Welsh composer selected to represent Wales at prestigious international music festival

todayNovember 11, 2023 1

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Nathan James Dearden

A Welsh composer will represent Wales at an international festival described as the ‘Olympics of contemporary music’ in December.

Nathan James Dearden, a young composer from Tonyrefail, Rhondda Cynon Taff, has been selected for his choral work ‘i breathe’ which was originally commissioned and performed by the National Youth Choir of Great Britain.

The work will be performed at the  International Society for Contemporary Music’s World Music Days festival in South Africa.

The annual event will see representatives from over 50 countries perform cutting-edge music from around the world.

This will be the first year since ISCM’s birth in 1922 that the festival will be hosted on the African continent.


Nathan is an award-winning music creator who work has been performed and featured by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Tippett Quartet, National Youth Orchestra of Wales, tenor Nicky Spence, National Youth Choirs of Great Britain, Fidelio Trio, and Hebrides Ensemble.

His music regularly features in concerts across the UK and overseas, including at the Cheltenham Music Festival, Dartington International Festival, CROSSROADS International New Music Festival and Vale of Glamorgan Festival. His music has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, Resonance FM, RTÉ lyric FM, S4C and Soho Radio, whilst also released on NMC Recordings and Delphian.

Nathan is also a sought-after conductor, arts advisor, event curator and educator, holding arts advisory roles with several international organisations such.

He is currently Lecturer in Music Composition at Royal Holloway University of London and Lead Compostition Tutor at the Centre for Young Musicians at Morley College.

Insane honour

Speaking about his selection, Nathan said: “It is an insane honour to be selected to represent Wales at ISCM World New Music Days this year – a real ‘pinch-me moment’, especially when shortlisted among such talented friends and colleagues from across Wales.

“This work that has been selected to be showcased in this year’s festival has really taken on a life of its own, and it is so heartening that the hard work of its commissioners – the young voices of the National Youth Training Choirs of Great Britain  – and the superb Welsh haiku poets I collaborated with are getting the recognition they deserve.

“They continue to be key to its ongoing success. The music, for choir, feels like a warm hug.

“The poet’s words – in both Welsh and English – make us think about our relationship to our environment. The hills around us. The trees we used to climb as a child. The paths we walk. “

Nathan James Dearden

Alongside choral music by composers from Slovenia, USA, Ireland, China, and Spain, ‘i breathe’ will be performed by Cape town XVI on 2 December 2023 at the Norval Foundation in Cape Town South Africa.

To listen to the piece on Spotify, click here

To find out more about Nathan visit

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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