2008 marked 75 years since the founding of the Festival and offered an opportunity to revive works which had been written especially for performance in Gregynog's historic Music Room, including compositions and arrangements by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst and Henry Walford Davies. The Festival also explored the Gregynog and Mid Wales links of composers such as Bela Bartok, Benjamin Britten, Edward Elgar and Peter Warlock.
Inspired by O spiritual pilgrim, Holst's last choral work which was premiered by the Gregynog Choir in 1934, we made a pilgrimage of our own to hold one Festival concert in the beautiful and remote Shrine Church of St Melangell in Pennant Melangell.
We also recreated a Meditation in words and music based on the programmes of the earliest Festivals, with Tenebrae performing behind a copy of El Greco's famous painting The Disrobing of Christ from Gwendoline Davies' collection as the Gregynog Choir would have done during the 1930s.
New work has been at the heart of the Gregynog Festival from the outset and, as part of her tenure, Rhian Davies has sought to extend this tradition and make commissioning an integral part of each Festival once more. Her inaugural commission Paradise, a setting of George Herbert by Hilary Tann, was given a memorable world premiere performance by Tenebrae during the 2008 Festival. This fine work has since been published by Rowanberry Music and received numerous subsequent performances in the UK and USA by ensembles including the National Youth Choir of Wales and Harvard University Chamber Choir.
BBC National Orchestra of Wales / Lesley Hatfield
Elin Manahan Thomas
Robin Huw Bowen
Tenebrae / Nigel Short
For £4 including postage, you can still purchase the full-colour A4 souvenir programme for the 2008 season including articles on the history of the Festival. Limited availability.