North Wales International Music Festival launch will be fit for the Queen

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A royal composer from Connah’s Quay and his choir are performing in North Wales as they tune up for their annual summer date with the Queen at Balmoral.

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.
Paul is pictured with John and Sue Last.

Professor Paul Mealor and the acclaimed chamber choir from Aberdeen University will be helping to launch the programme for this year’s North Wales International Music Festival.

They will be at St Asaph Cathedral on Saturday and Sunday, June 18 and 19, for a weekend full of activities.

Local choirs and solo singers are invited to a Come and Sing masterclass on the Saturday.

The concert on the Sunday night will feature the Welsh premiere of a new symphony written by Prof Mealor and played by the NEW Sinfonia orchestra.

The festival itself will be held with the support of the Arts Council of Wales from Thursday, September 22 to Saturday, October 1.

St Asaph-born Prof Mealor, 40, shot to global fame after he was commissioned to write Ubi caritas et amor by Prince William for his April 2011 marriage to Catherine Middleton.

He began his education in music as a young choirboy at St Asaph Cathedral and is looking forward to being back on home turf.

Julian Gonzalez is a 17-year-old piano protégé who is performing at the opening concert of this year’s North Wales International Music Festival at St Asaph.

Prof Mealor said: “I was born in St Asaph and grew up in Connah’s Quay and attended the town’s High School. I do love North Wales and have a house on Anglesey which I go to when I am composing.

“The North Wales International Music Festival is really important. There are not too many places in the region where you can go and listen to the very best classical music. It’s a festival we must protect and ensure it goes from strength to strength.

“That’s why I’m delighted to be returning with my Aberdeen University Chamber Choir.

“As a choir we have performed on Radio 3 and on BBC TV and we have an important annual date when we sing for Her Majesty the Queen when she visits Balmoral each summer.

“We perform in the chapel at Balmoral during a Sunday service which Her Majesty attends. It’s always an amazing experience.

“I’m also delighted we will be performing the Welsh premiere of my latest work, Symphony Number 1. It’s a Passiontide piece celebrating the passion of Christ, the crucifixion and resurrection. It’s deeply spiritual and written for choir and orchestra.

“It actually premiered in Scotland in November and I’m proud to say it received five star reviews which I was very pleased with. I’m so looking forward to hearing it performed in St Asaph.

“I’m also excited the choir will be working with NEW Sinfonia orchestra under the baton of Robert Guy.

“I am really looking forward to the festival’s launch weekend and the festival itself. We are so lucky to have this festival in North Wales and I look forward to meeting up with many old friends.”

Ann Atkinson, the festival’s artistic director, says the Saturday workshop will be the start of a wonderful weekend of music.

She said: “We really wanted to launch this year’s North Wales International Music Festival, which will run between Thursday, September 22 and Saturday, October 1st, in style.

“Paul Mealor, who was born in St Asaph and now lectures in music and composition at the University of Aberdeen, will run a workshop along with his Aberdeen University Chamber Choir on the Saturday afternoon from 2pm.

“Anyone wanting to take part can, whether choirs or solo vocalists. However, we would request those wishing to take part bring along a copy of the score for the Fauré Requiem if they possibly can.

“That Saturday evening, between 9pm and 10pm, Paul and his chamber choir will perform a very special mid-summer evening concert which will be a performance not to be missed.”

Ann Atkinson, herself one of Wales’ top mezzo sopranos, added: “Then on the Sunday evening we will officially launch the programme for this year’s North Wales International Music Festival.

“It is on this evening that Paul Mealor and his chamber choir will perform the Welsh premiere of his new choral symphony.

“He will be joined by Wrexham-based NEW Sinfonia orchestra for what will be a magical evening of choral music.

“I’m very excited about the June launch event and thrilled Paul Mealor, who has always supported the festival, has agreed to come down from Aberdeen to help us with the launch of what will be a very special festival.”

To find out more about The North Wales International Music Festival visit www.nwimf.com