Teenager from Poland wins Main Composer Prize on final day of Urdd Eisteddfod

A teenager from Poland has won the Main Composer Prize on the final day of the Urdd Eisteddfod today. Gerard Coutain, who lives in Rhydaman, has been announced as the winner.

The Medal was given this year by William and Ffion Hague, Plas Cyfronydd, and the ceremony was sponsored by The James Pantyfedwen Foundation.

Originally from Poland, Gerard has lived in Wales for eight years and is learning Welsh. He won 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. 14 entries were received, with adjudicators Gareth Glyn and Guto Pryderi Puw having “great satisfaction browsing through the variety of entertaining pieces.”

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Gerard said: “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.”

The judges said: “The winner demonstrates confident technical skill and a natural talent for writing for the ensemble's instruments. This is an exuberant and energetic piece that kept us on the edge of our seats from the first bar to the last.

“The prize could have been offered to any of the four that we’re placed in the first-class category, and we would encourage all of the competitors to continue composing.”

Second in the competition was Rafik Harrington from Cardiff with David John Ingham from Swansea in third place. The week's highlights can be watched on S4C Clic and all of the results can be found on S4C’s website: s4c.cymru/urdd.

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