Accompanying 360° video with cinematic images of Wales, footage from the premiere, and insights from the composer, to be launched in January as part of BBC Hoddinott Hall’s 10th anniversary celebrations
On 30 November, BBC National Orchestra of Wales present the world premiere of Paul Mealor’s Symphony No. 3 ‘Illumination´ at BBC Hoddinott Hall, conducted by Geoffrey Paterson. It is inspired by the final section of Dante’s epic poem The Divine Comedy in which the Italian poet describes his journey through Heaven, the things he sees and the people he encounters on the way to the true home of God, saints, angels and the faithful.
The single movement symphony meditates on the images and spirit of Dante’s words and the music, beginning with a three-note motif on tuned wine glasses, becomes gradually more transcendental: to Mealor, the sound of the glasses represents a type of aural purity. As well as literature, the work takes on a mathematical approach, with Mealor using the Fibonacci sequence, where each number is the sum of the previous two digits. This affects the timings specifically. The other device utilized is the Golden Section: a special number which can be found by looking at the ratio of two Fibonacci numbers. In the work, structural changes and climaxes happen at this Golden Section.
BBC NOW are also creating a 360˚ video featuring extracts from Mealor’s third symphony. Creating a virtual visual landscape to compliment the music, the video features cinematic images of Wales intercut with footage from the premiere performance and some insights from the composer. It is created for VR headsets with spatial audio (a 3D stereo sound sensation). The video will be launched in the UK in January, to mark ten years of BBC Hoddinott Hall.
The concert’s light-themed programme also includes the UK premiere of Jonathan Dove’s Sunshine, Mathias’ Helios, Nørgård’s Iris, and Sibelius’ Night Ride and Sunrise.
Paul Mealor has been described as, ‘the most important composer to have emerged in Welsh choral music since William Mathias’ (New York Times, 2001). Born in St Asaph, North Wales in 1975, Paul Mealor studied composition privately as a boy with William Mathias and later with John Pickard, and at the University of York (BA Hons, 1997, PhD, 2002) and in Copenhagen with Hans Abrahamsen and Per Nørgård. Since January 2003 he has taught in the Music Department at the University of Aberdeen where he is Professor of Composition.
He came to international attention in April 2011 when his Motet, Ubi caritas was performed by the choirs of Westminster Abbey and Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal, conducted by James O’Donnell at the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding at Westminster Abbey.
He has received many awards and honours for his music including six honorary degrees and the Glanville Jones Award from the Welsh Music Guild, for his outstanding contribution to music in Wales (2013) and since 2018 has been a member of the Queen’s Medal for Music committee. He was appointed a Free Burgess of The City of Aberdeen in 2012 by The Lord Provost of Aberdeen, and is President and Patron of many other organisations. In January 2018, HM Queen Elizabeth II appointed him an Officer of the Venerable Order of St John. Mealor is also the first President of Ty Cerdd and is the Patron of the Welsh Music Guild. He is Vice-President of the Llangollen International Eisteddfod and the North Wales International Music Festival,
Friday 30 November, BBC Hoddinott Hall, 2pm
Live broadcast on BBC Radio 3 Afternoon Concert, 2pm