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John Metcalf
celebrates 75th birthday

Ar hyn o bryd mae'r cynnwys
hwn ar gael yn Saesneg yn unig.

John Metcalf 07 photo by Matthew Thistlewood.jpg

John Metcalf, one of Wales's most distinguished composers, turns 75 this week. 

John has been central to the Welsh music landscape and was awarded an MBE for services to music in 2012. 


To celebrate his birthday week we're sharing a different piece of his each day. Keep an eye on our social media channels and this page for updates!

Swansea born John Metcalf is a leading Welsh composer of his generation. A joint UK/Canadian citizen, his composing career embraces a large variety of work including seven operas – two to commission from Welsh National Opera.  His most recent opera, Under Milk Wood, was produced by an international consortium led by the Taliesin Arts Centre for the 2014 Dylan Thomas Centenary Festival. It received great critical acclaim, and is recorded on Tŷ Cerdd Records.

He also has an extensive catalogue of works for solo instrument and orchestra, including Paradise Haunts, Mapping Wales and Cello Symphony, and has written a significant amount of chamber music. His solo piano work Endless Song has been widely performed and broadcast. His music is well represented in a growing catalogue of recordings.

John Metcalf has been Artistic Director of the award-winning Vale of Glamorgan Festival since its inception in 1969.


He has led creative music projects in more than 150 schools across Wales, reflecting his belief in an active, participatory role for the composer in society.

In 1999 his music was played during the signing, by Her Majesty the Queen, of the Act bringing into being Wales's first elected Assembly for 500 years, and in the 2012 New Year’s Honours List he was awarded an MBE for services to music.

Listen here...

Mon 9 August
Mapping Wales is inspired in part by the landscape of Wales and from metaphysical ideas connected with travelling. Performed here by Catrin Finch and the Bulgarian Chamber Orchestra.                             

Wednesday 11 August
Commissioned by North Wales Music Festival and recorded numerous times since Iwan Llewelyn-Jones gave its premiere, Endless Song by John Metcalf explores aesthetics of serenity and tranquillity in a simple melody based on a rocking movement of thirds.

Tues 10 August
Written for violin and piano and premiered by Thomas Bowes and Eleanor Alberga, this orchestral version of Metcalf's Paradise Haunts... is performed by BBC National Orchestra of Wales & Thomas Bowes. According to the composer it embodies 'a sense of mortality'. 

Thursday 12 August
Six Palindromes is Metcalf's “light-hearted series of musical puzzles” which represents his fascination with very strict intellectual structures such as those explored by Bach – in this case, the palindrome!

Friday 13 August
Under Milk Wood: an opera weaves together extraordinary poetic and comic language, contemporary and ancient instrumental music, recorded and live sound. Metcalf's response to the world of Polly Garter (in her aria) focuses on the warmth of the character in the role sung by Elizabeth Donovan.  

Happy Birthday, John!

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