Remembering Aberfan – new choral work by Sir Karl Jenkins a lasting tribute to the strength of a community


The people of Wales will never forget 21 October 1966, the day when 116 children and 28 adults were killed in the mining village of Aberfan. Wales will also never forget the strength and bravery of this close knit community, and admire their determination to rebuild their community, their quest to get to the truth of what happened and to learn from it.

As a lasting tribute to their dignity and strength, S4C have commissioned a new choral work by the world-renowned composer Sir Karl Jenkins.

Cantata Memoria is a striking and emotional piece with light as a central theme for the whole work. The piece remembers the tragedy which brought a community to its knees. But, at the same time, it looks forward to the future with hope. It's a testament to the strength of the community which has rebuilt itself a new following the tragedy, and has fought for justice and to turn darkness into light.

The libretto is provided by chaired bard Mererid Hopwood with words in Welsh, Latin and English.

The complete work will be premiered at a memorial concert at the Wales Millennium Centre on Saturday 8 October. The first TV broadcast will be on S4C the following night, on Sunday 9 October 7.30.

Today it is also announced that the recording will be available to buy from 7 October 2016, released on Deutsche Grammophon.

It is a privilege to have commissioned such an important piece of work, says S4C Chief Executive, in tribute to a remarkable community;

Ian Jones, S4C Chief Executive says; "S4C are proud to have commissioned this choral work by one of the world's greatest living composers, Sir Karl Jenkins. It is a true testament to the people of Aberfan, whom, in the words of the poet Mererid Hopwood, have succeeded in looking towards the “light” beyond the “darkness inside”.

Like many people in Wales and beyond, the Aberfan disaster had a life-long impact on Ian Jones, who was a primary school pupil at the time.

Ian Jones says; "As an innocent seven year old, living some 25 miles away in Morriston, that day left an indelible impression on me; the tragic loss of life, the bravery of the rescue workers and the sadness and dignity of the families and local community.

"The people of Wales will never forget the morning of 21 October 1966 when the when water-logged debris broke away from a Merthyr Vale Colliery waste tip and engulfed Pantglas Junior School. Above all else, we continue to admire the determination of the local people to rebuild the community, in the name of those who cruelly lost their lives so young.

"Cantata Memoria is a lasting tribute to the community and for the whole of Wales to forever remember what happened in Aberfan."

Cantata Memoria and the memorial concert have been commissioned with the full co-operation of the Aberfan Memorial Charity. S4C is proud to work with all the partners involved in the project - S4C, Wales Millennium Centre, Aberfan Memorial Charity, Rondo Media, MR PRODUCER, Universal Music – to create an event of remembrance and tribute, and to provide a broadcast of a world premiere of international significance.

Ian Jones says, "Working closely with a number of key partners, including most crucially, the local community and the Aberfan Memorial Charity, Sir Karl Jenkins and the poet Mererid Hopwood, Wales Millennium Centre and production company Rondo Media we hope to provide the broadcast of a world premiere, befitting of an event of national and international significance."

Tickets are available for the memorial concert at Wales Millennium Centre on 8 October, to buy on the Centre's website:

Cantata Memoria will be available to purchase, on CD and across all digital platforms, from 7 October by Universal Music.


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