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Abertillery Town Band

50th Anniversary Concert
Conductor: Alun F Williams
Guest Soloist: Daniel Thomas
The Met, Abertillery
Saturday 13th November


The strength of the Welsh banding movement has always been underpinned not by the obvious examples of elite level success, but by the commitment and hard work of organisations such as Abertillery Town Band.

Contesting victories have been sporadic in their 50 years of competitive music making, but it has been the pride in the musical ethos inspired by its founding conductor Joyce Morgan (who was the most welcome of honoured guests) that has seen it remain an integral part of its local community.

History and future

The anniversary was marked in fine style with the world premiere of Philip Harper’s evocative short concert work, ‘Guardian of the Valleys’.

He crafted the 20-meter work from over 20,000 strips of Cor-Ten steel welded together to form a striking monument that stands proudly over the site of the Six Bells Colliery where 24 men lost their lives in 1960.

It marked the historic as well as tragic connection with the town’s mining industry, whilst the announcement of the ALC 3-16 Academy Project showed that the band’s future is being secured in ambitious fashion with a community hub linked to local schools to provide youngsters with musical opportunities.

With the audience sprinkled with former players and supporters from around the Welsh banding community (with some founder stalwarts still in the ranks), the music had a celebratory feel.

the ALC 3-16 Academy Project showed that the band’s future is being secured in ambitious fashion with a community hub linked to local schools to provide youngsters with musical opportunities.

Alun F Williams led the current band through ‘Prelude for an Occasion’, ‘Lions of Legend’ and ‘Gresford’, as well as accompanying euphonium star Daniel Thomas (who went to school in the town) in his virtuoso renditions of ‘Rhapsody for Euphonium’ (Evenepoel), Philip Harper’s ‘In Gardens of Peace’, ‘Solitary Prayer’ (Marco Putz) and the brilliantly acrobatic ‘Fantasie Originale’.

True cost of coal

In the second half, compere David Hayward welcomed the massed Reunion Band on stage (made up of present and past members) for ‘Bandology’, ‘Amazing Grace’, ‘All Through the Night’ and ‘Men of Harlech’. 

The centrepiece was ‘Guardian of the Valleys’ performed in the presence of both the composer and the artist Sebastien Boyesen (above).

He crafted the 20-meter work from over 20,000 strips of Cor-Ten steel welded together to form a striking monument that stands proudly over the site of the Six Bells Colliery where 24 men lost their lives in 1960.

With narration (Gareth Baskerville) to accompany the evocative images of the disaster and its aftermath, it was a thoughtful evocation of the true cost of mining coal.

Iwan Fox 

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