Twenty five of the world’s finest young singers will be heading to North Wales to compete for a prestigious international prize.
Entrants from five continents will be battling for the title of Pendine International Voice of the Future at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.
It will be the first full festival since before the Covid-19 pandemic and it all gets underway on Tuesday, July 4, when thousands of international competitors will once again be flocking to the Dee Valley town where “Wales meets the world”.
The Pendine International Voice of the Future competition is celebrating its 10th anniversary and is being sponsored by the arts-loving care organisation, Pendine Park, via the Pendine Arts and Community Trust (PACT) which supports cultural and community initiatives across Wales.
In the past decade the contest has become one of the Eisteddfod’s major highlights and Camilla King, the festival’s executive producer, said the aim was to advance the careers of the world’s most gifted young singers.
Last year’s winner, baritone Emyr Lloyd Jones, from Bontnewydd, near Caernarfon, was dubbed the new Bryn Terfel after his powerhouse performance.
He will be returning to Llangollen to take part in a concert called The White Flower: Into the Light where he will be sharing the stage with ‘Lleisiau Llan’, a massed choir of 200 voices brought together specially for this concert, and the NEW Sinfonia orchestra.
Camilla King said: “The Pendine International Voice of the Future has become a very popular competition and the 43 entries we received this year is one of the highest number we’ve ever had.
“The standard is again very high, and although at the selection stage you can determine a promising singer, hearing someone live is an altogether different and more thrilling experience. We knew that Emyr (Lloyd Jones), last year’s winner, was talented we watched his application video, but seeing him on stage blew the judges and the audience away.
“There’s something about the human voice heard live, and witnessing someone’s stage presence which you just can’t capture on film, and this is one of the things thatmakes this competition so exciting,” she said.
The selection panel have whittled down the entrants to the 25 singers who hail from Wales and Scotland as well as further afield from Canada, South Africa, China, Korea, Australia and the Philippines.
They will have to navigate a preliminary round on Thursday, July 6, and a semi-final the following day before the final competition on the famous International Pavilion stage on Saturday, July 8.
Competitors, who are aged between 20 and 32, are required to perform a contrasting programme of up to seven minutes in length for their preliminary round and up to 10 minutes for the final. Camilla said the programmes must include works from oratorio, opera, lieder or song and be sung in the original language.
Eisteddfod officials have agreed to a significant change in the competition with three singers set to take part in the final rather than the two last summer.
“We’re having three singers in the final this year. It was such a strong final last year and the audience enjoyed it so much that we thought why not give the platform to a third finalist,” said Camilla.
The winner will be presented with the Pendine Trophy, a solid silver salver, and a cheque for £3,000 as well as having the opportunity to perform in concerts at the Eisteddfod and other venues. Meanwhile, the runner up will receive £1,500.
The International Accompanist competition, which is linked to the main singing competition, carries a prize of £1,000.
Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE said: “The standard of the competitors in years past has been absolutely phenomenal and I have no doubt it will be incredibly high again this year.
“I wish all 25 young singers all the very best in this year’s Pendine International Voice of the Future competition. I do not envy the task of the adjudicators as the singers are all so extraordinarily accomplished.”
The prize will be jointly presented to the winner by Nia Davies Williams, Pendine Park’s musician-in-residence and Sarah Edwards, the organisation’s artist-in-residence.
Looking forward to this year’s Eisteddfod, Camilla said: “We have a new improved outdoor site, the ever popular Everbright Parade of Nations will be back and will be bigger and better than ever, this time finishing on the Eisteddfod Maes with a massed song and dance number, with town spectators invited to come onto the field with free entry, and some exciting new competitions on our closing Sunday, meaning our competitor experience offers even more.
“The concert programme is looking great, with Alfie Boe kicking things off on the Tuesday evening, along with Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalists Welsh of the West End. They will have a solo set in the programme and will present their version of the rock-opera Nia Ben Aur.
“And on the Friday well known jazz musician and conductor, Guy Barker with his 17 piece Big Band will collaborate with top soloists such as Tommy Blaize, lead singer on Strictly Come Dancing, and soul and jazz musicians, Clare Teal, Giacomo Smith and Vanessa Haynes.