Llangollen International Eisteddfod marks 70th Birthday celebrating Peace Heritage

Visit: Llangollen International Eisteddfod 2017

In 1946, Welsh composer Gwynn Williams and British Council official Harold tudor set about organising Wales' first international festival of music and culture, with a mission to 'heal the effects of war' and promote intercultural celebration. Today it has grown to become a truly global event, attracting 5,000 performers a year from 50 countries.

The first International Musical Eisteddfod was held in Llangollen in June 1947. In the following 70 years its celebration of “Peace and Harmony” has made it one of the world’s great music festivals. It began with a vision that the ancient Welsh eisteddfod tradition could provide a means of healing the wounds of the Second World War, and help to promote lasting peace.

The people of Llangollen started planning the first event in May 1946. There was a fear that no one would come, especially given the hardships of the post-war years. The public managed to raise an impressive £1,100 – about £35,000 in today’s money – with a commitment that every penny would be invested in that year’s and any future events, or else retuned!

The 1947 International Eisteddfod was an unqualified success: groups from 10 foreign countries braved the journey to Llangollen, joining some 40 choirs from England, Scotland and Wales. It was all great fun. Plaudits rang down on the organisers, the founders, and the competitors. The next few years saw many more countries participating: by 1953, when Queen Elizabeth II visited the Eisteddfod as part of her post-coronation tour of Wales, singers and dancers of 32 nationalities had competed in Llangollen. A truly international festival had been created, organised and run by volunteers - uniting the world in Wales.

Llangollen’s place in world music is now immutable. More than 300,000 competitors from over 100 nationalities have performed enthusiastically on the Llangollen stage. In 1955 a young Luciano Pavarotti sang in the choir from his home town of Modena, conducted by his father. They choir won first prize in the Male voice choir competition. Pavarotti returned for a spectacular concert in 1995.

Margot Fonteyn, Alicia Markova, Joan Sutherland, Angela Georghiu, Kiri Te Kanawa, Jehudi Menuhin, José Carreras, Lesley Garrett, Bryn Terfel, Katherine Jenkins, Dennis O’Neil, James Galway, Nigel Kennedy, Elaine Paige, Michael Ball, and Montserrat Caballé are among the musical stars that have appeared in our concerts. Placido Domingo confesses that his first professional engagement in the United Kingdom was at the 1968 International Eisteddfod.

Since the early years of Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, the young people of Llangollen have presented a message of peace and goodwill from the stage during Children’s Day, which is attended by large groups of pupils from schools across the region. The message is usually delivered as a short piece of spoken text - but in 2014 a group of 28 children from Ysgol Plas Coch in Wrexham broke from tradition, and performed the message of peace as upbeat street rap. They called themselves Undod Epic – Welsh for Unity Epic – especially for the occasion.

"In a time of unrest internationally it is inspiring to see people of all ages from different parts of the world engaging peacefully at this festival based on a shared love of music and dance." Joyett - Visitor, Trinidad (21 July 2016)

Rotary International Peace Prize

The Rotary International Peace Prize is awarded to recognise individuals or organisation who has contributed to the furtherance of peace and understanding throughout peoples of the world.  The first Rotary Peace Prize was awarded in 2016 to Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in recognition of the work that the Eisteddfod has done since its inception in 1947 to bring people of different cultures together in an atmosphere of peace and friendship.

It has been agreed that in future years the Eisteddfod will provide the platform for the presentation of the prize working in partnership with Rotary International to ensure that the Peace Prize becomes a truly international and prestigious prize. We feel that this would be an ideal partnership combining the humanitarian and international profile of Rotary International with the peace credentials of the Eisteddfod which is one of Wales’ flagship events.

The 2017 Rotary Peace Award nominations

Rotary and the Eisteddfod have compiled a shortlist of nominations which reflect the diverse nature of peace initiatives and include projects relevant to the UK and internationally. The nominations are:

The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace – for their work in addressing the causes of violence before, during and after conflict situations as a means to promote peace http://foundation4peace.org/


Welsh Refugee Council – for their work in promoting respect and tolerance towards refugees https://www.welshrefugeecouncil.org/

 


British Ironworks – for their “Save a Life, Surrender Your Knife” project and Knife angel project https://www.britishironworkcentre.co.uk/show-areas/knife-angel-national-monument-against-violence-aggression

 


MSF – for their policy of témoignage – speaking out to alleviate suffering and protect human life (rather than providing emergencymedical care).  https://www.msf.org.uk/advocacy-and-temoignage


 

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