Celebrating the life of Merêd

Collections - Posted 02-12-2019

“I cannot think of my father as being a hundred years old”, says his daughter Eluned, and in fact while researching in the archive held at the Library it’s not an old man who comes to mind, but an energetic, enthusiastic, hard-working and determined man. Meredydd Evans, or Merêd, was a pivotal figure in the development of music in Wales. He spent his life contributing to Welsh life and culture as an avid collector, historian, musician, editor, nationalist and campaigner for the Welsh language. The centenary is a chance to celebrate a full and productive life and here is a taste of the buzz of activities at the National Library:

Film: Merêd Centenary – Archive clips Monday, 9 December 2019

Join us in celebrating the centenary of Merêd’s birth (9 December 1919 – 21 February 2015) on his birthday with a special showing of a selection of clips from the Screen and Sound Archive collection, which give a taste of Merêd and Phyllis Kinney’s life and work. Join us on a journey from ‘Noson Lawen’ to Ryan and Ronnie, and from the folk songs to Heather Jones singing ‘Colli laith’.

Radio Cymru Sesiwn Unnos Gwerin (Folk Song session)

In September 2019 the musicians Siân James, Gwenan Gibbard, Gareth Bonello, Gai Toms, Iestyn Tyne and Casi Wyn were invited to create a new arrangement of some old Welsh folk tunes from the Meredydd Evans and Phyllis Kinney archive, held at the National Library of Wales. It was broadcast on BBC Radio Cymru from the Welsh Folk-Song Society conference on 29 September. To mark the centenary of Dr Meredydd Evans’ birth, here is a rare opportunity for you to hear that collection of tunes being sung again, following the film which will be shown in the Drwm on the 9th of December.

Merêd centenary lecture

Lunchtime lecture by Geraint H. Jenkins, Wednesday 11 December. An opportunity to celebrate the centenary of Merêd’s birth – philosopher, writer, musician and activist – in the company of historian Geraint H. Jenkins. A special photograph of Merêd by Iestyn Hughes will be on view during the week.

Hela’r Hen Ganeuon (Hunting the Old Songs) BBC Radio Cymru programme

Following a period of research in the archive of Merêd and Phyllis at the National Library, musicians will respond to music relating to the Christmas and New Year period. Al Lewis, Nia Morgan and Arfon Gwilym join Georgia Ruth Williams, and perform songs related to the Christmas and New Year seasons e.g. Plygain, Calennig, and Mari Lwyd. On Sunday 8th December at 19:05 the Hela’r Hen Ganeuon programme will be broadcast on BBC Radio Cymru, and will then be available to listen again on the Radio Cymru website or the BBC Sounds app.

Frank Hennessy’s ‘Celtic Heartbeat’

Talk on Merêd on ‘Celtic Heartbeat’, Radio Wales, (1st December 2019)  with Nia Mai Daniel and Frank Hennessey discussing how he has been an inspiration to Welsh folk musicians throughout his life, from his work as Head of light entertainment at the BBC (1963-1973) to assisting the young musicians of the ’10 mewn bws (10 in a Bus) Project. Merêd was a talented performer, recording an important selection of songs for Folkway Records in New York in 1954, and later for the Sain record label.

Cataloguing the Merêd and Phyllis Kinney archive at the National Library

As part of the work of the Welsh Musical Archive we are preparing an archive catalogue to provide easy access to the treasure trove of archives containing Merêd and Phyllis Kinney’s musical papers, Merêd’s correspondence, and Merêd’s files on philosophy, literature, campaigns for the Welsh language, and more.

Index cards available online

Thousands of index cards on traditional Welsh music have been digitized and are available on NLW Archive and Manuscripts. There are nine different groups (namely Folk songs, Carols, Carol lyrics, Nursery Rhymes, ‘Alawon fy Ngwlad’ tunes by Nicholas Bennett, Mari Lwyd, J. Lloyd Williams and the Journal of the Welsh Folk Song Society). There will be an exciting opportunity to get involved with a volunteering project on the Nursery Rhymes in the New Year.

Gwenan Gibbard’s folk music PhD

Gwenan Gibbard is the winner of a Doctoral Scholarship to study the contribution of Dr Meredydd Evans and Phyllis Kinney to the field of folk music in Wales. This is a joint project between The Welsh Musical Archive at The National Library of Wales, The School of Music and Media at Bangor University and the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol.

‘Record: Folk, Protest and Pop’ musical exhibition

Last chance to see the exhibition relating to Welsh music from the Crwth to the Y Cyrff. Please note that the exhibition closes on 11th December (not 1st February) due to construction work. The exhibition includes a section on Merêd looking at his influence as a collector and performer and as head of BBC Wales’ light entertainment programmes.

In celebrating the centenary, we are thankful for Merêd’s huge contribution to Welsh culture.

Nia Mai Daniel, 

The Welsh Music Archive @NLWMusic

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