Some of Wales’ brightest and best young singers will headline this year’s Conwy Classical Music Festival. Elgan Llyr Thomas and Michaela Parry, who are both from the Llandudno area, with friends Meinir Wyn and Meilir Jones ,will present a Night at the Opera during the week long event which runs from 23rd – 29th July. Between them, the four have notched up appearances at many prestigious venues including Glyndebourne. Their concert on Thursday, July 27th at 7.30pm will feature arias, duets and ensembles from operas and musicals by composers ranging from Mozart and Verdi to Bernstein and Rodgers and Hammerstein.
The festival is now in its thirteenth year, and is one of the largest music events in Wales not to charge for admission, relying only on audience donations and sponsorship.
Its work in promoting local talent from the area and in developing the cultural life of North Wales has won it the praise of celebrities in the music world such as Bryn Terfel.
Yet it remains a community event, organised by people from the Conwy area, and with an emphasis on nurturing young musicians from Wales.
“This year’s programme also features six other young singers from the area. Erin Gwyn (soprano), Eleias Roberts (tenor) and Rhodri Brookes (baritone) will perform in the Monday lunchtime slot on 24th July, whilst Charlotte Forfar (soprano), Eiry Price( mezzo) and John Ieuan Jones (baritone) will fill a similar slot on Saturday, July 29th.
Chris Roberts, who directs the festival said: “All six are currently studying music and are hoping to build a career in the future. Who knows, the voices on stage in Conwy this year may be the voices to listen out for in the years to come!”
Singers aren’t the only young people to be performing at the festival. Local pianist, sixteen year old Ellis Thomas will take to the stage on Monday 24th July with a programme of works by Bach, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Chopin and Prokofiev.
Promising to be a major highlight will be the concert by the Festival Orchestra at 8pm on Monday, July 24th. The Orchestra, with members drawn from some of the North West’s leading orchestras, will perform under the direction of Paul Barritt, permanent guest Leader of the prestigious Halle Orchestra, and previously leader of the Northern Sinfonia and the English Chamber Orchestra.
The programme will begin with the premiere of one of three works commissioned for this year’s festival; Five Bagatelles for Orchestra by Romanian composer, Tiberius Buta. Mozart’s ever popular Clarinet Concerto will follow, with Sergio Castello Lopez, principal clarinet of the Halle as soloist. Mendelssohn’s effervescent Italian Symphony will complete the programme.
The clarinet will also feature in a number of other concerts during the week, including a performance of Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet and other works for this versatile instrument by composers from different lands.
North Wales composer, John Hosking, has composed a sonata which will be premiered at lunchtime on Wednesday, July 26th by Peryn Clement-Evans (clarinet) and Christina Mason-Scheuermann (piano).
Chris Roberts, added: “the event has always aimed to put Conwy on the map and help attract people to the area. We hope the programme for this thirteenth year will be better than ever for the town.
The festival wouldn’t happen without the support of the people of Conwy. Local businesses and individuals sponsor the concerts, and a very willing team of volunteers are on board to ensure that everything runs smoothly.”
Other highlights of the week include a concert and choral workshop by the London-based early music specialists, The Marian Consort, a specially themed children’s concert by percussionist Dewi Ellis-Jones, and a finale of pure Welsh talent with the Brythoniaid Male Voice Choir, The Dyffryn Conwy Youth Choir, harpist Dafydd Huw and soloists Sian Wyn Gibson and John Eifion.
Concerts take place in the historic St Mary’s church in the centre of Conwy as well as other venues around town.
The festival has previously been praised by Bryn Terfel, who commented: ““it’s particularly good to see the emphasis on giving talented young musicians from Wales a chance to show what they can do, and to perform with equal billing alongside established performers from around the world.”
Paul Mealor, who wrote an anthem for the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton, and who conducted the National Youth Choir of Wales at the festival last year, added his endorsement, saying: “The festival brings the very best classical talent to the area and in so doing, enriches the lives of all the people who attend. Long may it continue!”
The Conwy Classical Music Festival begins on Sunday July 23rd with choral evensong, and runs for a week.