Wrexham Museum Hosts Welsh National Opera.

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Wrexham County Borough Museum (WCBM) is playing host to the Welsh National Opera (WNO)  as they bring Opera to the town as part of a three year project.

“Nine Stories High” is a community project  aimed at raising awareness about the work of the WNO involving the local community through a series of workshops.

Rhian Hutchings, Director of the community and education programme, WNO MAX,  explained: “The project aims to encourage local people in writing, telling and sharing their stories in a variety of ways”.

The WNO’s three year residency at the museum aims to develop strong partnerships with a variety of community groups such as Pendine Park Care Home.

Mario Kreft, the proprietor of Pendine Park, who is an opera lover said:
“We are thrilled that Welsh National Opera are going to be having a presence in Wrexham and there is going to be some interesting community work”.

The stories will be written with the help of writing and creative workshops in a variety of community groups and the finished mini opera will be performed in and around  the town in locations such as cafe’s and bars.

Each of the 5 minute episodes are available on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/streetsongs

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Anne Williams-King entertains shoppers

Its saturday morning in Wrexham and  the Welsh National Opera (WNO) have plans for the unsuspecting shoppers.

A piano is placed casually on one of the aisles, giving the pianist a clear view of the door as the refrain of “my baby don’t care for shows” drifts around the space, replacing the muted elevator music usual in such a setting.

A few desultory shoppers drift in, fragments of conversation filter through the music and as the doors swing open again a pretty and heavily pregnant young woman strides in trailed closely by a man who might be her Dad.

He looks uncomfortable and as he passes by the Estee Lauder counter the assistant reaches toward him to offer a sample of ‘Eau de Wrexham racecourse’. Nothing too unusual then except the seller is actually singing Opera and worse she seems to be flirting with the man.

Now people have actually stopped in their tracks, not quite sure of whats happening and those just entering the shop become instantly aware that something is going on and are not ready to be drawn in just yet..

The story unfolds before our eyes in true operatic fashion as the young woman attempts to squeeze the man who is her lover out as much money as she can for her baby and then leaves to shop.

It becomes apparent that the perfume seller is the girls mother and she is busy trying to persuade the fraught and bumbling man to sign over his pub in a bid to secure her own future.

Meanwhile, astounded shoppers are clustered about obviously enjoying the action, waiting to see what happens next. The young woman returns weighed down with baby shopping and the lover is called away to his pub, leaving Mother and daughter to talk.

The elderly lady next to me ‘tut tutts and says, ” she’s not pregnant!” and her husband shushes her.”She isn’t you know” she exclaims, just as the girl pulls up her jumper to reveal a fake bump. “See, I told you, can’t fool me”.

The perfume seller grabs at her daughter pulling the jumper down and proclaims “you are pregnant until I get the pub”.

The elderly lady turns to me and says, “eh love you don’t get this in Nottingham on a saturday morning, is it always like this in Wrexham?” She tells me that she can’t stand opera but she was “well impressed with that lot”.

The vibrancy and energy of the Welsh National Opera is contageous with its passion and enthusiasm for bringing opera to the streets of Wrexham through a three year project called ” Nine Stories High”.

The WNO are currently in residence at the Wrexham County Borough Museum where they run a series of community workshops with a dash of flair and imagination in everything they do and you can keep up with the action too.

Watch soap; http://www.facebook.com/streetsongs

Get involved contact; claire.cressey@wno.org.uk

Visit the Museum and WNO exhibition; http://www.wrexham.gov.uk/english/heritage/wrexham_museum.htm

Blog Two Glyndwr Uni Charlie Jones

Wrexham museum are playing host to the Welsh National Opera (WNO) in a bid to bring culture to the wannabee City.

A libbrettist cleverly crafts real life stories from the townspeople people into opera. Drama, intrigue, gossip, murder, passion, births, deaths, marriages, essential ingredients for any soap.

The WNO engage communities in a carefully crafted series of activies for idea’s and inspiration. Creative writing workshops, singing around the Christmas tree and impromptu appearances around the town are just some of these.

I meet up with the cast rehearsing at the Wrexham County Borough Museum and I’m completely blown away as their voices fills the high ceilings of the former law courts with a sound that leaves no space in the room.

It is truly beautiful and whats more I can understand it, me who knows nothing about opera. I don´t want it to end, the voices rise to crescendo’s and drop to a hush in an instant, it’s mesmerising, exciting, calming, their control is amazing.

The mezzo soprano’s last notes hang in the air for a few seconds  before the spell is broken.

I’m tempted to call out “arrivederci” before sweeping out of the room taking the magic with me.

Welsh National Opera Cultures Wrexham

With the news that the Welsh National Opera have taken up residence in the town of Wrexham following the 2011 year of “Culture” we will all be hoping for a little more of it in the town, won’t we?.

The WNO are a pretty robust lot, anyone who can stroll into Yales into the middle of the day and burst into an operatic fight with two pregnant women and not get his head kicked in or arrested by the police gets my vote every time.

The WNO are here  the next three years and will  be filming Wrexham’s own soap opera as part of the “Nine Stories High Project”

Looking for more culture? try:http://www.facebook.com/streetsongs

Blog One Glyndwr Uni Charlie Jones

The Wrexham museum is currently playing host to the head of John the baptist, and a beach hut. Whats the connection, you may think? I mean John the baptist is a long way from home and I´m not sure he ever mentioned a beach hut, did he?

The Wrexham museum was recently re-furbished at a cost of £950,000  match funded by the arts lottery fund and Wrexham County Borough Council (WCBC)

Not content with displaying artefacts from the past the Museum are cleverly playing host to the enthusiastic and vibrant Welsh National Opera (WNO) and whats that to do with the past?  The WNO took up temporary residence during Wrexhams year of culture in 2011 and they’re out on the street making history and recording real life stories.

Just imagine how different it would be if we were looking back on history with the benefit of the technology available to us now. John the Baptist with a facebook page or the servants from Erddig hall tweeting about the boss?

John the Baptists head and the beach hut links up nicely if you visit the WNO’s exhibition being held at the WCBM and take a look at the history Wrexhams townspeople made before.

2012 Begins

Well here it is another year of my life up for grabs, more excitement, new discoveries, conversations with strangers and masses to learn about blogging, tweeting and all things connected to life the radio and journalism.

I ended last year purposefully deciding to do what I wanted, not to meet anyone else’s expectations and not to feel guilty about disappointing family and friends. I laid the groundwork where my sons are concerned and persuaded their Dad to invite them for christmas with their girlfriends and friends. My ex-husband was thrilled and then all I had to do was tell my sons. Their first reaction was confusion, “are you off on one Mum?” asked son number one, whilst son two demanded to know why christmas was cancelled. I carefully covered the slight deception on my part by re-stating how thrilled their Dad was, how much he was looking forward to it, had begun organising things already. Finally the penny dropped and they asked what I was going to do. “I’m going to volunteer with the homeless.” Well anyone would think I’d declared a revolution or something, “what!”, demanded son two, “you mean you would rather spend christmas with junkies and alcoholics than us?”. Meanwhile son two was digesting the news in a much more pragmatic fashion. ” I think its a great idea Mum, if thats what you want to do”. Son two took every opportunity over the next ten days to dig at me, including asking he would feel if I died soon and hadn’t spent my last christmas with my family. At this I laughed out loud and wondered if my dying thoughts ought to include regretting not spending christmas with my sons and the answer is am emphatic no. If I ever get those last gasping words on my deathbed, like they do in the movies I just want to be able to say that I lived and loved to the last.

Christmas day dawned and I struggled to persuade my sons out of bed to open presents before my departure and before I knew it  I had hugged, kissed and left them both to a new kind of day. Mine began by collecting some elderly people and delivering them to the centre and then meeting and greeting a mixture of those from various walks of life. The other volunteers were lovely and mingled and chatted to the guests with  warmth and gentleness, no judgements, just christmas lunch. An army of volunteers in the kitchen wrestled  with mounds of brussel sprouts in cavernous vats and enough turkey to feed an army of 120 whilst the rest of us began to show people to their tables. I sat with 6 guests on my table and chatted about the anything but the reason why they were here and yet bit by bit they each volunteered their stories. One lady had no relatives and her son had died 4 years previously and as she showed me the bracelet he had given her the tears welled up in her eyes and I felt myself choking back the tears too. Another of my guests was a young woman who declared that she wished she could find a way to stop drinking and start living and her declaration was met with similar tales from the men on either side of her. One said that as he couldn’t read he’d found it difficult to do many things. Each of my guests thoroughly enjoyed their meal and the company and the band playing carols and all I could think was that I also might have had a life like this if circumstances had been different. I felt truly humbled by the fact that these guests had shared something of themselves with me and expected nothing in return.

Whilst games were being played I snuck off to the kitchen and immersed myself in the sheer graft of washing hundreds of plates. My thoughts were occasionally interrupted by some of the guests appearing at the hatch to say thank you only to be offered a sandwich to take home and a small gift. Yes there were one or two more difficult moments when those dependent on drugs or alcohol wanted something more and yet they were firmly and gently guided back to their seats.

At the end of the day we were all thanked as volunteers and applauded by the guests but my thanks goes wholeheartedly to them. It was my privilege to have spent a small amount of my time in their company, to have gleaned a small insight into their world and to have contributed something. Christmas for me this year was not dominated by the ordeal of the consumerism that seems to grip us all so frantically. My gifts to friends and family were inexpensive homemade items and somehow it really was more meaningful. As for christmas 2012 I can’t imagine not  doing exactly the same thing again and who knows maybe my sons may join me this year?

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