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‘MidMad’ at Aberystwyth Arts Centre

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The interior of the marquee: with kind permission from Rachel Scurlock, Marketing Assistant at Aberystwyth Arts Centre.

THE ANNUAL MidMad event, for music and festival lovers, returned to the Aberstwyth Arts Centre on Saturday (Jun 25) for another funfilled day.

The event was held from 2pm, where people had the whole day to look forward to a packed schedule of activities. As well as dancing, singing and live music performances throughout the day, children were entertained by face painting, arts and crafts workshops and circus skills workshops, and families had the opportunity to enjoy the Arts Centre’s popular barbecue.

All was not lost for football fans as the Arts Centre televised the UEFA Wales game during the event.

At 2pm, the event kicked off with Manchester artist and musician Gideon Conn, a uniquely gifted songwriter who is currently based in London. Having toured extensively around the UK, he has played many UK festivals, including Glastonbury Festival, and is influenced by Soul and Jazz music from artists such as Stevie Wonder, OutKast and Nat King Cole. Conn has also had the benefit of being played on XFM Radio and on BBC Radio 1. With the likes of Ed Sheeran as self-professed fans, he supported popular American singer-songwriter Jason Mraz on his 2008 UK Tour.

An established clothing designer, painter, drawer and sculptor, he sells his artwork and accepts commissions through his official Facebook page and website.

With a list of released singles under his belt, that include first single ‘I Want You Around‘ on Mannequin Republic on 10-inch vinyl, and the release of ‘Highlights and Perceptions’ on 12-inch vinyl and digital download in November 2013.

Having already performed at the Leigh Folk Festival in Essex and the Green Note Basement in Camden, fans are able to see Conn at places such as the Glastonferret in Preston on July 10, the Cloudspotting Festival in Lancashire on July 30 and the Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire on August 5.

Speaking to The Herald, Gideon Conn was able to tell us his thoughts on the MidMad event as a whole and on his performance: “The marquee tent was very large and almost empty as I was first on and the weather was good at that point so people preferred to stay outside.

“I did have a lovely email today though from a guy who watched the show and really enjoyed and engaged with my music. I mostly played songs from my debut album ‘New Bop Sounds’, but slipped in a couple from the following albums.”

At 3 .05pm, cabaret style singing group ‘Sgarmes’ were next to perform at ‘MidMad’.

Dynamic, bilingual and unique, Sgarmes are a close harmony singing group based in Aberystwyth, Mid Wales. Named after the welsh word for scrum, the group was set up by musical director Elinor Powell in 2006 with the specific aim of filling the gap between a formal choir and a covers band. Sgarmes sing a wide range of classic and contemporary songs in both English and Welsh.

They like to defy being categorised but are probably much more of a cabaret act than a choir that just love to sing and entertain. Sgarmes have performed at numerous events throughout Wales, the rest of the UK and even Germany and are ideal for wedding parties, charity events and functions large or small.

Speaking about MidMad, Sgarmes’ Manager , Huw Bates , told The Herald: “We’ve performed at this event a few times now and always thoroughly enjoy it. Free music, activities for kids, food and drink and Wales playing football on the big screen – what’s not to like?!” Sgarmes sung a variety of numbers showcasing their diverse repertoire from ‘Calon Lan ‘ and ‘Mambo Italiano ‘ to ‘One Day More ‘ and a couple of their newer numbers : ‘ A Little Respect ‘ by Erasure and Iko Iko, originally by the Dixie Cups.

The group have a busy summer ahead, with events ranging from a fundraising evening in Llangwyrfon to a wedding in Merthyr and will be performing on the Main Stage for the third year running at this year’s Big Tribute Festival.

‘MidMad’ was then treated to the fabulous Lady Gaga tribute and impersonator, Donna Marie. This show is the Lady Gaga tribute that raises the benchmark for all other tribute acts, and as Lady Gaga, Donna Marie is internationally acclaimed as the ‘Best Lady Gaga Tribute on the planet’! Even the real Lady Gaga agrees, when she squealed in excitement upon meeting Donna Marie, telling her: “Oh, my god ! You look just like me – you are amazing.”

Donna Marie is the only Lady Gaga Impersonator and Tribute in the world that uses an authentic working replica of the Lady Gaga Spark Bra. All the costumes are professionally tailored handmade replicas of the Haus of Gaga wardrobe, designed and created by Donna and her very own costume designer (who has worked on BBC Television and the West End as a theatre costume designer). The costumes cost thousands of pounds to make, but the attention to detail is noticeable with every single stitch, helping to re-create the experience of drama, attitude and fashion that is ‘LADY GAGA‘.

Donna Marie is constantly updating the ‘HAUS OF GAGA’, recreating the outrageous fashion trends and props in line with Lady Gaga‘s ongoing hits and ever changing wacky wardrobe.

But it’s not only the costumes that turn heads; Donna Marie, has an uncanny natural resemblance to Lady Gaga. The show has the support of a full team of professionals – choreographers, dancers, sound engineers, special effects, set and prop designer, stage manager, dresser and costume designer who together notch up over 80 years experience in the entertainment industry.

Donna Marie has won many awards for her Lady Gaga tribute show, including the prestigious GOSCAR award for the ‘Best Act of 2010’, which she then won again the following year. In 2013 and 2016, she won the Agents Association ‘National Tribute Award‘ as ‘The Official UK No. 1 Lady Gaga Tribute‘. In 2011, Donna Marie’s Lady Gaga tribute act theatre show at St David ‘s Hall in Cardiff was a sell-out.

The Lady Gaga tribute show is available worldwide and can be tailored to suit any venue, event and capacity. Clients to date range from global corporations and five star hotels (including hotels frequented by the real Lady Gaga when on tour!) to more personal private functions including birthdays and weddings.

Donna Marie was happy to speak to The Herald on how her performance went at the event: “It was great to be a part of the ‘MidMad ’ event in Aberystwyth. The crowd really enjoyed my Lady Gaga tribute performance. Dancing and singing along, they really got into the spirit of things. We had an amazing time. Thank you, Aberystwyth. “

The songs that Donna Marie performed at the event were: ‘Guy’, ‘Manicure’, ‘Do What You Want’, ‘Alejandro’, ‘Telephone’ and ‘Applause’. There was also a Gaga medley that included ‘Just Dance’, ‘Pokerface’, ‘Marry the Night’, ‘Bad Romance’, ‘Judas’ and ‘Born This Way’.

“There are a few exciting things coming up over the next few weeks. On Wednesday (Jun 29), I picked up my award at the National Tribute Music Awards. I have won the ‘UK’s Official No. 1 Lady Gaga Tribute‘. I’m then off to perform at Edinburgh Pride, a castle in Latvia for a wedding, Charlie’s Bar in Ibiza, and I’m also performing at the Royal Airforce 100 years Celebration in Kings Lynn. We are also in rehearsals for my theatre show at Blackwood Miners on October 14.”

After the televised UEFA match, international award-winning brass ensemble ‘Oompah Brass‘ performed for the MidMad crowd. The band have been described by Chris Evans from Radio Two as ‘The Legends In Lederhosen – they rock – so good‘.

Shortly after, Mid Wales band ‘Cartoon Violence‘ headed the event with songs capturing the classic British Pop scene, including music from The Kinks and Madness. Endless soaring energy, great sing-a-long choruses and wonderful piano melodies are all hallmarks of the band’s unique sound.

At 9pm, the event wrapped up with an over 18s disco with DJ Ed Underwood. As well as that, the additional entertainment at the event was Dripping Tap Theatre Company who presented ‘Webster and Jones: A pocket guide to Wales’, which was a comic interactive walkabout performance about two intrepid Victorian explorers conquering the great outdoors!

Additionally, 2009 Britain’s Got Talent competitors Jeffrey and Turbo, from ‘Flawless‘, provided a House and HipHop Dance Workshop from 2pm until 5pm.

Special thanks and credits for photos of the performers to: Dewi Alun Jones Photography and Donna Marie herself

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Lecture considers the future of war

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INTERNATIONALLY renowned war scholar and military conflict expert, Professor Christopher Coker delivered this year’s Kenneth N. Waltz Annual Lecture on Thursday (Nov 16).

Christopher Coker, Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science, is a prolific author on all aspects of war. He is a former NATO Fellow, a former twice serving member of the Council of the Royal United Services Institute, and a regular lecturer at Defence Colleges in the UK, US, Rome, Singapore, and Tokyo.

In his lecture entitled ‘Still ‘The Human Thing’? Thucydides, Waltz & the Future of War”, Professor Coker discussed war as a feature of what we call ‘human nature’ or ‘humanity’ in general, while focusing on urgent contemporary issues such as possible changes in the nature of war by the blurring of the distinction between humans and machines.

He also considered how, as Artificial Intelligence becomes ever more a fact of life, the traditional functions and forms of war could change, discussing such questions as: will we still need war and will war still need us?

Talking ahead of the the event, Professor Ken Booth of Aberystwyth University said: “Chris Coker is a very imaginative, interesting, and controversial thinker. Intellectually ambitious, he always addresses the biggest questions. The titles of some of his most recent books attest to this: Future War, Can War be Eliminated?, Warrior Geeks: how 21st Century Technology is Changing the Way We Fight and Think about War, The Improbable War: China, the US, and the Logic of Great Power Conflict and Men at War: what Fiction tells us about Conflict. We can be sure of a fascinating and challenging lecture about a supremely important area of human behaviour.”

The Kenneth N. Waltz Annual Lecture brings distinguished scholars to Aberystwyth to talk about issues that were central to the concerns of the late Ken Waltz, the leading theorist of international relations over many decades.
Hosted by the David Davies Memorial Institute and the Department of International Politics, this year’s lecture was held in the Main Hall in the International Politics Building on the Penglais Campus.

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Youth Service invited to international training event

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TWO Youth Workers from Ceredigion Youth Service have been selected to represent the UK on a week’s training opportunity in Horažd’ovice in the Czech Republic.

‘The danger of a Single Story’ is a training course funded by Erasmus+, that combines stories, media, global education and active citizenship to empower trainers, educators and youth workers with the tools to educate young people on issues such as cyberbullying, hate speech, and online harassment.

Elen James, Head of Youth Engagement and Continuing Education​,​ said​:​ “We are extremely proud of both Rebeca Davies and Guto Crompton, 270 people had applied, for 24 places, 2 were allocated for the UK and both places have been assigned to Ceredigion Youth Service staff.

“This is an excellent training opportunity for them, which will inform them and encourage them to reflect on the evolution of media and the consequences that it has on the formation of stereotypes and prejudices. We wish them all the best in Prague!​”​

Rebeca Davies and Guto Crompton will join 22 other Youth Workers from Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey. The week will be hosted at the PROUD Environmental Centre approximately 120km from Prague, from ​Sunday (Nov 19) for a week.

Rebeca Davies, School Based Youth Worker said​:​ “I’m really looking forward to visiting Prague, and meeting other Youth Workers from across the World. It will be a fantastic opportunity to learn new tools and techniques to encourage and empower young people back here in Ceredigion.”

Guto Crompton, School Based Youth Worker ​added​:​ “I’m looking forward to learning more about different Youth Work methods and approaches. I’m also eager to develop a greater awareness around education, active citizenship and democracy.”

Cabinet member for Learning Services, Children and Young People’s Partnership, Councillor Catrin Miles, ​commented: “As a Council, we are very proud of the hard work of our Youth Service to the young people of the county. This will be a very important and worthwhile opportunity for Rebeca and Guto to represent Ceredigion and Wales and we wish them all the best at the event.”

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Pot Noodles bought with theft proceeds

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ON WEDNESDAY (Nov 15), Aberystwyth Magistrates’ Court heard that a 23-year-old man stole an HDMI cable from a store and sold it for a tenner to buy ten Pot Noodles.

Joel Alexander Owens, of Portland Street in Aberystwyth, pleaded guilty to stealing alcohol to the value of £24.96 belonging to his hometown’s B&M Bargains on June 29. He also admitted stealing an HDMI cable to the value of £14 belonging to Tesco in Aberystwyth on September 24.

Prosecuting, Helen Tench said a staff member at B&M was notified by a member of the public about a male who left the store without paying for items.

CCTV footage was checked, which showed Owens select a number of alcoholic items and leaving the store without making any payments.

Police officers later viewed the footage and identified the defendant.

On October 14, a member of staff at Tesco was informed of the incident at B&M. The Tesco CCTV footage was viewed as a result and the defendant was seen removing an HDMI cable from its box on September 24 and leaving without paying.

Ms Tench said Owens was interviewed on October 19, where he admitted committing the offences in his personal statement.

The defendant also admitted he sold the HDMI cable for £10 in order to buy ten Pot Noodles.

Defending, Katy Hanson said Owens pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and admitted to stealing beer and cider from B&M.

Probation officer Julian Davies stated that the defendant was currently serving a 12-month community order for two previous offences of theft and a breach of a conditional discharge.

Aberystwyth magistrates revoked Owens community order and imposed a 12-month community order with 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days and a four-week curfew.

Owens was told to pay prosecution costs of £85, compensation of £14 to Tesco and compensation of £24.96 to B&M Bargains.

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