The Senedd

From: Kasidy Leggin

Shortly after our first concert at Saint Cynog’s Church, the choir visited The National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff. The building houses the Welsh Parliament, known in Welsh as the Senedd. It stands as a sleek work of architecture. Opened in 2006, the premises border Cardiff Bay, and the sheen from its many windows provides a stark contrast to the antiquity of say- the Parliament in London, or the U.S. Capitol building. Before 1997, the Welsh were governed solely by the Parliament in England. Being only twenty years past its inception, the Welsh Parliament is relatively new. As a result, every facet of the Welsh government has a certain freshness and vigor to it. Even our tour guide at the Senedd appeared lively, not looking a day past his mid twenties.

Welsh “Senedd” Building

One thing that stuck out to me about the Welsh government was how inviting and open it felt. After nothing more than a cursory security check, we were allowed inside to explore. I later learned that this was not special treatment reserved for our choir, as every Welsh citizen can do the same. After a quick visit to the café, we were led to a circular auditorium. Every seat was fitted with headphones and a video console, and in the center was a circular glass dome which enclosed the debating chamber for the Welsh Parliament. The debating chamber was a classy room, with computers at each desk and headsets for the purpose of immediate Welsh to English translation. Nestled behind a glass panel toward the front of the chamber was a regal looking golden mace, the symbol of parliamentary government.

Debating Chamber

In the auditorium, we had the honor of meeting the Welsh Secretary of Education, Kirsty Williams. She explained to us that whenever Parliament was in session, anyone may listen to the discussion in the debating chamber from up in the auditorium. To me, that gesture was indicative of the welcoming nature of Wales in general. Williams also taught us about the similarities of the Welsh government to our own back in America. In our system, there is a distinction between the federal government in Washington D.C. and the legislatures of each state. Not much is different in Wales. The Parliament in London governs over the whole U.K., much like our federal government, and the Parliament of Wales is congruent to an American state government.

Kristy Williams, Welsh Secretary of Education, speaks to the choir

After she shared these insights into the Welsh government, Williams asked the choir to sing “Rachie” in the auditorium. She had been to our concert the previous night and was quite impressed with our Welsh, even claiming that it was better than her own! Before leaving, we also sang the Welsh national anthem on the main staircase. Like many times already on the trip, everybody appeared to have been struck by the majesty of this musical moment. Our talent, dedication, and love for music had allowed us to create it for some of the leaders of this wonderful country, and it was a wonderful feeling. I truly believe that every choir member left the Senedd that day stunned at where their hard work had taken them.

Singing the Welsh National Anthem on the steps in the Senedd