A music festival got off to a rousing start with a world premiere at a cathedral where the acoustics are “better than Sydney Opera House”.

The opening concert of the North Wales International Music Festival at St Asaph Cathedral featured their newly appointed resident orchestra, NEW Sinfonia, and the Festival Choir.

It was a celebration of the distinguished composer John Hosking and included the first performance of his new work for organ and orchestra, Missa pro defunctis. The organist was Graham Eccles.

Artistic director Ann Atkinson, a talented mezzo soprano in her own right, said: “The festival got off to a wonderful start with the world premiere of John Hosking’s moving new composition, which was very well received by an appreciative audience.

“The cathedral has a very special acoustic and provided the perfect setting for the piece – 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.”

Among the other highlights this year will be another world premiere of a new symphony by royal composer Paul Mealor.

Prof Mealor, 40, who was born in St Asaph, is dedicating his 2nd symphony, Sacred Places, to the festival’s vice chair, Sue Last, and her husband, John, who live in St Asaph.

The symphony will be performed by NEW Sinfonia under the baton of conductor Robert Guy.

The concert on October 1, the final Saturday of the festival, which is being held once again with the support of the Arts Council of Wales and Tŷ Cerdd, is being sponsored by the arts-loving care organisation Pendine Park along with local couple Aldie and Avril Robarts.

Prof Mealor was catapulted into classical music’s elite after his motet Ubi caritas et amor was sung by the choirs of Westminster Abbey and Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal at the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in April 2011.

He said: “The North Wales International Music Festival is really important. There are not too many places in the region where you can go and listen to the very best classical music. It’s a festival we must protect and ensure it goes from strength to strength.”

Ann added: “We have a fantastic and varied programme this year, including an Aspire/Inspire concert featuring the Royal harpist, Anne Denholm, as well as pianists Iwan Llewelyn-Jones and Siwan Rhys.

“We also have concert performances by pianist Janina Fialkowska, classical guitarist Miloš Karadaglić, West End soprano Margaret Preece, the NEW Sinfonia orchestra, violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen and vocal groups Ex Cathedra, The Vale of Clwyd Singers and the Festival Choir.”

“We are organising several master classes and a cross-curricular Roald Dahl-themed Education Day featuring Ensemble Cymru, supported by Literature Wales and Tŷ Cerdd. There will also be our community tour, supported by Cartrefi Conwy, Arts & Business Cymru and R M Jones Joinery, including our schools and tots concerts.

“The North Wales International Music Festival is all about bringing the very best classical music and musicians to North Wales.

“There is something in the programme for everyone and it really is going to be an amazing and very exciting festival which is a must for every fan of classical music in North Wales and beyond.”

To find out more about the North Wales International Music Festival please visit www.nwimf.com or email caroline@nwimf.com. Tickets are available from Theatr Clwyd on 01352 701521 or Cathedral Frames in St Asaph on 01745 582929.