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Clarabella

Music for St David's Day

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I couldn't find any previous discussion of this on the forum, so: can members suggest any Welsh or Welsh-themed organ music for 1st March? Those that spring to mind already are Mathias and Tomkins, plus Vaughan-Williams's Three Preludes on Welsh Hymn Tunes. (Rhosymedre is a little gem, the others less obviously so, but I might try out number three, Hyfrydol.)

 

There are plenty of Welsh composers of course but I'm not aware of any others that wrote for the organ.

 

Are there any other preludes on Welsh tunes (by composers of any nationality)?

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There are three works by Alun Hoddinott for organ, a Sarum Fanfare, Intrada and the Toccata alla giga which might be suitable for the occasion. (There is also an Organ concerto - the 7th Symphony (Organ Symphony) and an Organ Sonata - which probably aren't!) There are also a number of Anthems, by Hoddinott, which might be suitable to use! I've always found Alun Hoddinott's music very accessible!

 

Guto Puw, whose music, perhaps, isn't always accessible, has written a Ffantasia for Organ (No. IV).

 

Orianna Publications, in Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, publish a lot of music by Welsh Composers.They may be able to help.

 

............................ or, if you are into Improvisation, you could improvise on one of those splendid Welsh hymn Tunes - try Llangloffan - sung to the Office Hymn for St. David's day "We praise thy name, all-holy Lord".

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There is lots of stuff in the Kevin Mayhew range based on Welsh hymn tunes and national tunes - and there is a good piece based on Aberystwyth by Ashley Grote in the new OUP Hymn Settings album for Lent. Not of immediate use to you, but you mention Rhosymedre... in the most recent OUP Hymn Settings album for Trinity. Whitsun etc, there is a beautifully crafted piece by David Blackwell on Down Ampney - he says 'Homage to RVW' and it has much Rhosymedre about it.

 

W.T. Best wrote a Concert Fantasia on a Welsh March (Men of Harlech) - see IMSLP, but, if you want something simpler on M o H then there is deffo something in the Mayhew range - I think it's in a volume called Songs of the Isles or some such and it's possibly by Richard Lloyd - certainly, it's by one of his generation of Mayhew contributors. (Sorry, I'm not near my music to check.) Actually, I am doubting the detail that I am giving you here - I've just hunted on the Mayhew website to try to find the exact title of this album and in the course of doing so have found this which might be worth buying - I can't vouch for it at all!

 

When it comes to using the tune Aberystwyth in a service (Jesu, lover of my soul) then try to use George Guest's acclaimed last verse arrangement from the old RSCM 'last verses' volume.

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Have a look at the organ music by Huw Morgan on his Firehead Editions website. His 'Dialogues' is refreshingly contemporary and a growing set of hymn based pieces likewise.

 

A

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Have a look at the organ music by Huw Morgan on his Firehead Editions website. His 'Dialogues' is refreshingly contemporary and a growing set of hymn based pieces likewise.

 

A

 

Thanks for that tip - excellent.

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I couldn't find any previous discussion of this on the forum, so: can members suggest any Welsh or Welsh-themed organ music for 1st March? Those that spring to mind already are Mathias and Tomkins, plus Vaughan-Williams's Three Preludes on Welsh Hymn Tunes. (Rhosymedre is a little gem, the others less obviously so, but I might try out number three, Hyfrydol.)

 

And there is of course RVW's 'St David's Day' Toccata, which is in the OUP RVW album.

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In George Thalben-Ball's '113 Variations on Hymn Tunes':

 

Aberystwyth

Gwalchmai

Hyfrydol

Llanfair

Ton-Y-Botel

 

If you aren't familiar with this volume, be aware these are not singable last-verse arrangements but stand-alone variations in their own right - some short, some longer, some easy, some difficult. If you did want last verses, maybe Noel Rawsthorne's '200 last verses' would be useful (I have two volumes of them, 400 in all, and perhaps there are others as well).

 

CEP

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I remember having to teach the choir at St John's some Welsh for the anthem "Dyrchafaf fy llygaid" by T. Hopkin-Evans, which was for a St David's Day Evensong. The result can be heard here. The choir did a pretty good job of the Welsh. The Dean made a hash of announcing the name, giving the impression that he couldn't give a flying proverbial. (Is being anti-Welsh the last acceptable racism?!) In the same service, the choir sang the Mathias Jesus College Service - I am particularly fond of the Gloria.

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In George Thalben-Ball's '113 Variations on Hymn Tunes':

 

Aberystwyth

Gwalchmai

Hyfrydol

Llanfair

Ton-Y-Botel

 

If you aren't familiar with this volume, be aware these are not singable last-verse arrangements but stand-alone variations in their own right - some short, some longer, some easy, some difficult. If you did want last verses, maybe Noel Rawsthorne's '200 last verses' would be useful (I have two volumes of them, 400 in all, and perhaps there are others as well).

 

CEP

Similar to Thalben-Ball's book, but somewhat easier, are Rebecca Groom te Velde's two books of Hymn Miniatures (OUP). Book 1 includes Cwm Rhondda, Hyfrydol, Leoni, Llanfair, and Book 2 has Ebenezer, Llangloffan, and St Denio

 

I really like these arrangements: they are all very short and mostly very easy. Cwm Rhondda makes an effective playover and others are useful fanfares, quiet interludes or short postludes.

 

All Praise to You, Eternal God by Donald Busarow has an interesting arrangement of Aberystwyth with the tune in canon which is reprinted in The Psalter Hymnal of the Christian Reformed Church.

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The Vaughan Williams 'Toccata St. David's Day' isn't, perhaps, his finest organ piece but it's worth playing if it can be presented with a degree of panache.

 

I'm very fond of "Dafydd y Careg Wen" ("The White Rock") by George Towers. I think it's a better piece than RVW's on the same melody. It was published by Oecumuse and can now be had from Fagus Music in the collection 'Preludes and Interludes on Welsh Folk Songs'. Towers was an interesting person - a graphic artist by profession, he had a lot to do with the illustrations in the Ladybird Books (Googling "George Towers"+organist will bring up an interesting biography).

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if you want something simpler on M o H then there is deffo something in the Mayhew range - I think it's in a volume called Songs of the Isles or some such and it's possibly by Richard Lloyd - certainly, it's by one of his generation of Mayhew contributors. (Sorry, I'm not near my music to check.)

Is it the Toccata on Men of Harlech in this volume? (No composer listed on the website)

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Sorry to have been such a dead loss in terms of looking this up for you and obviously, today is much too late to be telling you this! The piece I was thinking about is by Stanley Vann and is called Fantasy Prelude on Men of Harlech. It seems, nowadays, to be in several of the Mayhew compilations but I believe it was first published in a volume called Music of the Islands.

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Mae hapus iawn Dydd Gŵyl Dewi at ein cyfranwyr Cymreig.

 

(Only 'google translate' I'm afraid!)

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Having read here that Rebecca Groom te Velde's Hymn Miniatures were mostly easy I bought a copy. I very much like the pieces and have used several already. One or two aren't suitable for my single manual and pedal box of whistles but I have tried them on an organ on which I deputise from to time and, of course, find them the best of the bunch!

 

Thank you for the recommendation.

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