Young baritone dubbed the new Bryn Terfel to star at top music festival
A 25-year-old Welsh baritone dubbed the new Bryn Terfel is returning to North Wales for a starring role at a top music festival.
Emyr Lloyd Jones, who won the Pendine International Voice of the Future competition at Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, will be performing on the final night of the North Wales International Music Festival at St Asaph Cathedral.
The concert on Saturday, October 1, will also feature the festival’s resident orchestra, NEW Sinfonia, and the National Youth Chamber Choir of Great Britain, and will bring down the curtain on the festival that’s celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
The evening is being supported by the arts-loving care organisation, Pendine Park, via the Pendine Arts and Community Trust (PACT), who are also the overall headline sponsors of the festival.
On September 24 the festival will also see the world premiere of a new community opera, based on the legend of Gelert the dog, with the music being composed by royal composer Paul Mealor, born in St Asaph and raised in Connah’s Quay, with the lyrics by poet Grahame Davies from Coedpoeth, near Wrexham.
Among the other highlights are performances by former royal harpist Hannah Stone with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, early music group Red Priest, award winning Welsh folk band Calan, the spectacular Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers and a showcase concert from the William Mathias Music Centre.
There will also be morning concerts with Ensemble Cymru and the festival’s first dementia-friendly concert with Live Music Now Cymru musicians.
PACT, which supports cultural and community initiatives across Wales, also sponsored the competition at Llangollen Eisteddfod when Emyr, from Bontnewydd, near Caernarfon, was crowned one of the best young singers in the world.
Following a thrilling sing-off, watched by his proud parents and fiancée, he was presented with the Pendine Trophy – a solid silver salver kindly donated by the late Tony Kaye of Kaye’s Jewellers in Chester, and a £3,000 prize by Mario Kreft MBE, proprietor Pendine Park.
Emyr said he was “over the moon” to have won such a prestigious prize especially in the eisteddfod’s landmark 75th anniversary year.
According to the eisteddfod’s executive producer, Camilla King, his voice was reminiscent of opera mega-star Sir Bryn Terfel in his earlier years.
She said: “It has that same timbre, it’s rich, passionate, mellow and versatile. He doesn’t just sing but his voice takes you on a journey.
“I believe Emyr has the talent to become a future star of the same standing as Sir Bryn. In fact, both our finalists are outstanding talents and I’ve no doubt we will be seeing a lot more of them both in years to come.”
After studying for six years at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where he met fiancée, fellow singer Rhiannon Ashley, Emyr’s career course is already moving on apace. He will spend the next two years studying at the famed Guildhall School of Music in London where Bryn Terfel was also once a student.
He is hugely excited to have been accepted by the Guildhall but the move has some bitter sweet consequences as it means he will be parted from Rhiannon for a year.
His dream is to become a professional opera singer and have the chance to perform on some of the world’s great stages like the New York Met, La Scala in Milan and the Royal Opera House.
He would also love to perform with each of the national opera companies in Britain.
Mario Kreft said: “We are absolutely thrilled that Emyr will be taking centre stage at the final concert of this year’s North Wales International Music Festival which has now established itself as one of the highlights on the cultural calendar of Wales.
“Having witnessed Emyr’s bravura winning performance on stage at Llangollen, I can assure the audience at St Asaph that they are in for a real treat and they will have the opportunity to enjoy the talent of a real star of the future.
The ethos of the North Wales International Music Festival and Llangollen Eisteddfod chime perfectly with the values of my wife, Gill, and I at Pendine Park in nurturing young talent.
“We firmly believe in the vital role played by music and arts in social care and as part of our enrichment programme for people with dementia.”
Cost of living
After clinching the Pendine International Voice of the Future title, Emyr said the cash windfall will be an enormous support towards his costs of living in London, as well as helping towards purchase of vital materials and extra tuition fees.
He said: “Apart from my delight about winning this is a tremendous boost on a practical level and will definitely help me afford to live in London, especially at a time when expenses everywhere are going up. I cannot thank Mario and Pendine enough.”
Ann Atkinson, the Artistic Director of the North Wales International Music Festival, was equally excited about the prospect of Emyr joining the line-up at this year’s anniversary event.
She said: “This year’s programme reflects the past 50 years of the festival and there are some wonderful concerts in store.”
Other festival sponsors include the Arts Council of Wales, Tŷ Cerdd, Colwinston Charitable Trust, Arts & Business Cymru, Jones Bros Civil Engineering UK, Salisburys Accountants, Tŷ Architecture and manorhaus.
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.