Musical space odyssey at Bangor festival

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A top festival is promising an “out of this world” experience – with music created by the Large Hadron Collider and the premiere of a poem in the Star Trek language of Klingon.

The two-day Bangor Music Festival gets under way at the city’s Pontio centre on Friday (February 2) and organisers say it’s shaping up to be one of the best year.

Performers at will be using laptops to alter the sounds from the particle smashing done by the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, in Geneva.

Artistic director Guto Pryderi Puw

The musical mastermind behind the piece called Dark Matter is Canadian composer Scott Wilson who lectures in composition and electronic music at Birmingham University.

The concert by his four-strong ensemble at the Pontio centre in Bangor on Saturday, February 3, will be one of the highlights of the festival..

The theme of this year’s festival is Space and appropriately there will also be an opportunity for some star-gazing using powerful telescopes from the balcony of the music department at Bangor University.

According to the festival’s artistic director, 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 space, planets, stars and galaxies through the medium of science and music.

IT expert Alex Greene, who speaks fluent Klingon is “incredibly proud” that a poem he’s written in the intergalactic language will be performed to music at the festival.

According to proud Alex Greene, the  premiere at 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 Guto Pryderi Puw, who is also a Senior Lecturer in Music and Head of Composition at Bangor University.

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.

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.”

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.”

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.

For more information about the festival on February 2 and 3 and to book tickets go to www.bangormusicfestival.org.uk/