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Electric Brass: A Night on the Edge

Electric Brass is the exciting new Parc & Dare Band / Parc & Dare Theatre Partnership Project for 2006. The project is the second in a series of Parc & Dare Projects combining brass band music with the visual arts and the successor to last year's much-acclaimed "Brass Tracks: A Night at the Movies" project. Combining the skills of the Parc & Dare Band, Musical Director Craig Roberts and the work of several leading artists and composers, Electric Brass aims to present a full and varied programme of exciting new music for brass and live electronics in an engaging and approachable manner to a traditional theatre audience.

The premiere performance of Electric Brass took place as part of the Welsh Brass Arts Festival, held  at the Parc & Dare Theatre, Treorchy on June 16th 2006. The performance saw the Parc & Dare Band perform alongside world renowned harpist Catrin Finch, electric violinist Steve Bingham, progressive male choir Only Men Aloud, baritone soloist Gareth Rhys-Davies and digital artist Monika Dutta to present a full evening of groundbreaking music accompanied by lighting and visual art effects.

The Parc & Dare Band with Gareth Rhys-Davies, Catrin Finch and Only Men Aloud in the world premiere performance of Andrew Powell's "Tair Cerdd Sanctaidd", accompanied by the digital artwork of Monika Dutta.

The programme included works by David Bedford, Tim Souster and Gareth Wood and also saw the premiere of a number of new and exciting works for brass including the first performance in Wales of Dr Mick Wilson's "Concerto for Six String Electric Violin and Brass Band", and the premiere of a new work by Andrew Powell entitled "Tair Cerdd Sanctaidd". David, Andrew and Mick were all present at the performance.

Dr Mick Wilson speaking before the performance of his Concerto for Six String Electric Violin and Brass Band

Dr Mick Wilson's Concerto for Six String Electric Violin and Brass Band performed by the Parc & Dare Band and Steve Bingham  

Following on from the success of the first performance Electric Brass will now tour during early 2007. The tour performances will feature the Parc & Dare Band and soloists Catrin Finch and Steve Bingham and will include David Beford's "Requiem", the Gareth Wood "Concerto for Harp and Brass Band", Tim Souster's "Echoes" and the "Concerto for Six String Electric Violin and Brass Band" by Dr. Mick Wilson.

Further news on the touring performances will be posted on this site as it develops.

For  information on the other Parc & Dare Band projects please visit the Special Projects section of this site, or for information on the Welsh Brass Arts Festival visit the section on the Festival itself. Information on all Parc & Dare Band engagements can be found in the Events section.

Electric Brass - Further Information

Tair Cerdd Sanctaidd

Tair Cerdd Sanctaidd is a daring new work for brass band, harp, male choir and baritone soloist, based upon the poetry of literary icons Dafydd ap Gwilym (Englynion Yr Offeren), Gwenallt (Pechod) and William Williams (Pantycelyn). The piece was commissioned by the Welsh Brass Arts Festival in conjunction with a grant from the PRS Foundation and Arts Council of Wales.

The piece is uncompromising in its musical language and requirements upon both the performers. The composer describes the piece as follows:

"The original idea behind Tair Cerdd Sanctaidd, apart from the desire to write a work in praise of God, came from the wish to combine several aspects of Welsh culture from various periods in Welsh history: the Welsh language, the solo voice with harp, the male voice choir, the brass band, hymn-singing  and indeed “praise” - Canon Allchin’s excellent book  Praise Above All  was an important catalyst in this work’s creation.

The work starts with a brief Agorawd (Overture)  which starts in the depths, slowly rising upwards, and includes foretastes of  some of the music for the three Cerddi.

The first Cerdd, Os Yw Tegwch, text by William Williams (Pantecelyn), is scored for choir, band and harp: as this was written as a “hymn” the music follows a verse/chorus scheme, with a harp solo in between each chorus and the succeeding verse.

The second, Pechod, text by Gwenallt, is written for the baritone soloist with harp, and occasional colourings from the percussion section of the band, underlining its extraordinarily strong imagery - but no brass, and no choir.

In the text of the final Cerdd, Englynion Yr Offeren,  by Dafydd ap Gwilym, the poet takes a Latin prayer (Anima Christi -which itself apparently dates from the 14th Century, so would have been a contemporary poem to the poet!) and after each line of the poem has an englyn commenting on the Latin line. This immediately gave me the idea of having the baritone soloist singing the Latin line (like a priest in a service) , and the choir (the congregation)  answering him with the Englyn.

The piece was commissioned by the Parc & Dare Band and Welsh Brass Arts Festival and is dedicated to my Mother."

Andrew Powell

Andrew was born in Worcester Park, Surrey, of Welsh parents and educated at King’s College School, Wimbledon and King’s College, Cambridge, where he received a Master’s degree in Music.

Whilst still at school he studied piano with Dr. Malcolm Troup, percussion with James Blades and composition with Cornelius Cardew. Prior to going to Cambridge he attended composition classes with Karlheinz Stockhausen and György Ligeti at Darmstadt. While at Cambridge he was a founder member, together with Roger Smalley and Tim Souster, of the live electronics group “Intermodulation,” which gave first performances of several works by Stockhausen, as well as performing works by all of its members. He also founded, together with Fred Frith and Tim Hodgkinson, the progressive rock group “Henry Cow.”

His first professional engagement after leaving Cambridge was as a soloist at the “Proms” at the Royal Albert Hall, London. He subsequently worked with several orchestras, including Covent Garden, LSO, LPO, BBC Welsh and, mainly, the BBC Symphony Orchestra with Pierre Boulez.  He also worked as a session player, as well as founding the group “Come to the Edge” with Robin Thompson and Morris Pert, which performed regularly with the Japanese percussion virtuoso Stomu Yamash’ta.

His first commission as an arranger/conductor was the debut album of Cockney Rebel, including the songs “Sebastian” and “Death Trip:” he arranged their next two albums, and also albums for Leo Sayer (“One Man Band,”) Donovan, John Miles (“Music” “Rebel,”) Cliff Richard (“Miss You Nights,”) Pilot (“Magic” “January,”) Al Stewart (“Modern Times” “The Year of the Cat” “Time Passages” “Russians & Americans” “Between The Wars”,) Ambrosia, Mick Fleetwood, David Gilmour, Chris Rea, Nick Heyward, Vitamin Z, Peter Hoffman, Münchener Freiheit, The Hollies, Sammy Hagar, Classic Rock...

His career as a record producer took off when he was asked by David Gilmour of Pink Floyd (who had discovered her) to produce Kate Bush’s first album “The Kick Inside.” The first single “Wuthering Heights” went straight to No. 1 in the U.K., selling over a million copies: it also sold a million in Brasil, and achieved platinum status all around Europe and Australasia, as did the album. He produced her follow-up album “Lionheart,” which was equally successful. He went on to produce records for artists as diverse as Chris de Burgh and Kansas, Elaine Paige and Judy Collins, Tim Rice and André Heller, John Miles and Berdien Stenberg & The Philharmonia Orchestra...

He worked on “Tales of Mystery and Imagination,” the first album by “The Alan Parsons Project” as arranger, conductor and co-composer: he subsequently worked on all of their records. This group were to become one of the most important forces in Progressive Rock in the 1970s and 80s, with worldwide album sales in excess of 40 million coming from a string of platinum albums. His highly contemporary large orchestral and choral sound combined with the rock rhythm section (the London Times commented: “At last an arranger who knows that music has developed since Tchaikovsky”) was a “fingerprint” of the group.

He wrote the scores for “Ladyhawke” (Michelle Pfeiffer, Matthew Broderick, Rutger Hauer, dir. Richard Donner,) which won an honours nomination for best score from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, “Rocket Gibraltar” (Burt Lancaster, Macauley Culkin, dir. Dan Petrie,) “Closed Circuit” (Film 4,) and has contributed music to many other films and T.V. series, such as “Janice” (Joseph Strick,) “The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz” (Richard Dreyfuss, dir. Ted Kotcheff,) “Caravan to Vaccares,” “Ice Dance,” “Anschi och Michael,” “Derrick,” “Tatort,” André Heller’s “Feuertheater,” “Terra X,” “Krimistunde,” “Feux de L’Amour,” “Patriarche,” and “Journalisten.” He was awarded the ITVA Videopreis Deutschland for the music he wrote for the multi-media show “Keravision” for Villeroy und Boch at their headquarters in a castle in Mettlach, Germany.

His catalogue of concert music includes several works written for “Intermodulation”, such as “Plasmogeny,” “The Old Pavilion” and “Terilament:” his “Suite for Brass Quintet with Piano” was commissioned, and first performed by, Equale Brass with the composer at the piano in 1986. His work “Falstaff” for brass band was premièred at the Cité de la Musique in Paris in July 1998 by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, and has since received several performances in the U.K. “Plasmogeny II” for trumpet, live electronics and tape, was written for John Wallace and first performed by him and the composer at the University of Richmond, Virginia for the International Trumpeter’s Guild in May 1999, and has since been recorded by Wallace and Powell for the "Deux-Elles" label.

“Within Those Radiances...” was written for the Wallace Collection and first performed by them in London in December 2000. Other recent commissions include “Fish Throw Stones,” written for the LCO, and “Concerto Melyn Coch,” commissioned by James Watson and the Parc & Dare Band, and first performed by them in June 2001. His “Variations Towards a Theme” for two trumpets & live electronics was premièred in London in June 2003. He is currently writing a concerto for trumpet and piano, a piano piece for his former teacher Malcolm Troup, a children’s opera and is also working on his latest film score.

He has conducted orchestras and ensembles all over the world, including the Philharmonia Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Wellington Symphony Orchestra, the Bayerische Rundfunk Orchestra, the München Kammeroper, and the Black Dyke Mills and Grimethorpe Colliery Bands.

Parc & Dare AIR

In an additional element of the Electric Brass project, the Parc & Dare Band and Theatre, working in partnership with Cywaith Cymru - Artworks Wales and Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council Arts Development Unit, appointed an Artist-In-Residence to work with the Parc & Dare Band and members of the local community for the three month period leading up to the 2006 Welsh Brass Arts Festival. The selected artist was Monika Dutta from Sheffield who worked with local schoolchildren from Ysgolion Gynradd Gymraeg Bodringallt, Bronllwyn, Llwyncelyn, Llyn Y Forwyn and Ynyswen to produce a series of imagery inspired by the three poems on which Tair Cerdd Sanctaidd was based. Elements of the final pieces of work produced were included in a film which was then screened alongside the first performance of Tair Cerdd Sanctaidd.

The world premiere performance of Andrew Powell's Tair Cerdd Sanctaidd featuring the Parc & Dare Band, Gareth Rhys-Davies, Catrin Finch and Only Men Aloud, accompanied by the digital artwork of Parc & Dare Artist-In-Residence Monika Dutta produced in conjunction with pupils from Ysgolion Gynradd Gymraeg Bodringallt, Bronllwyn, Llwyncelyn, Llyn Y Forwyn and Ynyswen.

An exciting and groundbreaking project "Electric Brass" took the Parc & Dare Band, its partners and audiences to new artistic heights and horizons. Electric Brass was supported by Rhondda Cynon Taf Cultural Services and the Arts Council of Wales, Welsh National Opera, the PRS Foundation and Cywaith Cymru - Artworks Wales.

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