Côr y Penrhyn made Glastonbury history this weekend, when they became the first male voice choir from Wales to perform at the music festival.
The choir, from Bethesda, performed alongside former Blur star Damon Albarn and his super-group The Good, The Bad and The Queen on the ‘Park Stage’ on Sunday evening.
Côr y Penrhyn sing the backing vocals for the band’s song Lady Boston, from the album Merrie Land, which was recorded at Penrhyn Castle in Bangor last year.
Music fans soon took to Twitter after the performance to show their appreciation, with one describing the performance as the best they’d seen at this year’s Glastonbury and another describing it as beautiful and giving them ‘goosebumps’.
Lady Boston was inspired by Albarn’s visit to Penrhyn castle. He got the song title, from one of the numerous portraits adorning the castle walls. “There was a face which looked slightly detached,” he said. “I was really drawn to her. The colour of her skin was subtly different. Maybe she came from the colonies and I’d like to know who she was.”
The band then returned to Penrhyn castle to record the finished song. It includes a Welsh-language refrain sung by the Penrhyn male voice choir: “Dwi wrth dy gefn,” which translates as, “I’ve got your back.”
The Lyrics for Lady Boston include:
Up in the tower that looks out to sea
The pink dressing room bell
Of the lady is ringing
She looks from the shadows
Out through the stained colours of old grass
The sorrows of slate and sugar cane are hers
Built in the 19th century, Penrhyn was mocked up to look like a Norman castle from 1066 using the inherited proceeds from slavery in Jamaica. Bassist Paul Simonon (best known for playing with The Clash) explained that the building of Penrhyn “came to represent misery to the local people of that town.”
He added: “Even today they have dark memories of it, this haunted building on top of the hill.”
After Glastonbury, there is another concert with the band at Somerset House in London in mid-July, and they are also trying to arrange for Albarn and the band to come up to perform in Bethesda in the near future.
Côr y Penrhyn musical director Owain Arwel Davies said: “He wants to come, we started organizing one date but unfortunately that date has fallen through, but we’ll see. “it’s a matter of being able to bring the whole band up.”