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Lowri Mair Jones wins final major award of this year’s National Eisteddfod

12 Aug 2023 4 minute read
Lowri Mair Jones

Lowri Mair Jones from Pontypridd, the home of the Rhondda Cynon Taf National Eisteddfod due to be staged next August, has won the Musicians Medal, the last of this year’s major awards.

She was honoured in a special ceremony on the stage of the Pafiliwn Mawr on Saturday afternoon.

This year’s task was to compose a piece inspired by a Welsh folk tune, taking no more than 8 minutes to perform by a solo instrument and accompanied by 1-4 instruments. The prize is the Musicians’ Medal, donated by Cymdeithas Cerddoriaeth Cymru, and £750 in memory of Tecwyn Ellis by Valerie Ellis, Bangor and the family.

The judges for the medal were Pwyll ap Siôn, Angharad Jenkins and Guto Pryderi Puw.

Speaking on behalf of his fellow judges, Pwyll ap Siôn said: “As adjudicators, we were mainly looking for two things. Firstly, a piece that displayed originality in terms of sound, style and musical sensibility, showing a desire to use the melody or melodies as a basis only – a trigger for a completely new and original piece of music rather than a simple arrangement. And secondly, that the winning piece reflects the times we live in today – a contemporary piece that could not have been written by a composer half a century or even a quarter of a century ago.

“Out of the ten attempts that were received, many ticked the originality box (i.e. ‘origin, but fewer succeeded in creating a piece that reflected the sound of the present. Indeed, there was considerable variation between compositions that were more ‘Classical’ in tone and more contemporary ones, with the influence of folk/contemporary genres, recent jazz, film music, ambient, and minimalist touches to be heard in the most original compositions.”

Captures attention

He said Mr Myiagi, Lowri’s nom de plume, ‘Lisa Lân’ for solo cello accompanied by violin and piano is a piece that captures attention from the start.

“Harmonies from the jazz world are heard in the opening chords of the piano. Not a traditional jazz sound, however, but a more contemporary one, suggesting the influence of figures such as Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett and Gwilym Simcock. This is a composer who has a good harmonic ear but is happy to stay in the same place as long as the music allows it.

“There is a suggestion of the folk song ‘Lisa Lân’ at the beginning, before it is quoted in full in the middle section in the cello part. There is an interesting use of accompaniment in the violin part – an instrument that usually takes the main melody – but here it is used to create effective, contrasting ostinato patterns.

“After much discussion and weighing we unanimously agreed that the winner for this year is Mr Myiagi.”

Lowri Mair Jones had her first instrumental lessons when she was at Pont Siôn Norton Primary School, learning the piano, violin and harp. It was while she was at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen that she started composing for the first time, and found her passion for classical music in the Four Counties Orchestra, and later, the National Youth Orchestra of Wales.

University of Manchester

She went to the University of Manchester to study a degree in music, and stayed there to do a Masters course in composition.

After graduating, she worked as a professional harpist in the Manchester area, and played with a number of orchestras and professional groups, as well as weddings and events. She moved back to Wales to work at the Wales Millennium Centre, before working at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff.

In 2008 she moved to work in the television industry, and after some time working for an independent television company, she started a job at the BBC in 2011. Lowri co-ordinated the prestigious national ‘BBC Young Musician’ and ‘BBC Young Jazz Musician’, as well as the ‘BBC Young Dancer’. She has worked on various other productions for the BBC, such as Singer of the World, Proms in the Park, the National Eisteddfod, Glastonbury and many more, and at the moment, she is a Production Manager in the Education Department of BBC Wales.

She is a member of Godre’r Garth Choir, enjoys singing and, occasionally, plays the violin. She enjoys going to gigs, and listening to all kinds of music. She has turned back to composing very recently, and is looking forward to creating more music in the future.

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