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Royal composer Paul Mealor on “Cloud Nine” after double honour from the King

Professor Paul Mealor, who was born in St Asaph has perfomed at the launch of this year’s North Wales International Music Festival. He perfomed the Welsh premiere of a new symphony played by the NEW Sinfonia orchestra at St Asaph Cathedral.

A royal composer who wrote music for the Coronation is on “Cloud Nine” after receiving two honours personally bestowed by King Charles.

In the New Year’s Honours List Professor Paul Mealor, the Artistic Director of the North Wales International Music Festival, was appointed a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO) for his services to royal music. 

It is a personal gift given by the King to people who have served him in a personal way.

Separately, Prof Mealor, who was born in St Asaph and raised in Connah’s Quay, has also been presented with the Coronation Medal for his contributions to the service at Westminster Abbey.

The double honour marked the end of a momentous year for the acclaimed composer which also saw him taking the helm at the North Wales International Music Festival, where he began his remarkable career under the tutelage of his hero, fellow royal composer Professor William Mathias, who founded the prestigious event that’s held annually at St Asaph Cathedral.

As a student Prof Mealor studied with William Mathias, who famously wrote the anthem, Let the people praise Thee, O God, for the 1981 royal wedding of the then Prince and Princess of Wales, and says he inspired his career in music and particularly his love of large scale choral compositions.

A generation later Prof Mealor was catapulted to international stardom in 2011, when 2.5 billion people – the largest audience in broadcasting history – heard his Motet, Ubi caritas performed by the choirs of Westminster Abbey and Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal, at the Royal Wedding Ceremony of Prince William and Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey.

Last May his ‘Kyrie’ was sung by the superstar bass-baritone and fellow North Walian, Sir Bryn Terfel, at the Coronation, accompanied by the world-famous Choir of Westminster Abbey

Prof Mealor also composed music for the Honours of Scotland Service, when King Charles was presented with the Crown Jewels of Scotland.

He previously wrote music for two of the four national services of Thanksgiving for the late Queen Elizabeth and the official hymn of the Royal Air Force, as well as ‘Wherever You Are’ which was performed by the Military Wives’ choir conducted by Gareth Malone, becoming the UK’s 2011 Christmas number one single raising money for military charities.

According to Prof Mealor, following in the footsteps of his musical hero, William Mathias, as the Artistic Director of the North Wales Music Festival was a “dream come true”.

He’s already secured a host of major names to take part in the 2024 festival which starts on September 12 and continues until September 21.

Among them are the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the “world’s finest vocal ensemble”, the appropriately named King’s Singers.

Also lined up to headline the event are the Foden’s Band, “the world’s number one brass band”, and Ar Log, perhaps Wales’s finest and most enduring folk band.

One exciting new development will be the launch of the festival fringe which will see R&B, jazz, folk and comedy coming to St Asaph.

Prof Mealor said: “I am still on Cloud Nine and thrilled beyond words to be made a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order – it is incredibly special and means so much because it was in the personal gift of His Majesty.

“I was also absolutely delighted and honoured to have been awarded The Coronation Medal for my contributions to the Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla. 

“It’s truly wonderful that composers and musicians are being recognised in this way by His Majesty and I would like to congratulate the other Coronation composers who have been awarded this wonderful medal.

“I feel blessed to have been given the honour of taking over the reins of the North Wales International Music Festival where I cut my musical teeth under the guidance of my brilliant mentor, the late William Mathias.

“Under the direction of a series of great Artistic Directors – including my wonderful immediate predecessor, Ann Atkinson – the festival has developed into a major highlight of the cultural calendar in Wales and beyond.

“As well as continuing to provide the opportunity to hear world class music in North Wales, I am keen to extend the reach of the festival to include people who have never been before or may not have thought it was/is for them. 

“With that in mind we will be launching a new festival fringe which will feature the best in Welsh pop and folk music as well as R&B and comedy.

“Although we have already made a good start in putting the programme together, we will be making a series of exciting announcements in early Spring. Watch this space.”

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