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Mervyn Burtch (1929 - 2015)

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Mervyn Burtch (1929 - 2015)

Mervyn Burtch was one of Wales' most distinguished composers, a Fellow of both the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the Welsh Music Guild and the recipient of the 1990 John Edwards Memorial Award for his contribution to music in Wales. His output covers all genres from orchestral music to a series of twelve string quartets. He had a particular interest in music for the voice, and his choral works have been heard all over the world. He wrote nine operas, seen in the UK, Ireland, Canada, Germany, South Africa, and Mexico, and in addition, he composed a series of 12 short operas for the Welsh Schools Opera Project, and incidental music for many plays, from Shakespeare to Brecht.

His music has been published by Chappell, Curiad, Grittiths, Novello, Oriana Publications and The Welsh Music Information Centre. Recordings of his works have been issued by Marco Polo (Welsh Classical Favourites), Herald, and Black Mountain Records. His music has been broadcast in Wales, England, Australia, Canada, The Czech Republic, Eire, Hungary, New Zealand, and Portugal.

Throughout his career, Mervyn Burtch included in his compositional activities projects that reached out to new and extended audiences, from a choral series for young children to a commission from the famous Pendurys Male Voice Choir as the centrepiece of their 1995 tour of the U.S.A.

This culminated in the series of operas written for KidsOp, using child and professional adult forces, that have achieved international success, and he was the first Welsh composer to have an opera performed at the celebrated Wexford Festival Opera in Eire. His involvement in the KidsOp project led to close ties with Canada, and he took part in productions, and coached, at The Banff Centre and other venues in Alberta, as well as assisting in the exchange of both child and adult musicians and singers between Canada and Wales.

Mervyn also taught extensively. After being Head of Music first at Bargoed Grammar Technical School, and then Head of Music at Lewis Girls' School, Ystrad Mynach, he joined the staff of the Welsh College of Music and Drama. He became Head of the Performance Course at the College in 1984 until his retirement in 1989.

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