Top soprano returns to Wrexham for Viennese-style celebration

Welsh National Opera soloist Katy Thomson

One of Britain’s most exciting young sopranos is returning to North Wales to head up a spectacular celebration with the region’s flagship NEW Sinfonia orchestra.

It features two back to back Viennese themed New Year concerts St Asaph Cathedral on January 5 and at St Giles’ Church in Wrexham the day after.

The return of Welsh National Opera soloist Katy Thomson marks a double coup for NEW Sinfonia, which she described as musically ‘fearless’.

Welsh National Opera soloist Katy Thomson

As well as securing Katy’s star billing, for the first time in 2018 NEW Sinfonia is staging two New Year concerts rather than one.

Also looking forward entertaining the audiences is harpist Bethan Griffiths, originally from Treuddyn, Flintshire, who is studying for a masters at the Royal College of Music after winning a two years funding scholarship from the Ashley Family Foundation

Orchestra artistic director, conductor and co-founder Robert Guy said: “We’re hugely excited. This is a tremendous step forward.

“It has become an annual tradition for us to put on a Viennese Gala concert at St Giles’ Church, Wrexham, to really ring in each new year but it has soared in popularity to the extent that last January we struggled to fit everyone in.

“All 400 tickets sold out and people were still queuing at the doors.

“So for the first time in 2018 we’re putting on two concerts, one in St Asaph Cathedral on the Friday night, to be followed the very next day with our usual St Giles celebration.

“Both concerts will feature the same programme so everyone will get a chance to enjoy the bumper musical party.”

Tickets are now selling faster than ever so Robert advised people to book early whichever venue they choose to go to.

They will be on January 5 at 7.30pm at St Asaph Cathedral, followed by January 6 at 3pm at St Giles, Wrexham.

Scottish born soloist Katy Thomson made her successful debut with NEW Sinfonia at September’s North Wales International Music Festival where she was one of a quartet of soloists from Welsh National Opera performing the Welsh Premiere of Oliver Tarney’s Magnificat.

She is thrilled to be returning for the Viennese gala concerts and described the NEW Sinfonia musicians as ‘fearless’.

She said: “I can’t wait to perform with them again and especially at such a high energy event as their traditional New Year concert.

“I worked with them for the first time at this year’s North Wales International Music Festival and it was such an inspirational experience.

“Because they are such a young Orchestra they are full of energy and just don’t hold back for even a minute.

“Their performances are electrifying. When the music needs to go loud they go really loud and when it’s low they go so low you can hear a pin drop. As a singer it is brilliant to work with them and benefit from that youthful, zestful vibe they naturally give off.

“The new year concert should be a ball – in every sense. We’ll be doing lots of fun Viennese waltz music and polkas, and I’ll be singing a number of well-known arias. The programme will include music from The Marriage of Figaro and Ivor Novello.

“It’ll be lots of fun, I can’t wait.”

Katy, 26, is studying for a masters in Vocal Performance at the Royal College of Music, London, and has been widely hailed as one of the country’s most promising young sopranos.

She already has a string of prestigious performances under her belt including being soprano soloist for the world premiere of George Dyson’s Choral Symphony with the New London Orchestra and the London Chorus.

She began singing as a chorister at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh, aged eight. Her brother Donald is a professional baritone and member of the famed International Opera Studio of Zurich, Switzerland.

Harpist Bethan Griffiths is one of the original members of NEW Sinfonia, which was set up by Wrexham born Robert and his brother, clarinetist Jonathan Guy in 2011.

She said the new year concert is one of the most looked forward to events of the year, both by the musicians and the audiences.

She added: “It really is a great show with such a jubilant atmosphere right across the board. I encourage anyone who has not been before to buy their tickets now as they’re guaranteed a fantastic time. There’s no better way to brighten up the cold days of January.”

Bethan, who teaches harp and piano, is studying for a masters in performance and part of her brief for the course is to perform with full orchestras, so the concert is a key part of her studies as well as being a joyous event.

She said: “It offers a double bonus for me. Not only do I love playing with NEW Sinfonia, but it is a vital help with my academic musical progress as well. And this year with two concerts planned is an even bigger plus.”

She started her masters course in September and considers herself immensely fortunate to be doing it after winning the Ashley Foundation prize.

She said: “Without the foundation funding there is no way I could have afforded to stay in London and do my masters so I can’t thank them enough. It is a privilege for me to be able to carry on at the Royal College of Music and I’m determined to make the most of the opportunity.

“Playing with NEW Sinfonia helps me do that and is also a great way of catching up with some of my fellow young musicians from North Wales.”

Tickets (£15 adults; £12 Concessions; £3 Students and Under 18s) for both Viennese Gala Concerts are available from Wrexham Tourist Information Centre and Cathedral Frames in St Asaph or can be bought online at