No winner in the Musicians Medal competition

7 August 2019

Today, it was announced that there was no winner for the Musicians’ Medal at the Conwy County National Eisteddfod.

This year’s task was to compose a body of work of 6-8 minutes for a SATB Choir, with or without accompaniment, using any selection of Grahame Davies’ poem, Llwch y Sêr, and to include two or three choral pieces.

The prize was the Musician's Medal (Welsh Music Guild) and £750 (the Royal Astronomical Society) and a £2,000 Scholarship, donated by The Royal Astronomical Society to promote the career of the winning composer.

Ten entries were received for the Medal, and delivering the adjudication on the Pavilion stage on behalf of his fellow judges, Gareth Glyn and Eilir Owen Griffiths, Richard Elfyn Jones said, “I was reminded of an old cartoon in Punch from a long time ago whilst looking through the ten compositions, where a nervous curate stayed the night with his bishop.  As they had breakfast, the poor curate realised his hardboiled egg was awful.  The bishop asked, “How is yours, curate?”  And the nervous curate answered “Fine in parts, Bishop, fine in parts!”

“And that was my feeling about this competition, that many of the compositions were “fine in parts” – much of the writing was fine but much of the expression was technically volatile, and not quite right in reflecting Grahame Davies’ magical poem.

“The poem, Llwch y Sêr, is in two parts and is a bright and emotional expression of the importance of stardust to us and to humanity since the beginning, especially as we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Apollo 11’s amazing journey.

“We don’t know how many of the candidates have listened to contemporary choral music before entering this competition.  As music is an international language, there is no limit to the highly skilled and inspiring models that an ambitious composer can study and be inspired by, and then, perhaps, use as models.

“It’s strange that so few competitors showed an awareness of the wealth of models available to study and inspire them.

“In our opinion, the entries worthy of being considered more than the rest are Canrhawdfardd, Sagan and Delw.  Had Delw been more careful, we believe that s/he could have composed a very worthy piece.  But the version of Llwch y Sêr did not reflect this. So the three of us are rather disappointed, but in agreement, that we cannot, unfortunately, award this year’s Musicians’ Medal.”

The Cyfansoddiadau a Beirniadaethau includes the full adjudication for this competition and the winners of all the other composition competitions at the Eisteddfod.  The volume is published at the end of the Chairing Ceremony on Friday afternoon.

The Conwy County National Eisteddfod is held on the outskirts of Llanrwst until 10 August. For more information go to www.eisteddfod.wales.