A remarkable 21 world premieres will be taking place at top musical festival in North Wales.
The new works will be among the highlights of the critically-acclaimed Bangor Music Festival which gets under way at the city’s Pontio centre on Friday, February 8.
According to the festival’s artistic director, Dr Guto Pryderi Puw, a senior lecturer in music and Head of Composition at Bangor University, the two-day event will be a unique opportunity to explore some new and stimulating music.
A number of the new scores written by university music students will be performed with high-energy boomwhackers – lightweight, hollow, colour-coded, plastic tubes which are tuned to a musical pitch by length.
Dr Puw said: “The theme of this year’s festival is acoustics and there will be something for everyone and he wants to see families coming along to enjoy the Pontio Bangor event.
“The festival is a charitable organisation dedicated to presenting new and exciting contemporary music performed by artists of the highest calibre. We also have a strong commitment to introduce and educate the public in the latest developments in music through workshops and concerts.
“This year we are working with professional musician Marie-Claire Howorth who has a proven track record of working with schools and children on musical projects.
“Marie-Claire will be working in Pontio on the Saturday running a Camau Nesaf Cerdd (Next Step in Music) project entitled Echo that is divided into different age groups, for children aged 15 months to three years of age and from four up to seven. All are welcome to join in the fun, whatever is your musical ability!
“We are also running an education project with Ysgol Bro Lleu in Penygroes, which will see pupils working with emerging composer Sarah Lianne Lewis to create a new composition, which will be performed during the final evening concert at Theatr Bryn Terfel within Pontio.
“And both Jenn Kirby and Simon Kilshaw will be working with emerging Welsh composers and also pupils at Ysgol y Graig, Llangefni.”
Dr Puw is looking forward to seeing and hearing what the university’s boomwhackers come up with.
He said: “The boomwhackers ensemble, made up largely of students from Bangor University’s School of Music and Media, will premiere up to six new compositions especially written for the festival.
“To be honest, you could say that a boomwhacker is a very unsophisticated instrument, that you only hit it against an object to create a sound or pitch, but a few of them played together can produce wonderful combinations of rhythms and sounds and has a very strong and stimulating visual presence. It’s new and exciting high energy music.”
One of the highlights of the festival will see the crowning of the winner of the William Mathias Composition Prize, which is open to emerging or early career composers from all over the country.
This year the workshop will be led by internationally renowned flautist and the Head of Performance at Bangor University’s School of Music and Media, Richard Craig and the £500 prize will go to the composer whose new work for flute, alto flute or bass flute and electronics is judged the best.
The winning composer will hear his or her work premiered during the festival’s Saturday afternoon concert by Richard Craig, joined by world leading Electroacoustic Wales, which is based at Bangor University.
Dr Puw added: “The programme will include new pieces by Menai Bridge based Tristan Rhys Williams and by Richard Craig himself, who now lives in Beaumaris.
“New commissions exploring birdsong by Andrew Lewis and an existing piece by Shen Lin will be performed as well as the premiere of the winning work for the William Mathias Composition Prize.
“Andrew Lewis is a professor of composition here at Bangor University and an expert in the composing and performance of acousmatic music. Essentially, he records sounds that are manipulated within a computer programme and placed together to form a collage of sounds that are then played through speakers within the concert.
“His composition will blend the sounds of the flute with recorded birdsongs.
“Richard Craig will also be performing a new work of his own that includes a number of USB mini-speakers that are placed in a circle that will surrounds him while he’s playing. He will interact with the sounds heard from the speakers.
“The final concert, which will close the festival, will feature the second performance of the music by 10 Welsh composers. We have pieces by Andrew Lewis, Sarah Lianne Lewis, John Metcalf, Gareth Moorcroft, Carlijn Metselaar, Maja Palser, Michael Parkin, Lynne Plowman, Steph Power, as well as a work of my own entitled Ultrasonic.
“This concert, which will feature the newly formed Uproar ensemble; will only be its second ever public performance. Their debut concert was given to enthusiastic reception in Cardiff last October.
“I’m very proud of the music festival and what we have achieved over the years. It is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain, especially during these testing financial and economically unstable times. However, if it’s worth performing then resourceful individuals seem to make things happen and I am very proud of the resilience that the arts have.
“We are also extremely grateful to all our sponsors and benefactors for looking further than the immediate future and see the long term benefits of music and the performing arts to our communities.
“We do enjoy some very loyal supporters but there really is something for everyone at this year’s festival and I’d encourage anyone who likes to hear new, exciting and experimental contemporary music to get a ticket and come and join us for what will be a memorable couple of days.”
To find out more about Bangor Music Festival please visit www.bangormusicfestival.org.uk
Bangor Music Festival artistic director Dr Guto Pryderi Puw
The Uproar Ensemble
Composers Andrew Lewis, Sarah Lianne Lewis, John Metcalf, Gareth Moorcroft, Carlijn Metselaar, Maja Palser, Michael Parkin and Steph Power