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Opening fanfare

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: September 27, 2012

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SWANSEA'S biggest classical event of the year opens with a flourish on Saturday October 6, bringing big names, little-known masterpieces and impassioned performances to the Brangwyn Hall, Taliesin Arts Centre, Swansea's Grand Theatre and the Waterfront Museum.

Owain Arwel Hughes takes up the baton for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales for the dramatic opening show, with Julian Lloyd Webber featuring.

Owain might be an eminently celebrated conductor, but don't call him a celebrity conductor.

The feted Cardiff music man, who has just marked his 70th year, says while his name and his face are well-known, it is his job to let the music do the talking.

And he is looking forward to doing that at The Brangwyn Hall.

"It is a wonderful programme of music.

"We have Symphony Number 11 by Daniel Jones. I knew him because he was a friend of my father and I remember him coming to the house.

"And when he moved to the south of England he used to come to see me conducting the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

"This is a fine symphony of his. There is a lot of wonderful Welsh music that needs more of an airing, and this is one of those."

The way the programme works together will be interesting, he says, because Daniel Jones and Vaughan Williams work in differing styles

"We are doing Elgar's cello concerto, which is a poignant and very mature Elgar, and this is mature Daniel Jones."

The Vaughan Williams piece summons up the colour, fanfare and the speed of London while the second movement is more romantic.

Owain's friendship with Julian goes back a long way, and person- alities and simpatico is one of the big themes of a life in music, he says.

"Orchestras do have personalities and characters and it is interesting to see those personalities change with the years.

"One of the good things about the BBC Orchestra of Wales is that it is very stable. There are lots of musicians who have been there for a long time and that affects the character of the orchestra."

It engenders a bond between conductor and musicians that he revels in, he adds.

Though his father was a well- known composer it was never a foregone conclusion that Owain was going to go into music.

He intended to be a Baptist minister and it was never an easy choice to make, but now it seems orchestras are his flock.

"For me the work of a conductor is about looking after people, working with people, and listening to people.

"And it is about letting the music speak. It is all about the music.

"I don't have a problem with celebrity conductors. It depends how much flash and drama you want. I have never been one for flash.

"And if you think about it most music that people listen to is recorded so they never see the conductor. We aren't that important!"

Having said that, he urges everyone to see at least one live classical concert, with this one making a fine starting point.

"It is a wonderful programme, with a very good orchestra and the Brangwyn has a very special atmosphere and acoustics, perfect for this event."

#7.30pm start.

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