14:00, Victor Salvi Room, Wales Millennium Centre, 07/06/2014
Keynote speaker Paul Mealor: Contemporary Choral Music - An illustrated discussion
Paul Mealor was born in the Welsh cathedral town of St Asaph, and spent much of his childhood on the island of Anglesey. From an early age, he sang in local choirs and played in brass bands and orchestras, learning the trombone at the same time as his father – an amateur musician – learned to play tuba.
Next year Mealor celebrates his 40th birthday and has developed a strong sense of place. Unlike other composers who are characterised by an idiosyncratic style, his work is marked by something outside of himself that is beautifully spatial and evocative of landscape. His music breathes. It breathes in the salt sea air of the dramatic and diverse coastal landscape of Wales and it breathes out a soulful response to the poetry of words.
Like all good composers, Mealor has exposed himself to diverse influences and put himself through a rigorous process of self-examination. Initially self-taught, he worked with William Mathias, and then John Pickard and Nicola LeFanu enlarged his experience. Equally important to the process of development was Mealor's exploration of ethno-musical traditions such as Javanese gamelan and the sitar.
Described in the New York Times as, ‘one of the most important composers to have emerged in Welsh choral music since Mathias…" Paul Mealor’s music has rapidly entered the repertoire of choirs and singers around the world. His music has been described as having, ‘serene beauty, fastidious craftsmanship and architectural assuredness… Music of deep spiritual searching that always asks questions, offers answers and fills the listener with hope…’
Mealor was catapulted to international attention when 2.5 billion people (the largest audience in broadcasting history) heard his Motet, Ubi caritas performed by the choirs of Westminster Abbey and Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal, conducted by James O’Donnell at the Royal Wedding Ceremony of His Royal Highness Prince William and Catherine Middleton.
Since 2003 he has taught at the University of Aberdeen and has held visiting professorships in composition at institutions in Scandinavia and the United States.
"Paul Mealor’s Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal sets four poems, all referring to roses. It is wonderful! It shows off the large choir beautifully; its dynamic range is enormous – from the quietest whisper to a full-throttle roar – and from the lowest register to the highest possible. And of course, being a work by Mealor, it is melodic, approachable and quite beautiful. It is obvious that the massed voices enjoyed singing the work".