Theatre in Wales

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Aberfan - A Tragic Anniversary Aberystwyth Arts Centre: 3 March     

Aberfan - A Tragic Anniversary 
Aberystwyth Arts Centre: 3 March  Many people still recall how and when they learned of the Aberfan catastrophe - one of those shocking flashes of news that broke in a never-to-be-forgotten moment.

On 21 October 1966, 116 children and 28 adults died when a coal tip engulfed Pantglas primary school, together with some nearby houses, in the village of Aberfan, South Wales.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the tragedy, composer Sir Karl Jenkins and poet and Aberytwyth University alumnus, Professor Mererid Hopwood, were commissioned by S4C to create a new commemorative choral work.

Jenkins, probably the world’s most-performed living choral composer, spoke of this as his most emotional experience as a composer: “When the word Aberfan is mentioned, no further explanation is necessary; its eternal effect is encapsulated in its name. What resonates, of course, is that the great majority of victims were children. Dealing with a subject that lies so deep in the soul of the Welsh was both a harrowing and uplifting experience.”

Cantata Memoria: For the Children/Er Mwyn y Plant premiered at Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff in October 2016.

Eighteen months later, in one of the first performances in Wales since the BBC premiere, Cantata Memoria can be heard at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on Saturday 3 March.
On stage will be the 90-strong University Singers, two top international soloists from Wales, Fflur Wyn and Paul Carey Jones, with professional orchestral support from Sinfonia Cambrensis.

A central part will also be played by young singers from local schools, including the Penglais pupils of Elinor Powell’s ‘Sgarmangels’ and younger pupils from St Padarn’s.

Director of Music, Dr David Russell Hulme, who conducts the performance, said: “This is a big work - complex and demanding. It made a huge impact at its Cardiff premiere and I’m sure it will do so here.”

Two weeks later, on 17 March, the university and community symphony orchestra, Philomusica, presents another major Music Centre performance in the Great Hall. As always, the programme will be a journey of discovery, mixing favourites from Grieg’s Peer Gynt music and Rimsky-Korsakoff’s dazzling Capriccio Espagnol with the less well-known but wonderfully melodic and colourful Irish Symphony by Hamilton Harty. Conductor David Russell Hulme commented, ‘Building a programme is like designing a menu – mixing favourites along with unfamiliar fare for people to explore and enjoy. I always love performing Harty’s music. His symphony has a superb Romantic sweep and melodies that really stick in your brain.’

The guest soloist, international pianist Samantha Ward, will be playing Prokofiev’s exhilarating and memorable First Piano Concerto. This is Samantha’s third appearance with the orchestra. She is definitely a fan of Philomusica, which she reckons as one of the best community orchestras around.

Philomusica concerts are great live music events, attracting large numbers. ‘Music brings the university and its community together in a unique way,’ commented Dr Hulme. ‘Our major performances provide showcases for this wonderfully vibrant relationship.’

Tickets for both concerts are available from the Arts Centre Box Office on 01970 62 32 32 or online at
Aberystwyth Arts centre  
web site
Marketing Dep. Aberystwyth Arts Centre
Wednesday, January 19, 2028back



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