29th April 2020: Cardiff University Chamber Orchestra


A Special Fundraiser

St Mary’s Church, Hay-on-Wye at 7pm

Concerts for Craswall are delighted to present Cardiff University Chamber Orchestra with conductor Andrea Quinn and narration by Peter Florence.

Mendelssohn: Hebrides Overture

Beethoven: Piano Concerto no. 2

Saint-Saëns: Carnival of the Animals, Peter Florence (narrator)

Monies raised from the concert will help fund the hire of the Hereford Steinway piano for a special Concerts for Craswall performance in June 2021.



To begin the evening, Mendelssohn will take us to the Hebrides with his overture of the same name.

Then giving is a taste of what a performance might have been like in Beethoven’s time, three pianists will share the stage playing one movement each of his Piano Concerto No. 2

The evening's performance will conclude with Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals. Composed  in February 1886, Saint-Saëns regarded the work as a piece of fun. However, he was adamant that the work would not be published in his lifetime, seeing it as detracting from his "serious" composer image. He relented only for the famous cello solo The Swan, which forms the penultimate movement of the work, and which was published in 1887 in an arrangement by the composer for cello and solo piano.

Saint-Saëns did specify in his will that the work should be published posthumously. Following his death in December 1921, the work was published by Durand in Paris in April 1922 and the first public performance was given on 25 February 1922. Carnival has since become one of Saint-Saëns's best-known works.

Inspired by Camille Saint-Saëns's 1886 composition, John Lithgow's exhilarating word play, narrated for us by Peter Florence, will provide a narrative to the piece. Lithgow created the text for the New York City Ballet, where the Carnival of the Animals ballet, with his narration, debuted in 2003.

Cardiff University Chamber Orchestra

The Cardiff University Chamber Orchestra is, as its name suggests, a smaller ensemble than the Cardiff University Symphony Orchestra. Made up of students from across the University who successfully audition for a place, the orchestra offers the chance to experience a different dynamic to playing in a larger orchestra. It has a repertoire ranging from the Baroque to contemporary music.

Recent repertoire has included Bach's Orchestra Suite no. 2 and Beethoven's First Piano Concerto.

Conductor Andrea Quinn

Andrea Quinn studied conducting at The Royal Academy of Music, going on to win the NAYO Conductor’s Bursary enabling study in Hungary. She later became an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music and an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College of Music.

She has worked with several of Britain’s leading orchestras, including BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, The Halle Orchestra, Northern Sinfonia, the Philharmonia Orchestra and the London Philharmonic Orchestra. She has also been Music Director of the London Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.

Andrea has worked with numerous orchestras abroad, including the Hong Kong Philharmonic, Adelaide and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras, NRK Orchestra in Oslo, L’ensemble de Paris, North Carolina Symphony Orchestra, New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, and the Toledo Symphony Orchestra.

Her flourishing career as an operatic conductor has included projects with The Flying Dutchman in Norrlands Operan, Aida with Malmo Opera, Misper (a commissioned opera for children) at Glyndebourne and The Merry Widow at Opera North.

Narrator Peter Florence

Peter Florence created Hay Festival in 1987 around his mother’s kitchen table, with his parents and a few friends. Over the past 32 years, Hay has brought more than 5 million people to events in 15 countries around the globe. Peter has championed many of the world's greatest writers from early on in their careers, among them Arundhati Roy and DBC Pierre, who went on to win the Booker and Man Booker respectively. He has hosted conversations about fiction with several Booker and Nobel Prize winners, including Margaret Atwood, Hilary Mantel, Toni Morrison and Kazuo Ishiguro. He was awarded a CBE for services to literature and charity in 2018.


Additional information


Adult, Student under 25, Child under 12

St Mary's Church, Hay-on-Wye

The Church was separated from the ancient parish of Llanigon in about 1115 A.D. As was customary, the church was built close to the castle, which at that time was on the mound just east of the church. The present castle and town walls were not built until later, which accounts for the church being outside the town walls.

Shortly after the foundation, the rectorial tithes were transferred to the Priory of St. John, Brecon, in return for which the Prior was supposed to provide a resident Priest from his community.

During the period from about 1662, the vicarage was in general, either held jointly with the rectories of Llanelieu (near Talgarth) or Cusop (the neighbouring English rectory), or else the appointed vicar lived away from the parish, appointing a resident curate to do his work in Hay. As a result, both the state of the parish and the fabric of the church deteriorated seriously. In fact, in 1827 the church wardens were summoned to appear before the Consistory Court at Brecon to answer for their neglect of duties!

This was the position when Humphrey Allen came to Hay as curate in 1825. He was a man of drive and vision and had a considerable private fortune. It was largely due to his energy and gifts that the church was rebuilt in 1833.

The only part of the original building that remains is the tower and some of the 18th century grave slabs. Before the rebuilding, many of these were used to pave the nave but were then transferred outside and used for a paved walk on the northern and western sides of the church.

The rather restricted Chancel was extended to the present apsidal form in 1867. The seven carved heads above the Chancery Arch may be noted. It is not known whom they represent but it was the custom of stonemasons working on the church to carve heads either or some of their workmates or of people connected with the church or district. Perhaps this was the case here.

In the centre arch hangs the Rood – this recent addition was made by a local artist, Maggie Denny. As has become the standard practice since the 12th century, the Great Rood is flanked by the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. John the Evangelist.

To the left of the Chancel is the Shrine Chapel of Our Lady of Capel-y-Ffin – a quiet place of contemplation.

The tower at present contains only one bell, but it is known from the old churchwardens’ presentments that prior to obtaining the present bell from the Evans foundry in Chepstow in 1740, there were 6 bells ‘in need of repair’. Possibly they were taken to Chepstow for recasting but were lost on the way – giving some colour to the local story that St. Mary’s bells repose in the Steeple Pool in the River Wye below the church.

The Victorian Pipe Organ was installed in 2010. It was built in 1883 by Bevington & Sons, Soho. It has come to St. Mary’s via several country houses and finally as a gift from Holmer Church, Hereford. The organ has cost over £100,000 to move and rebuild in Hay. This money has been raised by grants and gifts. The three-manual organ has some 2000 pipes and is distinguished not only by its exceptional sound but by an unusual Italianate case of gilded light oak and beautifully painted organ pipes by William Lamb.