Chance of lifetime for budding young musicians to play with top orchestra


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Young musicians from across North Wales are being offered the opportunity of a lifetime to perform with a full orchestra at an international music festival.

They will be taking to the stage with the resident orchestra, NEW Sinfonia, at the prestigious North Wales International Music Festival at St Asaph Cathedral.

And it doesn’t matter what standard of playing they have reached or whether they play a string, wind, brass instrument or harp.

Artistic director Ann Atkinson says the young musicians will need to register for the project and attend a workshop at Ysgol Brynhyfryd in Ruthin where tutors will be on hand to guide the young performers.

The festival itself will be on from Saturday, September 14, to Saturday, September 28, thanks to support from the Arts Council of Wales, Tŷ Cerdd and Colwinston Charitable Trust. The instrumental project is being supported by The Thomas Howell’s Education Fund for North Wales.

Among the other highlights at the festival will be performances by Japanese pianist Yu Kosuge, rising piano star Luke Jones, the Only Boys Aloud choir, folk groups Awen Celtica and VRï, vocal group The Gesualdo Six and mezzo-soprano Rebecca Afonwy-Jones, who will perform with NEW Sinfonia.

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.

NEW Sinfonia was established by brothers Robert and Jonathan Guy who were regulars at the festival’s masterclasses and workshops when they were younger.

Ann said: “It doesn’t matter how good or how new someone is at playing an instrument, we are offering an amazing opportunity to perform with NEW Sinfonia orchestra as part of this year’s festival.

“All young musicians need to do is register for the project, either by downloading the application form on our website or emailing caroline@nwimf.com. There will then be a workshop with NEW Sinfonia musicians on Sunday, September 22 at Ysgol Brynhyfryd where we will also have tutors from music services across North Wales on hand.

“The young musicians will then perform alongside NEW Sinfonia in what will be the opening piece of our orchestral concert on the evening of Thursday, September 26 at St Asaph Cathedral.

“It’s an incredible opportunity and so unusual to have the chance to perform with a full orchestra. It will be an amazing experience. Most young musicians learning an instrument only play to their tutor on a one-to-one basis.

“So, to play alongside a full orchestra is just wonderful. It really will be quite an inspirational event and one I hope many young musicians, whatever the standard they have reached, will seize upon. This is an opportunity that doesn’t come along very often”

“The theme of this year’s festival is Mother Earth and Jonathan Guy has written a new piece called Elemental, inspired by the classical elements of the earth.

“This is the fourth year the festival has had NEW Sinfonia as our resident orchestra and I like to think we have played a big part in helping the orchestra develop.”

NEW Sinfonia conductor Robert Guy said: “We really couldn’t be happier to continue our relationship with the North Wales International Music Festival. We always really enjoy the workshops and the opportunity to work with young musicians.

“The orchestra has gone from strength to strength. We have 47 musicians many of whom have studied at the most prestigious music colleges in the country.

“The idea of NEW Sinfonia was to give new musicians a chance to perform in an orchestra at the earliest opportunity back home in North Wales.

“We are always looking to attract and support newly graduated musicians as well, to give them experience of performing professionally. This experience helps them to gain more work in places like London and elsewhere.

As well as working with other artists and performers throughout the North Wales International Music Festival week, NEW Sinfonia will be performing as a full orchestra at the Thursday, September 26 orchestral evening concert.

Robert added: “The concert will begin with my brother’s new work Elemental which will involve the instrumental students who will have the opportunity to play with a full orchestra.

“We will also be performing Beethoven’s Symphony Number 6 ‘Pastorale’ and will be joined by mezzo-soprano Rebecca Afonwy-Jones as we perform Elgar’s Sea Pictures.”

“Symphony Number 6 ‘Pastorale’, is a very famous work but it’s highly unusual for Beethoven as a composer as it has a very defined storyline. Much of his work was absolute and abstract. However, as an orchestra we are really looking forward to performing this concert.

“It’s going to be a wonderful evening of classical music and as an orchestra we are so looking forward to playing before a full audience.”

To find out more about the North Wales International Music Festival and register for the instrumental project please visit www.nwimf.com or email caroline@nwimf.com. 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.

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