First Minister's Special Award 2017 winner

The First Minister’s Special Award for 2017 has been awarded to Sir Karl Jenkins and Dr Mererid Hopwood.

The 21 October 2016 marked the 50th Anniversary of the disaster at Aberfan. That day in 1966 when Pantglas Junior School was engulfed by waste from the colliery, killing 116 children and 28 adults, must never be forgotten.

A number of events were held last October to mark this anniversary. One such event was a memorial concert at the Wales Millennium Centre. Sir Karl Jenkins and Dr Mererid Hopwood were commissioned by S4C to compose a new choral piece in memorial of this disaster for this concert called Cantata Memoria and its world premiere was held at the WMC.

The concert commemorated a very difficult time in Welsh history but it was handled in such a way that it took the families with it. It reflected the pain of loss while at the same time looked to the future. It was a very difficult balance to achieve but the piece succeeded and allowed our nation the opportunity to remember the day in a sensitive and dignified way.

Sir Karl Jenkins and Dr Mererid Hopwood were chosen by the First Minister for his special award for their cooperation in composing Cantata Memoria.  

Raised in Penclawdd, Sir Karl Jenkins was educated at Gowerton Grammar School, Cardiff University and the Royal Academy of Music, London. A recent survey shows that he is now the most performed living composer in the world.

Dr Mererid Hopwood, originally from Cardiff, is a Welsh poet who made history in 2001 by becoming the first woman ever to win the bardic chair at the National Eisteddfod. In 2003 she won the crown at the Meifod National Eisteddfod and the prose medal in 2008 for her book O Ran. 

What Sir Karl and Dr Mererid accomplished was incredible. Through their music, they brought together not only the community, but so many people from Wales and the world to share in this commemoration.