Trio of choirs and top orchestra at St David’s Day spectacular

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The Froncysyllte Male Voice Choir

 

The oldest boy band in the world and two other choirs will be teaming up with a top orchestra to celebrate St David’s Day.

The Froncysyllte Male Voice Choir was formed originally to compete at the first ever Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod and went on to achieve global stardom after signing a recording contract with Universal Musical.

They will be joining the mixed voices of the Cantorion Rhos Choir and the women of Lleisiau Clywedog for the special concert on Saturday, March 5, at the invitation of the NEW Sinfonia orchestra.

A spectacular finalé will see all three choirs singing together on stage, accompanied by the orchestra.

Appropriately, the venue for the concert will be the Royal International Pavilion in Llangollen, the home of the international eisteddfod where the Fron Choir first performed in 1947.

NEW Sinfonia was established by Wrexham brothers Robert, 27, and Jonathan, 25, Guy who are on a mission to make classical music more accessible to audiences across North Wales.

According to conductor Robert Guy, the concert will bring together three outstanding North Wales choirs who will perform individually before coming together for a rousing finalé to “a wonderful evening”.

Robert, who as well as being the joint founder and conductor of NEW Sinfonia is also the musical director of Cantorion Rhos, said: “This is going to be a wonderful evening of music. We have three amazing and eisteddfod-winning choirs performing with the orchestra.

“It’s something we wanted to do and for anyone who loves classical and choral music, then this is an evening not to be missed.

“My brother and I had this dream to build a fully professional North Wales-based orchestra comprised of young graduate musicians at the start of their careers. Slowly but surely that dream is becoming a reality.”

He added: “The problem is, musicians from across North Wales, aged between 18 and perhaps 28, finish their studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London, Cardiff’s Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama or Manchester’s Northern College of Music and have nowhere to go.

“They stop playing with youth orchestras and leave the area to find work in London or elsewhere. Yet North Wales has a vibrant classical music scene that needs to be nurtured.”

Robert, who, along with his clarinet playing brother, Jonathan, studied at Manchester’s Royal Northern College of Music added: “The musicians we have can see what Jonathan and I are trying to achieve and are right behind us.

“It’s amazing and we are out regularly performing a couple of times a month sometimes with 40 or more musicians and sometimes 10 or fewer. That’s why we decided on calling the orchestra NEW Sinfonia.”

However, Robert says his and his brother, Jonathan’s main focus is to develop NEW Sinfonia which has just received a second £5,000 grant from the Arts Council of Wales.

He added: “The fact we are now performing in major concerts alongside three such talented choirs is testament to how far we have come.

“The St David’s Day concert at Llangollen is going to be a wonderful evening of music and it’s going to be a special night, one that will, I’m sure, live long in the memory.”

The Fron Choir were catapulted to world fame after a chance meeting with Daniel Glatman, manager of the boy band, Blue, who heard them singing a wedding.

Their first album, Voices of the Valley, made it to the charts in 2006, leading to a string of hits, three Brit award nominations and saw them being dubbed the oldest boy band in the world.

The choir’s musical director, Leigh Mason, who is head of music at Ysgol Y Grango, in Rhos, near Wrexham, says working with an orchestra is something choir members are excited about.

She said: “I’ve seen NEW Sinfonia develop and the work Robert and Jonathan have, and continue, to do is remarkable. I’ve seen many of the musicians develop as they have matured and the orchestra is now full of amazing musicians.

“We are doing five pieces, a Welsh  hymn, Llanfair, a real old sea shanty, What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor, Bring Him Home from Les Miserables, an arrangement of the Lord’s Prayer and Gwahoddiad.”

Martin Coggon, the chair of Cantorion Rhos, can’t wait.

He said: “It really is going to be a special concert and we are delighted to be involved. Of course Robert Guy is our conductor too and I know how hard he, and Jonathan, have worked putting this concert together.

“We are performing three pieces, one a song by French composer Faure and two Welsh pieces. We are singing a traditional Welsh lullaby, Si Hei Lwli Mabi and Hafan Gobaith, which was commissioned on behalf of Hope House Children’s Hospices and originally sung by Bryn Terfel.”

“It’s wonderful to have the chance to work with an orchestra, especially one made up of such talented young musicians as NEW Sinfonia.

“NEW Sinfonia is made up of some remarkable young musicians and the fact Robert and Jonathan are building a full orchestra based here in North Wales is tremendous.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Sheila Birkhead, the conductor of Lleisiau Clywedog.

She said: “It’s going to be an amazing and new experience to sing with an orchestra.

“We are performing one piece unaccompanied, a song by Welsh composer David Iwan called Tyrd, Aros am Funud, and then a lively fun song, Bonheddwr Mawr O’r Bala, which tells of a squire’s hunting mishap.”

Sheila, who says Lleisiau Clywedog is celebrating their 20th anniversary having been formed by women whose children attended a Welsh medium school, added: “We really appreciate the energy Robert and Jonathan put into projects such as this concert.

“We are really looking forward to joining Cantorion Rhos and Froncysyllte Male Voice Choir. It’s a rare chance to sing together. It’s not often someone arranges music so three very different choirs can perform together.”

For more information about NEW Sinfonia and for tickets, which are just £5, £8 and £10 visit www.newsinfonia.org.uk and for more information about Cantorion Rhos visit www.cantorionrhos.com and for more information about Froncysyllte Male Voice Choir visit www.fronchoir.com