S4C will broadcast the British premiere of composer Karl Jenkins’ new work - a dramatic musical interpretation of the poem, 'Beirdd Cymru' (The Bards of Wales) – on Saturday, 2 February.
Preceding the concert S4C will screen a documentary about the composer and this unique work presented by musician and chaired bard, Twm Morys, who translated the piece into Welsh.
‘Beirdd Cymru’ was first performed in Britain at the Vale of Glamorgan National Eisteddfod last year, with Karl Jenkins conducting the Eisteddfod Choir and the Chamber Orchestra of Wales. The soloists were the tenor, Dennis O’Neill and the soprano, Rebecca Evans together with Gareth Rhys Davies, Huw Euron and Elen Williams.
The programme Beirdd Cymru Karl Jenkins will be the first television broadcast of the work in Welsh. The work, which forges a surprising link between Hungary and Wales, was premiered in Hungary in June 2011. The Hungarian poet János Arany was asked to write a poem in praise of the Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph but as the Austrian overlords, the Habsburgs, had just suppressed the 1848 Hungarian Revolution, the poet did the opposite.
To satisfy the state censor, the poem was written in 1857 about Welsh history rather than Hungary’s past. It told how Edward I of England had executed Welsh bards for refusing to sing his praises at a banquet in Montgomery Castle in 1277. Dennis O’Neill sings the part of the king, Rebecca Evans, Gareth Rhys Davies and Huw Euron the bards and Elen Williams a minstrel.
When Hungary became an independent country after World War I, 'Beirdd Cymru' found its place in the national education system and the piece is still studied in Hungary’s schools to this day.
The composer from Penclawdd, Karl Jenkins has set the text in Hungarian, Welsh and English and the work can be sung either in a single language or a combination of languages.
The documentary Beirdd Cymru: Y Stori is a curtain-raiser for the concert telling the story of the composition and taking viewers to three locations significant in the story – Montgomery Castle, Budapest and Debrecen in Hungary. The programme will give the background to the commissioning of Karl Jenkins’ work by a travel agent from Hungary, Laszlo Iriniy, who first came to Wales in 1984 as a student member of a choir competing at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod.
Hefin Owen, producer of the two programmes, said, “The concert is important historically for us as Welsh people and for the link between us and Hungary. Wales is perhaps more significant in cultural terms to the Hungarian people than Hungary is to us though we know of their composers such as Kodály and Bartók.”
Beirdd Cymru: Y Stori
Saturday 2 February 7.00pm, S4C
Rondo productions for S4C
S4C is available on:
Sky 104 in Wales
Freeview on 4 in Wales
Virgin TV on 167 in Wales
Freesat 104 in Wales
Sky 134 in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland
Freesat 120 in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland
Virgin TV 167 in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland