DCSIMG BBC National Orchestra of Wales tour to Patagonia | Patagonia 150

BBC National Orchestra of Wales tour to Patagonia


A week-long residency, in celebration of Patagonia 150, offering local communities the opportunity to make music alongside the professional musicians of the Orchestra, culminating with two gala concerts performed in a specially converted wool warehouse.

British Council Wales is pleased to be supporting the BBC National Orchestra of Wales as they embark on one of their most ambitious tours to date, taking to the air and road to tour South America. Over three weeks the Orchestra will perform in concert halls in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay. Alongside this BBC National Orchestra of Wales (NOW) will be working with communities throughout Patagonia, in a week-long residency marking the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Y Wladfa, the Welsh settlement in the Province. The Patagonia residency culminates with two gala performances in an old wool warehouse in Trelew, the Predio Ferial, which has been transformed in to a concert hall especially for BBC NOW’s concerts, and will later host the town’s annual Eisteddfod – a Welsh festival for the arts. The orchestra has been a driving force in the warehouse regeneration and aims to leave a lasting legacy for music and the arts in the region. 

In their first week (22 – 30 October), harpist Catrin Finch, conductor Grant Llewellyn and twelve members of BBC NOW will spend a week in towns of the Chubut Province of Argentina to work with over 1000 children from schools and community groups in Patagonia. Performing and delivering workshops and masterclasses, the musicians will work with schools and communities in towns including Puerto Madryn, Rawson, Trelew, Trevelin, Esquel and Gaiman. Offering the opportunity to work with professional classical/orchestral musicians, the Orchestra will also be providing a “musicians on call” service - standing by to perform in the living rooms and kitchens of people unable to attend the public events.

Catrin Finch kicks things off in Trevelin and Esquel where she will teach local children the harp and even play on board Patagonia’s narrow gauge railway La Trochita. In Rawson the musicians will be joined by special schools facilitator Andy Pidcock, who works regularly with BBC NOW on its ground-breaking work in this field, to deliver bespoke workshops to pupils from special schools. Ysgol y Hendre in Trelew was the first Welsh speaking school in Patagonia; there BBC NOW Chorus Manager, Osian Rowlands, will be reunited with his former music teacher Catrin Heledd Morris who emigrated to Patagonia nearly two decades ago and now teaches in this school. Conductor Grant Llewellyn will assist and coach the conductors of the INTA Youth Orchestra in Trelew alongside side by side rehearsals with BBC NOW musicians. 

This will be the first time that the orchestra has taken its learning work on an international tour. The aim of the week-long residency is to offer a once in a lifetime opportunity to the communities of Y Wladfa, to support the development of music and partnerships in Chubut and leave a lasting legacy. The full orchestra will travel at the end of the first week to perform two gala concerts on 30 October in Trelew – the finale of the week in Patagonia in the converted wool warehouse. 

Suzanne Hay, Head of Learning and Partnerships for BBC National Orchestra of Wales said, “The aim of this week-long music residency in Patagonia is to offer a once in a lifetime opportunity to the communities in Y Wladfa. We want to leave a lasting legacy with the communities in the province by, making music, building partnerships and providing expert support to help the rich Welsh musical heritage, which still exists in this area, to thrive. We really are bringing the best of what we do in Wales thousands of miles across the Atlantic, to share with these communities – and we anticipate that it will be as significant an experience for our musicians, as it will be for the people of Patagonia.”

BBC NOW will go on to perform in some of the most iconic concert halls in South America. Within Argentina, two concerts in Buenos Aires in the Teatro Colon (2 and 4 November), a concert in the Teatro El Círculo of Rosario (5 November) and Teatro del Libertador General San Martín in Cordoba (6 November). They will then travel to CorpArtes in Santiago, Chile (8 November) and Teatro Solis in Montevideo, Uruguay (11 November). This landmark tour is being managed by Intermusica.  

The tour would not be possible without the generous support of the British Council, Welsh Government, BBC Wales, Arts Council of Wales, Wales Arts International and British Embassy – Buenos Aires.

For more blogs, videos and pictures and to find out more about concert dates visit the BBC NOW website

Follow the tour on social media using #NOWTour15 #TaithNOW15 #Patagonia150

Video Gallery

Day One in Patagonia HD 1080p