Hope and sad­ness meet in Brian’s tale of a na­tional hero

Bangor Mail - - YOUR GUIDE -

ANEW work by one of Wales’ most revered com­posers, which tells the story of the death of Owain Glyn­dŵr, will be pre­miered at this year’s North Wales In­ter­na­tional Mu­sic Fes­ti­val.

Com­poser Brian Hughes, who lives in Gres­ford, near Wrex­ham, has writ­ten his haunt­ing string or­ches­tral piece, Death of the Sky­lark, based on a tra­di­tional Welsh poem. It will be per­formed by the fes­ti­val’s res­i­dent orches­tra, NEW Sin­fo­nia, at St As­aph Cathe­dral dur­ing the evening con­cert on Satur­day, Septem­ber 29.

The con­cert will also fea­ture renowned cel­list Raphael Wall­fisch per­form­ing El­gar’s Cello Con­certo.

Brian Hughes said the sky­lark, a har­bin­ger of a new start or new day, is used as a sym­bol of Welsh hero Owain Glyn­dŵr, the last na­tive Welsh­man to hold the ti­tle Prince of Wales.

He in­sti­gated a fierce and lon­grun­ning – but ul­ti­mately un­suc­cess­ful – re­volt against the English rule of Wales.

Mr Hughes said: “He died in 1415 and his life was a bat­tle against au­thor­ity.

“He took ad­van­tage of his priv­i­leged birth and went to Eng­land to be ed­u­cated.

“He thought he could rule Wales as the English ruled Eng­land and, in do­ing so, peo­ple wouldn’t be pun­ished or dis­crim­i­nated against for be­ing Welsh.

“That re­sulted in con­flict and the war against Eng­land.

“The tra­di­tional Welsh poem tells of a sky­lark dead on the moun­tain and a body of men sent to bring the body back to the vil­lage. I be­lieve the sky­lark is a sym­bol of Owain Glyn­dŵr.

“There is no grave and no mon­u­ment where his re­mains lie, which ex­plains why he lives on in the minds and mem­o­ries of a na­tion today.

“A sky­lark is al­ways up­lift­ing and fly­ing high – you never see a sky­lark on the ground.

“The mu­sic re­flects the feel­ing of a new hope and a new be­gin­ning.”

Pon­ciau-born Brian Hughes, now 80, be­gan play­ing the piano aged seven and would go with his fa­ther, who was the Rhos Male Voice Choir’s ac­com­pa­nist, to lis­ten to the choir re­hearse and sing.

He said: “That’s where I got my love of cho­ral mu­sic from I sup­pose.

“I even­tu­ally stud­ied mu­sic at Cardiff Univer­sity and be­came head of mu­sic at what was then the Alun Gram­mar School in Mold.

“I stayed there for nine years and set up the Alun Madri­gal Singers.

“I then moved to the Royal North­ern Col­lege of Mu­sic at Manch­ester, where I stayed for 25 years as head of opera mu­sic staff and cho­rus master.

“I be­gan com­pos­ing at univer­sity and wrote mainly cho­ral works at that time.”

Brian will also be shar­ing the St As­aph stage with his son, pro­fes­sional clar­inet­tist Daniel, and his pro­fes­sional flautist daugh­ter Miriam dur­ing the fes­ti­val’s evening con­cert on Fri­day, Septem­ber 28.

Tick­ets are avail­able on­line, from Theatr Cl­wyd, Mold – 01352 701521 or Cathe­dral Frames, 28 High Street, St As­aph – 01745 582929.

To find out more about the North Wales In­ter­na­tional Mu­sic Fes­ti­val visit www.nwimf.com.

Brian Hughes of Gres­ford has com­posed an or­ches­tral piece telling the story of Owain Glyn­dwr, which will be pre­miered at the North Wales In­ter­na­tional Mu­sic Fes­ti­val

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