Monday 3 June 2024

16-year-old Gerard Coutain wins Main Composer Prize at Eisteddfod yr Urdd, Europe's largest youth festival

Gerard Coutain, winner of the Main Composer Prize at Eisteddfod yr Urdd, 2024
Gerard Coutain, winner of the Main Composer Prize at Eisteddfod yr Urdd, 2024

Eisteddfod yr Urdd is Europe's largest youth festival, produced by Urdd Gobaith Cymru, a National Voluntary Youth Organisation with over 55,000 members between the ages of 8 – 25 yrs old, providing opportunities through the medium of Welsh.

This year's Eisteddfod yr Urdd took place at Maldwyn and on the final day (1 June 2024), 16-year-old Gerard Coutain was announced as the winner of Main Composer Prize. Gerard Coutain wins the title for composing a rhythmic and energetic piece entitled Triawd o Llannerch y goedwig (A trio from Llannerch y goedwig) for flute, viola and harp. A total of 14 entries were received, with adjudicators Gareth Glyn and Guto Pryderi Puw having "great satisfaction browsing through the variety of entertaining pieces." Second in the competition was Rafik Harrington from Cardiff with David John Ingham from Swansea in third place.

Originally from Poland, Gerard Coutain has lived in Wales for eight years and is learning Welsh. He commented, "After learning to play the piano when I was 6 years old, I started composing at 14, receiving no formal compositional training since beginning. I’ve drawn inspiration and influence from a variety of composers, including Bach, Stravinsky, Debussy, Lili Boulanger, and more recently Walter Leigh. Prior to entering the Urdd Eisteddfod this year, I was commissioned to write a piece for solo harp, Barbarica, for Young Music Makers of Dyfed in 2023, and last November I was accepted at the Purcell School for Young Musicians to study composition, piano and violin, starting in September. The piece I’ve written is scored for a trio of flute, viola and harp, after the Debussy sonata for the same ensemble. It explores the whimsical elements of nature and folklore, and the different sonorities you’d expect from a hidden away forest clearing."

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