An internationally acclaimed young piano virtuoso from Wrexham will raise the curtain at a top music festival.
Luke Jones, 23, will star alongside the Only Boys Aloud choir at the opening concert of the North Wales International Music Festival on Saturday, September 14.
The festival at St Asaph Cathedral runs until Saturday, September 28, and is supported by the Arts Council of Wales, Tŷ Cerdd and Colwinston Charitable Trust.
According to Luke, from Gwersyllt, he’s “thrilled and honoured” to have been asked to perform works by Schumann and Ravel at the concert.
Luke, whose appearance at the festival is being sponsored by The Lord Thomas of Gresford OBE QC and The Baroness Walmsley, recently won the prestigious Gold Medal at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.
To round off his achievements for this year, Luke has gained First Class Honours in his Bachelors Degree and will continue his Masters Studies in piano performance with a full scholarship from the ABRSM.
The RNCM Gold Medal is the latest in a line of accolades which include taking second prize at the world famous Maria Canals International Piano Competition in Barcelona and first prize at the Bromsgrove International Musicians Competition.
He began playing piano aged just five and says his love of classical music comes from his dad.
Luke said: “Dad worked at the steelworks in Brymbo while mum was a cleaner at a local primary school. Dad loves classical music and has a big CD collection. There was always classical music playing in the house.
“He played classical guitar and we also had a piano in the house. I started playing aged five and dad saw I was interested and could pick out a melody. He took me to a piano teacher called Eva Warren in Birkenhead.
“I would go there regularly but my playing really took off when I met classical pianist Andrew Wilde there. He heard me play and invited me to study with him in Altrincham.
“I passed my Grade 3 with Eva but within a year of studying with Andrew Wilde I’d passed my Grade 8. He and dad became close friends and dad would drive me over to Altrincham.
“My first concert was at Wrexham Arts Centre aged 10. I’ve now performed all over Europe and I’ve a pretty busy concert schedule.
“I practice for around four hours every day when I can although sometimes I feel time away from the piano is as valuable as time at it. Practice is something you get used to and I lose myself in the music.
“I’m really excited about playing in St Asaph and my family will all be there. Dad and mum attend concerts whenever they can and my older brother, who appreciates music but has never really played, may also be there. It’s going to be a wonderful evening.”
Artistic director Ann Atkinson said: “It’s going to be a very special concert. As well as Luke and Only Boys Aloud, we will also have Doniau Cudd from Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias and the winner of the prestigious Pendine International Voice of the Future competition at Llangollen Eisteddfod, Erin Rossington.
“Doniau Cudd (Hidden Talents) is a creative music project for adults who have learning difficulties. The project was established in 2003 with the support of the Arts Council of Wales and Gwynedd Council Social Service Team.
“The project helps young people with learning difficulties to have an opportunity to take part in music activity after they have left school.
“Also appearing at the festival are Japanese pianist Yu Kosuge and The Gesualdo Six, a vocal consort comprised of some of the UK’s finest young singers, who will perform an evening concert of nature inspired songs.
“The evening concert on Thursday, September 26, will feature our resident NEW Sinfonia orchestra performing Beethoven’s Symphony No 6, Pastorale. Each element of the symphony is inspired by nature. It’s a very special and famous piece of music.”
“It really is a busy programme this year and we are going to have the pleasure of enjoying some amazing music performed by talented world class musicians. I’d encourage any lover of classical music to get a ticket for at least one of the concerts.
“There is something for everyone at this year’s Festival including an evening of folk music and a chamber music morning concert with Ensemble Cymru. It’s going to be an amazing Festival and one I’m very excited about.”