An IT expert who speaks fluent Klingon is “incredibly proud” that a poem he’s written in the intergalactic language from Star Trek will be performed to music at a festival.
According to proud Welshman Alex Greene, the “out of this world” premiere at Bangor Music Festival will mean as much to him as winning the bardic chair at the National Eisteddod.
Alex, from Wrexham, has been a huge Star Trek fan since childhood and began learning Klingon in the 1980s.
He is now one of only a handful of people in the UK who are able converse in the intricate and guttural language of the fictional extraterrestrial humanoid warrior species featured in the hugely popular science fiction franchise.
The poem and the accompanying music were commissioned by the festival’s artistic director, Guto Pryderi Puw, a Senior Lecturer in Music and Head of Composition at Bangor University.
Appropriately, the theme of this year’s two-day festival which gets underway on Friday, February 2, is Space.
The poem, Space is Fierce, is all about the untamed universe and going into the dark unknown and the music has been especially written by American Master’s Degree student, Ellie Brooke, 24, who hails from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
It will be performed at the Pontio centre in Bangor on Saturday, February 3, by an ensemble of University Music Students that includes a solo soprano voice, flute, oboe, clarinet, horn, violin and cello.
Another highlight of the festival will be a new piece of music created by using data from the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, in Geneva.
The musical mastermind behind the piece called Dark Matter is Canadian composer Scott Wilson who lectures in composition and electronic music at Birmingham University.
One of the stars of the festival will be the Australian pianist Zubin Kanga, who will be premiering two new pieces commissioned by the festival.
For Alex the premiere of his work will be the pinnacle of his poetry writing efforts.
He said: “For me it’s huge. I’m very proud of my Welsh heritage. To have a poem of mine, written in Klingon and set to music, really is like winning the lottery or a national eisteddfod. I’m incredibly proud.
“The poem is really about memories and poses the question; after you finish your quest in space will you be remembered by anyone back home from where you started?
“I’ve also written English and Welsh versions of Space is Fierce so everyone can understand what the Klingon version is saying.
“I started learning Klingon as I always loved Star Trek and I also love languages. Klingon came about as it was the first time someone, American linguist Marc Okrand, had attempted to write a whole new language.
“He did it for the 1983 film Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock. He also invented the Vulcan language.
“It’s amazing and quite surprising how many people are now fluent and can hold meaningful conversations in pure Klingon. It has its own grammar, verbs and nouns as any other language have.
“There are 26 letters and roughly Klingon uses the same vowels and consonants we use in English. But the words are spoken with a lot more force.
“A Klingon dictionary was published in 1985 and has 5,000 words which, with prefixes and sub prefixes, expand its content to 48,000 words.
“Around 12,000 people across Europe have learned Klingon and there are many more than that across the US. There are even scientific papers that have been written in Klingon.”
Alex is busy helping lots of people to learn Klingon through his blog, The Daily Klingon, which has 1,000 followers and includes verb and noun drills and teaches Klingon phrases used in Star Trek films such as Star Trek: Discovery.
Composer Ellie Brooke is equally excited about the premiere.
She said: “I wanted to do this as my mom is a huge Sci-fi fan and I have vivid memories of watching Star Trek on TV with her on many occasions.
“It’s been a real help having an English translation of the Klingon poem so I can understand the sentiment and what the author is trying to say. It’s been a challenge but something I have really enjoyed.”
Artistic director Guto Pryderi Puw is sure festival-goers will enjoy the premiere of Space is Fierce.
He said: “We want to make the Bangor Music Festival fun and engaging. Including some poetry in the Klingon language will give another interesting angle on the many activities featured this year and will also be an opportunity for the more populist culture of a science fiction TV program to be artistically combined with the latest music that is being composed today. I am looking forward to hearing the settings of the poem and how the composers will react creatively to the deep guttural sound of the language.
“I was also so surprised to find how many Star Trek fans were out there and how much interest the poem by Alex has already raised. This is something that everyone can enjoy.”
The festival will also hear iconic pieces by American composer and master of avant-garde music George Crumb and English composer Patrick Nunn.
Leading up to the festival, there will also be an opportunity for the public to participate in some star-gazing with the use of some powerful telescopes.