Competitions get underway at National Eisteddfod
Competitions, seen by many as the bedrock of the National Eisteddfod, get underway at the festival Maes today (Saturday).
During the next eight days more than 100 competitions will be staged in one of two pavilions erected on the the Eisteddfod Maes at Boduan on the outskirts of Pwllheli.
The term eisteddfod, which is an amalgam of two words, eistedd, meaning ‘sit’, and fod, meaning ‘be’, and according to Welsh academic and historian, the late Hywel Teifi Edwards, “sitting-together.”
Edwards further defines the earliest form of the eisteddfod as a competitive meeting between bards and minstrels, in which the winner was chosen by a noble or royal patron.
The first documented instance of such a literary festival and competition took place under the patronage of Prince Rhys ap Gruffudd of the House of Dinefwr at Cardigan Castle in 1176.
However, with the loss of Welsh independence at the hands of King Edward I, the closing of the bardic schools, and the Anglicization of the Welsh nobility, it fell into abeyance.
The current format owes much to an 18th-century revival, first patronised and overseen by the London-based Gwyneddigion Society.
The revival therefore proved enormously successful and is credited as one of the primary reasons for the continued survival of the Welsh language, Welsh literature, and Welsh culture.
The competitions range from solo and ensemble singing and recitation to folk and modern dance and Cerdd Dant, the unique Welsh form of presenting poetry and music.
During the week the Gorsedd of Bards will assemble and stage colourful ceremonies to award prizes of a Chair and a Crown to winning poets and medals to writers, dramatists and musicians.
The first competitions on the main pavilion stage is for choirs of more than 20 voices. Six choirs have entered and will sing two pieces, one of which is by a Welsh composer.
The winning choir will win the Menai Williams and Nesta Davies Cup and a cash prize of £500.
Later the first of two brass bands take place. Three bands, from Menai Bridge, Holywell and Blaenau Ffestiniog, are due to stake to the stage in Class 4.
On Sunday eleven choirs have entered another choral competition which promises keen competition as well as the popular hymn singing competition for those over 60.
The 2023 Llyn and Eifionydd National Eisteddfod at Boduan runs from August 5-12. More details online at eistedddfod.cymru
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