A North Wales musical legend is celebrating her milestone birthday by staging a glittering concert in the glorious surroundings of St Asaph Cathedral.
The special evening on Friday, November 3, has been arranged by Ann Atkinson, the acclaimed opera singer, music teacher and former director of the world famous Froncysyllte Male Voice Choir.
She is organising the event to raise funds for the North Wales International Music Festival of which she is artistic director.
Ann, who lives in Corwen, said: “This year’s festival, which ran throughout September, was another great success with some wonderful concerts and great audiences.
“We’re already planning next year’s event and I’ve organised the concert at St Asaph Cathedral, which is also the home of the festival, as a key fundraiser for 2018.
“It’s also to mark a landmark birthday of mine – although I’m not saying exactly which one!”
According to Ann, the two-hour musical extraganza which starts at 7.30pm, will feature an array of talent which includes the two male voice choirs of which she is musical director and six of her most promising music pupils who are tipped for the top of their professions.
Also appearing will be Ann herself, who is a celebrated mezzo soprano, and her husband Kevin Sharp, an accomplished baritone.
“I’ve been associated with the Bro Glyndwr choir since the late 1980s and their musical director for over 20 years and have had the same role with the Trelawnyd choir for the past three years, so they were both a must for the concert programme.
“On the evening they’ll be singing as a massed choir which means the audience will get the fantastic power of over 100 male voices.”
Ann added: “I’ll be singing as will my husband Kevin Sharp whom I first met when we both studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He was my leading man in the first full opera I performed in, Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas. We were married 21 years ago and he’s still my leading man.
“Also performing will be some of my most promising students from the past few years who are all doing exceedingly well.
“There’s Tesni Jones from St Asaph and Lisa Dafydd from Ruthin, the young sopranos whom I taught at the William Mathias Music Centre in Denbigh, also from the William Mathias Centre is Erin Swyn Williams, a soprano from Llanefydd near Denbigh, and my former pupil Julian Gonzalez, a young pianist from Carrog and two current pupils, tenor Elis Jones and Ceri Wyn Hughes, a soprano from Ruthin.
“Tesni, Lisa and Julian have all won places to study at the renowned Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Tesni and Lisa took first and second places respectively in the under 19s girls’ solo competition at this year’s National Eisteddfod on Anglesey while Elis was third in the eisteddfod’s under 25s section.
“The concert programme will consist of some favourite operatic aria and duets and some lighter material, such as the music of Cole Porter, and also traditional Welsh songs.
“I can promise it will be a fantastic evening of musical favourites performed by some extremely talented people.
“At this stage it’s looking like it could be a one-off event but if it goes down well we might think of doing it again next year as a fundraiser for the festival.”
After gaining her B.Ed from the University of Wales, Ann initially pursued a teaching career.
However, in 1990, Ann gained a scholarship to study singing with Kenneth Bowen at the Royal Academy of Music.
Since then she has performed as a freelance singer throughout the UK and abroad, in a variety of venues and with many of Britain’s leading opera companies including Scottish Opera and Glyndebourne Festival Opera.
Ann’s career has taken her to many different parts of the world, including Europe, the USA, Asia and Australasia.
During the summer of 2005 she toured New Zealand and Australia as the soloist with the Lions Choir. The culmination of the tour was a gala concert at the Sydney Opera House.
From 2002 to 2009 Ann was also musical director of the Froncysyllte Male Voice Choir during the period they rose to international stardom with CDs such as their Voices of the Valley which sold over a million copies.
Tickets for the St Asaph Cathedral concert, which are priced at £12.50, are available from the Cathedral Frames shop at 28 High Street, St Asaph, LL17 ORD, telephone 01745 582929, through the festival office on 01745 584508, or from members of the Bro Glyndwr and Trelawnyd Male Voice Choirs.