Introduction to the Vale of Glamorgan Festival

John Metcalf, Artistic Director of the Vale of Glamorgan Festival, introduces the 2012 Vale of Glamorgan Festival, featuring SDG-commissions by Gavin Bryars and Peter Bannister.


2012 Vale of Glamorgan Festival brochure

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to see the complete program.

For more information, visit the Vale of Glamorgan Festival website.

You can book tickets at the Festival Box Office, 029 20 391 391 (Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama), or book online.

Gavin Bryars and Peter Bannister Choral Works to Premiere at Vale of Glamorgan Festival


Soli Deo Gloria is delighted to be a sponsor of the upcoming 2012 Vale of Glamorgan Festival in Wales, May 1-12, 2012. One of the hallmarks of the Festival is its commitment to celebrating the work of living composers. With 15 concerts spread over 11 venues, ranging from historic castles and churches to 21st-century, state-of-the-art concert halls, this year’s Festival, "Unveiling Musical Worlds," is the most ambitious to date.






  Ars Nova

Two new choral works by Gavin Bryars are scheduled to premiere at the Festival: His Lauda 42: Salutiam divotamente, to be performed by his ensemble on May 1, and Psalm 141, commissioned by Soli Deo Gloria, to be performed by Ars Nova Copenhagen on May 10.  Fittingly, since this year is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, the opening concert for the Vale of Glamorgan Festival (May 1) features Bryars' work by the same title, The Sinking of the Titanic, performed by the Gavin Bryars Ensemble.

Bryars' a cappella choral setting of Psalm 141 is part of SDG’s Psalms Project, in which the leading composers of our time are invited to give fresh musical interpretation to the Hebrew Psalter. Given Bryars’ eclectic music output (jazz, improvisation, minimalism, experimental music, avant-garde and neoclassicism), this Psalm will likely be unlike any work to date in the Psalms Project, and we eagerly await its debut.


Psalm 141 (KJV)

1. Lord, I cry unto thee; make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee.
2. Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
3. Set a watch, O Lord, before my moth; keep the door of my lips.
4. Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.
5. Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness; and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head; for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.
6. When their judges are overthrown in stony place, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.
7. Our bones are scattered at the grave's mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth.
8. But mine eyes are unto thee, O God the Lord: in thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute.
9. Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me, and the gins of the workers iniquity.
10. Let the wicked fall into their own nets, whilst I withal escape.

Gavin Bryars, Photo: Zaleski Enterprises  

Gavin Bryars, born in Yorkshire, was first of all a jazz bassist and pioneer of free improvisation with Derek Bailey and Tony Oxley. He subsequently worked in the USA with John Cage and in Britain alongside Cornelius Cardew. His early iconic works The Sinking of the Titanic (1969) and Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet (1971), both enjoyed major recording success in various versions.

He has written extensively for the stage, including three full-length operas and dance works for, among others, Merce Cunningham, Edouard Lock and William Forsythe. He has been associated with many visual artists, as well as with early music performers, and has a long list of instrumental, orchestral and vocal works to his credit, for artists such as the Hilliard Ensemble, Red Byrd, Trio Mediaeval, Latvian Radio Choir and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

The Gavin Bryars Ensemble, founded in 1981, performs internationally, including appearances in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Norway, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Czeck Republic, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Mexico, Norway, Austria, Japan and Australia, as well as giving occasional concerts in UK.

Gavin Bryars was Associate Research Fellow at Dartington College of Arts from 2004-2008 and has an honorary doctorate from the University of Plymouth and was awarded a Fellowship of Bath Spa University. He is a Regent of the Collège de 'Pataphysique, is married to Russian-born film director Anna Tchernakova, and has three daughters and a son.

Currently, Bryars is working on a chamber opera on Marilyn Monroe for the Aventa Ensemble and an installation in collaboration with the Quay Brothers to be premiered in Leeds as part of the Cultural Olympiad for the 2012 Olympic Games. Gavin Bryars now lives in Leicestershire and British Columbia and, as well as composing, performs internationally with his own ensemble.

... The music of Gavin Bryars falls under no category. It is mongrel, full of sensuality and wit and is deeply moving. He is one of the few composers who can put slapstick and primal emotion alongside each other. He allows you to witness new wonders in the sounds around you by approaching them from a completely new angle. With a third ear maybe... Michael Ondaatj

The May 10 concert will also feature the world premiere of a second Soli Deo Gloria commission, Peter Bannister’s Spiritus divinae lucis gloriae, composed as part of Mr. Bannister’s work as SDG’s Composer-in-Association. The piece is a 15-minute cycle for a cappella choir, consisting of seven segments (four chant-like fragments and three more extended movements). The text is taken from the 7th century Antiphonary of Bangor, an ancient manuscript from the Northern Irish abbey at Bangor.

Peter Bannister  

Born in London in 1966 but resident in Paris since 1989, Peter Bannister holds graduate degrees in musicology (King's College Cambridge) and systematic/philosophical theology (University of Wales). His awards at national and international level as a composer and performer include the Prix André Caplet for composition from the Institut de France as well as prizes at the Chartres and Nuremberg international organ competitions and three awards at the International Composition Competition in San Sebastian (Spain).

His catalogue comprises orchestral, choral, chamber and solo vocal and instrumental music, with performances in Europe and North America, as well as broadcasts on Italian and American public radio. His oratorio Et iterum venturus est, which he conducted with the Ensemble Orchestral de Paris, the Maîtrise de Paris and the French Army Choir in the closing concert of the centenary Messiaen cycle at the church of La Trinité in Paris, was his first commission for Soli Deo Gloria, followed by his orchestral song-cycle on words of St Teresa of Avila, Hermosura de Dios, with its first performance at the Zemplen Festival in Hungary. His third SDG commission, Psalm 96, was premiered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at Calvin College under the direction of John Nelson.

As a solo pianist and organist, Bannister has given concerto performances and recitals in Britain, Austria, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and the USA. In the field of opera he has worked as a coach with the Festival International Lyrique d'Aix-en-Provence, the Opéra National de Paris, and the Théâtre du Châtelet, with conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, James Conlon and Gennadi Rozhdestvensky. Peter Bannister is currently Associate Artistic Director and Composer-in-Association with Soli Deo Gloria, who also hosts his music and theology blog, Da stand das Meer. He is also currently co-directing a project at the American Church in Paris under the auspices of the John Templeton Foundation Scientists in Congregations Ministry Initiative promoting dialogue in the relationship between science and faith.


All Saints Church, Penarth  

Both Gavin Bryars' and Peter Bannister's choral works will be premiered at the May 10 concert at All Saints Church, Penarth, by Ars Nova Copenhagen, directed by Søren Kinch Hansen. Ars Nova Copenhagen is widely recognised as one of the finest vocal groups in Europe. Twice nominated for the prestigious American Grammy Awards, the Danish ensemble is in much demand, regularly touring across Europe, North and South America and Asia. A deeply spiritual vein runs through the concert they will be giving at All Saints Church, which not only includes the world premieres by Peter Bannister and Gavin Bryars, but also works by Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen, Arvo Pärt, Per Nørgård, Steve Reich and Anne Boyd.



For full details of all concerts, visit the Vale of Glamorgan Festival website.

You can book tickets at the Festival Box Office, 029 20 391 391 (Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama), or book online.