A top conductor who led the Fron Choir to global fame is looking for more singers from North Wales to join a new choir for a world premiere at an international festival.
In particular tenors and basses are desperately needed to join the ranks of the Welsh National Opera’s Festival Community Chorus at this year’s North Wales International Music Festival.
They will be in the spotlight for the much anticipated Requiem Reflections concert at St Asaph Cathedral on Saturday, September 22.
The concert will feature the first performance of Materna Requiem by leading British composer Rebecca Dale whose globally acclaimed work spans television, cinema, theatre and the concert hall.
Her latest masterpiece will be performed alongside extracts from Mozart’s Requiem and Durufle’s Requiem in one of UK classical music’s most thrilling evenings of the year.
It will be spectacularly staged on the middle Saturday of the North Wales International Music Festival in the stunning surroundings of the cathedral, renowned for its outstanding acoustics.
The festival, which runs from Saturday, September 15, to Sunday, September 30, is being supported by the Arts Council of Wales and Tŷ Cerdd.
The festival’s artistic director, Ann Atkinson, was at the helm of the Fron Choir when they signed to Universal Music Classics and Jazz in 2006 after being spotted by a recording manager at a wedding.
She now has two other choirs, Côr Meibion Trelawnyd and Côr Meibion Bro Glyndwr, as well as running the North Wales International Festival.
Ann said: “The world premiere is certainly expected to be a 2018 festival highlight, one all the performers as well as the audience are very much looking forward to.”
She and Welsh National Opera (WNO) Producer Ruth Evans are appealing for more tenors and basses aged 18 and over to sign up for the event.
Applicants will need to commit to attend a schedule of Sunday evening rehearsals between now and September but Ann says the sense of achievement they will feel will make the hard work well worthwhile.
She said: “Our Festival Community Chorus events are always full of energy and promote an enhanced sense of involvement among the local population.
“We’re forever grateful to the Welsh National Opera team for collaborating with us on this and working so hard with the choir to ensure they deliver the highest standard of performance.”
The Festival Community Chorus is not a set group, but its singers are recruited on a performance by performance basis, meaning it is open to keen amateur choristers and local community singers to apply to take part.
WNO’s Ruth Evans who is producing the concert, said that “We are delighted with the number of applications and interest from soprano and alto singers to join the Chorus. However basses and tenors have been slightly more reluctant to come forward, so we’re putting out a determined call to ensure we have the right balance for what will be an extraordinary concert.
“One thing we can guarantee is that they won’t regret it. Everyone who’s taken part in previous Festival Community Chorus concerts has had an unforgettable experience and relishes the chance to perform alongside professional instrumentalists and Welsh National Opera singers. For many it’s been the performance of their lives.”
Ruth added: “It’s shaping up to be a memorable event, but we are short of tenors and basses. So we urge all you tenors and basses out there to come forward and give it a go. We look forward to hearing from you.”
To take part singers are asked to pay a nominal fee of £30 in return for which they benefit from the expert tuition of WNO professionals. That is in addition to enjoying the opportunity to sing in the world premiere showpiece, accompanied by the NWIMF resident orchestra, the award-winning NEW Sinfonia, led by one of Britain’s most gifted young conductors, Robert Guy, of Wrexham.
Materna Requiem has been three years in the making according to its composer Rebecca Dale who has also recorded the piece for public release on Decca label this year.
Dale has written for numerous classical artists and ensembles including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Mari and Hakon Samuelson, the Scottish Festival Orchestra, the London Mozart Players, the Latvian Opera Orchestra, and cellists Richard Harwood, Benjamin Hughes and Oliver Coates.
Her score to Crossing the Line was nominated for best original music in feature film at the 2017 international Music and Sound Awards and she has worked on films including Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, director Stephen Frears’ The Program, action film The Take starring Idris Elba, BBC period drama series The Paradise and The Secret Agent, and BBC’s Frozen Planet Live.
Rehearsals led by the Welsh National Opera team will take place at Venue Cymru each Sunday in June and July, on Sunday August 26, and on Sundays September 2 and 9, from 5.30-8.30pm. There will also be a rehearsal on Saturday, September 15, from 11am-2pm.
Chorus members also need to commit to perform over the full concert weekend on Friday, September 21 from 6-9pm, and at the Requiem Reflections day and evening concerts on September 22 at St Asaph Cathedral.