S4C pays tribute to conductor Sioned James

31 March 2017

S4C will pay tribute to the late Sioned James on Friday, 7 April by broadcasting a special programme Cofio Sioned James to remember the conductor's contribution to Welsh music and culture. 

Sioned died tragically young at the age of 41 last summer.

Sioned formed the successful Cardiff-based choir Côrdydd; and during the programme we'll hear from Sioned's friends and contemporaries, and we'll get to know the humorous, mischievous woman behind the public persona of the disciplined conductor.

Among those paying tribute to Sioned is Islwyn Evans, the Ysgol Gerdd Ceredigion musical director. Sioned was a pupil at Ysgol Dyffryn Teifi, Llandysul where Islwyn was a teacher; and was a member of several choirs that he conducted. Sioned was inspired by Islwyn's skills as a conductor, and after she left school, they became friends,

"Sioned lived life to the full!" says Islwyn. "I miss her as a friend, but I'm so glad I knew her."

"I remember her as a pupil in year 8. It was an exciting period musically for us in Llandysul at the time. If I remember correctly I was conducting five choirs, and Sioned was a member of every choir apart from the boys' choir! But she wasn't far from that choir either, eyeing a few of them up!"

Sioned's former head teacher at Ysgol Gynradd Llandysul, Tom Evans also recalls her time at primary school.

"She was interesting because she was so small at school. But although she was small she had a strong personality, she was a tough nut! She stood up for what she believed even when she was in primary school."

One of her closest friends was Heledd Cynwal, and the television and radio presenter has fond memories of Sioned.

"We both supported each other. I couldn't have chosen a better friend… She was sensitive, and was like a rock to me."

"The first time I met her is when I went to Glan Llyn, the Urdd outdoors activity centre, when I was in form one, and I remember meeting a thin, tall girl, with a dodgy perm and a brace. It was like looking in a mirror, because I looked like that too! So I think fate brought us together, as we had the same problems!"

"She had a certain spark about her, and I wanted to be a part of that, because I was always looking for a bit of trouble myself, and she was mischievous! Our relationship blossomed during that week in Glan Llyn, and from then on we became best friends."

Côrdydd's present conductor Huw Foulkes is also grateful to his predecessor for her support and inspiration.

"It's so important that this programme is broadcast to mark not only her as a musician, but also to remember her personality and her fantastic influence. I challenge anyone to think of a Welsh conductor who's succeeded in forming as many contacts around the world; and has succeeded in transforming Welsh choral singing. This programme is only a small part of her legacy, but it's an integral and important part for those who didn't come across Sioned, to realise her massive contribution towards music in Wales and beyond. The world is much poorer without Sioned."

 

This is a S4C release.