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CERDDWN names participating composers

Following an open call for applications, four emerging composers have been selected for participation in CERDDWN, a world-leading hub for musical experimentation and innovation in mid-Wales by connecting up-and-coming composers with orchestral musicians, allowing them to test out experimental concepts, and hone their music-making skills. Over the coming months Gerard Cousins, Heledd Evans, Michelle Maddock, and Kian Ravaei will be given the chance to experiment with the orchestras, while receiving mentorship from an established composer.

Funded by the Arts Council of Wales and Tŷ Cerdd, the project will give composers the opportunity to work closely with Aberystwyth community orchestra Philomusica, and leading professional chamber orchestra, Sinfonia Cymru.

Aberystwyth University’s Director of Music, Iwan Teifion Davies, explains:

“This is a really exciting project which will cultivate some of the untapped talent that exists in Wales, and give an opportunity to those who may not normally have the chance to work with musicians.

“The project will break away from standard approaches to writing for the orchestra, by providing hands-on opportunities for composers to work with orchestras throughout every stage of the compositional process. This career-defining opportunity will give these emerging composers the space to experiment and evolve their work, test radically new and risky ideas - to fail, retry and improve.”

In a second strand to the project, the four established composers providing the mentoring are also being commissioned and supported to compose new works of their own. Varying in style and scale, the new compositions will be representative of Wales’ diverse musical landscape.

Chamber compositions have been commissioned from Brazilian-born Cardiff-based musician and composer, Jefferson Lobo; harpist and composer, Mared Emlyn; and award-winning composer and conductor, Nathan James Dearden.

Finally, the project will commission a ground-breaking and substantial orchestral piece from Tredegar-born composer David John Roche, the world premiere of which will be performed by Philomusica.

Composition Co-ordinator, David John Roche said:

“I am excited and proud to be part of CERDDWN. The project is testament to the quality and ambition of arts organisations in Wales. CERDDWN will nurture new audiences, grow talent, and be a starting point for a new legacy of orchestral music in Wales.”

The four emerging composers that have been selected are:

Gerard Cousins, an acclaimed guitarist, gained fame by adapting Philip Glass's piano compositions for the guitar. A highly trained musician with a love for improvisation, Gerard has performed globally and released eight albums. His compositions focus mainly on the guitar, but Gerard has also written for solo instruments and small ensembles. In 2019, Gerard was appointed as the inaugural "Composer in Residence" at the Cardiff Guitar Festival.

Heledd C Evans is an artist and facilitator based in Cardiff. Working with sound across composition, performance, and installations, her interest lies in the sound worlds that can be created with acoustic instruments and materials, focusing on organic sound. Working collaboratively and increasing access in the arts is a priority in her work.

Michelle Maddock graduated in Music from Southampton, studied with Michael Finnissy. Dance producer returning to music after motherhood hiatus. Drawing inspiration from nature landscape, and soundscape. Processing emotions and illness through music. Cathartic. Making music for movement and healing. Transformative. Transcendent. Using field recordings, sound design electronics, and traditional composition and orchestration techniques. Obsessed with sound. Seeking out melodies and harmony. Neurodivergent. Working class. Synesthete. Multi genre artist.

Composer Kian Ravaei synthesizes diverse inspirations into evocative musical portraits, drawing from the songs of endangered birds, for example, or the Iranian music of his ancestral heritage. He has collaborated with sought-after artists such as Tessa Lark, Eliot Fisk, and Fleur Barron, and has received a Copland House CULTIVATE Fellowship, a Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra Composer Teaching Artist Fellowship, a Chamber Music Northwest Protégé Project Residency Award, a New Music USA Creator Fund Award, and a Barlow Endowment Commission. He is a Graduate of UCLA, where he studied with Grammy-Award winning composer Richard Danielpour.


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