Gregynog Festival – “Freakshow”

01 / 12 / 2016

Gregynog Festival commission to receive its Irish premiere performance on 2 December, documentary screening 6 December

“Freakshow”, commissioned from Sam Perkin by the Gregynog Festival as part of its 2016 Éire season, is to receive its Irish premiere performance on Friday evening, 2 December 2016, at 7.30pm.

The score will be heard during the opening concert of the Fidelio Trio’s Winter Chamber Music Festival, presented in association with Music at DCU and GlasDrum, in the intimate,18th century setting of Belvedere House on St Patrick’s Campus, Dublin City University, Drumcondra, Dublin 9.

Dr Rhian Davies, Artistic Director of the Gregynog Festival, said: “Gregynog is the oldest classical music festival in Wales and has a long and distinguished tradition of composer commissions and first performances dating back to Ralph Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst in the 1930s.

“As part of Wales and Ireland’s national commemorations of the centenary of the Easter Rising, we have collaborated with Welsh Government’s Cymru’n Cofio Wales Remembers 1914-1918 to create a sequence of events highlighting the forgotten narrative of the prison camp at Fron-goch near Bala, where 1,800 Irish rebels were detained from June to December 1916.

“Music, drama and talks about the Rising were included in the Gregynog Festival programme last June, and the centrepiece was the world premiere performance of “Freakshow” by Sam Perkin, a new piano trio that we were delighted to commission for the Fidelio Trio during the same season in which they were shortlisted for the prestigious RPS Award for best chamber ensemble.”

Sam Perkin added: ““Freakshow” is inspired by the research of Welsh journalist and broadcaster Lyn Ebenezer, whose book Fron-Goch Camp 1916 explains how the camp became known as the ‘University of Revolution’ because leading figures such as Michael Collins were imprisoned there.

“One anecdote in particular fired my imagination: the story of the Circus of Rats which acts as a portal to the absurd world of this macabre Suite. One of the prisoners at Fron-goch used to go to great lengths to catch these rats and to put on a show for his fellow inmates. From an oblique compositional perspective and through a macabre lens, I decided to write a set of miniatures dedicated to the stars of the “Freakshow”. Building on themes of captivity and spectacle, the seven movements in the work explore seven different stories, including The Two-Headed Nightingale and The Armless Fiddler.

“I’m delighted that the score will be heard in Ireland before the end of this year of commemoration, and that the world and Irish premiere performances will have taken place in June and December 2016, mirroring the period when Fron-goch Camp operated a century ago.”

Sam Perkin has also edited a mini-documentary about the making of “Freakshow” which will receive its premiere screening at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Benburb Street, Dublin 7, on Tuesday 6 December at 12 noon. The screening forms part of the launch event for a series of new 1916 exhibitions for the Digital Repository of Ireland’s Inspiring Ireland project, in collaboration with the National Museum of Ireland, National Library of Ireland and the People’s Collection Wales.