Diocesan press releases

World première for Local Composer at Bangor Cathedral

The final event of this year’s RS Thomas Poetry and Arts Festival will feature the world première of music by a composer from Bangor who has been inspired by the great Welsh poet and priest RS Thomas. The event, called ‘RS Thomas for a New Generation’, is part of Bangor Cathedral’s Evensong Service on Sunday, July 1, at 2:30pm.

The composition called ‘Pilgrimages’ by Ellen Davieswill be performed by Ensemble Cymru and the Royal Harpist, Anne Denholm. ‘Pilgrimages’ is an orchestral piece in 3 movements inspired by three of RS Thomas’ poems. Ellen gained a Distinction in her Masters Degree from Bangor University for this composition.

Each movement will be preceded by a ‘soundscape’, which is a reading of the relevant poem by Ifor ap Glyn, National Poet of Wales, which has been recorded and mixed with sounds of the sea and landscape around Aberdaron and the Llŷn Peninsula. The visual focus of the performance will be a traditional Welsh coracle, which will be on display in the Cathedral before the performance.

Ellen’s achievement is more remarkable because she has had overcome dyslexia. Looking forward to the performance, Ellen said ‘The team at Bangor Cathedral has been so encouraging with some great ideas about staging this event and the interactive Coracle display. It is a great honour and very exciting to have my new work performed in Bangor Cathedral in the final event of the RS Thomas Festival 2018. I hope that in a small way we can bring the Llyn to Bangor!’

Another innovative item will see Owen Lowery performing two of his own poems, which were inspired by RS Thomas. In January this year Owen he was received the Literature Matters award from the Royal Society of Literature. His work and performance is more remarkable because at the age of 18, Owen was paralysed from the shoulders down in a Judo competition and he now needs machine in order to breathe. After two years in hospital, he was inspired through literature to overcome the limitations of his injuries. When he performs, he does so in time with his breathing machine.

Susan Fogarty, the Director of the RS Thomas Society and Festival, said, ‘The Society is delighted to be supporting and collaborating with Ellen as a graduate woman composer and the inspiring Owen Lowery who has overcome severe disability as a result of a spinal injury to achieve his full artistic potential. Both of these people deserve to be supported in their artistic endeavours.’

There will also be another world première by the American composer, Robert Moran, from Philadelphia. His new musical setting to RS Thomas’ well-known poem ‘The Other’, will be accompanied by the words of the poem being read alongside his new music by Susan Fogarty.

The former Bishop of Bangor and Archbishop of Wales, Dr. Barry Morgan, who had a close association with RS Thomas, will be taking part and the Choir of Bangor Cathedral will also be singing the Evensong service and an anthem by William Mathias.

This service and event is free of charge, but seating is limited. Interest can be registered through Eventbrite, or you can come on the day. The event is free thanks to the generosity of the The Royal Society for LiteratureTŷ Cerdd.