Schools embark on 'pilgrimage' to inspire poetry and songs for festival

Thursday 19 September 2013

Five schools from north-east Wales have visited historic sites in Holywell to seek inspiration for creative works, to be performed at this year’s North Wales International Music Festival (NWIMF) at the end of September.

Basingwerk Abbey

Basingwerk Abbey

As part of an education project funded by Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service, pupils visited Basingwerk Abbey and St Winefride’s Well and Chapel, working with an archaeologist, a bard and a composer, and have been creating works to be performed in a special concert on Tuesday 24 September at 1.00pm.

The NWIMF education project for 2013 has been inspired by a pilgrimage theme, coinciding with St. Asaph's Year of Pilgrimage, with the sites of Basingwerk and St Winefride’s being key locations along the ‘Pilgrim’s Way’ which ends at Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island), the island of 20,000 saints.

During the project pupils have been working with Eisteddfod prize-winning bard and broadcaster Aled Lewis Evans, to create poetry which has been inspired by the historical monuments and their fascinating link with pilgrimages for hundreds of years. Also working on the project are award-winning film and media composer Dr Owain Llwyd and local composer Michael Kirkpatrick — to record music and compose songs for the schools to perform at the concert, which will take place at St Asaph Cathedral.

During their first week back at school after the summer holidays, St Asaph VP Infants School, Ysgol Bro Cernyw, Ysgol Llanfair TH, Ysgol Gwerffrwd and Ysgol Esgob Morgan were invited to explore the sites. The morning was spent exploring Basingwerk Abbey with guided tours and handling artefacts, recording sounds around the site and reflecting on the atmosphere before making their very own journey on foot through Greenfield Valley Heritage Park to St Winefride’s. In the afternoon, pupils visited the historic chapel of St Winefride’s before more activities at the holy well which the chapel is built around; still a place of pilgrimage to this day.

The poetry and music created by the pupils will be performed as part of the North Wales International Music Festival on Tuesday 24 September at 1.00pm at St Asaph Cathedral. Tickets cost £6.00 on the door.

John Griffiths, Minister for Culture and Sport said: ‘It’s great to see our historic sites inspiring young people to create pieces of music and poetry that can be shared with the local community.

‘This project has given the young people involved an opportunity to use and enjoy our historical sites in Wales, which will hopefully lead to a greater understanding of the historic environment, and has also opened up opportunities to use the historic environment to develop a wide range of new skills.’

Ann Atkinson, Artistic Director for North Wales International Music Festival added: ‘We have welcomed the opportunity for local pupils to perform at this year's festival, and feel that the pieces created using Basingwerk Abbey and St. Winifrede's Well as inspiration compliment pilgrimage theme perfectly.’

Basingwerk Abbey, a Cistercian abbey dating back to the twelth century, and St Winefrede’s Chapel, dating to the early sixteenth century and a place of pilgrimage since at least the year 1115, are in the care of Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service.