The festival promises a multi-sensory experience

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Pictured LR: Patricia Morgan (keyboard/bass guitar), Angharad Davies (violin) and Rhodri Davies (harp)

The heavenly fragrance smells of jasmine, coffee beans, freshly baked bread, and even moldy books will be the smell of the day at a high profile music festival.

The fragrant aromas and melodies will harmonize to create a whole new experience for music lovers with a combination of sounds and smells called Smound.

It will be unveiled at the Bangor Music Festival to be held at the city’s Pontio Arts and Innovation Center on February 11-12.

The concept was developed by Aberystwyth-born harpist and composer Rhodri Davies, who calls it Clywed Arogl (Hearing Smell) in Welsh.

Rhodri, 50, who now lives in Swansea, was motivated by his own personal experience.

He said: “In 1999 I lost my sense of smell and taste considerably. Although there has been partial recovery over the years, both senses remain impaired.

“Smell training has been shown to aid recovery in some studies and involves repeated stimulation of the nerves of smell.

“Traditionally, musical scores favor the eye, but I’m keen to explore how sound can be inspired by different types of smells.

“When listening to a concert, the public never sees the score, what the musicians are playing. Likewise, they may not feel what performers feel either.

“It will be my first time doing this and it’s a complete experience,” he added.

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sonic setup

Rhodri will be joined in Bangor by his violinist sister, Angharad, who lives in Aberystwyth, and their friend, Patricia Morgan, who lives in Hay-on-Wye, on keyboard and bass.

He explained that their performance during the festival will be in two parts.

Rhodri described the first part of Saturday afternoon as a “sound installation” that introduces the audience to different aromas and sounds.

The trio will perform at various locations around the Pontio building from noon until around 4 p.m., interacting with the sound and olfactory installations.

Aromas used by Rhodri include ground coffee beans, baked bread, lilies, garlic, jasmine plants, essential oils, incense, lavender, earth, hay, leaves and even moldy books.

Learners from local secondary schools will participate in their own scent-sound performances within the installation, under the direction of Rhodri.

The second part at 5 p.m. involves a performance that will include an “immersive and interactive experience” for the audience and the performers.

According to festival director Guto Pryderi Puw, Rhodri Davies is one of the world’s greatest experimental musicians and has been a star of the festival in the past.

He said, “The senses are the theme of the festival and there is something about the senses in every concert.

“Hearing is clearly one of the senses and the trick is to bring the other senses into the festival.”

Rhodri has created a number of installations and performances that involve the destruction or dismantling of the harp. In 2010 he was shortlisted for the Northern Arts Prize and in 2012 he was awarded the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists.

World premieres

The concert featuring Darragh Morgan and Electroacoustic Wales will explore the phenomenon of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), a tingling sensation that typically begins on the scalp and travels down the back of the neck and up the spine.

It will include music by Arshia Samsaminia, a recent work by Jonty Harrison, as well as world premieres of pieces by Bangor composer Andrew Lewis and Irish composer Irene Buckley. Pieces by the two finalists for the William Mathias Composition Prize will also be performed for the first time.

Among the performers will be Darragh Morgan, who has established himself as a soloist of new music, giving numerous recitals at festivals around the world.

Following Rhodri Davies’ presentation, a concert at the Bryn Terfel Main Theater will feature new works by Guto Pryderi Puw, Dutch-born composer Carlijn Metselaar and Welsh composer Joseph Davies, with works commissioned and performed by UPROAR.

A new work by students resulting from an educational project set up by the festival will also be performed, as well as a piece by Du Yun from China and a work inspired by the visual elements of a street theater by the South Korean composer Unsuk. Chin.

Saturday’s concert will be the culmination of a day of musical activities in the Pontio building.

During the morning, Marie-Claire Howorth will present Camau Cerdd (First Steps in Music) to children aged six months to seven years on the themes of touch, sound and space, in collaboration with Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias (The William Mathias Music Centre).

Talented young performers from Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias will also have a stage, performing an eclectic mix of music for soloists and ensembles in the early afternoon.

This will be followed by the Bangor New Music Ensemble performing new compositions inspired by the senses by students from Bangor University’s Department of Music, Drama and Performance.

Guto Puw is confident that the festival can go ahead as planned, with arrangements in place for a hybrid event where live concerts attended in person will also be streamed live simultaneously on various digital platforms.

He is also delighted that highlights of this year’s festival will be broadcast at a later date on BBC Radio 3’s New Music Show programme.

More information about the online festival at www.bangormusicfestival.org.uk and tickets can be purchased from the Pontio ticket office on 01248 382828.

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