Rising star Rhodri makes his debut at international festival


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One of the most talented young tenors in the UK will have a starring role at a concert to launch a top music festival.

Welsh National Opera singer Rhodri Prys Jones will be performing at St Asaph Cathedral on Tuesday, June 25, at the curtain raiser for the acclaimed North Wales International Music Festival.

The festival will be staged at the same venue from Saturday, September 14, to Saturday, September 28, thanks to support from the Arts Council of Wales and Tŷ Cerdd.

Other highlights will include performances from pianist Teleri-Siân, the junior and senior piano trios from the William Mathias Music Centre, Côr Cytgan Clwyd and a quartet from the festival’s resident orchestra, NEW Sinfonia.

According to Rhodri Prys Jones, who will be accompanied by pianist Conal Bembridge-Sayers, he is excited about making his North Wales International Music Festival debut during what is a busy year for the 26-year-old from Llanwddyn, near Oswestry.

Currently covering the role of Tamino in the Magic Flute with the Welsh National Opera (WNO), Rhodri says he’s been busy since graduating from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama last summer.

He said: “I’m with the Welsh National Opera (WNO) and gaining invaluable experience. After I finish the Magic Flute, I’ll be covering the role of Ernesto in Don Pasquale again with the WNO so it’s a busy year.

“I’ve been fortunate to have performed at most of the UK’s major iconic venues. As a proud Welshman my main ambition was to perform on my national stage at the Millennium Centre in Cardiff. I managed that when I performed in War and Peace playing the role of Fyodor.

“I’ve also sung at the Royal Albert Hall as a soloist in the Thousand Voices concert in 2016 and in July of this year I’m going to experience my debut at Covent Garden when I play Fyodor in War and Peace.

“I was also chosen to perform as a guest soloist at the London Welsh Festival of Male Voice Choirs and at a gala dinner performance for His Highness Prince Charles.

“It will be a special evening at the cathedral and I’m delighted to have been chosen to perform at the festival’s launch concert.”

An award from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) where he studied led to the young tenor joining Welsh legendary singer Dame Shirley Bassey for dinner.

He said: “I won the 2017 inaugural Shirley Bassey award which is presented to an outstanding young vocalist at the college. I performed for her at a gala dinner and then had the pleasure of sitting alongside her for the meal.

“I also won the Ian Stoutzker prize, which is awarded annually to the most outstanding musician at the RWCMD as well as the Janet Price Opera Prize, the Glynne James Scholarship and the Busenhart Morgan-Evans Worshipful Company Award.”

Artistic director Ann Atkinson said: “It’s going to be a very special evening. Rhodri Prys Jones is an amazing talent.

“The theme for this year’s festival will be Mother Earth. So many composers have been inspired by our beautiful world and all the nature within it. Beethoven, for example, often used nature as inspiration for his compositions and often said he preferred the company of a tree to that of a human being.

“The evening concert on Thursday, September 26 will feature our resident NEW Sinfonia orchestra performing Beethoven’s Symphony No 6, Pastorale. Each movement of the symphony is inspired by nature. It’s a very special and famous piece of music. Welsh mezzo-soprano Rebecca Afonwy-Jones will join the orchestra to perform Elgar’s Sea Pictures.”

She added: “We also have Welsh classical pianist Luke Jones, who hails from Wrexham, Japanese pianist Yu Kosuge, chamber-folk group Vrï and Awen Celtica.

“We also have an evening celebrating Williams Mathias’s 85th anniversary and the return of our Festival Community Chorus, in association with WNO. The Gesualdo Six, a vocal consort comprised of some of the UK’s finest young singers will perform an evening concert of songs inspired by nature.

“Educational and community outreach work is a vital part of the Festival’s ethos. This year we are going to be decorating the cathedral’s pillars as trees to reflect the Mother Nature theme.

“Pupils from local primary schools will be involved in a cross-curricular project centred on the seasons.

“Music students of all standards will be working with NEW Sinfonia musicians as part of our instrumental project and will have the opportunity to perform, something they will always remember.”

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. I’d encourage any lover of classical music to get a ticket for at least one of the concerts.

“There is something for everyone at this year’s Festival including an evening of folk music, something we haven’t done before. It’s going to be a wonderful Festival and one I’m very excited about.”

Launch concert tickets are £10 and available from Cathedral Frames, 28 High Street, St Asaph, 01745 582929 (open Tuesday – Friday, 10.00 – 16.30) or from caroline@nwimf.com. Festival tickets will go on sale after the launch concert.

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