Festival favourites Tenebrae return for concert in St Asaph

A renowned vocal ensemble will join with a North Wales choir to perform at the region’s premiere music festival.

Tenebrae are favourites among North Wales International Music Festival audiences and return to St Asaph Cathedral on Friday, September 15.

They will present a programme of Renaissance music in a concert that promises to be an inspiring and immersive opening to this year’s festival that runs from Friday, September 15 to Saturday, September 30.

It’s all been made possible thanks to the support of the Arts Council of Wales, Colwinston Charitable Trust and the festival’s headline sponsor, the Pendine Arts and Community Trust (PACT), that was set up by the Pendine Park care organisation to provide funding for arts and community activities.

Other sponsors include Arts & Business Cymru, Tŷ Cerdd and Salisbury & Co Accountants.

Former member of The King’s Singers, Nigel Short, the founder and conductor of Tenebrae, said he is excited and looking forward to visiting North Wales once again for the concert.

He said the cathedral at St Asaph has “wonderful acoustics and is ideally suited to the type of music Tenebrae presents”.

Nigel added the concert will feature a small consort of six singers who will present a programme of largely Renaissance music, looking back at horizons past and will include three pieces with the St Asaph Cathedral Choir.

Founded in 2001 Tenebrae has toured internationally and made recordings, including contemporary works commissioned by them.

Tenebrae’s repertoire covers works from the 16th to the 21st centuries and Nigel Short can call upon nearly 20 singers.

He said the number of choristers depend on the nature of the programme and said the programme at the North Wales International Music Festival will include pieces by Thomas Tallis who is considered one of England’s greatest composers, and William Byrd whose death in 1623 is being commemorated this year.

North Wales International Music Festival Artistic Director Ann Atkinson said: “We have built up an excellent relationship with the choir who are very fond of the Cathedral in St Asaph.

“During their visit to NWIMF in my first year as Artistic Director, 20 years ago, they recorded their superb performance of the Rachmaninov Vespers

“I am looking forward to hearing their collaboration with the cathedral choir as our vocal workshop participants,” she said.

This year’s festival is based on the theme of Horizons as the North Wales International Music Festival looks on to new horizons. The closing concert on Saturday, September 30 will take the form of a farewell to Ann Atkinson, who is stepping down after 20 years at the helm.

It will feature the NEW Sinfonia, the NEW Voices Community Choir and soloists Lisa Dafydd and Dafydd Jones. Also taking part will be Ann, an accomplished mezzo-soprano, and her husband Kevin Sharp, baritone.

“This orchestral concert will include the young instrumentalists from our Instrumental Project and a bit of Opera and favourite pieces. The programme will include our 2013 Commission by Paul Mealor ‘A Welsh Prayer’ and a follow up new commission from Paul Mealor for 2023 ‘A Welsh Blessing’,” said Ann.

Among the other highlights during the two week festival will be a return to St Asaph of the Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers on Saturday, September 16,  back by popular demand after “raising the roof” last year.

Acclaimed Manchester-based acoustic quartet Kabantu aim to ‘celebrate the spaces where different cultures meet’ with their eclectic, folk-inspired original music at a concert on Thursday, 21 September.

A bilingual concert, entitled Gorwelion y Gair (The Horizon of Words), on Friday, September 22, features the Trelawnyd and Bro Glyndwr Male Voice Choirs – both are led by Ann Atkinson as their musical director. They will be joined by Dee Sign BSL Choir, popular Welsh folk group Pedair and poet Aled Lewis Evans.

On Saturday, September 23, the festival’s orchestra in residence NEW Sinfonia will be joined in concert by American violinist Tai Murray and Welsh pianist TeleriSiân. The programme travels West over the Horizon and back, including Gershwin, Piazzolla and a new commission by Gareth Glyn.

Canadian-born pianist Janina Fialkowska will perform a recital featuring pieces by Schubert, Brahms and Chopin, on Thursday, September 28.

Former Royal harpist Catrin Finch takes centre stage on September 29 when she appears with Irish violinist Aoife Bhriain.

In addition, there will be an extensive programme of daytime concerts and other events, including a “dementia friendly and inclusive concert”, a “Schools” concert and a “Tots” concert all with musicians from Live Music Now Cymru.

There will be morning concerts with classical guitarist Jonathan Richards and Ensemble Cymru, who will present a Chamber Music programme with poetry by Aled Lewis Evans, and there will be various masterclasses and workshops.

Tickets and further details about the festival programme are available online at www.nwimf.com. Tickets also available from Cathedral Frames, St Asaph – 01745 582929 (Weds – Fri, 10 – 4) and Theatr Clwyd by phone – 01352 344101 (Mon – Sat, 10 – 6).


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