A Potted History (last updated March 2003)
One of the first questions non Welsh speakers ask us is what does Mwynion Mai mean? Welsh speakers normally ask why are you called Mwynion Mai?
Well, Mwynion Mai translates as In Praise of May or Praises of May.
The name came about while Jane & Eluned were music performance students at The Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff. In 1989, as part of their studies, they had the opportunity of performing together as a duo in a local festival and the organisers told them that they had to have a name for the duo. Eluned suggested Mwynion Mai. Why? Well the event was in May, the same month as both of their birthdays!
Jane & Eluned carried on performing together during the rest of their time at the Welsh College of Music and Drama. After achieving Distinctions & Advanced Certificates they both embarked on successful careers as freelance professional musicians and teachers and remained committed to Mwynion Mai. By 1992 they had become quite well known in South Wales being booked to perform at events such as Classical Music at Tredegar House, Sunday Best at The Museum of Welsh Life and Lunchtime Recitals at the Newport Centre.
In 1993 they decided to stage and promote their own concerts. The first one was held on 26th August 1993 “On The Waterfront” at the Norwegian Church Arts Centre. That December the Norwegian Church was also the venue for the duo’s first “Christmas on the Waterfront” This concert has now become a very popular annual event. In December 2001 the event was sold out for the fifth time!
One of the highlights of 1994, a very busy year for Jane & Eluned, was an invitation to perform at the World Harp Festival. Then in 1995, prior to recording their debut album of traditional Welsh melodies Ar Lan y Dwr (On the Waterfront), Jane and Eluned formed a trading partnership Mwynion Mai Flute & Harp Duo.
The album was recorded, edited and manufactured in Wales and released in May 1996. Although not on general release it is available at a number of Welsh outlets such as HMSO Oriel, the Museum of Welsh Life, Cardiff Music and Abergavenny Music as well as a few specialist music stores in cities such as London and York. The album is also available from the Duo, in fact you can order it from this web site.
The recording has been heard on national and local radio. As well as their album receiving air time the duo themselves have made a number of appearances on local radio shows and BBC, ITV, S4C and French TV programmes. The appearances have been varied and have included interviews, live and recorded performances.
The Duo had regularly staged and promoted charity concerts, (see our Special Services page for further details) so they were delighted to be asked to stage one for St Peter's Church, Over Wallop, Hampshire in October of 1997. Later that year they also provided the music for the Everyman Theatre production “The Adventures of Pinocchio” written by composer Tim Riley.
1998 was a very busy year with private bookings from Tamworth down to Torquay and in April they went even further a field to co-stage a trio concert with flautist Catherine Handley in Pannal, just outside Harrogate. The concert was another great success and was repeated at the Norwegian Church the following month.
In May 1999 the Duo published the scores from Ar Lan y Dwr, which like the album is available through specialist stores and this web site. They also staged a second concert at St. Peters, Over Wallop and were booked to perform at the inaugural concert at a new arts centre at Hom Green, Walford.
During 2000 they performed at a number of festivals and concerts but the biggest audience of the year was actually a dinner! Having said that the event was held at the CIA, Cardiff, where they played for over 1,000 members of Soroptomists International at their Annual International Convention!
Following a another successful"Christmas on the Waterfront" the Duo were back at at the Norwegian Church Arts Centre the next day to record a short slot for Breton TV's series Celtic Traveller. They performed Tros y Garreg, (Over the stone), the beautiful opening track from their album Ar Lan Y Dwr. The programme was broadcast on French television in February 2001. We are pleased that we have been allowed to have the footage to view from this site in MPEG format.
2001 & 2002 have been quieter years for the Duo because Jane suffered an injury which resulted in her having to cut down on the amount of performing she could undertake. We are very grateful to flautist Catherine Handley who stepped in while Jane was unable to perform at all for part of 2002.
Jane is now performing again but we have yet to set a recording date for a new album which had been planned for 2001.
|This page was last updated on 20 March 2003|