Talented young musicians from North Wales are being given the chance to shine at a top international music festival.
They will have the opportunity to perform with acclaimed orchestra NEW Sinfonia at the North Wales International Music Festival that’s going virtual for the first time in its 49-year history.
Instead of being held at St Asaph Cathedral the festival will be hosted on the festival’s website – www.nwimf.com – on the original dates from Saturday, September 12, to Saturday, September 26, thanks to support from the Arts Council of Wales and festival sponsors including Salisburys chartered accountants and the Pendine Park care organisation via the Pendine Arts and Community Trust.
The theme of this year’s festival is Visions from Afar to reflect the fact it will be a virtual event.
Among those lined up to star as part of the festival in September are Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason, Australian guitarist Craig Ogden, stunning vocal group Voces8, piano virtuoso Luke Jones from Wrexham, and the renowned trio Awen Celtica with folk band VRï
In the run up to the event resident orchestra NEW Sinfonia will run two virtual workshops in September and any young musician, no matter what level they are at or what instrument they play, can join in.
Clarinettist Jonathan Guy, who formed the orchestra with his brother Robert who is also its conductor, has written a special piece of music called ‘Vision of Fire’ which will be emailed to the students who sign up so they can practice their part in advance of Zoom workshop sessions on Saturday, September 5 and Saturday, September 12 from 10.00 – 11.30.
After working with tutors in virtual online rehearsal rooms, students will then submit videos of their work which will be edited together to form a five-minute recording to be played as part of NEW Sinfonia’s virtual concert on Saturday, September 26 at 19.30.
Robert Guy added that the instrumental workshops are aimed at all young musicians, regardless of ability.
He said: “We want any young musician up to age 18 to join in and play a part. The fact we can’t hold face-to-face workshops, due to Covid-19, as we have during previous festivals, is a shame and it’s going to be technically challenging stitching the videos together.
“However, this is a fantastic opportunity to get involved and work with a full orchestra. My brother Jonathan and I are really excited about the project.
He added: “NEW Sinfonia will also be recording a full socially distanced concert in St Asaph Cathedral which will then be broadcast as part of the festival.
“Jonathan, his wife, violinist Catherine and harpist Bethan Griffiths will be recording a chamber music coffee time concert which will be broadcast at 11am during the two-week festival.
“We are also working with Ysgol Esgob Morgan in St Asaph on a recycled percussion project where we will look at recycling household objects into percussion instruments and making rhythms and music from them.”
The festival’s Artistic Director, Ann Atkinson, said: “I’m delighted that NEW Sinfonia continue to be our resident orchestra and are once again working with us on our educational projects.
“The young musician instrumental project is always something I look forward to. NEW Sinfonia players will be working alongside Denbighshire Music Co-operative and the Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias (William Mathias Music Centre) on the project. Educational projects have always been an important feature of the festival. We will also be broadcasting a schools and tots concert with Live Music Now Cymru musicians and virtual steps in music classes for children up to age seven with CGWM.
“Chamber music Morning Coffee Concerts with NEW Sinfonia and Ensemble Cymru will be broadcast at 11am. Everyone will be able to tune in online to watch and listen, and all of the virtual concerts and events are free of charge. We are just asking for donations towards the festival.”
She added: “I was determined despite it being a virtual festival this year that the number and quality of concerts will not be compromised and I think our inclusion of a performance by siblings, cellist Sheku and pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason, shows when it comes to quality we have achieved our goal.
“Who could forget the performance of Sheku Kanneh-Mason when he played at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. That was watched live by literally billions of people around the globe.
“There will also be broadcasts of discussion podcasts with musical clips featuring composer Paul Mealor alongside Bishop Gregory and poet Grahame Davies, Choral Vision podcasts with Welsh National Opera and the Festival Community Chorus, poetry with Aled Lewis Evans featuring harpist Bethan Griffiths and a performance by Côr Cytgan Clwyd.
“We have a really exciting programme and I am sure it’s going to be a truly memorable festival.”
For further information about the North Wales International Music Festival please visit www.nwimf.com.