Looking forward to Argentina
2015 is a hugely important year in the history of the National Youth Choir of Wales as it includes a major tour to Argentina in October. In preparation for this, Youth Music Manager, Matthew Thistlewood recently flew to Buenos Aires and Patagonia to inspect venues and meet with the people who are helping to make our plans a reality.
My trip to Argentina began with two days in Buenos Aires during which I was shown round this colourful, vibrant (and very hot) city by Camilo Santostefano. Camilo, who is one of the NYCW’s two conductors this year, accompanied me on visits to concert venues that included Teatro Gran Rex, a vast arena which will see the Choir perform as part of the renowned Mozarteum concert series. I was also fortunate enough to meet with the British Ambassador, Dr John Freeman to discuss the reception that he will host for us.
The Choir’s Buenos Aires stay is a prologue to the main element of the tour which will be our visit to Patagonia to take part in the 150th anniversary celebrations of the Wladfa. From BA, I flew to Trelew, which will be our base in the area, and during my time there was shown round by Catrin Morris de Junyent. Catrin emigrated from south Wales to Patagonia in 1998 and is currently one of the leading figures behind the Patagonia 150 celebrations. During a whistle stop tour we met with, amongst many others, the Mayor of Trelew and composer, Hector MacDonald and visited sites in Gaiman, Trelew and Puerto Madryn that included our concert venues, Capel Bethel and Teatro Verdi. I was also given a tour of Trelew’s newest and most ambitious venue, the Predio Federal by its architect. A former wool warehouse, it is hoped that this will be transformed into a multi-use facility, including a concert hall, in time for the NYCW to appear on stage with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in October. There is great excitement about this concert and, if all goes to plan, the Choir will be take part in one of the region’s most significant cultural events.
Fortunately it wasn’t all work and no play and I had the opportunity do some sightseeing and to savour the various culinary delights on offer. The country is a heaven for carnivores and along with the specialities such as empanadas and milanesas I was able to enjoy a couple of excellent steaks. I was overwhelmed by the warmth of the welcome I received in Argentina and am hugely grateful to the many people we met who are helping to bring our plans to fruition. I feel confident that our young musicians will have the time of their lives in this amazing country and will treasure the memories of this tour.
Matthew Thistlewood, Youth Music Manager