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World’s best young singers are heading to Wales

31 Mar 2024 5 minute read
Tenor Zihua Zhang, from China, winner of the 2023 Pendine International Voice of the Future competition at Llangollen Eisteddfod. Picture by Rick Matthews

Twenty eight of the world’s best young singers are vying for a prestigious international prize at a top festival in Wales.

Competitors from as far afield as Australia, India, China, Singapore and the USA are aiming to win the Pendine International Voice of the Future competition at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

Organisers say they’re delighted by the exceptional standard of entries in the Pendine International Voice of the Future competition, sponsored by the Pendine Park care group via the Pendine Arts and Community Trust (PACT) which supports arts and community activities.

The final will take place on Saturday, July 6, and the winner will be presented with the Pendine Trophy, a solid silver salver, and a cheque for £3,000 as well as having the opportunity to perform in concerts at the Eisteddfod and other venues. Meanwhile, the runner up will receive £1,500.

Since it started in 2013, the contest has become one of the Eisteddfod’s major highlights and Dave Danford, the festival’s recently appointed Artistic Director, said the aim was to advance the careers of the world’s most gifted young singers.

He said: “We have received 28 entries from all over the world. We’ve got people from Australia, India, China, the USA, Singapore, Germany as well as entrants from Wales, England and Ireland. It looks like a really good field.

“The competition provides an excellent stepping stone to a professional career for young singers.”

Last year’s winner was tenor Zihua Zhang from China, who surprisingly only took up singing in his late teens, having started his music career playing clarinet.


After winning the prize, he said: “The Pendine International Voice of the Future prize will be a big help in furthering my musical ambitions.

“It means I won’t have to survive on meal deals anymore! But seriously, it is so good to have that extra financial boost behind me.

“It’s certainly been an honour and a fantastic experience to compete in Wales at Llangollen. The International Eisteddfod is well known and respected in China, and it’s been unforgettable for me just to be here, never mind win.”

During the next few weeks a selection panel will consider the entries and choose the singers who will take part in this year’s competition. Each entrant has provided an MP3 audio recording or a link to a video.

Competitors, who are aged over 19 on the first day of the competition, are required to perform a contrasting programme of up to seven minutes in length for their preliminary round and up to 10 minutes for the final. The programmes should include works from oratorio, opera, lieder or song and be sung in the original language.

Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE said: “The standard of the competitors in years past has been absolutely phenomenal and I have no doubt it will be just as incredibly high again this year.

“I wish all the young singers the very best of luck in this year’s Pendine International Voice of the Future competition.

“It chimes perfectly with our ethos at Pendine Park because the arts in general and music in particular provide the golden thread running through everything we do to enrich the lives of our residents and staff alike.”

Tom Jones

Looking forward to this year’s Eisteddfod, Dave Danford added: “The concert programme is looking great, with Tom Jones kicking things off on the Tuesday evening and Gregory Porter and Katherine Jenkins featuring in concerts later in the week.

“On Wednesday evening our Wales Welcomes the World concert will feature leading Welsh folk band Calan, Johns’ Boys Male Chorus who are based in Rhosllannerchrugog and who have previously won the Choir of the World competition, and Royal Harpist Alis Huws. All of them will be performing with an orchestra.

“There will be a musical theatre evening on the Thursday featuring John Owen-Jones and Kerry Ellis. They are two of the biggest musical theatre stars in the West End and Broadway. A real spread of things really but it’s really important to us to make sure the main Eisteddfod week remains protected. Our programme this year has all the aspects our usual audience expect and one thing we’re doing is bringing the finals of some of our competitions into the evening concerts.

“During the Wales Welcomes the World concert, we’ll have the final of our Youth Choir competition and similarly on the Thursday we’ll have the final of the Voice of Musical Theatre competition. People coming just to see the concerts will get a flavour of the Eisteddfod itself which is really important to us.

“This year’s Eisteddfod feels like we’re back to our best after the troubles with the Covid-19 pandemic which caused the Eisteddfod to be halted for two years. We’ve gone all out with the programme this year, made sure the field is as vibrant as possible with the outside stages, and we’ve more international competitors than before Covid.”

For tickets or for more on Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod and its competitions and concerts go to or check out

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