Love affair with Pontyberem Hall: Gareth Jones

Pontyberem was the venue for a performance by Sinfonia Cymru and the world renowned cellist Michael Petrov. The unusual choice of venue harks back to a self confessed love affair with the hall on the part of Sinfonia Cymru’s conductor Gareth Jones. He said that he fell in love with the hall over 25 years-ago when he visited Pontyberem with an amateur orchestra. He said it was important to take the orchestra out of Cardiff and take them out to the community.

Sinfonia Cymru’s Conductor: Gareth Jones

Sinfonia Cymru is a dynamic Cardiff-based chamber orchestra dedicated to supporting outstanding young professional musicians at the start of their careers. Sinfonia Cymru presents a diverse programme of activities each year including orchestral touring, chamber music, creative learning and health & well-being projects.

In 2013 Sinfonia Cymru launched Curate, an initiative which puts musicians at the centre of creative programming. This resulted in projects including UnButtoned (2013), Unease (2014) and The Freddie Mercury Project (2016). In 2017/18 Curate musicians will partner with Tramshed Tech, a creative/tech shared workspace in a beautiful former industrial building, to present four concerts which combine eclectic live music with digital installations and lm.

Recent commercial engagements include two CD recordings for Deutsche Grammophon, broadcasts on Sky Arts, BBC4 and Classic FM and an appearance at the Royal Albert Hall for Bryn Terfel’s 50th Birthday concert. Recent guest artists include Gábor Takács-Nagy and Rachel Podger, and the orchestra has played alongside Michael Sheen and Sting. In 2017 Sinfonia Cymru won the Cardiff Life Award for outstanding arts organisation.

Cellist: Michael Petrov

Born in Bulgaria in 1990, Michael Petrov studied at the Yehudi Menuhin School and with Louise Hopkins at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where he is now a Fellow. In 2013 he was selected for representation by Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT) and in 2014 won the Gold Medal at the GSMD, following a performance of Shostakovich’s Concerto No. 1 at the Barbican. He went on to win the GSMD Wigmore Hall Prize in 2016.

Over the last two years Michael has appeared as soloist with the Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, Bournemouth Symphony, City of London Sinfonia, English Chamber and the Barbican Young Orchestras (conducted by Edward Gardner) performing concertos by Dvořák, Elgar, Haydn, Walton and Shostakovich. Other solo appearances include the Munich Chamber Orchestra and London Mozart Players, and in 2013 he performed Prokofiev’s Sinfonia Concertante at the Barbican conducted by Gianandrea Noseda.

Nominated by the Barbican as ECHO Rising Star during the 2014/15 season Michael gave recitals at 18 major concert halls throughout Europe including the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Cité de la Musique Paris, Musikverein Vienna, Budapest Palace of Arts, Kölner Philharmonie and the Laeiszhalle Hamburg.

Iwan Lewis caught up with Michael and conductor Gareth Jones as well as some of the other musicians taking part in the concert at rehearsals.

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