Myra Stories and Songs

Myra – Lost Folk Tales and Songs of Ceredigion

A double CD just released offers a unique spread of fascinating material gathered from the writings of a Victorian farmer’s wife who lived just outside Cei Newydd, and who spent time, when not fulfiling her role on the farm, and as wife and mother, collecting and writing down songs and stories she heard which related to the surrounding area. Myra Evans lived at Panteg and in her small neat hand she made a note of all possible material she heard into  two exercise books – one for stories and one for music and songs. The material on the discs comes from both books. Peter Stephenson is the storyteller and he brings style and experience to the telling. As a collector of stories himself the discovery of this miscellaneous anthology is a magical experience. Whilst his storytelling captures the listener, the musical accompaniment adds another dimension to the listening experience. The emotional content, the atmosphere, and the mood of the stories are vastly increased by the musical presence of Ceri Owen Jones on harp and  Elsa Davies who sings and plays the fiddle. The music itself has been adapted, as have the stories, but whatever small alterations have been made to bring it together, the result works brilliantly; an almost elemental conjunction which feels as though it existed as a complete entity. The albums are produced both in Welsh and English, by Ceri Rhys Matthews and Jens Schroeder and the material offers a glimpse into an area of heritage which might easily have been lost. It is specifically relevant to Ceredigion and some of the stories still circulate by word of mouth. For instance most people living in the area around Cei Newydd, Gilfachrheda, and Llanarth will have heard tales of the old self-styled wise woman Siani, who lived in a house on the beach at Cei Bach.They may even have had their fortunes told by her, before she died and the sea finally took the house under the waves. Tall stories about her were always in the air around the neighbourhood, but for Myra Evans to have written them down is almost like a small miracle, and for her daughter to have been kind enough to pass them on to be used in this way is a generous addition to the heritage of Ceredigion. Peter Stephenson says ‘Myra took the songs and stories and gave trimmings to bare bones, and that she took the time to weave this collection together in her notebooks is a gift.’

‘Myra’ The Lost Fairy Tales and Folk Songs of West Wales is available from Awen Teifi Material from the profane and humorous to the sacred and spiritual, from fairground dances, music hall songs and ballads to hymns, religious anthems and ancient pre-reformation melodies, from childrens stories and local anecdotes to mythological cycles and Welsh operetta.

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