Cathedral Voice

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May 21, 2024

A Weekend in Brecon

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Brecon – Heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park (Bannau Brycheiniog) – was the setting for the Cathedral Music Trust national gathering from 10th to 12th May, organised by Jean Duerden and Neil Medland, Events Working Group and attended by a large number of supporters and Trustees. Brecon Cathedral started life in 1093 as the Benedictine Priory of St John the Evangelist but became a Cathedral only in 1923 on the establishment of the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon.

Following registration on Friday afternoon, Canon Precentor Fr Steven Griffith welcomed us all with a short history of the Cathedral, music, and choirs after which we enjoyed an organ recital by Emma Gibbins, Director of Music at Newport Cathedral. Choral Evensong was sung by the Cathedral choir and the first day concluded with Compline.

Saturday started with a canal boat cruise on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal followed by lunch in the Theatr Brycheiniog overlooking the canal basin. A fifteen-minute riverside walk to Christ College along the River Usk took us to the College chapel where we learned all about the Chapel’s history within the College by Felicity Kilpatrick, Archivist. The College choir, in their resplendent red robes, took the stage and entertained us with a wonderful concert of choral music conducted by Jonathan Cooper, Head of Choral Music and accompanied by college organist, Stephen Power. Following a break for tea and biscuits we were again treated to music from very talented college students with solo items for instrument and voice. Our visit to the College concluded with a recital by a quintet from the Band of the Prince of Wales based in Brecon. Having had a short time to relax the gathering dinner was held in the Nave of the Cathedral complete with harpist. Our after-dinner speaker was Emma Gibbins who provided a thought-provoking talk, eloquently delivered to an attentive audience. Read Emma’s speech here.

Sunday started with choral eucharist sung by the Brecon Cathedral Choir singing the Mass setting from Schubert in G. Lunch followed in the Tythe Barn and a most interesting talk by Dr Grahame Davies CVO entitled ‘Planning Music for the King’s Coronation’. Choral Evensong was an unforgettable experience for a packed Cathedral when the combined choirs of Brecon, Llandaff and Newport provided a thrilling performance of Stanford in A canticles and the anthem ‘God is gone up’ by Finzi.

After a wonderful gathering in this glorious part of Wales, combining sunshine, a warm welcome and sublime music we all departed with fond memories of Brecon Cathedral and Christ College.

Neil Medland, Member of the Events Working Group