Karl Jenkins: Palladio
Ralph Vaughan Williams: Dives and Lazarus
George Walker: Lyric for Strings
Jon Guy: Shining Dawn
Edward Elgar: Sospiri
Aaron Copland: Hoe Down

Robert Guy

Robert hails from North Wales and is a conductor, concert presenter, artistic director and teacher with a breadth of communication and interpersonal skills. An advocate of new music, Robert has conducted significant world premières which include working with the Orchestra of Opera North in Kevin Malone’s Violin Concerto and NEW Sinfonia in Rebecca Dale’s Requiem Materna and Paul Mealor’s Symphony No.2. He was selected by Kirill Karabits to work with the Britten Pears Orchestra in their Young Artists’ Programme.

As Artistic Director and co-founder of NEW Sinfonia, orchestra in residence at the North Wales International Music Festival, Robert has worked with leading soloists including Tamsin Waley Cohen, Federico Colli and Raphael Wallfisch and has led education workshops featured by the BBC. A committed advocate of collaborative working, Robert leads an evolving partnership with Welsh National Opera in North Wales where he has conducted Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and Haydn’s The Creation. He is grateful to the Arts Council of Wales for their support in his vision to create a partnership with Disability Arts Cymru.

As a guest conductor Robert works regularly with Manchester Camerata where he has performed with trumpet virtuoso Tine Thing Helseth in a new concerto Seven Halts on the Somme by Deborah Pritchard, recorded for Sony Playstation and performed for Manchester International Festival. Passionate about audience and community engagement, Robert is a skilled concert presenter, animateur and education workshop leader in a range of settings from schools to care homes in cities and rural communities.

Robert is proud to be Director of the University of Manchester’s elite undergraduate conducting programme, Head of Choral Programmes and Director of Ensembles. In these roles he directed the first performance of Barry Cooper’s new Bärenreiter edition of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, and has led memorable performances ranging from Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius to Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances and Maharal Dreaming by John Casken. He has been involved in several prestigious projects including at the BBC Proms as Assistant Conductor to Simon Halsey and the BBC Proms Youth Choir. At Huddersfield University he devised and now delivers two BMus courses teaching and mentoring students with particular focus on equipping aspiring music teachers with conducting skills to build their confidence in directing ensembles.

Robert is currently Principal Guest Conductor to Stockport Symphony Orchestra where he has co-presented concerts with Lindsay Russell (Blue Peter). He is Principal Conductor to the Orchestra of Square Chapel where he is currently working through the late Haydn and Mozart symphonies. Last season he completed a Beethoven milestone having conducted all nine symphonies. He has conducted the Huddersfield Choral Society and Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra in Britten’s War Requiem and Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast at Huddersfield Town Hall.

Frequently in demand as an empathetic and committed conductor of youth orchestras, Robert has been invited to conduct at APAC Orchestra Festival - Vietnam and has recently led projects for AMIS - Salzburg, Haileybury Astana - Kazakhstan, NLCS - South Korea, Pro Corda at Cadogan Hall and the National Youth Orchestra of Wales.

Robert is a proud former member of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales, Liverpool FC fan and earlier this year ran his first Peak District trail.

Jon Guy - Composer and Performer

Jon Guy is a composer and musician who enjoys creating and performing music that challenges the gaps between genres. Originally hailing from Wrexham, North Wales, he cofounded the innovative chamber orchestra NEW Sinfonia and has written many pieces for the orchestra to perform.

Jon’s orchestral highlights have all featured at the North Wales International Music Festival who have been an ardent supporter throughout his career. ‘A Veiled Smile’, ‘Elemental’ and ‘Vision of Fire’ have all been commissioned by the festival and were written to encourage young musicians of all abilities to enjoy making music with NEW Sinfonia.

Recently, Jon has started venturing into the realms of choral music with The Nightingale. The lyrics for the song are based on a poem by his Dad and are intended as a message of hope for everyone during the Covid-19 Pandemic. A version for String Orchestra will be performed during the Virtual NWIMF in September 2020.

Not one for labels, Jon enjoys crossing into other genres of music and has collaborated with the Ethereal Indie band Golden Fable to coauthor their album Alchemy. Described as ‘a truly intoxicating and moving piece of music played out over thirteen stunning original tracks’, Alchemy combines Jon’s rich orchestral tapestries with the bands unique and evocative sound.

As well as composing and performing with NEW Sinfonia, as a clarinettist Jon has performed with the Orchestra of Opera North, BBC Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata, Northern Chamber Orchestra and is the Bass Clarinettist with the IMMIX Contemporary Music Ensemble who are based in Liverpool. Recent performances with IMMIX have seen him perform at the PRS New Music Biennial Festival at the Southbank Centre in London.

NEW Sinfonia - ‘NEW Experiences, NEW Audiences, NEW Wales’

NEW Sinfonia are passionate about music and are redefining what it means to be an orchestra. We are an orchestra made up of exciting creative professional musicians who come from across North Wales and beyond. Our mission is to make innovative musical experiences of the highest quality available to everyone, create musical experiences for all young people and develop sustainable projects which matter to all our communities.

NEW Sinfonia are thrilled to once again be the Orchestra in Residence for the ‘North Wales International Music Festival’ Virtual 2020. NEW Sinfonia are extremely proud of their partnership with the Festival and as a result the opportunity to work in partnership with Welsh National Opera. NEW Sinfonia have performed with esteemed artists who include Raphael Wallfisch, Federico Colli, Ye-Eun Choi, Tamsin Waley-Cohen, Julian Close, Rebecca Afonwy-Jones, Llŷr Williams, David Kempster and Rhys Meirion. NEW Sinfonia are proud to have given highly acclaimed world premieres by Rebecca Dale, Professor Paul Mealor, Brian Hughes and Jonathan Guy.

NEW Sinfonia delivers a vibrant programme across the whole musical spectrum. For us, success means contributing to the heart and soul of people across the country, empowering people to pursue and achieve success on their own terms. Using music as a powerful tool for supporting health and wellbeing, NEW Sinfonia has taken music making to communities in schools and hospitals. Their residency at Wrexham Maelor Hospital supported by Tesni Homes, was a finalist in the ‘Arts & Small Business’ category with Arts & Business Cymru. Their annual education workshop run in partnership with the NWIMF has grown year on year, giving young people from across North Wales an opportunity to meet, make friends, make music and perform.

Programme notes

Karl Jenkins: Palladio
Originally composed in 1996, Palladio became well-known when it was used for the ‘Shadows’ A Diamond is Forever television commercial and for a Sky Sports football promotional campaign. It is also the first movement of a suite of three movements that takes its inspiration from the work of sixteenth-century Italian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-80).

The composer writes, “Two of Palladio’s hallmarks are mathematical harmony and architectural elements borrowed from classical antiquity, a philosophy which I feel reflects my own approach to composition.” Its style draws on elements of Baroque string music, such as simple yet effective throbbing rhythms and clean textures.
© Peter Reynolds

Ralph Vaughan Williams: Dives and Lazarus
This work for harp and string orchestra is based on the folk tune of the same name. The work was commissioned by the British Council to be played at the 1939 World Fair in New York.

At the first performance Sir Adrian Bolt conducted the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. The first UK performance was in Bristol in November 1939. The folk tune had earlier been arranged by Vaughan Williams as a hymn tune ‘Kingsfold’ – ‘O Sing a Song of Bethlehem’.

George Walker: Lyric for Strings
This was originally composed as the second (slow) movement of Walker’s First String Quartet, but the composer recognised the remarkable music he had written for this section and decided to expand the composition into a work for a string orchestra. Originally titled “Lament,” it is dedicated to the composer’s grandmother, who died the year before its composition. It is perhaps his best-known work.

Jon Guy: Shining Dawn
Composed for String Orchestra and Harp, Shining Dawn was commissioned by the North Wales International Music Festival in 2021 to celebrate the 50th Year of the Festival.

The piece takes inspiration from the natural world that surrounds St Asaph where the festival takes place each year. In particular the beautiful North Wales coastline which can be viewed from numerous lofty hilltops and mountains.

“I imagined the first rays of sunlight touching and shimmering on the waves in the sea. This visual idea straight away sparked off a few musical ideas as to how I could musically represent this shimmering quality.

Firstly, an oscillating arpeggio pattern for the strings which forms the basis of the opening and ending passages, and an accompanying figure in the central section. These arpeggiated patterns are specifically designed for each instrument so that the players’ hands can perform the notes as a broken chord to give a shimmering sonic effect. I am fascinated by harmony and the extra colours that can be achieved by layering chords on top of each other to create complex textures.

From within these harmonic patterns I crafted a melodic idea using the notes from some of the arpeggiated patterns. This motif begins in the violins and it governs the development and flow of the piece, later being passed to the cellos and violas before returning to the violins. The melody continuously soars above the lush harmonic landscape developing in the rest of the orchestra before fading away as the moment passes.

Shining Dawn is conceived as the opening to a larger soundscape and I intend to develop it further in the future. I am very grateful to the NWIMF for their continuing support of my music.”

Edward Elgar: Sospiri
This piece was composed just before the beginning of World War I. Originally intended for violin and piano Elgar soon realised that he was writing something more intense and so chose the Italian title ‘Sospiri’ (‘Sighs’). The work was first performed in August 1914 at the Queen’s Hall in London and was conducted by Sir Henry Wood. Sospiri was dedicated to Elgar’s friend, the violinist W.H. ‘Billy’ Reed.

Aaron Copland: Hoe Down
Copland wrote the ballet Rodeo in 1942. Hoe Down is one of four movements from the suite Four Dance Episode taken from the original ballet score.

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