A world class line up of performers is heading for a cathedral where the acoustics are “better than Sydney Opera House”.

The North Wales International Music Festival has now established itself as one of the highlights in the UK’s cultural calendar.

And the array of talent at this year’s event between September 26 and October 3 at St Asaph Cathedral is being hailed as one of the best ever.

One of the main highlights this year will be a world premiere the supremely talented former royal harpist, Hannah Stone.

This year’s programme will also feature the renowned Japanese pianist Noriko Ogawa, Australian guitarist Craig Ogden, vocal ensemble Stile Antico and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

Making his festival debut will be 16-year-old violin prodigy Xander Croft, from Greenfield, near Holywell.

This year the event  –  supported by the Arts Council of Wales – is working in partnership with Glyndŵr University to mark the International Year of Light.

The world-leading technology and science complex at the OpTic centre is also supporting the festival’s groundbreaking education project, entitled The Power of Light , which explores the concept of light through music as well as poetry, visual art and science. It’s also partly funded by the Colwinston Charitable Trust.

The festival is also being sponsored by Wrexham-based care organisation Pendine Park.

Ann Atkinson said: “”The theme of light will flow like a strand through all of the week and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales will be among the high points in a programme of world class concerts.

“They will be playing the Helios overture by Nielsen which has the sun going down over the Aegean which is rather beautiful.

“As well as the brilliant Hannah Stone, we’ll have Craig Ogden, the Australian guitarist who will be marvellous, as will the lovely Latvian violinist, Baiba Skride.

“Other highlights will include the fantastic Noriko Ogawa, Stilo Antico, the North Wales Only Boys Aloud and Elin Manahan Thomas

“Xander who played at the launch is a very bright young talent and he was thrilled when he found out I’m going to give him a slot at the Aspire Concert which is a showcase for talented young musicians.

“They deserve to have a platform and they will remember it.  It’s a lovely leg-up to the next level for them and it’s something they will enjoy.”

The cathedral was chosen as the venue for the Festival by its founder, another royal composer William Matthias, who wrote the anthem, Let the people praise Thee O God, for the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

According to Professor Matthias, one of his greatest achievements was the creation of the hugely popular music Festival in 1972.

He visited every potential venue in North Wales before deciding that St Asaph Cathedral provided the very best acoustic setting for the event.

Artistic Director Ann Atkinson explained: “The cathedral has a very special acoustic – the combination of the stone and the wood creates something really magical somehow.”

“I have also performed in the concert hall at Sydney Opera House and, while it has a brilliant acoustic, I must say that St Asaph Cathedral is actually a much better venue acoustically.”

For more information about this year’s line-up and to book tickets go to: www.nwimf.com