Sbotolau is new series of digital introductions to music creators in Aberystwyth and wider Ceredigion, hosted by MusicFest Aberystwyth.

For winter 2021, we want to introduce a composer from the local area, Alan Chamberlain, who brings together archival material, technology and composition techniques to write and record some really interesting pieces.

Alan is fascinated by the different ways in which people can creatively use software to develop different approaches to composition and has a particular interest in the arts and community development in Wales.

Alan said “Festivals such as MusicFest Aberystwyth are phenomenally important, especially in terms of understanding and introducing audiences to contemporary music in Wales. The last time I attended I was astounded by the quality of the performances and compositions. This year I was pleased to see that some experimental music was creeping in the festival, it’s a growing area in Wales.

Before we find out more about Alan and his work, here are two works to whet your appetite:

Flow 1

Both of these tracks are available on the Album “The Loss of One” a CD was also released on the Recordiau Prin Label

Flow 2

What has Alan been up to recently?

In 2018 he was awarded a CODI electronic composer award from Ty Cerdd. Gaining commissions from Marc Rees for Linell | Llinyn (part of AGORA at the National Eisteddfod, where he also performed and spoke about his work), from the National Library of Wales and the multi-lingual poet Jasmina Bolfek-Radovani for her published poetry based on Amelia Rosselli. He is currently working on an collection of work which brings together improvisation, electronics and more experimental techniques. He is also with the Finnish composer Maria Kallionpaa on an immersive opera.

Alan said, “It’s funny, you end up working with people all over the world – Australia, China, Finland…but sometimes you don’t realise how much you’re influenced by your local surroundings. I was being interviewed by the British Library last week and I suddenly realised that tracks such as Heligoland, Pen Dinas in Voice and Étretat & Nanteos are all locally inspired. It’s really important to support music in Wales labels such as Recordiau Prin and Wormhole World have taken the time to release my music and it’s important to see them survive and organisations such as Ty Cerdd are doing their best to develop and support music in Wales. The CODI programme is great! ”

A closer look at Heligoland

“When we think about the world and the ways in which the world presented we often think about maps and images of the landscape, but these artefacts fail to show the transient ever changing nature of the landscape, the people in it and the ways in which different people understand and inhabit that space over time. As a starting point this composition, ‘Heligoland‘ uses shipping records from Aberystwyth (Ceredigion, Wales) as its inspiration to start to unpack this understanding of the landscape/seascape”

Some of Alan’s accolades and backgrounds

His work has been performed at Bangor Music Festival and was played at Tate (London) as part of the event ‘Living with the Internet of Things’. He is a Composer in Residence at the computational Foundry Swansea University. In 2017 he composed the music for the BUFV award winning film “Into the Looking Glass…”, (Award presented at the British Film Institute). He has worked closely with Oxford University looking at the development of experimental software tools for music composition. He has written extensively on Music, Audio and Technology. In 2019 he was General Chair of the Audio Mostly conference held in Nottingham, and he is a member of the Steering Group for the CoDi dan-ddaear / CoDi off-grid project run by Ty-Cerdd. He is an Honorary Fellow at the Music Department University of Nottingham.

A closer look at ‘Wales 1891 Canada’

Alan’s composition, ‘Wales 1891 Canada’, a piece commissioned by the National Library of Wales as part of the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage Project. The work was inspired by the Glenys James oral history interviews.

Want to find out more about Alan?

Alan’s work can be freely accessed on his website or at one of these social media and streaming platforms:


Need a spotlight?

Sbotolau is new series of digital introductions to music creators in Aberystwyth and wider Ceredigion, hosted by MusicFest Aberystwyth. If you are a local music creator or music group and would like a spotlight shone on your work, please do get in touch.