A world-renowned vocal ensemble is bringing its acclaimed brand of early choral music from the 16th and 17th centuries to North Wales for the first time.
Stile Antico will be among the star attractions at the North Wales International Music Festival at St Asaph Cathedral, along with former royal harpist Hannah Stone.
The London-based group of three sopranos, three altos, three tenors and three basses, perform unaccompanied and produce an evocative and spiritual sound that has seen them release 10 discs to date with an 11th due for release in October.
The festival, supported by the Arts Council of Wales, is being held between September 26 and October 2.
This year’s programme will also include celebrated Japanese pianist Noriko Ogawa, Australian guitarist Craig Ogden and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and will feature a debut performance by 16-year-old violin prodigy Xander Croft, from Greenfield, near Holywell.
Stile Antico bass singer Will Dawes, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music and one of the founding members of Stile Antico, says the group endeavour to perform music the way it would have been performed 500 years ago or more.
He said: “We began 10 years ago and won the audience prize at a festival in York. We were lucky to be spotted by Rebecca Young who listened to us, liked what she heard and signed us up to the American, Harmonia Mundi label.
“So far we have released 10 albums, although one was a compilation. Our 11th album, which is a collection of German Christmas music, will be released in October.
“We do tour a great deal in America and in January we will be performing in a concert at the National Cathedral in Washington DC.
“But we have performed right across America including concerts in Seattle and Los Angeles and Boston, New York and Florida with quite a few venues in between.
“We have also performed right across Europe and now have our sights set on a future tour of Australia and Japan.”
He added: “We are delighted to be visiting St Asaph to sing at the North Wales International Music Festival.
“As it’s our 10th anniversary we are going to perform a concert based on Compline, the last service of the monastic day. It’s reflective of the end of day but finishes rousingly.
“It’s a concert we are bringing out of hibernation really as we haven’t performed it for quite a long time.”
Will, a former lay clerk at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford, says the group is run on a very democratic basis with no one in overall charge.
He added: “Our repertoire focuses on the rich legacy of 16th and 17th-century polyphonic composition. We perform the music of Palestrina and his Italian, Flemish and Spanish contemporaries, but also music from the English school, from the Eton Choirbook to Taverner, Sheppard, Tallis and Byrd, and the Elizabethan madrigalists.
“I’d encourage people who haven’t experienced early music to come along and enjoy the concert. The music is all based on religion, but you don’t need to be religious to enjoy it or find it spiritual in a different way.
“We are looking forward to appearing at St Asaph and introducing early music to a wider audience.”
North Wales International Music Festival’s artistic director, Ann Atkinson, is looking forward to welcoming Stile Antico.
She said: “Individually all the members of Stile Antico are extremely talented musicians and collectively they are simply stunning.
“Their performances have a vivid and colourful approach to choral repertory and are of such quality they simply have to be heard to be believed. I am absolutely delighted they have agreed to perform in St Asaph.
“It’s vital we continue to attract the very best musicians and performers to the festival and in Stile Antico we have certainly done that.
“The fact they have performed at some of the world’s biggest and most prestigious concert venues is testament to that.”
She added: “This is a concert not to be missed and I’d encourage everyone to get their tickets early to avoid disappointment. This will be one of the highlights of the week-long festival.”
For tickets, which are £23 & £20 reserved and £15 unreserved or for more information call the Box Office at Mold’s Clwyd Theatr Cymru on (01352) 701521 or book on-line at to www.nwimf.com