Coronavirus: Men of Harlech re-written to thank key workers

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Media captionBryn Terfel sings the new version of Men of Harlech

A new version of classic Welsh song Men of Harlech has been recorded to thank key workers for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

Poet Mererid Hopwood has penned the new lyrics which were performed by Sir Bryn Terfel and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

Sir Bryn recorded his pieces at home using homemade backing music from the orchestra’s brass section.

It will be aired on Thursday as part of BBC Wales’ Welsh Heroes Day.

“Unable to say thank you by performing publicly at this time, this new video has been the way I can acknowledge the heroes across Wales, working to make a difference during the current coronavirus crisis,” said Sir Bryn.

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He was asked to take part as the orchestra had been due to perform with him at the Royal Albert Hall last month.

He agreed and suggested asking Ms Hopwood to provide new lyrics to reflect the crisis.

“I think the tune is probably more memorable than the words,” she said.

“It has been a strange time but I sincerely hope that the clapping is not superficial and that when it’s finished that feeling of gratitude must remain with us and our priorities will have to change.”

The main message of her two bilingual verses is that we should thank key workers, including NHS staff and care workers, not just now, but well after the crisis is over.

Clarinettist Lenny Sayers also created an arrangement of the song for colleagues in the orchestra’s woodwind section to perform from home during lockdown.

He said: “As it was about modern day Welsh heroes, I decided to make my arrangement quite heroic.

“It’s written for the brass section. They like to think of themselves as the heroes of the orchestra.

“There’s fanfares and the trumpets and then the woodwind section’s more light-hearted with a sense of fun about it.”

Men of Harlech will be played at 11:00 BST on Thursday 7 May on BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru.

BBC News

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