Ceri Shaw


 

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NEW BOOK EXPLORES WHAT IT IS TO BE AN IMMIGRANT WITH A CREATIVE SOUL IN AMERICA

user image 2023-09-25
By: Ceri Shaw
Posted in: New Titles

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Llanelli-raised Dr Mari Morgan emigrated to the United States in 1996 to pursue a career as a classical singer.  Braids of Song: Weaving Welsh Music into the American Soul  (Y Lolfa) by Mari Morgan evokes the experiences of other Welsh people who have ventured across the Pond to follow their musical dreams. Mari Morgan asks: “Do you ever wonder what happens when a person moves to a new country? Do they change? Does the way they sing stay with the old or blend with the new? And if they are creative types – what happens to their artistic output?” 

Several voices tell their story, both real and imagined, in the book – the charismatic composer, Dr Joseph Parry from Merthyr who stages a Welsh opera in Danville, Pennsylvania; the steady but ground-breaking conductor, Dr Daniel Protheroe from Cwmgiedd who measures for a suit in Chicago; and the international concert pianist, Marie Novello from Maesteg wrapped in glamorous furs on the first-class deck of an ocean liner. 

And there’s also the author’s own story, a girl from Llanelli who founded and conducts the North American Welsh Choir. Her narrative is a medley of reflections and observations in a Welsh-American context: “I wanted to recognise the richness, humanity, and cross-fertilisation of cultures and identities that built some of the America of today – the interconnection between immigration, identity, and creativity within a Welsh Trans-Atlantic context. 

Braids of Song  is a celebration of life in stories. The idea for the book began after the death of my father on 1 March 2015. A Welsh Nonconformist minister and a man of his people, he posed two questions of me during his final weeks: ‘When are you going to write my story?’ ‘Who are you?’  Braids of Song  is my creative response to those two simple questions. The writing and research took my grief on a thrilling treasure hunt of discovery. 

“My father’s bequest of a score and story of  Arianwen  begins  Braids of Song , combined with my own experience as a Welsh musician who has lived in the United States of America for over twenty-five years, led me on an exploration of how immigration to a new country can alter a person, how the challenges and opportunities of the new are balanced with a sense of loss for the old, and how the creative output is affected in the process of assimilating to a new culture.”  


Notes


Raised in the coastal town of Llanelli, musician and writer Mari Morgan was educated at the University of Wales, Cardiff; Trinity College of Music, London; and later at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. She holds degrees in both Music and Creative Writing. She emigrated to the United States in 1996. An acclaimed classical singer with many recordings to her name, she formed and conducts Côr Cymry Gogledd America. Now a naturalized American citizen residing along the banks of the Susquehanna river in Pennsylvania, Dr Morgan divides her time between the United States and Wales.