A TALENTED young conductor with an amazing 55 world premieres already under his belt has been honoured with a top award.
Robert Guy, 35, from Wrexham, was “surprised beyond belief and overjoyed” to have received the award named after one of his musical heroines, the late great Welsh-born composer Hilary Tann.
The prestigious accolade from the Welsh Music Guild recognised his outstanding contribution to Welsh classical music.
The award was presented by another of his heroes, royal composer Paul Mealor, a patron of the Welsh Music Guild.
Prof Mealor, who was born in St Asaph and brought up in Connah’s Quay, has worked on numerous occasions with Wrexham-based NEW Sinfonia, the flagship orchestra founded a decade ago by Robert and his composer brother Jonathan Guy.
From early beginnings it has grown to encompass a wealth of young musical talent and is now the resident orchestra of the North Wales International Music Festival held annually at St Asaph Cathedral.
Robert was also instrumental in founding and preparing the NEW Voices community choir for a concert at Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.
Prof Mealor said: “Robert is one of our finest young conductors and is trailblazing a wonderful career throughout Wales and well, well beyond. He is a unique talent.
“I am delighted to be presenting him with this award in my role as Patron of the Welsh Music Guild. ”
The 2023 Hilary Tann Award comes in what is proving to be a year of career highs for Robert who has just reached the remarkable conducting tally of holding the baton at 55 different world premieres of acclaimed new compositions.
He said: “I feel extremely humbled and hugely honoured to have been chosen to receive this award especially as this year it has been named for the first time in honour of the great composer Hilary Tann.
“I never met her but I would have loved to have had that pleasure. I know her music well and I have long been a fan. She was one of the great modern composers whose work enhanced the reputation of Welsh music all around the globe.
“Her music was greatly inspired by the Welsh landscape. I was first introduced to it when I was studying the viola at college. I loved to play her compositions and became enveloped by their poetry and lyricism.”
He added: “Founding NEW Sinfonia is one my and my brother Jon’s proudest achievements.
“We are both massive fans of classical music and the great virtuosos of the past but we also recognise the need to provide opportunities for new modern day composers to come through and for them to have the a chance to have their works heard.
“So, from our very beginnings we decided that we wanted NEW Sinfonia to commission works from up and coming composers who are the rising stars of the future. We play new compositions as often as possible.”
In addition to the works of Paul Mealor, Robert has conducted premieres by some rising composers of the 21st century including his brother Jonathan Guy, Claire Victoria Roberts, Rebecca Dale, and award-winning Welsh pianist Cameron Biles-Liddell.
Robert is currently based in Manchester where he conducts Manchester University Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, and is the university’s Director of Orchestras, Head of Choral Programmes, and Lead of the Undergraduate Conducting Programme.
He regularly guest conducts for Manchester Camerata, and in December 2022 he made a debut appearance conducting BBC National Orchestra of Wales for their Family Christmas concerts at the BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff.
Last month saw another first when he appeared at the Chopin Piano Festival in Pristina, Kosovo, leading the Kosovo Philharmonic Orchestra as it accompanied eminent UK pianist Peter Donohoe performing the notoriously challenging Rachmaninoff Concerto No.3.
Welsh Music Guild secretary and internationally renowned baritone Dr Jeremy Huw Williams said: “The award pays tribute to his consistent promotion of contemporary Welsh composers, especially within the local communities of North-East Wales.”
Fellow board member Ruth Evans, who is also executive producer with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, said: “Rob is a huge advocate for the promotion of Welsh music, not just through his conducting but also through the youth work and community groups which he and his brother Jon have established through the NEW Sinfonia outreach programmes.
“I have worked with Rob closely over the years via NEW Sinfonia and the Welsh National Opera and I’ve never failed to be impressed by the way he connects with the people he is conducting, whether it be a full orchestra or a vocal ensemble.
“He has this natural ability to engage with and empower musicians and singers, to bring out the very best in their performances.
“In addition, his ongoing dedication to Wales and the promotion of Welsh originated music is second to none. He wholly deserves this award and I couldn’t be more pleased for him.”