BBC National Orchestra of Wales first for Patagonia

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Media captionWatch the orchestra prepare for the Patagonia trip

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales (BBC NOW) is embarking on its first tour of South America.

The orchestra will perform concerts in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.

During the three-week trip, it will become the first international professional symphony orchestra to visit Argentina's Welsh-speaking community of Patagonia.

This visit coincides with the 150th anniversary of the arrival of a community of Welsh settlers.

Members of the orchestra will present workshops in schools, nursing homes and in some residents' living rooms.

The Patagonia leg of the tour will culminate with two gala concerts on 30 October in a specially converted wool warehouse.

Image caption Harpist Catrin Finch watches carefully during rehearsal

Harpist Catrin Finch will accompany the orchestra to Patagonia, while conductor Grant Llewellyn and 12 members of the orchestra will work with more than 1,000 children from schools and community groups.

The workshops will take place in towns including Puerto Madryn, Rawson, Trelew, Trevelin, Esquel and Gaiman, with many locations in remote areas where there is limited access to cultural activity and the arts.

BBC National Orchestra of Wales

South American tour in numbers


Miles in three weeks

  • 260 instruments

  • 6 concerts in three countries

  • 1,000 children will be involved in 29 school and community workshops

  • 5 workshops with youth and community orchestras


BBC NOW director Michael Garvey said: "The ambition is to try to take what we do here in Wales to another Welsh community.

"Yes, it's part of the wonderful celebrations for Y Wladfa (the Welsh-speaking community in Patagonia) and the 150th anniversary, but it will also give people a sense of the contemporary aspect of the orchestra.

"We do far more than just put on nice concerts. The whole range of the orchestra's work includes its education and community outreach work, trying to encourage people to like classical music and to know more about it.

"It's a wonderful skill that the orchestra members have, not just to be able to play beautifully, but to be able to communicate and educate as well. That's what we're trying to do in taking the orchestra overseas."

In addition to six concert dates, the orchestra will perform six times in Patagonia, including three informal performances, a Noson Lawen event and two gala concerts.

  • There will be daily updates from the South America tour on BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru and Radio 3

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