Tŷ Cerdd Composer in Residence 2017
With the generous support of the Colwinston Charitable Trust, the distinguished Welsh composer, Rhian Samuel has been commissioned to write pieces for the National Youth Wind Orchestra, Training Choir and Brass Band of Wales. In April the NYWOW premieres On This Precious Earth and the NYTCW gives the first performance of The Gossamer Thread in its new version. Later in the season, the Brass Band will perform Taliesin in Porthcawl and at the North Wales International Festival of Music in St Asaph.
These Tŷ Cerdd commissions for wind and brass mark a departure for the Aberdare born composer who is perhaps best known for her orchestral and chamber music, including Tirluniau/Landscapes which was premiered to great acclaim at the BBC Proms in 2000.
Pieces by Rhian Samuel, the winner of numerous awards including the Glyndŵr Medal for services to the Arts in Wales and the ASCAP-Rudolph Nissim Award, will also be included in concerts by the National Youth Choirs of Wales. It will sing some of her best loved music including Lovesongs and Observations and A Clear Midnight in Monmouth and Swansea. Rhian's clarinet quartet, Locomotion will be played by musicians from the NYWOW at the Training Choir's concert in April.
Rhian Samuel is enjoying her new role and remarked, "It's a great privilege for me to go back to where I started - in Wales's youth choirs and orchestras. I'm looking forward immensely to working with these talented young people."
Rhian Samuel, born to a Welsh-speaking family in Aberdare in 1944, was educated in Britain and the United States. She won first prize at the Greenwich Festival (1979) for the choral work, So Long Ago, and was joint winner of the ASCAP-Rudolph Nissim Award (USA) in 1983 for the choral-orchestral work, La belle dame sans merci. Her first large-scale orchestral work was Elegy-Symphony (1981, St Louis Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin, conductor) while Tirluniau/Landscapes (2000) was premiered at the BBC Millennium Proms (BBCNOW, Tadaaki Otaka, conductor). In 2015, two song-cycles, A Swift Radiant Morning and Wildflower Songbook, were premiered at the Three Choirs Festival and the Oxford Lieder Festival respectively. A performance of Clytemnestra (1994, commissioned by the BBC) by Ruby Hughes and BBCNOW at the Bangor Music Festival in 2016 was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on International Women’s Day in 2016 and re-broadcast in March 2017. Her choral and chamber music have been widely performed in Britain and the USA.
Rhian Samuel has taught at Reading University and City University, London (where she is Professor Emeritus), and at Magdalen College, Oxford. She is co-editor of the New Grove Dictionary of Women Composers and has written extensively on the operas of Harrison Birtwistle. In 2004, she received the Glyndŵr Medal for services to the Arts in Wales and in 2016 an Hon.DMus from the University of Wales. She lives in Aberdyfi, whose Cardigan Bay landscape has provided much inspiration for her music.