2014 Review

It seems hard to believe, but we are again at that time of year when, with another Festival put to bed, it is my pleasant task to pen the traditional Autumn Newsletter, thanking you for the wonderful support you have given, and continue to give, to the Festival and to tell you something about where we are at, festival-planning wise.
From all the positive feed-back we have been receiving it is clear, I think, that the 2014 Festival was one of the best ever. Those of you present at the gala opening event will not need reminding of the thrilling performance of Handel’s “Judas Maccabaeus”. It is a very long time indeed since this magnificent work was last performed in this part of Wales and I think we can congratulate ourselves on what was a truly memorable experience, with the John S. Davies Singers recapturing the choral perfection which had marked last year’s performance of “Messiah”. Wonderfully supported by the brilliant playing of the Westward Chamber Orchestra, and with four outstanding vocal soloists, all it needed was the inspirational conducting of John himself and, as always, this remarkable maestro obliged!
Of course, the higher the standard of an opening event such as this, the more difficult it is to maintain such musical excellence throughout Festival week. It is good to be able to report therefore, for the benefit of those who may have missed some of the other concerts, that, just as it had started, so it continued. We were expecting something very special from the St.Petersburg String Quartet the following night and we were not to be disappointed. The perfection of string tone in Borodin’s exquisite second quartet had a rapt audience hanging on every note and the rapturous applause of a full church said it all. That was not the end of the Russian magic however for, on the following day, the members of the quartet were at Tre-gib school in Ffairfach, where they gave a master-class for music pupils from that and other schools in the area. This, I know, was the experience of a lifetime for the young pupils concerned and an illustration of the rich potential for musical education which stems from the visit of such distinguished Festival artists to Llandeilo.

2015 Festival

Llandeilo Festival’s Artistic Director has just announced that one of Britain’s most distinguished Lieder singers, the baritone Roderick Williams, will be gracing next year’s Festival with his formidable presence. Next year will see the Festival celebrate its 15th. anniversary, and the appearance of a singer who has been attracting such critical acclaim, and who is making two separate appearances in this year’s BBC Promenade Concerts in London’s Royal Albert Hall will be a further feather in the Festival’s cap. Indeed, it will continue its enviable record of attracting leading Proms artists to this small corner of rural Wales, with no less than four who have performed in Llandeilo (including Britain’s leading jazz trumpeter, Guy Barker, and clarinet virtuoso, Michael Collins) appearing in the Proms this season.

Not only has Roderick Williams already delighted a Royal Albert Hall audience of over 7,000 this season (when he appeared in August alongside the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra) : he has been bestowed with the singular honour of appearing at the iconic Last Night of the Proms this coming Saturday (13th.September) Catch him live on BBC 2 television (First Half at 7.30pm) or on BBC 1 (Second half ). The whole concert is also broadcast live on Radio 3.
This celebratory Festival will run from the 11th – 19 July 2015.

Concert Gift Vouchers will be for sale 30th October.
Tel. Contact No: 01269-594303

The stage was now set for a quite different kind of virtuosity, involving woodwind, rather than string, players. When one speaks of woodwind prowess the first name which would come into most people’s minds is that of the world’s leading clarinet virtuoso, Michael Collins. When he and the other members of the famous London Winds ensemble broke into the opening bars of Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri we suspected that we were in for another evening of delight, and so it turned out.
What else? The brilliance of the Eden Stell Guitar Duo’s recital in Newton House had the audience on the edge of their seats and was a valuable reminder of what “real” guitar playing is all about, in an age when “four chord merchants” enjoy such huge reputations. This time there was a hugely successful master class in the Civic Hall for over sixty pupils from Ysgol Teilo Sant, Llandeilo C.P. School and Ysgol Ffairfach, who must have gone away with their eyes opened to this exciting new world. The traditional Jazz evening at the Cawdor attracted another capacity audience and there was an evening of exquisite song from the Sicilian diva Nuccia Focile, with her fine accompanist, Garry Matthewman.(who contributed some delightful solo items of his own).

Then came something totally different. “”An Odyssey of Love” told the absorbing story of the relationships between composer Franz Liszt and the two remarkable women in his life. Two of Britain’s most familiar actors, Joanna David and Henry Goodman, brought this gripping story to life, with the wonderful music of the composer as a background.
Even after all this there were still two treats in store. For the final concert in St.Teilo’s one of Wales’s newest young choirs, Côr y Waun Ddyfal, made their Festival debut to great acclaim. The “Welsh” evening has of course become a Festival tradition and it is a consistent joy to welcome such ebullient young singers, who never fail to bring with them that infectious enthusiasm which audiences find so appealing. On this occasion however the choir were joined by a young musician who is fast becoming something of a legend in Wales, where his record of successes in the Urdd and other eisteddfodau has marked him out as someone very special. Charlie Lovell-Jones had been in Italy on a school trip until the day before but fortunately he made it back to Llandeilo in time. Having done so he proceeded to give a brilliant account of himself and it is obvious that this is a young musician who is going places!