2019 Lecture

Welsh composer Rhian Samuel will talk about her life as a composer of classical music in the USA and the UK, from a time when women composers were an extreme rarity to today when they are much more prevalent.  In what ways may this change have enriched our culture?  She will be aided by Siân Dicker (soprano) and Kristal Tunnicliffe (piano), who will perform Cerddi Hynafol (Ancient Songs), settings of three medieval Welsh texts apparently by women, and the song ‘Before Dawn’, set to a poem, ‘Mourning to Do’, by American May Sarton.

Organised by the Richard Burton Centre for the Study of Wales, Cultural Institute, Swansea University.  

This event is part of the Being Human festival, the UK’s only national festival of the humanities, taking place 14–23 November. Led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy. For further information please see beinghumanfestival.org.

Book Online

Composer Rhian Samuel was born in Aberdare in 1944 to a Welsh-speaking, musical family. She has lived in Britain and the United States and currently divides her time between Aberdyfi and London. She writes orchestral music, chamber music, and vocal and choral music, and had worked with many of today’s foremost classical artists. Her first large orchestral work was Elegy-Symphony (St Louis Symphony Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin, conductor, 1981) while her Tirluniau/Landscapes (2000) was premiered at the BBC Millenium Proms in the Albert Hall by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Tadaaki Otaka, conductor.  To date, over 120 of her works have been published. In the USA she was joint winner of the ASCAP-Rudolph Nissim Award, 1983, for her choral-orchestral work, La belle dame sans merci.  In the UK she won first prize at the Greenwich Festival (1979) and has received subsequent accolades including the Glyndŵr Medal for services to the Arts in Wales and an Hon DMus from the University of Wales. Four new CDs presenting her music will be issued this winter, including a recording of  Clytemnestra (text by Aeschylus) sung by Ruby Hughes with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conductor, Jac Van Steen, on BIS Records, and two song-cycles, The White Amaryllis (which includes ‘Before Dawn’) and The Flowing Sand, on a CD published by Tŷ Cerdd, with performers Katharine Dain, Paul Carey Jones and Jocelyn Freeman. Her works for violin, played by Madeleine Mitchell and Nigel Foster, have been assigned a celebratory concert in September at the 2nd International Conference, ‘Womens’ Work in Music’, at Bangor University.  Rhian Samuel is Emeritus Professor of Music at City, University of London, where she taught until 2013; she also tutored composition students at Magdalen College, Oxford.  She now composes full-time from her home overlooking Cardigan Bay and the Dyfi estuary.

Wiltshire-born soprano Siân Dicker is completing the opera course at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama where she is a scholarship student. She previously gained her Master’s degree from the GSMD with Distinction and a BA in Music from City, University of London, with first-class honours. She won the International Voice of the Future competition at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in July 2017 and the Dunraven Welsh Young Singer of the Year competition in March 2017.

Krystal Tunnicliffe is an Australian pianist based in London.  She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and a Master’s degree from the GSMD, where she was subsequently awarded a Junior Fellowship.  In April 2018, Krystal won a prize for the best accompanist in the heats at the Melbourne National Liederfest.  She is a Britten-Pears Young Artist. 

Previous Lectures


25 April 2013:  George W. S. Abbey Sr.

'Wales, America and the Space Race'

4 October 2011:  John McGrath

‘From Blackwood to Brecon to Port Talbot’s Passion: The National Theatre Wales journey’