SWANSEA FESTIVAL OF MUSIC AND THE ARTS 2014
4 – 18 OCTOBER
After an absence of 12 months The Swansea Festival of Music and the Arts is back this autumn and joining in the celebrations for Dylan Thomas 100 with one of its most varied programmes of outstanding live events. With a balanced repertoire of new works and artists, together with more familiar loved ones, this is a Festival full of deeply satisfying artistic and creative experiences at venues throughout the City, giving audiences the opportunity to explore a vast range of the arts.
The Brangwyn Hall will hold 14 of the 26 Festival events held over 15 days from 4 – 18 October and, to re-launch this beautifully restored building, we are starting off the Festival with an exciting concert from the prestigious Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by their Principal Guest Conductor Christoph von Dohnány – whose 85th birthday coincides with the Branwyn Hall’s 80th year – so, celebrations abound all around! The concert will feature Menelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor performed by the leading German violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann
Two other celebrated orchestras will play at the Brangwyn Hall -The Russian State Philharmonic and our own BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
Valery Polyansky will conduct The Russian State Philharmonic for a double celebration – the centenary of Dylan Thomas’ birth and the 70th Birthday of Swansea born composer Karl Jenkins. The Festival Commission of Karl Jenkins’ Llareggub – evoking the atmosphere of Thomas’ mythical village setting – has been funded by Dylan Thomas 100. The concert continues with Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No 3 in D minor featuring pianist Peter Donohoe, and Sibelius’ Symphony No 2 in D
BBC NOW, conducted by Grant Llewellyn, makes two appearances at the Festival this year. Their first concert on 11 October is alongside the BBC National Chorus of Wales and the BBC Singers with baritone Roderick Williams, tenor Richard Tritschler, organist Adrian Partington and a treble choirister from Hereford Cathedral. The concert is the Welsh premiere of New York composer John Corigliano’s A Dylan Thomas Trilogy, bringing together three major poems by the poet and set for large vocal and orchestra. Swansea Festival’s 1984 commission of Richard Elfyn Jones’ Brangwyn Festival Overture is also performed and shows off both the orchestra and the Hall’s magnificent organ to its full potential.
On 17 October BBC NOW bring their ever-popular Family Concert series to Swansea for the first time. This is an amazing concert for families and a great way to introduce young people to the sound of classical music by combining popular classics and music from TV and film. There is also not to be missed pre-concert entertainment, including the chance to try out instruments from the orchestra!
Brangwyn Hall is also the venue for the Festival’s four recitals. On 14 October the celebrated pianist John Lill returns to the Festival for a recital celebrating his 70th birthday. John who was awarded the OBE for his services to music performs a programme which will include works by Mozart and Schumann.
One of the most distinguished concert organists in the world today, Olivier Latry, performs on 6 October. One of three titular organists at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Paris, Olivier does not specialize in any specific repertoire but explores all styles of organ music as well as the art of improvisation.
On 7 October two of Wales’ outstanding talents, harpist Catrin Finch and cellist Steffan Morris, will perform a programme of original works and arrangements for harp and cello. Born in Neath, Steffan Morris is an outstanding young cellist who plays a cello made for him in 2006 by his grandfather. The recital will include works by Bach and A Highland Lament by Granville Bantock Pibroch for cello and harp.
The fourth recital is A Tribute to Thomas – in Song and Verse which will be performed by Swansea soprano Elin Manahan Thomas. Elin dazzled audiences worldwide with her performance of Handel’s Eternal Source of Light Divine at the London Paralympics Opening Ceremony. She is joined in this recital by Welsh-language poet Ifor ap Glyn, who won the Crown at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in 1999 and 2013. The recital, with readings of Daniel Jones’ memoir My Friend Dylan Thomas, will offer an insight into the life and world of Dylan Thomas through song and feature the first performance of a song cycle by poet Mererid Hopwood and Welsh composer John Rea on the theme of childhood friendship, and Daniel Jones’ songs from Under Milk Wood.
Ahead of John Lill’srecital Jonathan Darnborough, Lecturer in Music at Oxford University, will give The Festival Lecture, Tales from the Keyboard, on 13 October when he examines the works of the Romantic composer/pianists Schumann, Brahms and Rachmaninov and how they were influenced by the 19th century artistic ideals. There are also In Conversation talks prior to the concerts featuring, John Corigliano, Olivier Latry and Karl Jenkins.
On 10 and 11 October Bizet’s Carmen, this perennial favourite with its sparkling music and its supreme femme fatale, will be performed by Welsh National Opera. Conducted by Erik Nielsen the vibrant young Italian mezzo-soprano Alessandra Volpe sings the title role. Tenor Peter Wedd is Don Jose with the young British/Canadian soprano Jessica Muirhead as Micaela and Lithuanian bass-baritone Kostas Smoriginas singing the famous Toreador Song as Escamillo the bullfighter.
The Taliesin Arts Centre hosts 2 Guitarras Malagueńas when renowned guitarists Juan Martin and Chaparro de Málaga, with their background in the Málaga tradition of flamenco, bring a pure, powerful and poetic art of today to their duo on 12 October. Afrovibes comes to the Taliesin from 14-18 October with their festival of music, theatre and dance celebrating twenty years of democracy in South Africa. It will include separate performances by The Soil, Rainbow Scars, Bilko’s Quest and 7 Pillars.
The Jen Wilson Jazz Ensemble, and Dylan Thomas expert and poet Peter Thaibit Jones, bring an afternoon of Poetry and Jazz to the National Waterfront Museum on 4 October which features the Dylan Thomas Jazz Suite,Twelve Poems, with special readings. On 9 October His Words in Music gives an opportunity to hear the words of Dylan Thomas in ways you will not have heard before, when Edward-Rhys Harry gives an illustrated lecture with live and recorded performances from the Dunvant Male Choir and London Welsh Camerata.
The ever-popular Art and Pasta Tour on 5 Octoberwill again visit all the visual art exhibitions and Locws International’s’ Art across the City installations.
Lyrical One is a series of events and activities at the Mission Gallery, led by Swansea University Fellow Catriona Ryan, to celebrate Dylan Thomas’ Centenary. In response to Dylan’s writings participants will write their own poetic reactions and then create visual representations which will be shown in the gallery.
From 26 September-1 November at Oriel Ceri Richards Gallery, Sir Peter Blake, a key figure of the Pop Art movement of the late 1950’s, presents his illustrations and limited edition prints of Under Milk Wood. This major body of work is the culmination of a 25 year project and is exhibited for the very first time.
Also at the Gallery, Welsh artist and photographer Simon Dark will show works depicting writers, poets and artists from the early Beat Generation movement which Thomas himself had great impact on.
Along with a schools outreach project – The Music in the Words– in association with Tŷ Cerdd, and a programme of events throughout the community from Live Music Now, the Festival is back to again bring the City alive to the arts during the autumn of 2014.
Full details of the Festival are available on the Festival website www.swanseafestival.org
For further information please contact:
Hazel Hardy, Press Associate for the Swansea Festival of Music and the Arts
Tel: 02920 626998