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Glittering season of music by a top UK orchestra is underway in Swansea

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Pic: Betina Skovbro

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales is playing a series of six concerts at Swansea Council’s prestigious Brangwyn Hall.

The internationally acclaimed music being showcased ranges from pieces by Penclawdd-born Sir Karl Jenkins and England’s Edward Elgar to Russia’s Sergey Rachmaninov and France’s Maurice Ravel.

Renowned performers include Welsh harpist Catrin Finch, the National Youth Choir of Wales, saxophonist Jess Gillam, cellist Alisa Weilerstein and pianist Sergio Tiempo.

Council cabinet member Elliott King said: “Hosting this fantastic orchestra in Swansea is a treat for Brangwyn Hall audiences; they’ll enjoy a packed season featuring world-class musicians and exceptional pieces of music. 

“It’s great that our relationship with the BBC National Orchestra for Wales is going from strength to strength. Having the St David’s Day event here is a real testimony to that.

“I’m confident that the performances throughout the season will move and delight audiences of all ages. We’re looking forward to showcasing the best of our national talent in this historic venue, with its exceptional features, acoustics and warm welcome for all.”

BBC NOW head of marketing and audience Sassy Hicks said: “Everyone at BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales is looking forward to bringing some huge concerts to Swansea over the coming months.

“From famous classical pieces that everyone will recognise, to a very special performance to celebrate St David’s Day and a huge family concert in June, there’s something for all music lovers in Swansea this season.

“We always love performing in Swansea and meeting our wonderful Swansea audiences; we’re all delighted to be back.”

First up – on February 10 – were Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 1 in C major and Shostakovich’s Symphony No 13 in B flat minor, Babi Yar, which was performed to a large and appreciative audience at the historic venue.

The next BBC NOW Brangwyn Hall event is the St David’s Day Stravaganaza (note: correct spelling) on Thursday, February 29. It’ll be an opportunity to celebrate St David’s Day a day early with music by Welsh composers William Mathias, Sir Karl Jenkins, Jeffrey Howard, Grace Williams and James James.

The season continues through March, April, May and June, with Rachmaninov 2 with Martyn Brabbins, Enigma Variations, Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra and a season closing concert.

The striking Grade II listed Brangwyn Hall dates from the 1930s and is renowned for its architecture and décor.

Its high panelled ceiling and walls adorned with the historic Empire panels by artist Sir Frank Brangwyn make it a prestigious and unique event venue.

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales has played an integral part in the cultural landscape of Wales for more than nine decades.

It has a distinctive role as both a broadcast and national symphony orchestra.

Part of BBC Wales and supported by the Arts Council of Wales, it performs a busy schedule of live concerts throughout Wales, the rest of the UK and the world.

It performs annually at the BBC Proms and biennially at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition. Its concerts can be heard regularly across the BBC.

BBC NOW works closely with schools and music organisations throughout Wales and undertakes workshops, side-by-side performances and young composer initiatives to inspire and encourage the next generation of performers, composers and arts leaders.

Forthcoming BBC NOW events at the Brangwyn Hall:

  • Feb 29 – St David’s Day Stravaganza
  • Mar 8 – Rachmaninov 2 with Martyn Brabbins
  • Apr 12 – Enigma Variations
  • May 10 – Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra
  • Jun 7 – Season Closing Concert