Staff composer receives premiere of Dylan Thomas-inspired work by the European Union Chamber Orchestra

A number of composers have marked this year’s hundredth anniversary of Dylan Thomas’ birth by writing a new work in honour of Wales’ most famous poet, but the starting point for Pwyll ap Siôn’s latest composition was more unusual.

Premiered by the European Union Chamber Orchestra at Theatr Aberhonddu, Brecon, on Friday 17 October, The Dancer and the Marvellous Mind is described by the composer as follows:

‘The starting point was not Dylan Thomas, in fact, but his wife Caitlin. She was a professional dancer before she met Dylan. Later in life, many years after Thomas’ death, she said: “I looked upon myself as the great body, the dancer and the marvellous body, and Dylan was the brain. I think even then I recognised that he had more brain than I … [but] there was a big conflict there over the body and the brain [with Dylan].” I thought that might be a good place to start, because music isThe European Union Chamber Orchestra perform The Dancer and the Marvellous MindThe European Union Chamber Orchestra perform The Dancer and the Marvellous Mind all about this delicate balancing act between the body and the mind.’

Pwyll ap Siôn, who is Professor of Music at Bangor University, goes on to say:

‘I was born in Haverfordwest, which is not too far from Dylan’s birthplace. My mother’s family came from the area, and as a child all my Christmases were spent there. I have always loved this part of Wales. There’s something timeless about the gently rolling hillsides and peaceful seaside bays. I think those childhood experiences helped me compose the piece, because although it’s partly about music and dance, ultimately The Dancer and the Marvellous Mind is trying to say something about Dylan’s complex thoughts and character.’

The European Union Chamber Orchestra will be performing the work again at the Ucheldre Centre, Holyhead, in March 2015.

 

Publication date: 22 October 2014