Some highlights from this year’s Festival

The programme for the internationally-acclaimed Fishguard International Music Festival, which runs from July 19 to 30, is the first to be put together by new joint artistic directors Peter Donohoe CBE and Gillian Green.

And while they have introduced a sprinkling of new features into the 12-day event, regular festival-goers will be delighted to discover that there is no change to the Festival’s long-established tradition of presenting major Welsh orchestras, international soloists and chamber ensembles in a variety of venues across north Pembrokeshire, from St David’s Cathedral to Rhosygilwen.

Young Musicians

Over the years, the Young Musicians’ Platform, supported by Newport Music Society, has given many talented local youngsters an opportunity to gain experience of performing in front of a large and appreciative audience.  Many of these young performers have gone on to greater things. The Young Musicians’ Platform will be held once again in St Peter’s Church, Goodwick, on  Thursday morning, July 24.

This year, the focus on young musicians with talent will be continued into the afternoon of July 24 with a special Piano Master Class in Ysgol Bro Gwaun given by Mr Peter Donohoe. The Festival’s Artistic Director will be sharing his vast knowledge and experience with four outstanding young pianists currently studying at college or conservatoire throughout the UK.  Festival-goers are welcome to join him and his talented students for what should be a fascinating insight into the interpretation and performance of classic works from the piano repertoire.

Mexico comes to Fishguard

The sights and sounds of Mexico will be coming to St Mary’s Church, Fishguard on July 29.

To complement a recital of Mexican music by the classical guitarist Morgan Szymanski, the church will host a screening of specially commissioned artworks by 20 contemporary Mexican visual artists in a colourful and vibrant celebration of the guitarist’s homeland.

Born in Mexico City, Morgan began playing the guitar at the age of six, eventually gaining a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Music in London, where he was the first guitarist to be awarded a Junior Fellowship.

William Mathias

The Festival will also pay special tribute this year to composer William Mathias. “Mathias would have celebrated his 80th birthday in 2014,” explained Peter.  “His music received many first performances at this Festival in the past, and we are delighted that his daughter Dr Rhiannon Matthias will be joining us for this tribute to such a distinguished Welsh composer” William Mathias’s music will be performed at both concerts at St Davids Cathedral  on the evenings of July 19 and25 respectively by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and  the John S Davies Singers.

The celebrated Whitland-born composer was a passionate supporter of the Fishguard Music Festival in its early years, and it is wholly appropriate that the concert  on July 25 should be under the baton of John S Davies himself, since he commissioned several of the works in the evening’s programme and often conducted their first ever performances.

Eight Seasons

It will be a lively evening at Rhgosygilwen on Tuesday  July 22 when members of the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera will perform two works by Vivaldi and Piazzolla.  Baroque Italy and 1960’s Argentina meet in a wedding of what has become a smash hit since Gidon Kremer’s iconic CD, Eight Seasons.

On the same evening Peter Donohoe will  directs members of Welsh National Opera Orchestra in one of the most memorable of all Christmas presents, Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, and Strauss’ great comic tone-poem, Till Eulenspiegel.

Musical coups

One of the musical coups that will be the envy of many of the country’s bigger and better-known festivals has been pulled off this year, thanks to Peter Donohoe’s reputation and high standing in the classical music world. Two outstanding international musicians, violinist Alissa Margulis and ‘cellist Per Nystrom, have accepted his invitation to perform two concerts at this year’s  Festival.

For the first of these concerts, in the wonderful Oak Hall at Rhosygilwen on the evening of Sunday, July 27, Peter Donohoe will be accompanying each virtuoso performer individually, Alissa in violin sonatas by Franck and Debussy and Per in ‘cello sonatas by Debussy and Rachmaninov.

Alissa Margulis was born in Germany to a family of Russian musicians and gave her first public performance at the age of seven.  She has appeared in major concert halls all over Europe.

Per Nystrom is a Swedish ‘cellist who was the co-founder of the Yggdrasil String Quartet, Sweden’s most successful string quartet.  Per has toured the world, making numerous appearances as a leader and soloist.
The programme for the Festival, which opens with a performance by Goodwick Brass Band on Saturday 19 July, is available from local libraries and tourist information centres. For tickets and further information: www.fishguardmusicfestival.co.uk

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