Monday, 17 January 2011

BBC National Orchestra or Wales 2010/2011 Season of concerts: Where are the Welsh Composers

I was recently studying a copy of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales brochure for 2010/2011. And I admit that I was very disappointed. It is not that there is any lack of variety in the programme – there is plenty. From Smetana’s Overture, The Bartered Bride to Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride by way of Chausson’s Poeme and Cesar Franck’s great Symphony in D minor. Nor do I have a problem with the venues. All areas of Wales are represented – from Llandudno and Wrexham in the North to Brecon and St David’s in South: it is a well planned series of concerts. What does distress me is the lack of British and more specifically Welsh composers. Howard Blake got a look-in with his over-played The Snowman: Walking in the Air. I often wonder if the average concertgoer can name any other work by this composer? It may come as a surprise that he has a huge catalogue of very listenable music that has little to do with snowmen. And there is a Welsh composer represented with Gareth Glyn’s Overture A Night at the Opera. This promises to be an exciting piece of ‘light’ music.
Yet out of some twenty works performed only one is by a Welsh composer. The Principality has some of the finest composers in the United Kingdom as part of their musical history. Where are the Symphonies of Alun Hoddinott, Daniel Jones and William Mathias? What about the orchestral works of Grace Williams? And then there is David Wynne and Arwel Hughes...

Much as I know that Gareth Glyn’s overture will be a great hit, I also know that his Symphony is a great work that demands performance. I wish that the BBC in Wales could just be a little bit more concerned to promote the compositional talent of this great country.

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