A rising star of opera is to join forces with the flagship orchestra of North Wales to welcome in 2019 in rousing musical style at Wrexham and St Asaph.
Up and coming Llandudno-born tenor Elgan Llŷr Thomas, 28, is thrilled to at last be taking centre stage as a soloist with the NEW Sinfonia Orchestra which he has admired from afar for several years.
Despite having performed all around the globe from China to the Isle of Man, this is the first time he has had chance to work with the vibrant and acclaimed orchestra of his North Wales homeland.
It’s a dream come true for NEW Sinfonia co-founders, Wrexham-born brothers Robert and Jonathan Guy.
Robert, 30, said: “Elgan has had a longstanding invitation to sing with NEW Sinfonia. We would have moved mountains to get him here if we could and the audience will understand why once they hear first-hand how fantastic a singer he is.”
Elgan said: “My increasingly busy diary has always made it un-doable until now.
“But finally our dates have coincided and I can’t wait to be at the the annual NEW Sinfonia New Year Gala Concerts. These occasions have become an annual tradition, I’ve heard such great things about them.”
Even then he will be jetting off to France the very next day, to perform in The Barber of Seville in Bordeaux.
Tickets are selling fast for both New Year Gala concerts, at St Asaph Cathedral on Friday, January 4, at 7.30pm, followed by a matinee at the historic St Giles Parish Church, Wrexham, on Saturday, January 5, at 3pm.
Both venues are renowned for magnificent acoustics and the concerts are being sponsored by Mold-based property development company, Tesni Homes.
A similar event held by NEW Sinfonia to ring in 2018 attracted a bumper crowd of 700 over the two days, filling up both venues.
Orchestra conductor Robert said last year was the first time they staged two new year concerts. It was so successful they never hesitated about doing the double again.
He said: “We’re over the moon to be welcoming Elgan. It’s been an ambition of ours for a long time to accompany him. He’s a truly charismatic talent, potentially one of Britain’s greatest opera stars. I’m sure his career will progress to see him take on opera’s most challenging roles.
It’s as exciting an opportunity for us as it is for the audience, getting the chance to accompany him through a wonderful selection of arias.”
Elgan will perform a selection of arias including the much loved Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s Turandot, and numbers from Donizetti’s comic opera The Elixir of Love, in which Elgan took on the role of Nemorino in a touring production with Scottish Opera.
He joined Scottish Opera as an emerging artist in 2016, later going on to win a coveted place as a Harewood Artist with English National Opera with whom he debuted in London in a Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre production of The Turn of the Screw.
Elgan studied at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama and at the Royal Northern College of Music, where Robert was also a student, but their paths never crossed.
He is considered ‘one to watch’ and a potential big name opera star of the future. He has performed with North Wales’s own Bryn Terfel and is one of the first recipients of a Study Award from the Bryn Terfel Foundation.
Having launched in 2011 NEW Sinfonia are now celebrated nationwide, a fact underscored when they were appointed Orchestra in Residence for North Wales International Music Festival. They have worked in close partnership on several projects with Welsh National Opera, and performed world premieres of works by Paul Mealor, Rebecca Dales, Brian Hughes and Jonathan Guy.
The orchestra was established to give outstanding musicians from North Wales the chance to play regularly together professionally. Many members will travel home from bases around the UK especially to perform in the New Year Gala Concerts, which will be sponsored by Clifford Jones Timber, of Wrexham, and Tesni Homes, of Mold.
Robert, who is Director of Orchestras at the University of Manchester, said the support of both sponsors is hugely appreciated, along with the backing of the North Wales public.
He said: “The feedback we’re getting is tremendous. It’s true to say without the support of the North Wales community our young orchestra would not have achieved all it has in such a short time. We’re forever grateful to everyone who’s got behind us and these gala concerts are a way of saying thank you.”
He promises a few ‘musical surprises’ at both events, the chance for some audience participation and the inclusion some old favourites in the programme.
He said: “As always some Viennese music will be on the menu, but we’re also introducing some new twists this year including the Argentine Liber Tango by Piazzola.