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Karl Jenkins' tribute to Aberfan - Cantata Memoria / Classic fm

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A pile of debris from nearby mines had been building up just above the village of Aberfan – and in 1966 it collapsed, pouring a mass of slurry 12 metres deep on to the Pantglas Junior School. It is now 50 years since this disaster – one of the country's worst. And Welsh language TV channel S4C commissioned composer Sir Karl Jenkins to write a piece to mark the anniversary. Cantata Memoria – For the Children is a work for choir and soloists and has been recorded by two Welsh musicians including bass-baritone Bryn Terfel, soprano Elin Manahan Thomas, harpist Catrin Finch and Côr Caerdydd.

The children of Pantglas had just arrived at their desks for the final day before the half-term holiday – the teachers were just taking the register – when a loud rumble was hear.  A survivor of the disaster, Gaynor Minett, said: "It was a tremendous rumbling sound and all the school went dead. You could hear a pin drop. Everyone just froze in their seats. I just managed to get up and I reached the end of my desk when the sound got louder and nearer, until I could see the black out of the window. I can't remember any more but I woke up to find that a horrible nightmare had just begun in front of my eyes." About half of the children in the school – 116 – were killed in the disaster, as well as five of the school teachers, along with 23 other adults. An inquiry found that the collapse had been caused by a build up of water and laid the blame at the door of the National Coal Board.

You can hear Karl Jenkins' Cantata Memoria – For the Children on The Full Works Concert, Friday 21st October, 8pm