Whatever you views on the subject I think we can all agree it has been quite a remarkable couple of weeks in the life of our nation. In that time we have greeted a new Head of State and a new Prime Minister. We have yet to see how the monarchy will adapt but no time has been wasted by the ‘new’ government to set out its ‘new’ vision for the country.
Of course, when I say no time has been wasted we have been waiting quite a few months for the Conservative party to choose our new Prime Minister; then came the period of National mourning. But now they have their feet under the Cabinet table this government has certainly been in a hurry to make its mark, especially financially. What was scorned and decried as profligacy 2 months ago is now sound economic policy and the only way forward…that’s politics for you.
In this ever changing world it seemed there was one constant we could all rely on to speak on behalf of the nation, and commonwealth, in times of sadness and joy. This week, when we said goodbye to Queen Elizabeth II after 70 years of service as our Head of State we were also witnessing the end of an era. Whilst most of us try to ignore the inevitable human condition many people had been planning for the passing of the Queen. It was remarkable to us ‘outsiders’ to see the preparations for the State Funeral come together so quickly. It was only when you heard from the police, service commanders and church officers that you realised they had been planning and rehearsing for this moment for many years.
It was back in the dark ‘Covid’ days of March 2021 that discussions started between the Lord Lieutenant and the Swansea International Festival about organising a concert to Celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. As we planned we knew we needed to be aware that the Pandemic had already returned in waves, scuppering many well laid plans, and also that at the age of 96 there was a possibility that the Queen might not be with us when our concert was scheduled to go ahead.
Taking advice from the Lord Lieutenant and working closely with Huw Tregelles Williams, former Festival Chair and Head of Music at BBC Wales we decided to prepare 2 programmes of music. In light of recent events what had been billed as a ‘Platinum Jubilee Concert’ will now be ‘A Concert to Celebrate and Commemorate the reign of HM Queen Elizabeth II’.
One of our first decisions was to commission a new work from Sir Karl Jenkins. Our final Pre Covid Festival concert had featured a commissioned work from Sir Karl, and we felt it appropriate to embark on this new era for the Festival with something new from the Maestro.
Sir Karl invited Poet Grahame Davies to write the words to celebrate the long reign and service of the Queen. As well as being a man of words Grahame has an intimate knowledge of the Royal Family having been a member of the Royal Household since 2012 and also Deputy Private Secretary to The Prince of Wales. ‘This Faithful Life’ will have its premiere at the Brangwyn on 29th October.
Other work from Sir Karl will also feature, including the much loved ‘Palladio’ and his lovely arrangement of the Welsh Folk tune ‘Tros Y Garreg’ performed by former Royal Harpist Catrin Finch.
We also wanted the Swansea Festival to work with those already creating great music in the city. Our next invitation went to the Swansea Philharmonic Choir. The choir has added so much to the cultural life of Swansea. We also invited the Choir’s Musical Director, Jonathan Rogers, to conduct the British Sinfonietta on our special evening.
Ellen Williams – Soprano
The major change to the programme is the inclusion of ‘Requiem’ by Gabriel Faure. Soprano Ellen Williams will join with Baritone Steffan Lloyd Owen for this very special performance.
We knew that with the significance of this concert we needed a very special host and we were delighted when Huw Edwards agreed to join us. Huw recognised how important the return of the Festival was to the cultural life of the whole of Wales.
‘How reassuring it feels to be looking forward to the first Swansea Festival following the challenging events of recent years. It is always a delight meeting old friends, but this year the delight will be enhanced as we reunite to enjoy the world-class performances that the festival offers’.
Over the past few weeks the nation has relied upon Huw Edwards and his calm, reassuring voice to help guide us through these monumental times. The Festival and Lieutenancy are delighted that Huw will be the voice of our special concert.
We do hope you will be able to join us for this very special event on 29th October at the Brangwyn Hall, Swansea. This is Swansea’s opportunity to come together to Commemorate and Celebrate ‘This Faithful Life’
Ticket and Programme information www.swanseafest.com
The Swansea Festival are not the only ones who have had to plan a concert against the backdrop of a Pandemic and uncertain future.
When Uplands Arts was founded with a desire to produce high quality productions of Gilbert and Sullivan there was a King on the Throne, King George VI. It has been quite a challenge for all sorts of Arts groups to keep their vision during the Pandemic. So many of our choirs and Amateur Dramatic Groups are about so much more than just the ‘art’. They have family connections stretching back generations. They are social groups as well as artistic.
Tonight Uplands Arts will celebrate 80 years of bringing the works ‘Gilbert and Sullivan’ to the people of Swansea with a selection of G&S ‘Greatest Hits’. Over the years members of the company have gone on to have wonderful professional careers and many will return tonight for their guest cameo appearances.
The show will also feature a full orchestra on stage, something I am particularly looking forward to as I host the evening.
Companies like ‘Uplands Arts’ rely on the support of the people of Swansea. For one night only you have the chance to enter the world of The Pirates of Penzance, take a cruise on HMS Pinafore or take a flight of fancy to the exotic world of the Far East courtesy of the Mikado.
I look forward to seeing you at the Taliesin Theatre tonight at 7.30pm.