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