Closer to home

June 1, 2009

For those of you in the UK with access to the BBC iPlayer I can strongly recommend this wonderful narrative from the greatest living operatic bass Bryn Terfel. He revisits the places of his youth in North Wales, a journey that takes him from his family farm in the foothills of Snowdonia to the summit itself. He does this by way of Caernarfon Castle, Bardsey Island, Portmeirion and the slate mines. At each location he sings, even taking a Grand Piano to the summit of Yr Wyddfa (to give Snowdon its proper name) and the chapel on Bardsey Island. The section on the island (pictured) is especially moving, not least for me as my parents ashes were scattered into the sound that divides that Island from the Llyn Peninsular. It was a major centre of the Celtic Church, a place of pilgrimage to which three visits were the equivalent to one trip to Rome. Given the ferocity of the currents that surround the island a one for one might have more reflected the hardships of the journey! The Caban of the slate workers with their educated discussion is also worth of note. A moving, poetical and lyrical journey. I’ve rediscovered and written about my own journeys and the memories that those bring so it was fascinating to witness Bryn’s. The more so, as all the places he visited were also places of my own childhood and early adult life. Watch it while you can, the stupidity of the BBC means that it will disappear shortly and those of you outside of the UK will not be able to see it at all.

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