John Metcalf

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John Metcalf Biography

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John Metcalf is a leading Welsh composer who has composed major works in many musical forms. While his cultural roots are in the heart of Wales, his work has a broad international following and is represented in a growing catalogue of recordings.

John Metcalf was born in Swansea, Wales in 1946. A joint UK/Canadian citizen, he is one of the foremost composers working in Wales in today. Starting in the late 1960's his successful composing career has already embraced a large variety of work. Major works have marked his development including five operas, two to commission from Welsh National Opera. His most recent opera Kafka's Chimp was premiered to great acclaim in August 1996 in Canada, and received its European premiere in Sweden in 1999.

Recent works that display a distinctive style and growing maturity include the lively Marimba Concerto written for Evelyn Glennie and a definitive series of instrumental pieces among which are Paradise Haunts and Rest in Reason, Move in Passion. Dances from Forgotten Places for String Orchestra was premiered by the European Chamber Orchestra in February 1999 and has since received some twenty performances by orchestras around the world. A song cycle Caneuon y Gerddi premiered at St. David's Hall, Cardiff in May 1999 and was subsequently performed in Minneapolis and New York. In December 1999 a collaboration with artist Catrin Webster on Transports was previewed at the Galeria Communale d'Arte Moderna e Contemporanea in Rome before its premiere in Cardiff the following September. This production, subsequently revived as Different Lights, received five performances in New York in October 2001 as part of the UK with NY Festival and included performances of Transports/Mobiles and Not the Stillness. October of 2000 saw three premieres in one week including the orchestral work Passus by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and in November 2000 he shared a concert/discussion with Peter Sculthorpe at the National Library Canberra, Australia.

John Metcalf was both an Artistic Director and Associate Artistic Director of the Banff Centre, Canada for a period of nearly ten years and is presently Artistic Director of the award-winning Vale of Glamorgan Festival and also of the Swansea Festival. He has led creative music projects in more than one hundred schools throughout Wales, reflecting his belief in an active, participatory role for the composer in society.

He is an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre and an Honorary Fellow of the University of Wales, Lampeter and of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. In September 1995 he received the John Edwards Memorial Award awarded by the Guild for the Promotion of Welsh Music for his services to music in Wales and in 1999 his music was played during the signing, by Her Majesty the Queen, of the Act bringing into being Wales' first elected Assembly for 500 years. His compositions are frequently performed and broadcast in many countries. His music is recorded on the Lorelt, Sain and Cyfoes labels. Future commissions include a concerto for cellist Raphael Walfisch, a chamber opera with French Canadian writer Larry Tremblay and a work for choir and the Amazon Youth Cello Orchestra, Brasil.

Current projects include a Cello Symphony for the English Symphony Orchestra and Raphael Wallfisch, and a sixth opera, A Chair in Love.

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Sheet music by John Metcalf