Bangor Alumni, Emyr Wynne Jones, reflects on his musical experiences as a PGCE student in Bangor in 1978. He will soon return to Bangor to perform in the 'Gerontius’ concert, planned as part of the #Music100 celebrations.
October 5th 1978. After graduating with a B.Mus and MA from Cardiff University, that was the day I registered for a PGCE course at Bangor. But why move to Bangor? Well, my then fiancé (now my wife of 41 years) had started a teaching post at Ysgol Gynradd Craig y Don in Llandudno. As my parents also lived in Llandudno, a move to Bangor made perfect sense from a personal perspective.
But from a musical perspective I don’t think I had fully appreciated the wealth of musical experiences that awaited me in Bangor, and I had a great year taking part in numerous musical activities through the Music Department at the University. I have wonderful memories of singing in a chamber choir – Wyn Thomas and myself sitting next to one another in the basses! I also had the privilege of playing horn in the university orchestra under the baton of the energetic and skilful John Hywel. It proved to be a wonderful year of music making that also allowed me to get a PGCE in my spare time!
I then moved and spent 15 years as a music teacher and Head of Department in the northwest of England – 7 years in Bury and 8 in Manchester. Then in 1994 I returned to Wales to take up the role of Music Adviser for Dyfed, and I continued to oversee three counties music here in southwest Wales after the local government reorganisation of 1996. This was a golden era, full of precious memories that are too numerous to record here.
By 2011 there was hardly any music left in my advisory role, and when the opportunity came for me to take early retirement, I grabbed it with both hands. This released me to take up my personal music making again – something I had neglected for years due to the demands of advisory work. Straight away, I went to London to buy a French Horn, and I’ve been trying to practice it daily since – though I’ve yet to pluck up the courage to play it publicly in any context!
I’ve been a member of the BBC National Chorus of Wales for five years now, an experience I have thoroughly enjoyed, despite the 18-month interruption caused by Covid-19. I’m also chair of trustees of the Young Music Makers of Dyfed – a charity that offers a comprehensive programme to develop the skills of young instrumentalists, singers, and composers. The picture is of me on day 5 of the Kilimanjaro Challenge in 2016, raising funds towards the work of the charity.
I’m really looking forward to returning to Bangor next April; I’ll be a member of the orchestra for the ‘Gerontius’ concert. But I must stop writing this blog now, as I need to practise my horn!
The Bangor University Symphony Chorus and Orchestra will perform alongside several local choirs the epic Dream of Gerontius by Edward Elgar on Saturday 2nd of April 2022 as one of the highlights of a year's celebrations for 100 years of Music at Bangor. Further information and details on how to book will be shared on this website soon.