A top music festival will be unveiling a hat-trick of world premieres.
The Bangor Music Festival kicks off with a St David’s Day concert by Britain’s Got Talent finalists, Cȏr Glanaethwy, and will also star the internationally renowned singing ensemble, The Swingles.
The music of Welsh female composers will take centre stage during six days of concerts, workshops and master classes.
The festival will include a performance by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, featuring soloist soprano Ruby Hughes, in a concert of music penned by Welsh women, which will include three world premieres.
There will also be the European premiere of The Open Field, a work by the renowned Welsh born composer Hilary Tann who was inspired by the dramatic events of Tiananmen Square in China just over a quarter of a century ago.
This year’s event from March 1 to March 6 has a theme of Voice/Voices and has something for everyone to enjoy as well as educational projects designed to inspire school pupils and young musicians from across the region.
The opening concert with Côr Glanaethwy will include a performance of Ieuan Wyn’s Cariad as well as other challenging pieces from the choir’s repertoire.
The second night will feature a concert of experimental music by the Bangor New Music Ensemble and oriental improvisation by The Fusion Ensemble and the following night there will be a concert with distinguished soprano Elin Manahan Thomas along with a gig by Welsh indie band Sŵnami.
The concert of music by Welsh women composers performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales will be on the Friday while The Swingles will be singing on the Saturday night.
The week will be rounded off on Sunday, March 6, with a concert by the acclaimed Russian pianist Xenia Pestova who’ll be joined by Electroacoustic Wales.
Artistic director Dr Guto Pryderi Puw, a Senior Lecturer and Head of Composition at Bangor University’s School of Music, said: “I’m really excited about this year’s festival and pleased with the way it continues to grow.
“This year we have more days of music, workshops, and master classes than ever before.
“The educational projects that will run both before and during the festival are simply inspirational and will involve children and young people from a number of schools across the region.”
He added: “In addition to Cȏr Glanaethwy and The Swingles, we have our resident artist and distinguished soprano Elin Manahan Thomas who will perform a festival commission by National Eisteddfod winner Meirion Wynn Jones, as well as the BBC National Orchestra of Wales with their soloist Ruby Hughes.
“I’m particularly looking forward to hearing The Swingles perform as they have recently moved in a new direction and are now composing their own original music. They are doing some interesting things with the voices, for example using a vocal rhythmic beat as a backing sound to their close harmonies.”
“This year we have, for our Women’s Day event, on Friday, March 4, the world premieres of three new pieces, Porthor (Whistling Sands) by Mared Emlyn, Is There No Seeker of Dreams That Were by Sarah Lianne Lewis and Catching Shadows by Lynne Plowman, all in one concert.
“And we also have the European premiere of Hilary Tann’s The Open Field, which was inspired by the events of the student uprising in China’s Tiananmen Square.
“This wonderful, sensitive work has been performed more than 20 times across the United States of America but has never yet been performed anywhere in Europe
“As part of one of our educational projects children will use The Open Field as a stimulus to compose their own piece that reflects a similar theme of people raising against the authorities or escaping conflicts, such as the current crisis of refugees fleeing Syria and the Middle East.”
He added: “The idea that has resulted in us having three world premiers of compositions and a European premier at the festival came about after discussions I had with the BBC Welsh National Orchestra.
“We wanted to feature the work of contemporary female Welsh composers and the festival approached Mared Emlyn to compose an orchestral work. Mared is a former Phd student who studied both composition and performance at Bangor University.
“She now lives in Eglwys Bach in the Conwy Valley and has written a number of solo and ensemble piece, and the commissioning of Porthor (Whistling Sands) will be her first major orchestral work, which will be performed by the orchestra and that demonstrates the festival’s commitment to supporting young and emerging composers.
“Porthor is a beach on the Llŷn Peninsula. The sands there are unique and known as the Whistling Sands due to the sound produced when people walk along the beach.
“Mared is a wonderful harpist and has been teaching harp at the university on a freelance basis but her composition is for a full orchestra and is a very moving and engaging piece.”
He added: “The National Orchestra of Wales already had the work of Sarah Lianne Lewis and Lynne Plowman in mind and both works have never been publicly performed before.
“Sarah is a talented composer who now lives in South Wales and Lynne Plowman is a more established composer who has already created some noticeable works.
“We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to have not one but three world premieres performed at the Bangor Music Festival by a wonderful orchestra such as the BBC national Orchestra of Wales.”
For more information about Bangor Music Festival or for tickets please visit www.bangormusicfestival.org.uk or ring 01248 382181.