A Sovereign Hawk

symphony orchestra



c. 3.5 minutes


Premiere: 28 April 2016
BBC National Orchestra of Wales (cond. Jac Van Steen)
Hoddinott Hall, Wales Millennium Centre

Program Note

This work for orchestra takes its starting point in the muddy histories surrounding the last king of Wales: Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. By the end of his life, Wales had become an annex of England under the rule of King Edward I (Longshanks), a legacy which has made Llywelyn a controversial figure in Welsh history. Following a fierce rivalry, Llywelyn imprisoned his brother Owain Goch in Castle Dolbadarn for more than twenty years and took control of his lands. A contemporary poet of the time reflected on the way history may have been written if the brothers had united against the English - my composition explores this theme, with every attempt at heroism negated by the imposing walls of the castle prison:

There is a hero in a tower,
In long captivity,
A brave, kingly, sovereign hawk.
A hero whose loss I feel from amongst the living,
A hero who would not allow England to burn his border.

Hywel Foel ap Griffri ap Pywll Wyddel