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North Wales festival launches search for future musical stars

Mario Kreft MBE, the proprietor of Pendine Park, with Paul Mealor, Artistic Director of the North Wales International Festival

A GLOBALLY renowned festival in North Wales has launched a search to find the most talented young musician in Wales.

Entries are being sought for the inaugural competition at the North Wales International Music Festival that’s being held at St Asaph Cathedral from September 12 to 21.

They will be vying to be crowned the first Pendine Young Musician of Wales, with the competition being funded by the festival’s headline sponsors, the Pendine Park care organisation via the Pendine Arts and Community Trust which supports community and arts activities.

The performances will be broadcast on BBC Radio Cymru and the winner will receive a cash prize of £2,000 and the Pendine Trophy, as well as being invited back to perform at next year’s festival.

The competition is being masterminded by the event’s new Artistic Director, royal composer Paul Mealor, a native of Connah’s Quay, who wrote the Kyrie sung by Sir Bryn Terfel at the King’s Coronation.

In the New Year’s Honours List, Professor Mealor was appointed a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO) for his services to royal music and was also presented with the Coronation Medal for his contributions to the service at Westminster Abbey.

Taking the helm of the festival was, he said, a dream come true as it was founded by his mentor and musical hero, Professor William Mathias, another royal composer who wrote the anthem, Let the people praise Thee, O God, for the 1981 royal wedding of the then Prince and Princess of Wales.

Entries for the Pendine Young Musician of Wales competition are now being accepted via the festival’s website, and the closing date for applications is 5pm on August 31.

It’s open to all musicians who were born or who are living in Wales or who are Welsh nationals studying abroad.

All musicians must be under the age of 21 on January 1, 2024, to be eligible to compete but there is no minimum age for entry.

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Prof Mealor said: “The Pendine Young Musician of Wales Competition is a unique opportunity for young musicians born or living in Wales to showcase their talents at the North Wales International Music Festival.

“It will be judged by world renowned judges, and the competitors will receive expert feedback on their performances and perform in one of the greatest acoustics in Wales, St Asaph Cathedral, as well as the competition being broadcast on BBC Radio Cymru.”

According to Prof Mealor, the idea for the competition came from young performers who have taken part in festival concerts in recent years.

“They realised there was no competition like it and little opportunity for them to perform individually in the cathedral which has the best acoustics for a solo performer.

“I suggested the competition and spoke with Mario and Gill Kreft, the owners of Pendine Park, and they loved the idea and came straight onboard.

“They are long-standing supporters of the festival and of the arts more generally and we are hugely grateful to them and all our other sponsors, including the Arts Council of Wales, Colwinston Charitable Trust and Tŷ Cerdd. This year’s festival is also part funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund for Denbighshire.”

Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE said: “Our aim in supporting this exciting new competition is to provide a springboard for brilliant young Welsh musicians to achieve their dreams of establishing a successful career in music.

“The competition chimes perfectly with our ethos at Pendine Park because the arts in general and music in particular provide the golden thread running through everything we do to enrich the lives of our residents and staff alike.”

“The competition is a wonderful opportunity for a young musician to perform in the cathedral at St Asaph. It has a fantastic atmosphere and the most wonderful acoustics. The knowledgeable and appreciative audience who enjoy the concerts at the North Wales International Music Festival will simply add to the occasion.

“I am looking forward very much indeed to the Grand Final.”

Competitors will have to navigate three rounds with the judges, led by Lisa Tregale, director of the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales, selecting performers from the Round 1 online applications to go through to the second round.

Prof Mealor added: “The live competition at St Asaph Cathedral is divided into two rounds. Round 2 is the preliminary competition divided into four instrumental or vocal sections – woodwind and brass, strings, which includes guitar and harp, keyboard and percussion, and voice. The vocal section encompasses classical and folk music.

“Two finalists from each instrumental or vocal section from Round 2 will be selected to compete in Round 3, The Grand Final at St Asaph Cathedral on Wednesday 18 September at 7pm.”

Prof Mealor has already secured a host of major names to take part in this year’s star studded line-up at the festival.

Among them are the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the King’s Singers, described by Paul Mealor as the “world’s finest vocal ensemble”.

Also due to headline the event are top brass band, Foden’s Band and Ar Log, one of Wales’s finest folk bands.

One new development will be the launch of the festival fringe which will see R&B, Welsh folk, poetry and comedy concerts being added to the main programme and taking place at other venues in St Asaph.

Details of how to apply to take part in the Pendine Young Musician of Wales competition are on the festival’s website along with the programme. Tickets will be on sale on Friday 19 July.