A new work by one of Europe’s most talented young composers will be among a a quintet of world premieres at a top music festival.
Cardiff-born Gareth Olubunmi Hughes says he’s thrilled to have been commissioned to write the piece for Bangor Music Festival on Saturday, February 18.
Earlier this year Gareth won the prestigious Musician’s Medal at the National Eisteddfod for a second time.
As a rising star, his work is in great demand and has already been performed by the likes of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, former royal harpist Catrin Finch and the acclaimed flautist Fiona Slominska.
The theme for this year’s festival is Architectures/Urban Landscapes that has been inspired by the new landmark venue, the Pontio centre which is establishing itself as a major player in the cultural life of Wales.
For a change, all the concerts and workshops will be held on one day instead of being spread over a week as in previous years. Tickets go on sale on Friday, November 25.
Gareth, 37, said: “My new composition, Amber on Black 3, is part of a cycle of pieces I have written based on poems by poet Stephen Boon, who I knew from Cardiff University. The first piece explores the colour amber from the sparks of a speeding train’s wheel against the black of the night.
“The second describes the amber light cast from street lights against the black of the night sky and this new third piece relates to the amber lights seen through an aircraft window looking back at the earth during a night flight.
“Amber on Black 3 is a piece for a solo flute and a soprano. In Bangor the flautist will be Richard Craig and the soprano Juliet Fraser. I have worked with both before and Juliet has an amazing voice. I have worked with her during workshops at Cardiff University.
Among the other highlights will be music inspired by images and videos of bridges, with the films being shown in the Pontio cinema, accompanied by music that has been composed by Bangor University student composers and performed by the Bangor Session Orchestra.
Around teatime, the building will be filled with music by the Bangor New Music Ensemble in an event that will also feature world premieres of pieces by Claire Victoria Roberts and Jonathan Roberts, amongst other student composers.
The final concert will star the internationally-acclaimed Fidelio Trio, performing a selection of compositions inspired by buildings and architecture. It will also feature world premieres of new works by Sarah Lianne Lewis and Roger Marsh, both of which have been commissioned by the festival.
The festival’s artistic director, Guto Pryderi Puw, said: “Holding the festival in a day and at a weekend means there’s more potential for audiences to look at what’s on offer and plan ahead. Also, in terms of artistic content, concerts will be shorter and individually more appealing.
“For example the ElectroacousticWALES concert, that will be held in Studio Pontio and will include the new Olubunmi Hughes commission, will only be around an hour in length.
“It means we can truly inspire the audience, it’s more of a taster if you like with the aim of leaving the listeners wanting more.
“Festival goers can potentially approach the event in two different ways, either attend every concert and sample all the genres, or pick and chose what they might enjoy without having to come back on another day.
According to Guto Pryderi Puw, the evening concert, ‘The Towers of Silence’, will involve compositions based on iconic buildings, which will accompany images of a selection.
He added: “Work by composer Gavin Higgins, entitled ‘Ruins of Detroit’, will examine architectures that have fallen into disrepair in the American city while the main piece, Rolf Hind’s Tower of Silence, looks at a particular type of burial ground in the Far East.
“There will also be a number of projects involving local schools as we really want to continue inspiring school children.
“Throughout January and February, in the lead up to the festival, various composers and artists will be running a series of educational workshops in local primary and secondary schools.
“Compositions by school pupils will be performed in each of the main concerts and earlier in Pontio’s Bar Ffynnon there will be a fantastic Lego event where the general public can take part.
“Visitors will be able to assemble structures from Lego while the Bangor New Music Ensemble will improvise on their instruments to set those structures to music. This will be a fun and challenging event that’s aimed at all ages, not just children, so come along to build your own iconic building!
“I’m really excited about the up-coming festival and particularly delighted we will be using the wonderful Pontio Arts Centre as the main venue for the first time.
“It’s this incredible and beautiful building that sparked the idea to have ‘architectures’ and ‘urban landscapes’ as the festival’s theme in the first place!”