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Welcome to Bethan’s listening page. Below you will find a selection of pieces that have been recorded either in the studio, or live in concert. To hear more, head over to Bethan’s Youtube channel or Soundcloud page.

Gêmdis with Musikfabrik

The title ‘Gêmdis’ combines the Welsh words for ‘game’ and ‘dice’, and like a desperate gambler, Bethan Morgan-Williams’ piece for E-flat clarinet and ensemble keeps returning for another roll of the dice. Each new start takes the music through a different set of emotional states, from playful to down and dirty, from the still voice of conscience to the horns of a dilemma. Or does it keep returning to the same place?

Are things out of control, then, or not?

Gêmdis (2020) was written as part of the Composer Collider Europe programme for Carl Rosman and Musikfabrik.

– Tim Rutherford-Johnson

Carl Rosman at Darmstadt

Gêmdisyn – the suffix -yn designating in Welsh a singular thing found in the natural world – is based on the solo E-flat clarinet part of Morgan-Williams’s Gêmdis (2020). It is more like a new piece made from recycled materials than a mere extraction, however: sections have been reordered, reshaped and in some cases discarded entirely. While Gêmdis took several rolls through different emotional states, Gêmdisyn alternates between just two: a whimsical, skipping chatter, like a child talking to itself, and a fiery, flashing loss of control. A new central section of fragile harmonics and deliberately audible leaks of air – ironically marked ‘mechanical’ – breaks the pattern and despite its delicacy adds a degree of certainty to the random shakes of the dice. As the game comes to its end and the different temperaments depart, it is this atmosphere that remains.”

– Tim Rutherford-Johnson

Datod (Unpinned)

“In the middle of the first lockdown, Bethan, whom we had met at Composer Collider Europe, sent us a duo for violin and piano, in case we knew what to do with it … The premiere, like so many things at that time, had been cancelled.

When, a short time later, the first tentative opportunities arose to give small concerts to a reduced audience and our Concertini series was born, it was immediately clear to us that we wanted to premiere Datod and add it to our repertoire.”

– Hannah Weirich (violin)

Panufnik Legacies III

Conductor François-Xavier Roth leads the London Symphony Orchestra on the third album in the Panufnik Legacies series. All of the composers featured on this recording are alumni of the LSO Discovery Panufnik Composers Scheme, which offers six composers each year the opportunity to write for a world-class symphony orchestra, guided by renowned composer Colin Matthews

The Panufnik Legacies III disk contains world premiere recordings of compositions by Ayanna Witter-Johnson, Ewan Campbell, Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian, Donghoon Shin, Alex Roth, Matthew Sergeant, Patrick Giguère, Sasha Siem, Bethan Morgan-Williams, Michael Taplin, Benjamin Ashby and Joanna Lee.

Bethan’s piece – Scoot (2015) – was recorded on 27 April 2019 at LSO St. Luke’s.

A Love Letter To Liverpool

A Love Letter to Liverpool was recorded by Jennifer Johnston (mezzo-soprano) and Alisdair Hogarth (piano) in May 2019, and tells the story of Jennifer’s childhood and heritage against the backdrop of her home city. It features new arrangements of songs by ten composers that have a connection to Liverpool, including Bethan’s arrangement of Liverpool Lullaby.

Made famous by Cilla BlackLiverpool Lullaby has been through a series of transformations since being lifted from an early 19th-century folk song. The music that forms Robert Nunn’s Sandgate Dandling Song (composed ca. 1830) is the same music that Stan Kelly chose to base Liverpool Lullaby on (some 130 years later). In 1965, Liverpool Lullaby was recorded by Marian McKenzie (The Three City Four) and has since been covered by many musicians including Hughie Jones (The Spinners), Judy Collins, Val Doonican, the Ian Campbell Folk Group and of course, Cilla Black.

Bethan’s arrangement uses Nunn’s melody and Kelly’s text, while presenting a new accompaniment that tempts the music into the classical realm. Described as “a haunted miniature music-drama” [Richard Bratby, Gramophone], the new arrangement provides yet another adaptation of this deeply affecting song.

All proceeds will be donated equally between Alderhey Children’s Charity and the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Company.

Photo credit: Helena Cooke

Ben Goldscheider & Pete Stollery at Sound Festival

A brilliant new audio-visual recording of In the Cryptan interactive piece for horn & live electronics – is now available on Youtube. Realised by the marvellous Ben Goldscheider (horn) and Pete Stollery (electronics), this is a poignant performance of a ghosting piece. It stands out from any previous rendition because of the way in which it was put together. Due to Coronavirus restrictions, Ben was unable to travel to Aberdeen for the performance and so it was agreed that he would record his part in London, and the electronics could then be overdubbed. This meant sacrificing the live manipulation of the horn but actually, it doesn’t feel like it’s missing anything… what do you think?

In the Crypt (2015) was recorded by Ben Goldscheider & Pete Stollery for Sound Festival 2020, Aberdeen.

Photo credit: Kaupo Kikkas

Double Double

Double Double – or Epsilon Lyrae – is a multiple star system in the constellation of Lyra (the harp). The legend of Lyra tells the story of Orpheus, who was given a lyre by Apollo and proceeded to sculpt a music that was sweeter than that of any other mortal man. Orpheus’ music was so powerful that it could charm even inaminate objects like trees, rocks and stars.

Each of the two stars in the Epsilon Lyrae system is, in itself, a double star. The system is a single point of light to the eye but, it is really four distinct stars. One stellar pair circles around the other stellar pair in an intricate gravitational dance. They appear spellbound, delighting in a dreamboat display of begirdling resonance.

Double Double (2018) is a string quartet that was written for Equilibrium Ensemble and dedicated to cellist, Hilary Browning. Details of the recording can be found via the Soundcloud link.

Photo credit: Sally-Anne Anderson

Enraptured at St. Luke’s

Enraptured (2015) is a one-movement fantasy for viola and piano. It was premiered by Paul Silverthorne & Aglaia Tarantino on 30 January 2016, LSO St. Luke’s (London). This recording is taken from that concert.

“This is essentially rustic, cheeky music – energetic and entrancing, with a moment’s repose about two-thirds of the way through. The players work together initially, and then adopt a more conversational role.”

In Kenopsia

In Kenopsia – an interactive piece for trombone & live electronics – is inspired by the experience of being present in a place that is usually bustling with life, but is now deserted. It is a duet between the known and visually-present trombonist and a violin. There is no violinist present though. Instead, all of the sounds used to comprise the samples in the electronics are taken from a single recording of a violinist improvising, and gradually over the course of the piece, the source of these exterior sounds becomes more apparent.

In Kenopsia was recorded live to video tape by Tony Boorer (trombone) and Bethan Morgan-Williams (electronics) on 5 May 2017 at Hallé St. Michael’s, Manchester.

One, Two, Bakerloo…

Intended as an encore piece, this bagatelle for solo violin is a minimalist collision of additive melody and metamorphosis techniques. The title is derived from an unfinished poem that’s featured in The Little Book of Mornington Crescent. It reads:

Nursery rhyme (sixteenth century) – unfinished:
One, two Bakerloo,
Three, four,

One, Two, Bakerloo… (2020) was premiered live on Youtube by Fenella Humphreys on 10 June 2020, as part of her Homemade Concert series. It received its second performance just four days later.

Photo credit: Alejandro Tamagno

A Thornbush In My Strength with Neil Percy

“Like a thornbush brandished by the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.” (Proverbs 26:9, New Revised Standard)

A Thornbush In My Strength was written in 2013 for House of Bedlam percussionist Delia Stevens. It received its premiere in the October of that year and was recently picked up by Neil Percy (Principal Percussion, LSO). Neil’s version is striking and fun, and is available to watch via this post. The recording is taken from a Soundhub concert at LSO St. Luke’s on 15 February 2020.

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