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Mae'r cynnwys hwn ar gael

yn Saesneg yn unig.

William Mival

What were your first musical experiences?

One of my very earliest musical experiences was a concert given by the Halle Orchestra one Sunday afternoon in the Pavilion Theatre in Rhyl. I remember Evelyn Barbirolli was the soloist in the Vaughan Williams oboe concerto. The main work in the second half was the Beethoven 3rd Symphony, the Eroica, which made a huge impact. But the concert started with William Mathias' Welsh Dances'. He stood up to bow at the end of his piece, coming to the front of the balcony and it was the first time I had ever seen a living composer in the flesh and in front of me. Up to that time I had assumed that composers and composing were all in the past and it was a revelation that someone alive, and there in front of me, could be a composer. It was a life-changing experience and I knew from then on that that was what I wanted to do.


A few years after that the Pavilion Theatre, with its landmark dome on the Rhyl sea-front, was demolished and orchestras didn't come to Rhyl any more. However they did come to St Asaph, to the North Wales Music Festival which William Mathias set up in the small but very beautiful cathedral there and as a schoolboy I went to as many of those performances as I could, hearing for the first time Shostakovich, Tippett, Hindemith, Poulenc and a host of other amazing composers whose sound worlds opened up so many possibilities. 

As you grew older, what were your influences?

My entire musical up-bringing owes everything to the musical culture in North Wales in the later 1970's. I was a pupil at Rhyl High School which had a thriving music department led by the energetic Jefferson Thomas, who staged musicals and operettas, set up a youth choir which toured Europe and even North America and just involved all in his students, including myself, in a torrent of music-making - setting it at the centre of school life. It was thrilling! Then there were the buses arranged to the regular Spring visits to Llandudno by Welsh National Opera, a real treat, where for the first time I saw great opera in great performances - even if just occasionally the ageing infrastructure of the Astra Theatre would play its own unwanted role and the safety curtain would stick closed needing to be winched up again by hand as the orchestra cheekily improvised slow rising chromatic scales.


By my teens I was composing extensively, getting the occasional performance at school but determined to make more of it. My parents, not at all musical, were surprised by my interest and by the effort and time I put into it and suggested I send some of my compositions to William Mathias at Bangor University. Mathias, to my relief, was hugely encouraging. Since that first concert in the Pavilion in Rhyl, I had admired both him and his music - and today I recognise the enormous influence both his example and his work has had on me personally. 


His music still speaks strongly to me. Just last Christmas, 2017, I was in Melbourne, Australia and was at the Christmas Day service at the Cathedral where the choir sang a motet by Mathias (and great to see Welsh music again taking the international stage!). It struck me that the music came over with so much power and so much individuality of voice. Mathias for me will always remain a composer of the greatest stature.

Where do you feel you and your music sit within the Welsh music ecology? Is there a particular scene/scenes that you feel part of?

Mathias suggested I study at Bangor. But I chose instead to head to London and the Royal College of Music. Wales had certainly given me a lot - but I was hungry to know what else was out there and London seemed the place to be!


As things developed I found myself exposed to a huge range of new ideas - I explored Boulez, Stockhausen, Reich, Adams, Rihm, Lachenmann - and so many others whose music I hadn't come across before.