The woman who led the “oldest boy band in the world” to global stardom has taken on a new challenge.
Ann Atkinson has been appointed as the first ever female musical director of one of Wales’s finest male voice choirs, Cȏr Meibion Trelawnyd, from Flintshire.
For several years Ann was the conductor of the Fron Choir who’ve clocked up a million album sales after signing for Universal Records in 2006.
According to Ann, she’s “proud and privileged” to become the first woman to take charge of such a successful choir with a “massive history and heritage”.
She is taking over from Geraint Roberts who called it a day after more than 30 years as musical director.
Ann, from Corwen, is a talented mezzo soprano in her own right and will also be performing as a soloist with her new choir.
Cȏr Meibion Trelawnyd was formed in 1933 and has a clutch of famous supporters – their vice presidents include Hollywood actor Jonathan Pryce and BBC weather presenter Helen Willetts. Also among them was Welsh musical doyen Rhys Jones who sadly passed away recently.
The priority for Ann now is to prepare the choir for their first concert together in Rhuddlan Parish Church on St David’s Day and then for a tour of Picardy in France in May.
She said: “Both Geraint and his wife Angela, who was the choir’s accompanist, did an absolutely fantastic job and I want to carry on their good work.
“We have to remember it’s a big change for the choir’s membership too, I’m their first new musical director in over 30 years and the first female director they have ever had.
“We have to get used to each other and I need to assess the choir – and they have to get used to my conducting style.”
Ann has vast experience in music and was honoured by being made a Bard at the Bala National Eisteddfod in 2009.
The following year she was made an Honorary Fellow at Glyndŵr University and in 2011 she received The Welsh Livery Guild’s Merit Award in recognition of her outstanding achievements to the world of music in Wales and beyond, both as a performer and as a leader.
Ann, who will also continue in her role as the Musical Director of the North Wales International Music Festival, wants to see Cȏr Meibion Trelawnyd going from strength to strength.
She added: “It would be wonderful to recruit new choir members with strong voices. The choir is a family and a close knit unit and we need to maintain that whilst looking to evolve and develop.”
“I am delighted we have a new accompanist, Paul Young, a Cambridge graduate who is an excellent pianist. I have worked with Paul for many years and he will add something to the choir especially as we go forward and look to build our already extensive repertoire.
“I’m excited about the future and what the choir can achieve.”
Paul Young, from Ruthin, is also looking forward to the new challenge.
He said: “I have always appreciated the unique sound of Welsh male voice choirs and this is a great opportunity to work with one of the leading male voice choirs in North Wales – and I am looking forward to what we can achieve under Ann Atkinson’s professional guidance.”
Choir chairman Arwyn Evans is delighted Ann Atkinson has agreed to become the choir’s first female musical director.
He said: “It was a blow to lose Geraint Roberts after so many years but we couldn’t be more delighted to have managed to secure Ann’s services.
“She will be a hard task master and I have no doubt the choir will evolve and flourish under her stewardship.
“We do hope to attract new, younger members and improve upon our already extensive repertoire. Ann knows what works and will soon know the choir’s strengths and weaknesses which she will improve in her own way.”
“I have no doubt Cȏr Meibion Trelawnyd is embarking upon a period of change that will see the choir become stronger, even more established and able to develop and continue for many, many years to come.”