Arts Council of Wales | REMEMBERING MORFYDD
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In a change to its traditional format and timings, Gregynog Festival 2018 features a series of collaborations led by Artistic Director, Dr Rhian Davies, to commemorate the centenary of the death on 7 September 1918 of the outstanding Welsh composer, singer and pianist Morfydd Owen (1891-1918). Rhian is the leading authority on Morfydd, the subject of her Doctorate (1999) and pictorial biography Never So Pure a Sight / Yr Eneth Ddisglair Annwyl (1994). 28 Jun 2018


The commemorations comprise a series of performances, talks, exhibitions and special events in locations central to the composer’s life in Wales and London and begin at the BBC Proms on 20 July when the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Thomas Søndergård, plays Morfydd Owen’s Nocturne at the Royal Albert Hall as part of Prom 8. The performance, broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and recorded for broadcast on BBC 4 television on 22 July, is preceded by a Proms Plus talk by Rhian Davies and Steph Power at Imperial College Union, which will also be heard during the concert interval on BBC Radio 3.

As well as being a composer, Morfydd Owen was a pioneer ethnomusicologist, transcribing and arranging Welsh folksongs from phonograph recordings made by Ruth Herbert Lewis. The Welsh Folk-Song Society has invited Rhian to give the Amy Parry-Williams Memorial Lecture at the National Eisteddfod about this lesser-known aspect of Morfydd’s work, and her presentation at the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay on 7 August will be illustrated by the leading folksingers Siân James and Steffan Rhys Hughes. The event will also be repeated in Llanbryn-mair, Owen’s Montgomeryshire family seat from which she took her bardic name Llwyn-Owen, on 29 September, following a week of community concerts across Gregynog Festival’s Powys heartland by the harpist Llywelyn Ifan Jones, including Capel Pontcadfan, Llangadfan, on 23 September and Glanhafren Market Hall, Newtown, on 25 September.

Highlights of Centenary weekend, 7-9 September, will be the ceremonies to install two blue plaques. The Gower Society has arranged a plaque for Craig-y-Môr in Plunch Lane, Mumbles, where Morfydd died on 7 September 1918, which will be unveiled at 11am on Centenary day itself, while Côr Godre’r Garth has worked with Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Heritage Service to organise a plaque for 68 Park Street, Treforest, which will be unveiled by the Mayor at Tabernacl, Efail Isaf, at 7pm on 9 September.

Rhian Davies will be giving Centenary lectures about Morfydd’s life and work at Swansea University (6 September), Efail Isaf (9 September), the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth (11 September) and Cardiff University Archives and Special Collections (12 November), and exhibitions of the composer’s manuscripts and memorabilia will be held in Aberystwyth and Cardiff to coincide.

Two major performances of Morfydd Owen’s music conclude the season. Soprano Gail Pearson, accompanied by Christopher Williams, present a recital of Morfydd Owen’s songs in the School of Music Concert Hall, Cardiff University (13 November), while Philomusica of Aberystwyth, conducted by David Russell Hulme, plays her orchestral Nocturne in the Great Hall of Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 8 December. Cardiff’s School of Music is the same Department in which the composer studied for her own degree, 1909-12, and Gail’s recital will include the first modern performances of several songs that have not been heard since they were sung by Morfydd Owen herself.

Full programme details are given below and regular updates will be available via and the Morfydd Owen 100 social media channels on Facebook and Twitter. Rhian has provided interviews and consultancy to several radio and television programmes that will be broadcast during the autumn and is assisting concert promoters in the UK, USA and Canada with their own plans to mark the Centenary by programming Morfydd’s music.

Rhian will also be speaking about other aspects of her research as part of the 2018 season, including Gwendoline and Margaret Davies, who founded the Gregynog Festival in 1933, and the Belgian refugee musicians whom the sisters brought to safety in Mid Wales during the First World War.

Gregynog Festival plans to return to presenting its traditional early summer events at Gregynog Hall from 2019.


Friday, 20 July 2018, 5.45pm
Proms Plus Talk, Imperial College Union, London
Rhian Davies and Steph Power discuss Morfydd Owen with Petroc Trelawny
before the performance of Nocturne. An edited version of the talk will be
broadcast as the interval feature during the live relay of the concert on BBC
Radio 3.

Friday, 20 July 2018, 7.30pm
Prom 8, BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London
The BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Thomas Søndergård,
plays Morfydd Owen’s Nocturne alongside repertoire by Mendelssohn,
Schumann and Lili Boulanger. Rhian has written the programme notes about
Morfydd Owen and Nocturne, and the concert will be broadcast live on BBC
Radio 3 and recorded for television broadcast on BBC4 on 22 July.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018, 3pm
Amy Parry-Williams Memorial Lecture, National Eisteddfod of
Wales, Norwegian Church, Cardiff Bay
At the invitation of the Welsh Folk-Song Society, Rhian is creating a presentation about Morfydd Owen’s pioneering work to transcribe and arrange the phonograph cylinder recordings of Ruth Herbert Lewis. The presentation will include live performances by the leading Welsh folksingers Siân James and Steffan Rhys Hughes, plus MP3 transfers of the original recordings held at St Fagans National History Museum in Cardiff and the National Sound Archive at the British Library in London.

Thursday, 9 August 2018, 3pm
Lecture about Gwendoline and Margaret Davies, National Eisteddfod of Wales, Norwegian Church, Cardiff Bay
The National Eisteddfod has also invited Rhian to speak about Gwendoline and Margaret Davies, founders of the Gregynog Festival, as part of the focus on women in this year’s programme.

Thursday, 6 September 2018, 7.30pm
Faraday Lecture Theatre, Singleton Campus, Swansea University
‘A refined and beautiful talent’: Thoughts on the centenary of the death of Morfydd Owen (1891-1918) Rhian speaks at the invitation of Oystermouth Historical Association and the Royal Institution of South Wales on the eve of the Centenary of Morfydd Owen’s death.

Friday, 7 September 2018, 11am
Craig-y-Môr, Plunch Lane, Mumbles
On Centenary day itself, Rhian is greatly honoured to have been invited to unveil the blue plaque, commissioned by The Gower Society, on the house in which Morfydd Owen died.

Friday, 7 September 2018, 2pm
Oystermouth Cemetery
There will be an opportunity to lay flowers at Morfydd Owen’s grave during the afternoon.

Sunday, 9 September 2018, 7pm
Tabernacl, Efail Isaf
Celebrating the Life and Music of Morfydd Owen
Rhian will speak about the composer’s local connections and there will be performances of her music by Côr Godre’r Garth, Côr yr Einion, Huw Blaney and Huw Ynyr. The blue plaque for Morfydd’s birthplace at 68 Park Street, Treforest, will also be unveiled by the Mayor, Councillor Steven Powderhill, prior to its installation at the house.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018, 1pm
Drwm, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth
Another opportunity to hear Rhian’s Centenary talk, ‘A refined and beautiful talent’.

Thursday, 13 September 2018
KU Leuven, Brussels Campus, Belgium
Where Do We Go From Here?
Rhian has been invited to speak about her research into the Belgian refugee musicians who settled in Mid Wales during the First World War as part of this international conference at Leuven University.

Sunday, 23 September – Saturday, 29 September 2018
Morfydd in Montgomeryshire
Harpist Llywelyn Ifan Jones delivers Gregynog Festival’s extensive annual community outreach programme, presented in partnership with Newtown Town Council, Live Music Now Wales and Concertina Charitable Trust and including the following public concerts:

Sunday, 23 September 2018, 2.30pm
Capel Pontcadfan, Llangadfan, followed by tea at Cwpan Pinc

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