A pioneering boys’ choir will celebrate their fifth anniversary with a headline performance at an international music festival.
The North Wales Only Boys Aloud choir will be taking centre stage at the North Wales International Music Festival’s opening concert at 7pm at St Asaph Cathedral on Saturday, September 14.
And for around 15 members, who have been with the Aloud Charity choir since it was formed, it will be an emotional final performance before they leave and head off to university or into the workplace.
The 77-strong choir, made up of boys aged 11 to 19 from across North Wales, are looking forward to the concert. Their performance is being sponsored by the arts-loving care organisation, Pendine Park via the Pendine Arts and Community Trust, which supports dozens of arts and community activities across Wales.
Also starring in the concert will be the hugely gifted young classical pianist Luke Jones, from Wrexham.
The festival will run until Saturday, September 28, and is being supported by the Arts Council of Wales, Tŷ Cerdd and Colwinston Charitable Trust.
Among the other highlights at the festival will be performances by Japanese pianist Yu Kosuge, folk groups Awen Celtica and VRï, vocal group The Gesualdo Six, mezzo-soprano Rebecca Afonwy-Jones, who will perform with resident orchestra NEW Sinfonia, and a chamber music morning concert featuring musicians from Ensemble Cymru and Welsh National Opera.
There will also be an evening celebrating the 85th anniversary of the festival’s founder William Mathias. His daughter, Rhiannon Mathias, will be joined by composer Paul Mealor, harpist Elinor Bennett and pianist Iwan Llewelyn-Jones and performances will include the music Mathias loved by Debussy, Gershwin, Grace Williams and Mozart.
According to the Aloud charity’s North Wales manager, Eleri Watkins, it’s both a fitting venue and festival in which to celebrate the choir’s anniversary as well as a way of bidding farewell to their departing members.
She said: “The Aloud charity was formed a decade ago in South Wales and then five years ago we formed the North Wales Only Boys Aloud choir.
“One of our first performances was in St Asaph Cathedral at the North Wales International Music Festival and it could have been our last too as the funding just wasn’t there. We were struggling to get the grants we needed to continue.
“However, we somehow managed to get through that difficult spell and we are now going from strength to strength and we will be recruiting new members throughout the next few months
“Only Boys Aloud is now made up of some 200 boys who attend 14 choirs from Holyhead to Cwmbran. The choirs are led by experienced professional choral leaders and the local choirs meet every week during term times.
“In North Wales we have choirs that meet in Rhyl and Caernarfon every Monday and in Wrexham and Holyhead on Tuesdays. We bring all four choirs together once a term at Venue Cymru for a full rehearsal and once a year both the North and South Wales choirs come together.
“We are always looking for new members and there are no auditions or fees to pay, it’s absolutely free. At its heart the scheme aims to make a difference to the young men of Wales and help raise aspiration levels, self-esteem and confidence.
“It’s going to be a real honour performing at the North Wales International Music Festival again. It’s going to be an amazing festival with some fabulous concerts and events throughout the week.
“We are also delighted that our performance is being sponsored by the Pendine Arts and Community Trust. Gill and Mario Kreft MBE have been huge supporters of Only Boys Aloud and we are grateful to them for their continued support.”
Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE said: “It promises to be a fantastic concert and we can also look forward to a brilliant performance from Only Boys Aloud with whom I am familiar through my work with Care Forum Wales and the Wales Care Awards.
“We are also looking forward to hearing Erin Rossington, the winner of the Pendine International Voice of the Future competition at Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, which we have sponsored for the past three years.
“The arts in general and music in particular provide the golden thread running through everything we do to enrich the lives of our clients and our staff.”
The festival’s artistic director, Ann Atkinson, said: “Only Boys Aloud are always popular and their concerts are always spectacular and showcase Welsh choral tradition at it’s very best.
“The evening will also include a creative performance by Doniau Cudd from Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias.
“Doniau Cudd (Hidden Talents) is a creative music project for adults who have learning difficulties. The project was established in 2003 with the support of the Arts Council of Wales and Gwynedd Council Social Service Team.
“The project helps young people with learning difficulties to have an opportunity to take part in music activity after they have left school.”
She added: “It really is a busy programme this year and we are going to have the pleasure of enjoying some amazing music performed by talented world class musicians.”
To find out more about the North Wales International Music Festival please visit www.nwimf.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All evening concerts start at the new time of 7pm this year. Tickets are available online, from Theatr Clwyd, Mold – 01352 344101 or Cathedral Frames, St Asaph – 01745 582929.