New York premiere for Sir Karl Jenkins' Cantata Memoria


Sir Karl Jenkins' choral masterpiece, which marked 50 years since the Aberfan disaster, is to be performed at the world famous Carnegie Hall in New York – the first live performance in north America, sharing and preserving the memory of Aberfan across the world.

The work was commissioned by S4C, and created by the composer from Penclawdd Sir Karl Jenkins and poet Mererid Hopwood. It was premiered at Cardiff's Wales Millennium Centre on 8 October 2016, with the TV premiere on S4C the following night.

The work, Cantata Memoria: For the children, has been widely acclaimed and was number one in the Official Classical Artist Album Chart.

It was commissioned to mark 50 years since the Aberfan Disaster, where 144 people, including 116 pupils at Ysgol Pantglas primary school, were killed. The music and poetry stand as a masterpiece in their own right, but it is also a fitting tribute to the community which has rebuilt following the tragedy, and have fought for justice, turning darkness in to light.

"The impact of Canatata Memoria: For the children is significant as a lasting tribute for the people of Aberfan following the terrible disaster 50 years ago," says S4C Chief Executive, Ian Jones, who led the work of commissioning the piece.

"As Cantata Memoria is performed and played across the world, including this concert at New York's Carnegie Hall, the history of Aberfan will be shared and preserved. The journey to bring Cantata Memoria to life is an experience I will never forget. I'm so proud of the masterpiece that Sir Karl Jenkins and Mererid Hopwood have created and this project is a prime example of how S4C fulfils its duty as a public service broadcaster, providing the nation with a legacy of such national importance."

Amongst the performers at Carnegie Hall on Sunday 15 January will be the choir from the north Wales performing school, Côr Glanaethwy. They form the mixed chorus together with 14 other choirs from the USA and beyond, including Finland, Germany and Sussex.

They share a stage with an impressive line-up of acclaimed soloists, including the harpist Catrin Finch and Euphonium soloist David Childs, who both performed at the original premiere at the Wales Millennium Centre in October 2016.

The work is released as an album by Deutsche Grammophon. The Aberfan concert was a co-production between Wales Millennium Centre and MR PRODUCER on behalf of The Aberfan Memorial Charity and produced for television by Rondo Media for broadcast on S4C.


Notes for editors:

Full details about the performers at the concerts in Carnegie Hall are available on the Distinguished Concerts International New York website:

Cantata Memoria: For the children reviews

Classical FM Album of the Week – 7 October 2016

"Though written to commemorate a specific and profoundly sad event, the emotions and themes in this special music resonates beyond, reflecting the universal sensation of loss and the journey from darkness to light."

Barn – November 2016

"Profiad cwbl emosiynol oedd gwylio'r Cantata Memoria... Rhaid canmol penderfyniad golygyddol mor uchelgeisiol a chreadigol. Rhan o hanes cenedl yw Aberfan. Roedd y Cantata Memoria yn gyfraniad unigryw a phwysig gan S4C i nodi hanner canmlwyddiant y trychineb gan ysgogi balchder yn y Sianel yn ogystal ag ymatebion dwys ymhlith gwylwyr dros Gymru gyfan." – Sioned Williams


"Watching Cantata Memoria was a totally emotional experience… such an ambitious and creative editorial decision is to be commended. Aberfan is part of the history of the nation. The Cantata Memoria is a unique and important contribution by S4C to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the disaster by stimulating pride in the Channel as well as the intense responses among viewers all over Wales." - Sioned Williams

Record Review, Audiophile Audition – 14 November 2016

"A magnificent cantata that will leave the listener moved… This is a magnificent and moving work. Beautiful, yet horrific in its rendering of this tragedy. The soloists, orchestra, and the conducting by Jenkins are all first rate…This stereo CD sounds very good… The strings and massed voices are very natural. There is plenty of low bass, and the sound never becomes congested during the highly dynamic parts of this work when the orchestra, chorus and soloists are together. The stereo image is very stable, and the soloists are placed realistically between my stereo speakers. "Cantata Memoria" is a major work, and deserving of your musical attention. The performance and recording are both of high quality… Highly recommended!" - Mel Martin

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