Recording at Ty Cerdd (as I’ve just done, for WNO’s Occupation project) in the Wales Millennium Centre is an unusually salubrious experience. Few studios allow you to step onto the quayside between takes and breathe in healthy lungfuls of sea air. (In my past experience, sound sessions were much more likely to involve trips to grungy trailer parks in far-flung suburbs.)
As usual when working in Wales, I reflected on the words of Under Milk Wood’s Rev Eli Jenkins who portentously says of his countrymen, “We are a musical nation”. The play is just as funny and still kind-of spot-on 60 years later; but joking apart, the Reverend is right. Which other nation makes as its major architectural statement a magnificently situated music building ? It dwarfs the Senedd, or National Assembly, next door, and houses both the national opera company and symphony orchestra on the same premises alongside many other artistic boons.
And this brings me to another habitual reflection which concerns Music Information Centres (promoting music by the nation’s composers) of which Ty Cerdd is the Welsh representative. There are also fine Centres in Scotland and Ireland (representing both Irish Republic and Northern Irish composers). But it’s now surely relevant to ask, will there ever be an English Music Information Centre, and if so where will it be ? Answering the “where” part of this question, let’s hope an English Centre would follow the good example of the British Music Collection and settle in the north of England. And, following the Welsh example, be situated next to a beautiful lake or mountain range.