Military Wives' Christmas No 1 composer Paul Mealor's 'remarkable' year

Paul Mealor
Image caption Paul Mealor has been reflecting on an 'unbelievable' 2011

The Welsh composer behind the Military Wives' hit says the hope of a Christmas No 1 single caps a "remarkable" year.

Denbighshire-born Paul Mealor was asked by conductor Gareth Malone to write Wherever You Are for his TV choir series.

It came after the Duchess of Cambridge requested his music Ubi caritas for her wedding to Prince William in April.

His classical album, A Tender Light, has already become Christmas number one in the specialist album chart.

"It's been an unbelievable a year," said Mr Mealor, 36, who was born in St Asaph and now lives in Anglesey when he is not teaching at the University of Aberdeen.

"Last year if I'd have talked about some of the things I could have hoped for, even I could not have dreamed of this. It has been absolutely unbelievable," said Mr Mealor, a professor in music composition.

He studied composition privately as a boy with the late William Mathias, one of the first Welsh composers to achieve international acclaim.

'Bowled over'

Mr Mealor's own work, Ubi caritas, received its debut last year and later came to the attention of the duchess.

He met with the royal couple and they agreed his music would be performed at their wedding by the Choir of Westminster Abbey and the Choir of Her Majesty's Chapel Royal at St James's Palace in April, bringing his work to the attention of a worldwide audience.

From there his album, A Tender Light, went on to hold the number one spot in the specialist classical album chart in the run up to Christmas.

Image caption Gwynedd-born Nicky Scott is one of the military wives in the choir

"I have actually been bowled over by the response," he said.

Mr Mealor said he was told the royal couple added their support to the Military Wives' song along with celebrities, including BBC Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans.

Their single Wherever You Are has been in an all-female battle with ITV's X Factor winners Little Mix to become the Christmas chart-topper.

Mr Mealor explained that he wrote it in the summer for the choir to perform at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Royal British Legion.

'Caught public attention'

It was based on the letters written by the choristers who gave him access after Mr Malone asked him to help when 100 wives and girlfriends of servicemen in Afghanistan were brought together for the BBC Two TV series, The Choir.

"All the way along Gareth was talking to me and making sure I was happy with the piece and how they were moulding it so it was a joy to work with them," he said in an interview for BBC Radio Scotland on Thursday.

"We had no idea it would become so popular.

"It has come at the right time.

"The sentiments that the women are singing about, about love, about missing the person they love the most, actually rings home best at Christmas.

"I think it has completely caught the public's attention at the right time.

"I am so pleased for the women because they have worked so hard."

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