Powys Digital History Project 

Côr Meibion Ystradgynlais 9
Hosting the Vivat Choir from Moscow

by the instigator Jim Moore

  Memories from Russia and Friends in the Vivat Choir, July 1990
When it became known that over fifty Russians were to descend on Ystradgynlais and the surrounding area, no-one knew exactly what to expect. The arrival late at night, however, of a coachload of very tired people who had been travelling for three days and nights, and all speaking a language rarely heard in Wales, provided the first of many pleasant memories.
Not only were they all smiling and genuinely happy to meet us but they launched into a song of welcome which still haunts many of us who were there to meet them to this day.
Members of the Vivat Choir outside McDonald's in Morriston, with Jim Moore, Ken Evans and Lyn Thomas of the Ystradgynlais choir. Vivat Choir at McDonalds


The Russia that they had left behind them was very different to the Wales which they were about to see for the first and possibly only time, and indeed very different to the Russia where they live today. At that time everyone had lots of Roubles, but there was nothing to buy with them. Today people can buy anything they want, but don't have any money to buy it with.
They used to say "We pretend to work, and the Government pretends to pay us". Now their government doesn't even pretend, and although life for the average Russian has probably become even harder, at least they see and talk about the realities of life and hope for something better.
The Vivat Choir (right) performing at the Adelina Patti theatre at Craig-y-nos Vivat Choir at Craig-y-nosIn spite of an existence which seemed austere and hard to us it was apparent from the character of our Russian visitors that they had something which we in the west are in danger of losing, i.e. a ready ability to enjoy the company of others, and to socialise. 
During my travels over many years to diverse parts of the old Soviet Union I never ceased to be amazed at the resilience, good-naturedness and humour of its peoples. They are amongst the few who can laugh at themselves and make light of their predicament.

Some of us are still in touch with our Russian friends and I'm pleased to say that they haven't changed much although their country has. I hope that they see us also as we were then.

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