Friday, 29 August 2014

Days out at Presteigne

I’ve just come back from the Presteigne Festival which I’ve been reviewing for the Western Mail and Hereford Times.

It’s a great little town on the Welsh border – rather like stepping back forty years in time (try linking up to Wi-fi there…).

These days the festival is very much a contemporary music event. It could easily spell disaster at the box office, but the concerts and talks have been packed out with enthusiastic, appreciative audiences, with the normally sleepy little border town bustling with activity well into the small hours (a special pop-up festival bar in someone’s house might have something to do with it). Here is St Andrew’s Church where many of the events are held.

This year there was a special focus on recent Polish music. Here’s Pawveł Łukaszewski whose impressive 55 minute Requiem caused quite a lot of controversy.

Below is a link to my review in the Western Mail. There are a couple of short reviews still to come in the Hereford Times.

Monday, 11 August 2014


I have been revising a piano piece for its second performance this autumn. It’s called Bayvil – the same name as the small Anglican chapel of St Andrews, near Newport in Pembrokeshire, built around 1812. The name seems to come from Norman-French Beauvil, a "pleasant settlement".

It’s a wonderful example of an unaltered rural church of two hundred years ago.

As you can see, its simple plastered walls, slate floors, box pews, three-decker pulpit and flagstones hardly seem to have changed since it was built.

It has been a redundant church for some years and is under the care of the Friends of Friendless Churches. From its door the sea in Newport Bay is visible.

As with several other recent pieces, this eight-minute piano solo reflects the plain unadorned flat surface of its interior. You can hear it here. Here are a couple of pages from the score.