Virtuoso violinist’s world premiere joy at the Bangor New Music Festival

An internationally renowned violinist will be performing a series of world premieres at a top music festival in Gwynedd.

Madeleine Mitchell will be one of the star attractions at the Bangor New Music Festival that opens on Wednesday, March 12.

She will be taking centre stage at two major concerts and as this year’s artiste in residence will also conduct a master class with students.

The critically acclaimed virtuoso, who has wowed audiences in 40 different countries, said: “I’m so looking forward to the festival and I’m absolutely delighted to be in residence. I enjoy master classes and look forward to meeting and working with students.”

The festival, now in its 14th year, runs over four days and  has established itself as one of the most exciting events on the UK’s classical music calendar.

Organisers say the line-up this year is one of the best ever and it also promises to be a memorable occasion for PhD music student Mared Emlyn, 25, whose own composition will be one of the pieces premiered.

Among the highlights will be a jazz workshop conducted by Israeli- born drummer, Asaf Sirkis, followed by a late evening concert of his jazz quartet at Greeks Taverna in Upper Bangor.

There will also be open air lunchtime concert performed by Bangor New Music Ensemble at the Deiniol Shopping Centre.

The festival opens with a concert on the theme of Night and Day in which Madeleine Mitchell will perform an imaginative programme of new and previously recorded pieces of music.

Speaking from her London home, Madeleine, who says she is proud of her Welsh roots said: “I’m delighted to be returning to Bangor to perform at the New Music Festival. It will be my first appearance at the festival although I have played at Bangor University in the past.

“The opening concert, Night and Day, will be a concert I have put together for violin and piano and I will be performing the world première of a new piece of music composed by young Welsh composer, Mared Emlyn, which I’m particularly looking forward to.”

Artistic Director Guto Pryderi Puw is considered to be one of Wales’s finest composers and is also a lecturer at Bangor University.

Guto said: “I’m really excited about the sheer volume of new and previously unheard work that will be performed during this year’s festival.

“We are trying to promote new music to a wider audience and the idea is very much about exposing people to music that they may not normally listen to.

“We aim to increase the festival’s outreach activities, with one concert, a tribute to Shakespeare, taking place at the Deiniol Shopping Centre in Bangor on the Friday afternoon.

“The idea is to engage with the shoppers and passers-by and hopefully to increase the interest in other events during the festival.

“Madeleine Mitchell is a renowned violinist and central to the Night and Day concert is a selection of short contrasting pieces of music, which will awaken the senses and lead the listener on a journey from darkness to light.

“These short pieces are supported by recent works by leading British composers in addition to a new work that has been commissioned by Tŷ Cerdd by the promising young composer, Mared Emlyn.”

To bring the festival’s Friday Shakespeare’s Day to a close a special concert will take place in Bangor University’s Pritchard-Jones Hall as a tribute to the poet and playwright in his 450th anniversary year.

Guto said: “The Orchestra of the Swan, conducted by David Curtis, will perform alongside featured soloists, Madeleine Mitchell and trumpeter, Simon Desbruslais.

“The concert will feature two pieces of music commissioned for the occasion that includes Antic Rounds, a new work by the winner of the 2013 William Mathias Composition Prize, Tom Coult, in addition to my own violin concerto composed specifically for Madeleine, entitled Soft Stillness and commissioned by Tŷ Cerdd.

Antic Rounds is inspired by a quotation from Macbeth’s witches scene, while each movement of my violin concerto is a direct response to lines from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice.

“Robert Saxon’s Shakespeare Scenes is a series of five musical interpretations from various plays and other pieces in the programme draw upon the orchestra’s strong commitment of commissioning new works with recent pieces by Tansy Davies and Huw Watkins.”

He added: “The final day of the festival promises to be particularly exciting as we will have a performance of the rarely performed Karlheinz Stockhausen masterpiece, Mantra, an exciting work for two pianos and electronics that calls for some unconventional piano playing. The celebrated piano duo Xenia Pestova and Pascal Meyer will perform the piece in conjunction with the INTER/actions Conference on the Saturday.”

Among those who can’t wait for the festival is Mared Emlyn, from Llangernyw, near Abergele, who has just completed her PhD in harp performance and composition at Bangor University.

She was commissioned to write a piece of music that will be performed for the first time as part of Madeleine Mitchell’s Night and Day concert.

Mared said: “It’s wonderful, although I admit I’m a bit nervous. The festival is a fantastic event but I never thought I’d get the chance to listen to established musicians, such as Madeleine Mitchell, interpret my music.

“My piece, Towards the North, follows the same theme of night and day and examines how light brings colour and meaning into the world. It will certainly be a proud day for me having my parents in the audience.

Mared added: “The Bangor New Music Festival is a great opportunity for young composers to showcase their work. And the programme is very varied with everything from classical to jazz and electronically produced new music.”

For more information and tickets for Bangor New Music Festival 2014 visit   

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