A new community choir from a housing estate in North Wales is preparing for its debut at a top international music festival - conducted by a royal composer.
The choir from the Peulwys estate, above Old Colwyn, will be performing at the North Wales International Music Festival, in St Asaph Cathedral.
They will be under the baton of the chart-topping Dr Paul Mealor who was propelled to global fame thanks to the sensational Royal wedding anthem he wrote for Prince William and Kate Middleton.
He also wrote the music for the Military Wives' Christmas Number One and the title song for the follow-up album, In Your Dreams, which knocked rocker Bruce Springsteen off top spot.
The choir is made up of children and adults and they will be performing both of the Military Wives' hits on the Thursday night of the festival that's being held from September 22 to September 29.
Like the Military Wives, many of them have never sung publicly before and they face a race against time to be ready for the big night.
Seeing whether the Peulwys Community Choir could perform there with Dr Mealor was the brainchild of Andrew Bowden, the chief executive of housing association Cartrefi Conwy.
He approached the festival's artistic director, Ann Atkinson, who thought it was a "wonderful and inspirational" way of helping to celebrate the event's 40th anniversary.
The dream is being made a reality thanks to the Arts and Business Cymru organisation through their Culture Step programme and contractors G Purchase Construction Ltd, who have embarked on a £4 million improvement project on the estate.
The Peulwys singers will be joined at the festival by Dr Mealor's own choir from Aberdeen University.
Dr Mealor, who was born in St Asaph and raised in Connah's Quay, said: "It's a brilliant idea. Ever since the Military Wives people just want to sing together.
"There is nothing better for bringing people together than choral music which creates a unique camaraderie - it's a magical thing.
"The acoustic at St Asaph Cathedral is beautiful so it is going to be a really special evening.
"It's going to be fantastic for North Wales, for the festival and the choir members from the Peulwys community who will I am sure get a lot out of the experience."
Excitement is already building on the estate and weekly rehearsals are held at the local primary school, Ysgol Tan y Marian.
The sessions are being taken by headteacher Rhian Jones and Tim Healy, the head of music at the nearby high school, Ysgol Bryn Elian.ons.
Rhian said: "This is a very exciting and ambitious project and it's great in terms of bringing the community together in a very enjoyable and rewarding way. There is a great deal of enthusiasm."
Choir member Jason Lawley, 42, was "volunteered" by his daughter, Chloe, nine, and he's loving every minute of it - even though he's never sung in a choir before.
He said: "I think it’s brilliant. It’s getting the community together as well in one group, and everyone’s enjoying it. It’s something good to do for the community.”
The choir is a family affair for Vince Trethouen-Haycox, the Community Caretaker based on the Peulwys estate.
Vince, his wife, Lisa, and two of their three children, Sam, nine, and Dulcie, 12, are all enthusiastic choristers.
He said: "We just thought it would be a fantastic idea to get involved - it's something to do as a family."
"Being able to perform in St Asaph Cathedral with Paul Mealor sounds fantastic, it will be a great achievement."
Son Sam added: "I think it’s really good because you get to make new friends with the people who come. I'm looking forward to singing in cathedral."
It was music to the ears of Andrew Bowden, the Chief Executive of Cartrefi Conwy, who came up with the idea.
He said: "Our mission at Cartrefi Conwy is to create communities to be proud of and the Peulwys choir will do just that.
"There has been an on-going transformation of the estate since we took over responsibility for housing from Conwy County Borough Council in 2008
"The performance at the North Wales International Music Festival will be an unforgettable experience for everybody concerned."
Ann Atkinson was equally enthusiastic and said: "Reaching out to the community is important to us at the festival so that we can make music accessible to a whole new audience.
"We believe the opportunity to perform at the festival will generate a real sense of pride and achievement that will last a lifetime."
Terry Phipps, G Purchase Construction Ltd's Client Services Manager, said they were also delighted to be involved.
He said: "We’ve always as a company contributed to the community and we like to help in any way we can.
"Our work here involves improving the fabric of the estate and we believe an inspirational project like this will leave a positive legacy."
It was a message echoed by Cath More, the North Wales Manager of Arts and Business Cymru.
She said: "A&B Cymru are delighted to be a part of this fantastic community partnership creating a community engagement choir within the Peulwys estate.
"To support the development of this project G.Purchase Construction and North Wales International Music Festival have received investment from A&B Cymru’s CultureStep to develop their creative partnership. CultureStep is made possible by funding from the Welsh Government and the Arts Council of Wales."
Anyone interested in joining the Peulwys Community Choir or if you would like more information on the choir then please contact the communications team at Cartrefi Conwy on 01492 805503 or email email@example.com
A top music festival was congratulated by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall on reaching its 40th anniversary.
Representatives of the North Wales International Music Festival met the royal couple when they came to St Asaph Cathedral.
They were there to celebrate the granting of city status to St Asaph to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
The cathedral was chosen as the venue for the Festival by its founder, the royal composer, William Matthias.
According to Professor Matthias, one of his greatest achievements was the creation of the hugely popular music festival in 1972.
Appropriately, this year's festival - from September 22 to September 29 - will see the world premiere of a new work by the internationally acclaimed composer, Dr Karl Jenkins. It will be played by the Prince's personal harpist, Hannah Stone.
The festival team and sponsors were introduced to the Prince and the Duchess by the event's Executive Vice Chair, Sue Last.
She said: "It was fantastic, the Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall spent a lot of time with us.
"I told him about our 40th anniversary and the Karl Jenkins commission and he was very interested.
"He said it was a wonderful building and that he'd like to come to a concert here. He is a musician, he plays the cello and he is genuinely interested in music.
"He was very pleased to meet out sponsors and said that without them this sort of event wouldn't be able to survive."
There to greet the Prince and the Duchess as part of the festival's contingent were the founder's widow, Yvonne and their daughter, Rhiannon.
Rhiannon said: "It was very thrilling to be here today. My father would have been very proud to see the festival celebrating its 40th anniversary.
"The festival has been amazing. Ann Atkinson, the Artistic Director, and the rest of the festival team are doing a wonderful job in ensuring that its profile remains so high.
"The Cathedral is the perfect venue for music. My father always thought that and many of the artistes and performers, like Simon Rattle, comment on the fantastic acoustic here whether you're performing as a soloist or as part of a bigger ensemble.
"It's a very special building. He tried out many venues by getting my mother to sing but this was the only one for him"
Among the festival sponsors who met the royal couple were Mario Kreft MBE and his wife, Gill, the proprietors of the Pendine Park care organisation.
Mario said: "It was a landmark day for St Asaph and a great way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the festival.
"We were talking about our work with the Welsh National Opera and we recently had the opportunity to attend a dinner at Buckingham Palace in support of the WNO.
"The Prince was very interested in hearing about the work we do with the arts, particularly how the lives of people with dementia can be enriched. Music has a special ability to touch people.
"It's been the most perfect day in the perfect setting, the whole event has been so well organised.
"I am sure that St Asaph and the music festival will be able to build on this in the future."
Classical music is not meant to be about flamboyance and theatre nor is it usually visually exciting - but don’t tell that to Red Priest.
Expect the unexpected from the Baroque quartet when the four irreverent but talented musicians perform at the North Wales International Music Festival, at St Asaph Cathedral, from September 22 to September 29.
Comprising recorder player Piers Adams, his wife, baroque violin specialist, Julia Bishop, cellist Angela East and harpsichordist David Wright, Red Priest pack their performances with energy, theatre and visually stunning effects.
According to Piers Adams, the fact their high-energy theatrical style is contrary to everything classical purists believe in is something really worth celebrating.
He said: “Musically we are four misfits to be quite frank. But what we try and do is inject a whole lot of fun into our performances and make them exciting.
“After all Baroque music started out in around 1600 and went on until 1750 or so. It was new, exciting and would have been performed flamboyantly.
“We try and reflect that while others may try and be academically accurate in how they perform, we play from memory and don’t use sheet music. For us it’s more about energy and taking the music to a whole new level.”
Red Priest, named after red-haired Italian priest and composer Antonio Vivaldi, have built up a large world-wide fan-base since forming in 1997.
Piers said: “We are kept pretty busy to be honest and before the North Wales International Music Festival we are across in the United States, this time in and around Boston, Massachusetts. Then it’s back to the UK for a couple of festivals and then off to Germany, Austria, Croatia and the Czech Republic.
“We do have a really good following and tour the US a great deal as well as the Far East, Europe and Australia. It’s amazing really, places like Germany, where you’d think they would be very stiff and traditional, seem to love the freedom we bring to baroque music and performances.”
Piers believes the mix of instruments they use in their music makes for a perfect sound.
He added: “There were certainly pieces written for just the instruments we play. Actually it’s not too dissimilar to a rock band. The recorder is like the lead singer, the violin like the lead or rhythm guitar, the cellist is the bass guitar player and the harpsichord provides the percussion.
“As a line up we really work well together and get along brilliantly, although you wouldn’t think so in rehearsals, which can get a bit heated and fraught to say the least!
He added: “I think a lot of the purists thought we’d be a flash in the pan and would quickly, if not quietly, disappear. The fact we are still going strong, in fact becoming increasingly popular, means they have had to change their view. I think we have gained more respect the longer we have gone on.
“We have always just wanted to present this fantastic music in a way which will appeal to a wide audience, not just early music aficionados.
“That’s why the image of the group, its marketing and staging are up-to-date and modern - sometimes we almost take a rock-band approach to our presentation, especially in terms of the raw energy we like to put into every performance.”
Piers says the group are really looking forward to their return visit to the North Wales International Music Festival.
He said: “It’s great to be invited back, it’s a real honour to be honest. The acoustics are great and we are looking forward to a really good show.
"It’s wonderful music and we want to thrill our audience. Can’t wait to see you there!”
As part of the festival, Piers Adams will be staging a Recorder Roadshow and is inviting local schools and musical adults to take part in a workshop. Participants will have the opportunity of performing with Piers at the Aspire and Inspire Youth Concert in the City, on Thursday, September 27, at St.Asaph Cathedral at 7.30pm. Anybody who's interested should contact the festival office.
This year's festival will also feature the world premiere of a new work by the internationally acclaimed composer Karl Jenkins.
The work was commissioned by the festival to celebrate their 40th anniversary and the granting of city status to St Asaph by the Queen to mark her Diamond Jubilee year. It will be played by royal harpist Hannah Stone.
The premiere of a new work by the internationally acclaimed composer Karl Jenkins will take place in North Wales.
The coup was revealed at a special event to unveil the line up at this year's North Wales International Music Festival in St Asaph Cathedral from September 22 to September 29.
The work was commissioned by the festival to celebrate their 40th anniversary and the granting of city status to St Asaph by the Queen to mark her Diamond Jubilee year.
It will be played by royal harpist Hannah Stone who was the star attraction at the launch event held in the aristocratic surroundings of Eaton Park, near Chester, by kind permission of the Duke of Westminster.
Karl Jenkins (c) EMI Rhys Frampton
Karl Jenkins, a native of Penclawdd on the Gower Peninsula, is believed to be the world's most played living composer.
Global success came during the 1990s with Adiemus which won him 15 platinum awards which led in turn to the landmark composition, Armed Man, which will also be performed in St Asaph.
The concert on the evening of Sunday, September 23, is being sponsored by the Pendine Park care organisation.
Other highlights this year will include superstar cellist Julian Lloyd Webber and the King's Singers who will be performing a special tribute to the Queen with a programme of music from the reigns of some of Her Majesty's colourful forebears, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Victoria.
The royal connections will continue with the return of Paul Mealor, the St Asaph born composer who was propelled to stellar fame thanks to the wedding anthem he wrote for Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Since the Royal Wedding he has enjoyed more success as the man who wrote the music for the two hit singles of the chart topping Military Wives' choir.
Meanwhile, Swansea-born Hannah, 25, can't wait to make her first visit to the North Wales International Music Festival.
But first she has another big date in the offing - in July she's getting married to her boyfriend, the talented Welsh National Opera baritone, Gary Griffiths.
Speaking at the launch event, she recalled the excitement and the secrecy when she heard she was being appointed official harpist to the Prince of Wales last summer.
Hannah said: "I had to keep it secret for about six weeks so that was really difficult. When it came out I was really excited about the opportunity I’d been given.
"I’ve played in Highgrove, Clarence House and St James’s Palace. The Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall are lovely. They’ve been very friendly and you can relax a lot around them, they’ve been fab.
"I'm really looking forward to coming to St Asaph, it's going to be very exciting to play the new work by Karl Jenkins."
The festival's Artistic Director, Ann Atkinson, is thrilled at the prospect of the premiere at this year’s festival.
She said: “Karl Jenkins is an amazing musical talent of global renown and we are absolutely delighted that we will be unveiling this important new work at the festival.
“We have a fantastic variety of world class musical talent lined up for festival goers this year and the Karl Jenkins concert is the icing on our cultural cake as we celebrate our 40th anniversary."
Mario Kreft MBE and his wife, Gill, the music-loving proprietors of the award-winning Pendine Park care organisation, were delighted to have the opportunity to sponsor the evening.
He said: "The concert promises to be a truly magical evening combining two major Welsh talents.
"Karl Jenkins is rightly feted one of the world's most popular composers and Hannah Stone has a royal talent to match her position as the official harpist of the Prince of Wales."
St Asaph Cathedral was chosen as the venue for the Festival by William Mathias, the royal composer who wrote the anthem, Let the people praise Thee O God, for the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.
According to Professor Mathias, one of his greatest achievements was the creation of the hugely popular music Festival in 1972.
He visited every potential venue in North Wales before deciding that St Asaph Cathedral provided the very best acoustic setting for the event.
Ann added: "We have so much to celebrate this year. The granting of city status to St Asaph was a fantastic, joyful surprise.
"As we have so many royal connections, it was fantastic that it happened as we celebrate this important landmark in the history of the festival which is going from strength to strength."