Pax, Gododdin

More about these collaborations with Brith Gof, a conceptual performance group and Test Dept., an edgy, industrial percussion group resulted in performance spectacles of massive proportions:

Pax and Gododdin are large-scale works which were performed in massive spaces such as derelict car factories, tramways, and crane factories across the UK, Europe and Latin America. Genre-defying and incorporating multi-media elements and even choreography of trains, the projects have become legendary and are unforgettable experiences in the minds thousands of spectators.

The works were made during John Hardy's 7-year role as musical director of Brith Gof, the conceptual performance troupe which toured highly physical, politically questioning, multi-discipline shows to London, Glasgow, Dublin, Europe & Latin America. Visit the Brith Gof website to find out about the company.

 

Pax

Oratorio: 3 female soloists, voice, drums, percussion, 4 strings, keyboards and trumpet
80 minutes
Large scale theatrical work. First performed September 1990 at St. David's Hall, Cardiff by Brith Gof.

“Pax is a breath-taking spectacle… a magnificent and chilling oratorio… every element of the piece was terrifying and magical, on an almost biblical scale.”
Joyce Mcmillan, The Guardian

Pax is a site-specific performance work which explores the way in which change can affect related people separated by location and experience.

Staged in St. David's Hall in Cardiff, the Harland and Wolff shipbuilding yard in Glasgow and the British Rail Station in Aberystwyth, Pax is described by the Guardian as a "heady mix of grand opera, performance art, physical theatre, symphonic rock, scenography and, crucially, a forceful green message". Set in a 'ghost cathedral' of scaffolding, angels fly down to Earth where they struggle to understand the toxic atmosphere humans have created.

Pax later became the basis for a radical work for the television medium which was awarded the prize for Innovation in the 1994 British Film Institute awards.

 

 
 

Buy the CD of Pax

 

The music in Pax is performed by John Hardy with the Brith Gof Orchestra and written by John Hardy for violin, three violas, electric and acoustic basses, keyboards and samples, electronic and acoustic percussion and taped sound effects.

Pax is a breath-taking spectacle… a magnificent and chilling oratorio… every element of the piece was terrifying and magical, on an almost biblical scale.”

Joyce Mcmillan, The Guardian, 24 September 1991

“A unique, memorable performance… great swirling banks of sound… you knew it was something special from the beginning.” 

David Adams, The Guardian, 28 September 1990

 

Gododdin 

Oratorio: trumpet, bagpipes, percussion, keyboards and tape
70 minutes

Large-scale site-specific touring music/theatre production, composed and performed in collaboration with industrial percussion group Test Dept. First performed 1988 in an abandoned car factory in Cardiff by Brith Gof and Test Dept. Filmed by Greeneye for HTV. Recorded for Ministry of Power, distr. Rough Trade International then Revolver/APT.

Gododdin, described by The Independent as an "exceptional achievement" was inspired by one of the earliest surviving examples of Welsh poetry. In collaboration with industrial percussion group Test Dept., the production included fragments of the poem sung and spoken in Brythonic and English, a highly amplified instrumental soundtrack played live and on tape, dynamic physical action, an arrangement of hundreds of tons of sand, dozens of trees and wrecked cars, and thousands of gallons of water gradually flooding the performing area during the show.

Find out more about Gododdin and watch video from the show on the Brith Gof website.

"Elemental, wild and exhilarating... an exceptional achievement"
The Independent

"The production draws the admiration which must go to any project ambitious in aim and original in execution. There is nothing humdrum about it... spectacle for the imagination.
The Scotsman

 

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The Roswell Incident

 
 

Opera: Child, soprano, tenor and bass-baritone soloists, piano, 4 strings, 4 toms and pre-recorded sounds
94 minutes
Libretto by Heledd Wyn.

Commissioned by Music Theatre Wales and Eastern Touring Agency. First performed 9/05/97 at Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds by Music Theatre Wales.

The Roswell Incident explores the effects of the famous alleged crash in the New Mexico wilderness of an unidentified flying object in 1947, and the mythology and speculation which have surrounded the event.

Music Theatre Wales artistic director Michael McCarthy described it as "a fascinating story with strong human and emotional undercurrents... an intriguing new music-theatre piece... a cinematic piece in which image, music and message blend together."

Scored for child singer, soprano, tenor and baritone with string quartet, piano, percussion and electro-acoustic soundworld, the libretto is by Heledd Wyn.

 

“A powerful new opera”
Duncan Hadfield, The Independent, 3-9 May 1997

“Hardy’s approachable score… ranges from Brittenesque nerviness… to New Age, neo-minimalist lyricism.”
Rodney Miles, The Times, 13 May 1997

“Cunningly crafted… score.”
Christopher Morley, The Birmingham Post, 31 May 97

“Hardy’s fretful, quick-fire exchanges…
are witty… the vocal pointillism clicks… the odd instrumental touch (eerie, zither-like keyboard, a three-second glisten of violin harmonics) makes appealing subliminal contributions. 
The focal character… seems to stand outside normal time and space… [seeming] to be an unnerving liberated reflection of ourselves… Hardy gives this young slyph recitatives ranging from minor thirds… to quite supple, intricate vocal cat’s cradles and octave pirouettes.”

Roderic Dunnett, The Independent, 3 June 97

“A remarkable topical opera… both modern and approachable, outré and understandable… [the] audience… were captivated and enthralled.”
Michael Courtney Soper, Contact International UK, 9 June 97

“Anothernotable success [for Music Theatre Wales.]”
Jon Holliday, The Stage, 3 July 97

“The piece deserves further life.”
Rodney Miles, Opera, August 1997

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Flowers

 
 

Opera: Soprano, tenor, bass-baritone soloists, 3 winds, violin/viola, cello, double bass, percussion
75 minutes
Libretto adapted by John Hardy from Flowers of the Dead Red Sea by Ed Thomas.
Commissioned by Music Theatre Wales. First performed 17/03/94 at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff by Music Theatre Wales conducted by Michael Rafferty.

 

Flowers was premiered in 1994 by Music Theatre Wales and is based on the Ed Thomas play Flowers of the Dead Red Sea. It toured across the UK and Europe in 1995 and 1996 to great critical acclaim.

The opera is scored for soprano, tenor and bass singers with seven instrumentalists playing three clarinets, violin/viola, cello, bass and percussion, plus plate smashing by the conductor.

“Hardy’s 90-minute opera is gripping and intensely theatrical. He has a feeling for the dramatic ebb and flow of opera which can’t be taught but clearly benefits from his theatre and film experience… blackly humorous and ironic by turns… Hardy draws a wealth of colour…[an] important endorsement of Welsh opera.”
Peter Reynolds, Opera Now, May 1994

“The opera is driven from climax to climax by Hardy’s violent but irresistible score, rich in detail and full of diverse ideas… it creates a fierce concentration… tensions are built expertly… a message for our times, strongly delivered.”
Kenneth Loveland, Musical Opinion, May 1994

“John Hardy’s new 90-minute chamber opera for Music Theatre Wales has a lot going for it. Hardy’s energetic, instinctive music, resourcefully scored… is very much to the point, communicating with commendable flexibility the whole gamut of human emotions.”
Stephen Pettitt, The Times, 21 March 1994 

“Hardy delivers his protest with conviction and with violence, and we are won to his side. The score… is rich and evocative… generous in detail.”
Kenneth Loveland, Opera, May 1994

“A very varied, wide emotional spectrum expressed”
Stuttgarter Zeitung, 7 August 1995

“Another musical hit… John Hardy’s new work Flowers is music theatre on the edge, provocative, disturbing and extremely enjoyable… a focused and highly charged piece… emotionally searing, challenging but accessible.”
Mike Smith, Western Mail, 19 March 1994

Flowers is a strong piece that seems to do what it sets out to… with terrific conviction, with a flair for tortuous sonic imagery, and with no hint that the composer is not in complete control of his materials.”
Stephen Walsh, The Independent, 19 March 1994

“(It's) about passion, struggle and survival in a world of disappearing values. Hardy is no stranger to writing music for the stage, having produced an epic score.”
Nerys Lloyd-Pierce, Wales on Sunday, 13 March 1994

“John Hardy, an exciting composer… developed a dramatic style both accessible and challenging. An utterly engrossing piece… all quite mesmeric… a sharply defined, unique and surprising piece of music-theatre that should attract anyone who enjoys the unexpected.”
David Adams, Guardian, 25 March 1994

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Mis Du Bach / Black February

Opera: Treble, soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor and bass-baritone soloists, SATB Chorus and ensemble
1997
90 minutes
Commissioned by Welsh National Opera and the Last Invasion Bi-centenary. First performed 1997 by Welsh National Opera and Fishguard community.

“Community opera projects… at their best – and this is one of the best I have ever seen - …can pull together entire communities in a creative process that both enriches and celebrates the innate skills and talents of the community involved.”
Michael Parkin, Western Mail

“A wonderful community effort involving all sorts of people who have never done anything like it before.”
Mike Woakes, Fishguard Bicentenary spokesman, 29 October 9

Black February / Mis Bach Du was commissioned by the Welsh National Opera and produced with and by the people of Fishguard, a beautiful town on the coast of Pembrokeshire, South West Wales. It told the story of the last invasion of Britain, in 1797, by a motley force of French convicts led by Irish and American officers, who were eventually persuaded to surrender before much blood was spilt.

The piece was created during a year in collaboration with WNO and the people of the surrounding areas, including many school-aged participants. It is scored for a mix of amateur and professional musicians including brass band, with all the vocal roles sung by non-professionals.

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