Wales

Rhys Ifans joins Super Furry Animals' Ciaran on folk tale

Super Furry friends Cian Ciarán and actor Rhys Ifans join forces Image copyright Getty Images/BBC

Hollywood star Rhys Ifans is joining forces with Cian Ciaran from the band Super Furry Animals to retell a Welsh folk tale.

The musician has composed the score for the BBC National Orchestra performance narrated by Ifans.

"Rhys and Meinir" recalls the story of two lovers and tragedy that strikes as they prepare to marry, with poetry by Gruffudd Antur.

It gets its premiere in November at BBC Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff.

It has taken Ciaran nearly 20 years to compose the piece while working on the road or in the studio with his band, which returned in 2015 after a hiatus.

With Ifans recording the Welsh-language narration, he is reunited with Ciaran - The star of blockbusters like The Amazing Spider-Man was the one-time frontman for the fledgling Super Furry Animals.

The performance also brings the conductor Alastair King into the fold, who has credits for Pirates of the Caribbean and Doctor Who.

"The story of Rhys and Meinir was told to me as a young boy, by my father in the village of Nant Gwrtheyrn, where it is set, so has deep resonance with me," said Ciaran.

"That Rhys Ifans and Alastair King have joined me and BBC National Orchestra of Wales to tell the story will do the story added justice."

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Nant Gwrtheryn

Nant Gwrtheyrn is more well known today as being home to the National Welsh Language and Heritage Centre, close to the village of Llithfaen and under the shadow of Yr Eifl mountains on the edge of the Llyn Peninsula in Gwynedd.

It is also home to the legend of Rhys and Meinir.

According to the story, Meinir went to hide on the morning of her wedding as part of a local tradition in the Snowdonia area.

However, despite frantic efforts by the groom to find her, she had disappeared.

Rhys slowly lost his mind in grief, when one day he stopped by a tree as it was hit by lightning.

Inside the tree trunk stood the skeleton of Meinir still in her wedding dress. Rhys collapsed and died as he made the grim discovery.

"It's a double tragedy and there can be no happy ending, but it's a part of Welsh storytelling and culture, a language and identity, which in turn continues to add to the rich diversity of the world around us," said Ciaran.

Ifans added: "The story is shocking, a real heartbreaker, but there's beauty in the prose and wonder in the music."

Michael Garvey, director of BBC National Orchestra of Wales said: "This piece is quintessentially Welsh - a wonderful combination of music, folklore and poetry and as Wales' national orchestra, we're excited to be performing the world premiere."

The piece will be premiered on 4 November in Cardiff and broadcast live on BBC Radio Cymru, before touring to Bangor University's Pontio centre in Ciaran's home city on 19 November.

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