Sunday, 25 September 2016

Dyfed Young Composers

I've been down in West Wales for several days taking part in workshops to encourage school age students to compose. The scheme is run by Dyfed Young Composers – a scheme in which young composers in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokshire work with top quality players. This year they will be working with violinist Steve Bingham and percussionist Chris Brannick. Last week was the start of the process with three workshops to some 300 school pupils given in Haverfordwest, Aberaeron and Gwendraith. I was honoured to be their Composer in Residence between 2010-13 and am very happy to be back again this year. 

Young composers are being invited to compose for violin and percussion and to include electric violin as well together with electronics. Here is Steve Bingham playing on an instrument that is over 200 years old ... 

... and a bright blue new electric violin.

Steve Brannick was unable to join us for the first week of workshops, so it was great to have Steffan Ciccotti on hand to take everyone through the inticacies of writing for percussion. Steffan was both a finalist in the Young Music Makers of Dyfed competition and wrote pieces under the Dyfed Young Composers scheme some years back and is now working as a freelance composer and percussionist in London. It's great news that both he and composer Emily Wright will be coming into the schools to help me ...

You can find out more about the scheme at its website. If you were born in any of the counties of Dyfed and are 22 or under you can also take part or submit a composition for the workshops next April. Many thanks to YMMD's administrator Cathy Morris for the photos.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Pengam Tribute to Mervyn Burtch

Just back from a superbly organised tribute to the work of composer Mervyn Burtch at Lewis School, Pengam on Friday evening where he was once a pupil. The whole event centered around a new painting on one of the school walls of Mervyn by Gigi Jones.

The painting takes its starting point from a classic oil painting at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama which Gigi painted back in the mid-1980s.

At the launch Gigi related how she used to pass Mervyn's house in Oakfield Street, Ystrad Mynach, and saw him composing at the piano. One day she knocked on the door and asked if she could paint him. "Of course", said Mervyn.

The evening also included a superb concert of Mervyn's music; the whole event was organised and put together by the Head of Music Bethan Jenkins. The Garrodus String Quartet opened with the final slow movement of the 13th String Quartet (2000)

Then there was a really wonderful performance of the Second Sonatina for piano (1983) given by Michael Davies.

Jack Mainwaring played the Four Portraits pieces for flute from Alice in Wonderland (1982, rev. 1993) together with a very affectionate introduction and the concert finished with a fabulous performance by singer-songwritter Maddie Jones, Mervyn's step grand-daughter.

 A really lovely and life-affirming evening.

More information on Mervyn's music from the Mervyn Burtch Trust.