A special poetry and harp concert held at Llansantffraed Church on the writings of artist and poet David Jones held the audience of more than 90 people spellbound.
The concert was held on Sunday, July 16.
The readings had been judiciously selected by literary critic and poet Hilary Jones to accompany the major exhibition of Jones’ artwork currently on display at y Gaer, Brecon. The poetry reflected the part-Welsh artist’s experiences as a soldier with the Royal Welch Fusiliers in the First World War as well as his knowledge and love of Welsh myth and landscape.
The readings were interwoven with traditional Welsh harp music, which expressively reflected the differing moods of the poetry and was played by accomplished young Brecon harpist Martha Powell. The audience particularly appreciated her sensitive arrangements and interpretation of the well-known ‘Calon Lân’ and ‘Men of Harlech’.
Commenting on the harp pieces, music lover Richard Podger said: “What a lovely balance Martha’s harp music provided - so delightfully presented and programmed. I am immensely impressed by the progress she’s made from talented student to professional musician.”
Local novelist and poet Christopher Meredith shared the readings with Hilary Davies. The audience welcomed his insightful introductions to the readings from Jones’ narrative war poem ‘In Parenthesis’ about the experiences of infantryman Private Ball. This helped them to understand the complexity of Jones’ writing on the grim nature of war on the Western Front and also to appreciate its touches of ironic humour, such as the parade ground scene where Private Ball arrives late for the battalion parade.
Speaking in the votes of thanks to the performers, Mike Lewis - retired Lieutenant Colonel with the Royal Welch Fusiliers - observed that little had changed with getting the soldiers out on parade in his day!
He also spoke of the post-war trauma that David Jones has suffered in his later life, and how his significant artistic and literary achievements were recognised just months before his death in 1974 with his appointment to the Order of the Companions of Honour, an honour restricted to just 65 living members.
Finally, Mervyn Bramley.on behalf of the Brecknock Society and the Llansantffraed Church Committee as organisers of the event thanked the sponsors, particularly the Mid Wales Music Trust, and also Ellen Moorman - Llansantffraed Churchwarden - and her team for the excellent interval refreshments. The concert had further broadened the church’s use by the wider community and also helped to raise funds for its ongoing maintenance.
The next concert at Llansantffraed Church will take place on Sunday, September 17 at 3pm.
The popular Unicorn Singers will return celebrate the 400th anniversary of William Byrd’s death with a selection of works from the composer’s vast output.
Further details of the programme will be announced. Tickets will be available for purchase beforehand and also at the door on the day.