Neville John’s first piece, Tragic Overture Aberfan was completed in 1969, but soon afterwards the director of education, John Beale, asked him to compose a second, celebrating the courage of the people, their rehabilitation and their eventual triumph in the fight for better safety measures. This piece was completed in 1970 and first performed in 1971 by Abergavenny Orchestral Society, where Neville was music director at the time.
The sombre elegiac opening is followed by a change of tempo which brings a complete change of mood. The school bell, given out by the triangle, is followed by nursery tunes heralding the re-opening of the school after the disaster. Later, we hear the “jazzy” tune on the bassoon which symbolises the light entertainment that was thrust on the people of Aberfan in an endeavour to make them forget their anguish. From this tune emerges a triumphant march theme which by and large dominates the rest of the work.
Recording by Mid Glamorgan Youth Orchestra, 1993
Conductor: Jeffrey Francis
Recording by Merthyr Tydfil Chamber Orchestra, 1993
Conductor: Neville John
Recording by Abergavenny Symphony Orchestra, 2016
Conductor: Dennis Simons
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