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 Cymru has invited a group 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, guitar, percussion and pipes as well as voices and step-dance.
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 and 2019/20 ensemble was supported by the Colwinston Charitable Trust, bringing the young musicians and their tutors together for three rehearsal weekends. During this time, the Ensemble impressed audiences at Cwlwm Celtaidd, Tafwyl, Sesiwn Fawr Dolgellau, the Interceltic Festival at Lorient in Brittany, the National Eisteddfod and Gŵyl Werin Hydref.
Avanc have been busy working on new material during the lockdown period. They have been able to record new tracks and film accompanying videos. March Glas was released on the 23rd of September 2020 and Fitz was released on the 23rd of November 2020.
Trac Cymru (Traddodiadau Cerdd Cymru/Music Traditions Wales) is Wales’ folk development charity; its mission, to develop Welsh performing folk arts as a living tradition to be shared and enjoyed by audiences and performers at all levels, both in Wales and throughout the world.
One of its aims is "to achieve a thriving professional traditional/folk scene with viable career paths for traditional artists through professional development".
In 2017, Trac Cymru invited a group of Wales' most talented young musicians, many of them graduates of its Gwerin Gwallgo course, to hone their skills under the artistic direction of Patrick Rimes and a crack team of tutors and mentors. The new Youth Folk Ensemble of Wales was launched, soon to become known on stage as Avanc.
The Ensemble is grateful for financial support it has received from the Arts Council of Wales via the National Lottery, from the Colwinston Charitable Trust and from Ty Cerdd. For more on Trac Cymru and its work, go to www.trac.cymru