‘CANU HAF’ - a new collection of Welsh traditional May carols
A new collection of Welsh traditional May Carols was published on Mayday (“Calan Mai”): edited by Arfon Gwilym and Sioned Webb.
The collection is based on a much smaller collection published in 1944, edited by W. S. Gwynn Williams. Six of those carols have been included in the present collection, and another 12 added, all arranged for three voices, making a total of 18 in all.
Some of the carols date back to the beginning of the 17th century and reflect the tradition at the time for small parties to travel the countryside to sing outside people’s houses - welcoming the month of May and summer in general, thanking the Lord for his generosity, and wishing well to all the family.
The majority of the carols have traditional words and melodies, but some new verses and melodies have been commissioned specially for this collection, reflecting the spirit and character of the older traditional carols. Out of the 18 carols, five of the melodies are new (composed by Sioned Webb, Mair Tomos Ifans and Arfon Gwilym) and two of the poems are new (by Alan Llwyd and Ifor Baines). These two carols have been composed in the ancient metre of ‘tri-thrawiad’, an intricate metre involving a string of rhymes and ‘cynghanedd’: it is a unique combination of the new free metres and the old Welsh strict metres.
Arfon Gwilym, Manager of Cwmni Gwynn, said: “Although the tradition of walking around the countryside singing outside people’s houses around Mayday has long disappeared, these carols are an important part of our heritage and are worth singing in any age, as nature revives once again after the cold winter months.”
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ALL SORTS OF NEW PUBLICATIONS
1. MABINOGI by Héctor Macdonald; words by Mererid Hopwood
Twelve songs for female voices, based on the most famous collections of ancient Welsh myths and legends, the Mabinogi. It was first performed as a complete work in 2007 by Ysgol Gerdd Ceredigion, conducted by Islwyn Evans.
It can be performed as one complete work, but the individual songs can be performed on their own.
Hector Macdonald is a native of Gaiman in the Welsh colony of Patagonia, Argentina. Mererid Hopwood is one of Wales’s most accomplished poets.
2. CANEUON TIR A MÔR (Songs of Land and Sea) by Catrin Angharad Jones.
Catrin is a succesful conductor of three choirs on Anglesey; she is also a teacher and singer. For the folk choir competitions of various eisteddfodau over the years, she has been composing arrangements of Welsh folk songs for her choirs. These have now been collected in two separate volumes - one for male voices and the other for female voices.
3. THREE NEW COMPOSITIONS by Brian Hughes
• Cariad Cyntaf (First Love) - an arrangement of the well known folk song for SATB voices
• A Ei Di’r Deryn Du? (Will you go, Blackbird?) - an arrangement of the well known folk song for TTBB voices
• Rise Up, O Men of God - an arrangement of the Welsh hymn tune ‘Capel Tygwydd’ by David Jenkins, for TTBB voices
Brian Hughes, a native of Rhosllannerchrugog near Wrexham, is one of the foremost choral composers living in Wales today. His works are performed regularly by both amateur and professional groups.
4. CEILIOG FFESANT (Male Pheasant) by Mared Emlyn; words by J. M. Edwards
A composition for TTBB voices by the composer and harpist Mared Emlyn. Her success as a young composer has been remarkable. Her work for orchestra ‘Whistling Sands’ was played in 2016 by the Welsh BBC Orchestra and was broadcast on Radio 3.
5. THREE NEW COMPOSITIONS by Gareth Hughes Jones
• Mawl yr Hedydd (Ode to a Skylark); words by Myrddin ap Dafydd, for TTBB voices
• Cofio (Remembering); words by Waldo Williams, for TTBB voices
• Chwilio (Searching); words by W. Rhys Nicholas, for TTBB voices
Three additions to the pieces published recently by Gareth (see below).
6. SOLOS by Brahms.
For the Bridgend National Urdd Eisteddfod in 2017, a number of solos by Brahms have been set for the Solo 19-25 age group competition. Two of those solos have already been published by Gwynn: ‘Nosgan Serch’ (Ständchen) and ‘Cân Saphig’ (Sapphische Ode); the two new solos now published are ‘Hwyr o Haf’ (Sommerabend, in Bb a G) - Welsh words by Alan Llwyd, and ‘Am Gariad Tragwyddol’ (Von Ewiger Libe, in C♯ minor and B minor) - Welsh words by John Stoddart.
TWO WORKS FOR MALE VOICES BY GARETH HUGHES JONES
- Far Rockaway - words by Iwan Llwyd
- Cerdd yr Hen Chwarelwr - words by W.J.Gruffydd
Gareth Hughes Jones was born in Bangor in 1950. He attended the Tywyn Secondary School and was a student in the Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff before moving on to become a music teacher in Llandâf, Aberaeron, Brynrefail and Coleg Meirion Dwyfor.
During the 80s he worked for a period in the music industry with the Sain recording company in Llandwrog.
Every year since 1990 he has worked as the Music Director of the North America and Canada Welsh Music Heritage Week, and has travelled widely there as a result. He also appeared in Melbourne in the Australian state of Victoria, to conduct that state’s Cymanfa Ganu.
Following his retirement, Gareth has found more time to compose, for male voices in particular. Why male voices? He says that he was mesmerised and fell in love with the velvety sound of the Nantlle Valley Male Voice Choir, broadcast on the Welsh radio programme Sȇr y Siroedd in the 1950s. That sound has captured his imagination ever since.
REQUIEM AC EMYN O FAWL (HYMN OF PRAISE) PUBLISHED
This month two substantial classical works are published: Brahms’ Requiem and Mendelssohn’s Emyn o Fawl (Hymn of Praise). Both these works have been in the Gwynn catalogue since 1946, but in a sol-fa version only. Those versions are still in print, but now the complete versions are also available in old notation (with piano accompaniment), Welsh words by Enid Parry. The music has been edited by Mared Emlyn.
Desptie the occasional plea from the heart for the restoration of sol-fa in the musical curriculum, unfortunately music publishing companies have to face reality and accept that those singers that always prefer sol-fa to the old notation are becoming few and far between. Amongst the younger generation they are non-existent - sol-fa is as dead as Latin!
Brahms composed his Requiem between 1865 and 1868, and this is his longest composition, with seven movements. It includes soprano and baritone solos, and of course, an SATB chorus. Any individual part of the Requiem may be ordered separately.
Mendelssohn composed his Hymn of Praise / Emyn o Fawl in 1840. It requires two soprano soloists and one tenor soloist with the SATB chorus. Any individual part of the work may be ordered separately.
IN MEMORY OF MERVYN BURTCH
(1929 - 2015)
With great sadness, the death is announced of Mervyn Burtch, the musician from the Rhymney Valley who served as a music teacher in Bargoed and Ystrad Mynach, becoming Head of Performance in the Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff, and a versatile composer. He found particular success in composing works for children and young people.
In the Gwynn catalogue, see The Birth of Taliesin (SATB), and his arrangements of Welsh folk songs for TTBB voices: Deryn y Bwn, Dacw ’Nghariad, Rew di Ranno, Mae ’Nghariad i’n Fenws, Hela’r Sgyfarnog. (Deryn y Bwn is also available in an SATB version).
IN MEMORY OF
A musician with whom it was always a pleasure to work. A great man.
(see his two volumes of songs, Digon i Mi and Razzamatazz)
National Eisteddfod Prize winning composition published: ‘Cariad’ by Ieuan Wyn
Catalogue no. 3128. Price £1.95
Cwmni Gwynn is honoured to publish the winning composition of the Composers` Medal at this year’s National Eisteddfod at Denbigh: an a cappella piece by Ieuan Wyn for SATB choirs, set to words by Myrddin ap Dafydd entitled ‘Cariad’ (Love).
According to the judges of the competition, Sioned James and Owain Llwyd, Ieuan Wyn had chosen a simple and sweet melody, interweaved with melodious and enchanting harmonies. “The nature of the piece will suit any contemporary amateur choir and it is a gripping work from the first bar. It may seem simple at first glance, but the rich harmonies and the variation in dynamics calls for a great degree of vocal control.”
In addition to the Medal itself, Ieuan Wyn also received a £2,000 financial prize to further his musical career.
“ The first thing that is needed in preparation for a competition such as this is to find good words. I’m a firm believer in a strong relationship between words and music. If I’m unhappy with the words I have chosen for a particular work, that work seldom sees the light of day. For this reason I spent a lot of time looking through volumes of poetry belonging to my grandfather and parents.
“When I came across the poem ‘Cariad’ by Myrddin ap Dafydd in the volume ‘Geiriau Gorfoledd a Galar’, I knew for certain right from the start that I had found the right words. Immediately when I read them I could hear the melody forming in my head. Other elements fell into place soon after. I have a great debt to Myrddin therefore!”
Ieuan Wyn was born in Whitchurch, Cardiff, received his higher education in Plasmawr and Glantaf schools, and then studied music at Bangor University. He then took an MSc course in Music Engineering and Production in the Atrium, University of Glamorgan. Since then he has worked as a sound recordist for the ‘Gorilla’ resource company in Cardiff. Through his work he has composed and arranged a number of songs for the S4C television programmes Cyw and Stwnsh.
Over the years, Ieuan has also reached the finals round of the Cân i Gymru (Song for Wales) competition three times, winning the third prize in 2008.
For several years he has been a member of Côr Caerdydd, where he was given his first opportunity to compose and arrange choral pieces. Recently he was commissioned to write an original piece for the choir; the piece ‘Caerdydd’ can now be heard on the choir’s new CD and was performed by Aelwyd Waun Ddyfal choir in the Côr Cymru Competition in 2013.
Once Again In My Dear Wales / Unwaith Eto’n Nghymru Annwyl for TTBB choir
Male voice choirs, take note: a new TTBB arrangement by D. Lynn Thomas of this old favourite is now available.
Catalogue number 4088. Price £2.35
Urdd Eisteddfod test pieces
The test pieces for the Urdd National Eisteddfod 2014 are now available:
Gwely Lliwiau’r Hydref, Mari Lloyd Pritchard (2523). Price: £3.50 each; £3 each for two or more
Fy Alarch, Grieg (mewn dau gywair). Cywair F allan o ‘Caneuon y Cenhedloedd’ (9014), Pris £6.50. Cywair D, copi unigol, Pris £2.75.
Y Penblwydd, Sioned Webb (2520). Pris £2.95
Gardd f’Anwylyd, Bradwen Jones (5504). Pris £4.25
Breuddwydion, Eirian Owen (5055). Pris £2.50
Croesi’r Paith, Sioned Webb (4087). Pris arbennig am becyn o 8: £15
Coch Bach Y Bala, Sioned Webb (2524). Pris arbennig am becyn o 10: £19.50
Law yn Llaw, Fiona Bennett (2521). Pris arbennig am becyn o 10: £19.50
Ddigymar Ddawn y Gân, Schubert (mewn dau gywair, D a Bb) (80079). Pris £2.75
Dod ar fy Mhen, Mari Lloyd Pritchard (2518). Pris arbennig am becyn o 10: £17.50
Caneuon Traddodiadol y Cymry (8403). Pris £8.00
New publication: Tant – 101 Welsh traditional harp tunes
Arranged for non-pedal and pedal harps
Edited by Siân James and Sioned Webb
Eight hundred years ago, Giraldus Cambrensis claimed there was a harp in every household he visited on his tour of Wales! True or not, the harp has certainly been an integral part of the Welsh musical tradition for a very long time.
At last, here is a collection of Welsh harp tunes where a large proportion of the Welsh repertoire can be found conveniently in one book. This is the first time for at least 150 years that such a collection has been put together!
These are folk tunes, in all their beauty and simplicity, arranged in as basic a form as possible. This means they can be played on a folk harp as well as any other kind of harp – or any other instrument for that matter.
The arrangements have all been made by two experienced harpists and musicians who are well known in Welsh folk and traditional circles.
Siân James is one of the leading folk singers of Wales. She was brought up in the little village of Llanerfyl in Montgomeryshire, where she lives to this day. She started her harp playing under the guidance of Frances Mon Jones who encouraged her to sing to her own harp accompaniment. She studied music in Bangor University under Professor William Mathias and she is now a Honorary Fellow of that University for her contribution to Welsh culture. She has by now released nine albums, the latest being ‘Cymun’, to exemplary reviews.
Sioned Webb is a musician with many years of experience as a music editor. She worked as Head of Music at Ysgol Tryfan, Bangor, and then as Artistic Director of the William Mathias Music Centre, Caernarfon.She is now a freelance tutor, accompanist, composer, lecturer and author. She won the John Weston Thomas memorial prize on the triple harp in the 2007 National Eistedfdfod and has performed as a harpist in Wales and abroad.
New publication: Music of the Three Great Eras by Sioned Webb
In the history of music, the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods play a fundamental role. What kind of music do we associate with those three periods? What is a sonata? Or a concerto, opera, symphony or lied? How did these forms develop, and which composers are associated with them? The aim of this book is to answer those questions.
It is a practical guide where thirty individual works from the three great eras are analysed. The two CDs that accompany the book are essential tools in that analysis, with over two hours of wide ranging musical works.
Eric W. Phillips, WJEC Chief Examiner for A Level Music 2012, said: Following the success of her ‘Music of the Twentieth Century’, Sioned Webb has produced another excellent book. She covers the music of these three periods in an informative, appealing and stimulating way, and the book is presented in a series of concise and thought-provoking chapters.
Llio Penri, Head of Music, Ysgol Bro Ddyfi, Machynlleth, said: This is an exceptional resource for secondary school pupils, or indeed for anyone with the desire to deepen their musical understanding. In a clear, practical, analytical style, this is a book that makes us think about what we hear.
Sioned Webb is a musician with many years of experience as a music teacher and piano tutor. She worked as Head of Music at Ysgol Tryfan, Bangor, and then as Artistic Director of the William Mathias Music Centre, Caernarfon. She is now a freelance tutor, accompanist, composer, lecturer and harpist. She is the author of Cerddoriaeth Ddu’r Ugeinfed Ganrif (Black Music of the Twentieth Century), The Music of Wales, and Music of the Twentieth Century.
The Gwynn Publishing Company is proud to welcome a research student from University of Wales Bangor as a part time addition to the staff for a period of 12 months, as work experience and to promote certain aspects of the company's work. This arrangement has been made possible by the University's KESS scheme (Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarship). Mared Emlyn is a native of Eglwysbach in the Conwy Valley. She graduated in the Bangor University School of Music last year, specialising in the harp, and she is currently following an MA course which will hopefully lead on to a PhD course next year. She will work part time for Gwynn during her studies.
The Gwynn Publishing Company are publishing 15 choral pieces by the well known Welsh composer, Gareth Glyn. The majority are brand new pieces, others are pieces composed over a number of years for specific choirs or for special occasions, but have never been published as such before now. Eleven of the pieces are for mixed choirs and four for male voice choirs.
The variety of the collection, in content and mood, is one outstanding feature. For example, on the one hand the jubilant setting of Psalm 150 (a piece performed by Pontarddulais Choir with the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra), and on the other hand, Feet – a light-hearted poem by Gwyn Thomas describing a baby discovering its feet for the first time!
Another piece, ‘Never Was Dawn So Bright’ has its own story. The lyrics were originally composed by Gareth’s wife, Eleri Cwyfan, when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. “The barriers were shattered and flung aside, The menacing portals were opened wide…Now hear us as we pray, O Lord above, Forever bind us in your chains of love.” By a sheer coincidence, the Gwynn company was preparing the final version of this piece for printing on November 5, 2008, the day Barack Obama was elected President of the USA, and the words – the title in particular - seemed specially appropriate on that day.
The variety of the pieces reflect the great variety of poets whose work have been set to music - Gwyn Thomas, Gerallt Lloyd Owen, Alan Llwyd, Gwenallt, Saunders Lewis, Gwynn ap Gwilym, Geraint Vaughan Jones, Elinor Wyn Reynolds, Gwyneth Evans, and even Madog ap Gwallter, a 13th century Welsh bard (The Nativity).
All the pieces except four have words in English as well as Welsh – and most of the words have been translated into English by Gareth himself.
“Having so many pieces appearing at the same time is a unique experience for me, “ said Gareth, “and I’m extremely grateful to Cwmni Gwynn for undertaking such an ambitious publishing programme, and also for their great care and imagination as far as the front covers are concerned. I hope there will be something in this collection to please all kinds of choir and achievement level.”
Arfon Gwilym, Director of Cwmni Gwynn said: “It’s a great privilege to publish a collection such as this by one of the most respected composers in Wales today. It’s difficult to imagine a more prolific composer than Gareth Glyn anywhere, nor a composer with such a gift for conveying the exact mood of a poem in music, all in a style which is unique and modern. These pieces will hopefully be a valuable addition to the choral repertoire, not only in Wales but in other parts of the world also.”
Songs for Children
The latest publication from Gwynn Publishing is Caneuon Migmas, a collection of fun songs for children based on the popular television series broadcast on S4C, the Welsh fourth channel. The songs are a collaboration between four members of the same family: Dyfan Roberts, author of the lyrics, his daughter Efa Dyfan, an art student who created the artwork, his wife Angela who wrote the original storylines, and his sister-in-law Sioned Webb who arranged the music. The original music was composed by Dilwyn Roberts (no relation!).
Pwyll ap Sion
A young North Wales composer will receive international recognition at a major violin competition in Cardiff starting on 11th April.
Pwyll ap Sion’s piece for solo violin, White Wheat/Gwenith Gwyn, has been chosen as one of the test pieces for violinists under the age of 16 in the Menhuin Competition which takes place over a period of three days. It will also be performed in the spectacular final Gala and prize giving ceremony at the Wales Millennium Centre on Sunday 20th April.
The piece also appeared this month in the prestigious magazine for violinists The Strad.
The Menuhin Competition is the world’s leading international competition for young violinists. It was founded by Yehudi Menuhin in 1983 and celebrates its 25th anniversary this year in Cardiff. The competition attracts some of the world’s most gifted violinists; previous winners, such as Tasmin Little and Nikolaj Znaider, have achieved international success at the highest level.
“This is a great opportunity for me,” said Pwyll. “The pianist and director of the Menuhin competition, Gordon Back, invited me to write a piece for the event in Cardiff. We both agreed that bringing in a Welsh element would be appropriate so I set about composing a theme and four variations on ‘Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn’. Gordon also stressed that I shouldn’t feel constrained in any sense because I would be writing for some of the world’s most talented young players.”
Pwyll, a senior lecturer at the University of Wales, Bangor School of Music, has composed music for some of Wales’ foremost performers, including Bryn Terfel, Iwan Llewelyn-Jones, Jeremy Huw Williams, and Llŷr Williams, and also musicians from outside Wales, such as the Japanese group, Ensemble Tozai. His music has been featured on CDs made by the WNO Brass Consort, Jeremy Huw Williams (Baritone), Iwan Llewelyn-Jones (Piano), the soprano Buddug Verona James, and the Davies Piano Duo.
The White Wheat / Y Gwenith Gwyn is based on a well known traditional Welsh tune, Bugeilio’r Gwenith Gwyn. It is published by the Gwynn Publishing Company, Talysarn, together with a further two pieces in a similar vein, also for solo violin and based on well known Welsh melodies, Y Deryn Pur and Y Bore Glas.
His latest composition is a piece for a male voice choir called Diwedd, in memory of the prominent Welsh composer Alun Hoddinott who died last month.
Arfon Gwilym, Manager of Cwmni Cyhoeddi Gwynn, said he was delighted that The White Wheat had been chosen for such an occasion. “It is entirely appropriate that a Welsh composer and Welsh music are given prominence when such an important competition takes place in Wales."