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.--THE Jl0iunoutl]s|ire 10…





DR. PARRY" AND HIS CHOIR AT NEWPORT. Something more than ordinary notice is due to the visit of Dr. Parry, the now distinguished Welsh com poser, with his representative choir, to Newport, this week. Having given full proof of the possession of the genius which deserves distinction, Dr. Parry (not many years since plain Joseph Parry) has worthily risen to the honour of a University degree and it is only fair to say that Cambridge has seldom, 1 if ever, bestowed a distinction more honestly earned and more fully deserved than that which made the afore-mentioned Joseph Parry a full-blown Doctor of Music. Proof of this will be found in the sketch given below of Dr. Parry's career, while his appointment to the Professorship of Music in the University College of Wales points clearly in the same direction. As a Welsh composer, Dr. Parry is in one respect unique- he alone of his countrymen has produced an Opera and to this he has been led, as we learn from the pre- face to the work, by the feeling that the Welsh," pre- eminently a musical people, and having a strong pre- dilection for dramatic representations," ought to be stimulated to the production of this class of music. In giving practical effect to this feeling, Dr. Parry has produced, in "Blodwen," an operatic gem which abundantly testifies to his qualification for the work he undertook, and which will, we think, secure him lasting fame. For his countrymen, with their love of distinctively Welsh compositions, we may well suppose that Blodwen will possess strong attrac- tions but when the merits of his opera become known, Dr. Parry's repute will not be confined to these. Most of our readers are aware that Dr. Parry's re- I presentative choir accompanied him last week to Cambridge University, and the Alexandra Palace, London, where their performances of their leader's works were favourably, and in some instances, en- thusiastically received. Arrangements were made for a provincial tour this week, and in pursuance of this, the choir sang in Bristol on Monday, in Newport on Tuesday, in Cardiff on Wednesday, and in Swansea on Thursday. This day (Friday) and to-morrow other towns are to be visited. In each place afternoon and evening concerts are given. At Newport, on Tuesday, the first portion of the afternoon performance consisted of a miscellaneous programme of songs, solos, duets, quartetts, &c., and everything was admirably carried out. The following singers took part Mr Lucas Williams, R.A.M., who sang The Mariner," by Louis Diehl. Miss Hattie Davies, who rendered "When the heart is young"; Mr D. Evans (Eos Dar) who gave a splendid rendering of "Y Bywydfad" Miss Adelaide Morgan (in the "Lost Chord") Mr R. C. Jenkins, U.C.W., and the choir, under the leadership of Mr R. Evans, The second part 11 was devoted to the performance of "Jerusalem," or "Judgment and Mercy," a sacred exercise, composed by Dr Parry. The composer, on making his appearance on the platform, was greeted with loud cheers. He acted as condactor during the performance of the work. The piece brings out talent and taste akin to those the composer has shown in his previous productions, without having that newness" of character which Blodwen" naturally exhibits. The grand double chorus 0 Jerusalem," sung by four voices (in cannon)-Miss Adelaide Mor- gan, Miss Eleanor Rees, Mr W. Davies, and Mr R. C. Jenkins-and also by the choir, seemed to develope the Welsh "fire" so much talked of, and deservedly gained applause. The chorale, My Jesus, as Thou wilt" is full of the pathos and touching simplicity of the old Welsh hyinn-tunes, and reminds one forcibly of some such pieces as "Ai Iesu prynwr dynolryw A wela'i draw a'i guawd yn friw, A'i waed yn lliwio'r lie ?" Mr Lucas Williams' rendering of the bass recitative and air, "Behold, the day of the Lord cometh," and But the Lord will remember his children," was truly excellent. The chorale Inspirer and hearer of prayer," sung by the choir, was pre-eminently Welsh, and was full of the confident spirit which prevade such pieces as Pwy welaf o Edom yn d'od." The last piece —" We magnify and glorify Thy ntime"was excellently given by the choir, orchestra, &c. The attendauce at this performance might have been larger, but there was a good audience, and an appreciative one. In the evening, when three hours were occupied in the performance of Blodwen," the Royal Albert Hall was fairly tilled, though we could heartily wish that every seat might have been occupied, so that the warmest possible welcome might have been given to a composer whose talent, industry, and indomitable perseverance eminently entitle him to honour. Of the Opera, the dramatis personce were as follows Blodwen, Miss Hattie Davies, U.C..W. Ellen, Miss Gayney Griffiths, U. C. W. Lidy Maelor, Miss Lizzie Evans, R.A.M. Sir Howell, Mr Thomas Evans, U.C. W. Messengers of Maelor Castle, Mr W. Davies and Mr D. Howell, U.C.W. The Bard, Mr R. C. Jeukins Arthur (a Welsh Warrior), the Monk, aud Rh a Gwyn, Mr Lucas Williams, R.A.M. ;Chorus— Servants, Castle Keepers, Huntsmen, Soldiers, and Inhabitants. Within five minutes of the appointed time Dr Parry took the baton, and started his well-disciplined com- pany upon their work and for three hours, with periods of rest which did uot amount, in the aggre. gate, to more than fifteen minutes, they were thread- ing their way, with keen appreciation and warm interest, through the several stages of the opera. The audience Were not long in showing that they were at one with the singers, and as the choruses rung oat from more than a hundred voices, or the sweet and tender strains cf Miss Hattie Davies. or the rich full contralto tones of Miss Lizzie Evans fell upon the ear, their delight found vent in almost rapturous applause. Dr Parry s composition appeals both to the passion for music and the amor patriai it gives scope for some of the finest displays of musical effect, while here and there an under-current of some familiar Welsh air awakens the patriotic feeling of his countrymen. The opera is distinctively Welsh in its basis and its inci- dents—whilst its discriminative range over the whole field of effective and appealing music, places it beyond the category of that which is simply national, and will secure for it a hearty reception by all who possess a true love of musical art, and can be swayed by the power of melody and harmony under their most telling forms of expression. It were easy to specify illustra- r tions of these remarks, but for this we have not space. It must suffice to say that some parts of Dr Parry's work thrill by their wondrous force and almost im- passioned expressiveness—while others melt by their irresistible pathos—the Prisoners' Chorus and B!od- wen's touching lamentation over her lost Howell, being instances in point. By the production of Blodwen" Dr Parry has not merely enhanced his own fame, but laid his countrymen under a lasting obligation. It is but just to say that iu Tuesday evening's per- formance of Blodwen Dr Parry's reputation did not sutiei at the hands of the executants. Miss Hattie Davies, Miss Lizzie Evans, Miss Gayney Griffiths, Mr Lucas W illiams, and Mr Thomas Evans, all gave proof of culture aud vocal power enabling them to do the soli, duets. &c., with a close approach to faultlessness while Mr R. C. Jenkins, Mr D. Howell, and Mr W. Davies were fairly successful in the minor parts assigned to them. A touch of flatness here and there was perhaps the ouly defect in tune, while the time was observed throughout, by soloists and chorus, with surprising exactness. A warm commendation is due to the choir for while the concerted parts of the opera are, here and there, of a difficult aud testing nature, the singers showed that they had studied these, and were consequently prepared to throw them off with won vrou-s precision as to time, and with but few defects as to expression. The Gloucester String Band, to whom the orchestral accompaniments were assigned, did their work with exquisite taste and full mastery of the music. On the whole" Blodwen" in Newport was a splendid success, and upon this fact we con- gratulate the composer and his loyal and well-drilled company. In connection with this subject, the following sketch of Dr Parry's career, from the South Wales Daily } News, will, we think, be read with interest Joseph Parry is the son of Daniel and Elizabeth Parry, formerly of Merthyr Tydiil. Mr Parry's father, a native of Pembrokeshire, removed to Mer- thyr when he was but a youth, and for thirty years previous to his emigrating to the United States, fol- lowed the occupation of refiner at Cyfarthfa Works. Mr Parry's mother was born at Kidwelly, and is dis- tantly related to the senior member of Parliament for the Merthyr and Aberdare boroughs. The subject of this brief sketch was born on the 21st of May, 1S41, at the Old Chapel House, Merthyr, and is the youngest but two of a family of eight children. Like many I celebrated men, Joseph Parry was watched over in his I infancy by an excellent mother—a sensible and re- ligious woman. It was related of her that it was no I unusual thing for her to lead the congregational sing- ing in the absence of the appointed leader; and it is not too much to say that Dr. Parry imbibed music J with his mother's milk. From his very infancy Dr. Parry was surrounded by musical strains. The" row" in which he was born was the residence of several eminent musicians and in the close vicinity of his home the famed Cyfarthfa Brass Band was wont to practice. Young Joseph, it is said, at this time, ex- hibited an extraordinary aptitude at picking up the F leading themes of everything which the band might' rehearse and whenever they turned out in public Joseph was a faithful attendant upon them. Last year Dr. Parry composed a reminiscence of his attach. ment to the band, which he dedicated to the bands- men. He identified himself with the singing-class at Merthyr while he was but a child, and soon proved a valuable auxiliary to the conductor, Mr Robert James, who is at present doing excellent work among the Welsh people of Hyde Park, Pennsylvania. Owing to the low state of wages prevalent at this period in the iron trade, Joseph Parry was compelled to enter the forge when he was nine years old, which, of course, prevented him from partaking of education to any beneficial extent. In 1854 he emigrated with the family to America, where his father died in 1866. Joseph continued to work diligently at the rolls in Kingston, Pennsylvania, and had but meagre time for the prosecution of his favourite study. About this time he had the good fortune to meet with a fellow- countryman named John Abel Jones, who was, more- over, an excellent musician. Jones, being a native of Merthyr, took much interest in young Parry, and taught him to read music; while a man named Price (who had emigrated from Rhynin) led him through the intricacies of harmony and counterpoint. In Jones and Price our hero found valuable friends. They in- duced him to try his hand at composing, and, strange to say, his first attempt was rewarded with a prize at an eisteddfod competition. In 1861 he entered the Normal College at Genesee, New York, for a term, and received lessons from Bassini-an excellent teacher and a friend of Rossini. The late lamented P. P. Bliss, who was a short time since killed in a railway accident in the States, was also a student here at the time and between him and young Parry a warm attachment sprung up, which was only interrupted by the death of the former. From this period Mr Parry's name as a winner at the chief eisteddfodau was a matter of frequent occur- rence. At the Swansea National Eisteddfod he carried away four of the principal prizes at the Llandilo National Eisteddfod he swept away every prize that was offered for musical compositions at the Chester National Eisteddfod he won the X20 and gold medal for the cantata "The Prodigal Son," which was per- formed last winter at Aberystwith, under the con- ductorship of the author. On Mr Parry's arrival in England, the council of the Welsh National Eisteddfod magnanimously offered to maintain him for 12 months at the Royal Academy of Music, but family affairs made it necessary for him to decline the generous offer, and he shortly after- wards returned to America. In December, 1S67, a committee was formed in America, prominent in con- nection with which was Aneurin Vardd, for the pur- pose of raising a fund for the musical education of the rising young Welshman. In August, 186S, he once more set sail for Yr Hen Wlad," and on his arrival entered the famed ipstitution in Tenterden- street, where he had for teacher the scholarly Sir Sterndale Bennett. The close of the first year of his academical career found him a prize man, and a series of very successful concerts held on his behalf in the Principality, enabled him to remain at the academy longer than he anticipated. The close of the second year found him in possession of the bronze medal; and in another year he took away the silver medal of the academy, which was presented through the hands of Mrs Gladstone, who took advantage of the oppor- tunity to congratulate her fellow-countryman upon his unqualified success. In 1871 he won the degree of Mus. B. at Cambridge, and in September of the same year he returned, with his wife and family (who bad arrived some time previous) full of spirits, brimful of hope, to America. After concluding a very success- ful tour, during which he received more than 100 com- plimentary coucerts, he setded down at Danville, Pa., and opened a musical seminary which soon matured into a most flourishing institution. In the fall of the year 1874, in response to a cor- dial invitation from the council, he arrived at Aberyst- with, to preside in the chair of music at the University College of Wales. I should not omit to mention that such was the esteem in which Mr Parry and his wife were held by the Welsh residents in London, that the latter generously presented Mr Parry with a gold ,o watch and appendages, and his wife with a magniti- cent diamond ring. Gifted with an iron constitution, unsurpassed diligence, and a hxed determination, Professor Parry has accomplished before he is 37 years of age, an amount of work which would have shed a lustre upon a veteran of 80. I have authority for saving that for many months past he has been hard at work daily, until the approach of the small hours of the morning. In connection with the publication of his opera, Blodwen," and the preparation of the band parts of the same work, he has gone through a task that would have appalled a heart less courageous. His genius is as versatile as it is prolific. He has pursued his studies in every department of musical art; his compositions range from the simple ballad to e the laborious oratorio. He has published already over a hundred songs, sixty anthems and choruses, fifty congregational tunes, a veritable heap of quartettes, trios, duetts, ;ind glees compositions for the organ, and for stringed instruments four overtures for full orchestras three sonatas for piaco, a grand symphony for full orchestra; five cantatas; and one opera Blotiwen"). He is also engaged at present upon an oratorio, on the libretto, "Emannuel," by Dr William Rees.



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