Canu Chwarel Singing Slate

Llun gan Emyr Roberts

Llun gan Emyr Roberts

The male voice choir is well known in North Wales. But women’s voices have been important to the culture, cohesiveness and protest in quarrying communities in North Wales (past, present and future) too - click here for more details of what we’ve found out.

In order to find the voice of Merched Chwarel, we have arranged three bilingual, women/girls’ singing/sound workshops in January and February 2019 in Bro Ffestiniog, Dyffryn Peris, and Dyffryn Nantlle with support from Llechi Cymru Wales Slate World Heritage Site bid, Llechwedd Slate Caverns and Amgueddfa Llechi Llanberis. The workshops were a complete sell out. Here you can see - and hear - the results!

“It has been a two year dream of mine, to get the voice of women into the quarry! It’s such a delight that all the workshops are fully booked. See the events page for more info, and to see if more are being arranged. Many thanks to all who have taken part.”
- Lindsey Colbourne

Canu Chwarel Llechwedd Singing Slate 19.1.19

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Led by Jamie Dawes-Hughes, 26 of us - a mix of singers and non-singers - spent a morning in y Dafarn y Chwarelwr, learning 3 new songs, and then went down into Llechwedd Caverns to perform them. We are hugely grateful to Llechwedd for hosting us so generously.

Listen to us here - thanks to Jamie’s coaching, and great choice of songs, we sound - well, quite brilliant!

“Diolch am ddiwrnod anhygoel.”

“I loved it and have been trying to remember it for the last hour! since Saturday I just feel like singing - not had the opportunity for about 35 years!!!”

“I’ve never seen people beam with happiness for 7 solid hours before today!”

“profiad eithaf rhyfeddol ynde!”

“Wanted to say a huge thanks for a wonderful day. Singing brings me so much joy right now and the caverns made it truly special.”

Canu Chwarel Dinorwig Singing Slate 27.1.19

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Sam Frankie Fox led this (double booked!) experimental workshop, guiding 16 of us through a series of vocal games, vocal characters and archetypes, call and response sequences and some unison and simple harmony songs. We used both the sung and the spoken voice and we each made a mini slate bracelet instrument (Sam calls them Llechledau/Slatelets!) to accompany the voice.

Listen to some of the results here

We performed amongst machinery, in the Caban and in Chwarel Vivian Quarry. And then we ate a delicious Welsh Stout and chocolate cake made by Sam. We were also delighted to have use of some Llechiffonau, slate xylophones made by Tim Cumine. Many thanks to Amgueddfa Llechi Cymru/Llanberis Slate Museum for hosting us. Pete Telfer and BBC Newyddion9 came to film us too.



“Thanks so much for organising this... it was a great experience. I was super impressed with Sam, she was extremely professional and well organised and so creative in her approach. It reminded me of another project I was involved in for the cultural section of the Olympics in 2012. It involved singing a specially commissioned piece in a quarry!”

“Brilliant day – really enjoyed bi-lingual workshop and everyone very supportive achos dwi’n dysgu Cymraeg! Great mixture of song and ‘noise making’. Really enjoyed singing amongst the machinery and Vivian Quarry.”

“Mwy or un fath plis!”

“Great venue in the quarry. Creative teacher lovely rhythms! I’ve connected with the slate and my voice through singing and art and landscape.”

“I loved that it was mostly in Welsh and for me (advanced) learner I could participate. Great workshop ‘leader’. Sam was great”

See comments and pictures on our facebook event page

Canu Chwarel Y Fron Singing Slate 23.2.19

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For our final workshop, writer, vocalist, spoken word artist and storyteller, Siân Miriam took 25 of us on a bilingual journey combining spoken word, narrative and song, and improvising from stories of Merched Chwarel from Dyffryn Nantlle and our own personal connections with quarries.

We started off at Canolfan y Fron and then headed off to Chwarel Ellen (Pen yr Orsedd) quarry buildings to try out what we’d developed. In just a few hours, we’d written limericks, poems, songs, spoken pieces, and told stories as individuals, small groups… and of course, all our voices together.

Listen to the results here

Thanks so much for a fabulous day today!

Thank to all you merchedchwarel for today. How lucky we were with the weather. Also good conversations and felt inspired to visit more quarries. Diolch

Another unusual and memorable experience with the merched chwarel in the quarries today. Thank you all for the inspirational day

Diolch am ddoe - arbennig!