Gregynog, the oldest extant classical music festival in Wales, took Gold, one of the oldest and most beautiful of precious metals, as the inspiration for its 2011 programme.
For the first time, the Festival featured an outstanding vocal ensemble on each of its three week-ends: The Cardinall’s Musick, The King’s Singers and Ex Cathedra. The stellar line-up of international artists continued with the dynamic Escher String Quartet from the USA and Iranian-born harpsichord virtuoso Mahan Esfahani, all members of BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists scheme. Some of the UK’s leading specialists in authentic performance practice were also at hand, including London Baroque, The Revolutionary Drawing Room and London Handel Players. The vibrant Welsh folk band Calan opened the season; Craig Ogden, the Australian guitarist and Classic FM favourite, appeared with flautist Judith Hall; and Sara Trickey and Iwan Llewelyn-Jones launched their Naxos CD of the William Mathias Violin Sonatas.
The Festival threw a spotlight on John Orlando Parry, a multi-talented Welshman who travelled with the young Franz Liszt on two concert tours of the UK and Ireland. To celebrate these connections and the bicentenary of Liszt’s birth in 2011, 19th-century specialist Daniel Grimwood performed on a period Pleyel piano, while the outstanding Welsh pianist Llŷr Williams included Liszt in his recital on a modern Steinway.
This year, our concerts took place in Aberystwyth, Kerry, Montgomery and Shrewsbury as well as the historic Music Room at Gregynog and provided a glittering array of repertoire from the Field of Cloth of Gold via alchemy and synaesthesia to the world première of Eric Whitacre's Alone. Whitacre's striking setting of words by Edgar Allen Poe has since been published by Chester Music and recorded by The King's Singers on their CD High Flight.
The Cardinall's Musick / Andrew Carwood
Escher String Quartet
Ex Cathedra / Jeffrey Skidmore
The King's Singers
London Handel Players
The Revolutionary Drawing Room
You can still purchase the full-colour A4 souvenir programme for the 2011 Festival season, including articles on The Field of Cloth of Gold, the Latin American Baroque, Bach's Goldberg Variations, Robert Fludd, William Herschel, John Orlando Parry and Franz Liszt, Jean Sibelius and William Mathias. Price £4, including postage.