands here! They have an authentic approach to their art, no closed eyes and hands a-cupping a lug-'ole (a silly affectation adopted in ignorance by some of us!). They give a solid a capella performance, for the most part singing in unison with only an occasional very few bars of unobtrusive and entirely natural close harmony. Although their programme has many international sea songs they make no compromises and retain a charming Welshness in their delivery. I would love to hear them singing their native country's folk songs.
Geoff Grainger, February 2005, Bremen-Vegesack