The Festival opens with a headline performance from New Zealand soprano, Hayley Westenra.
There’s something about Hayley Westenra’s voice. It’s not just a beautiful voice. It’s a voice that moves you, gets inside of you because you feel it’s coming from a woman who has felt everything – love, joy, anger, despair – the whole range and then some.
Hayley left her native New Zealand aged 14 when she was signed internationally by Universal Records in the UK. A year later, her first album, Pure, became the fastest selling international début album in the history of the UK classical charts. Successive albums Odyssey (2005), Treasure (2007) and River of Dreams: The Very Best of Hayley Westenra (2008) all showcased her sensational voice and won her international acclaim, selling over four million copies worldwide to date.
Her latest album, Paradiso, was recorded in Rome with legendary film composer Ennio Morricone and his orchestra, and takes her to a new level in her career.
“When I listen back to the recordings, I see my voice is fuller now and the range has changed and there’s a difference in tone and quality,” she enthuses. “With this album I feel I’ve grown a lot musically and I had a lot more to put into it emotionally. But the bottom line is I was working with a musical genius whose arrangements are out of this world and I had the opportunity to put lyrics to his amazing melodies.”
Hayley, who made her debut performance in North Wales at the tender age of 16 when she performed at the Faenol Festival in 2003, expressed her delight to be performing:
“I am thrilled to be returning to North Wales this summer and performing at Gŵyl Gobaith – it’s always such a pleasure to perform in Wales, the audiences are always so welcoming and it truly is such a beautiful part of the world”.
Hayley will be supported by the North Wales Youth Orchestra, Amore, Sioned Terry and Rhys Meirion.
Amore is made up of four young opera singers, Victoria Gray, David Webb, Monica McGhee and Peter Braithwaite. They met whilst studying at the Royal College of Music and Drama inLondon, and were eventually discovered by executives from Warner Bros Records. The talents of the group were immediately clear to the Warner team and they were signed to a six-album record deal.
The accomplishments of these artists thus far are astonishing, both as a group and individuals; though they are only in their mid-20’s they have performed for Presidents and Royalty.
Between them they have more than 30 years of experience. The knowledge they have of their music along with their passion for their art sets Amore a step above other operatic groups in the industry. Amore pride themselves on their dedication and refreshing attitude towards the music.
Welsh tenor Rhys Meirion graduated as a Bachelor of Education and worked as a head-teacher before completing his studies on the post-graduate Opera Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Rhys joined the English National Opera Jerwood Young Singers Programme and was subsequently a Company Principal. In 2002 Rhys made his Australian debut as Rodolfo in La Boheme for West Australian Opera, and also his European début inFrankfurt-am-Main, Germany. In 2008, Rhys made his début with Welsh National Opera as Fenton in Falstaff.
Concert highlights have included a gala concert at the Royal Albert Hall with Bryn Terfel, his début performance at the BBC Proms and the Desert Island Discs Anniversary Concert at London’s Royal Festival Hall. Rhys has appeared as a guest soloist in a number of opera galas with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and his concert performances have seen him visit Patagonia, Barbados, Toronto, Ottawa and Florida.
Rhys has an extensive catalogue of recording work, including a duet album with Bryn Terfel ‘Benedictus’ which was nominated for a Classical Brit Award. He has also released two albums for the Australian label Stanza AV, and three solo CD recordings for the SAIN label, the most recent being ‘Celticae’.
Rhys is one of the Three Welsh Tenors whose debut album was released last year. Rhys is the founder of Gwyl Gobaith (Festival of Hope) and this year’s Ambassador for Wales Air Ambulance.
Classically trained Mezzo-Soprano,Sioned Terry, has a wealth of experience in performing for audiences throughout the country.
Sioned’s repertoire and style of performance establishes itself in the popular realm of the contemporary ‘crossover’ genre and her performances have captured the attention of listeners across the age ranges.
Sioned is no stranger to performing for televised and radio broadcasts, at established music festivals, public celebrations and many auspicious events. In the past Sioned has sung for politicians and even royalty. She was invited to perform for a royal visit by Prince Charles to Bangor University and also at the opening of an Equestrian Centre by Princess Anne. Sioned is also familiar with the prestigious platform of the National Eisteddfod of Wales, enjoying solo success on numerous occasions and has also experienced the accolade of winning at the International Eisteddfod in Llangollen.
Sioned has a very busy schedule ahead having completed her second CD recording and 2012 promises to be an exceptional year of concerts and events.
North Wales Youth Orchestra
The North Wales Youth Orchestra (NWYO) has been formed by an artistic and financial partnership of all 6 local authorities and the Arts Council of Wales. The orchestra operates as a 7-day course and tour which will challenge the most gifted players to make music of the highest quality and help many of them to fulfil their potential as the next generation of professional instrumentalists.
Coming from all 6 counties, the 90 talented musicians are all under 21 and many of them are still at school. Through their county orchestras and regional ensembles they have successfully auditioned to become members of the NWYO.
Aled Marshman, Manager of the North Wales Youth Orchestra, said “This is a wonderful opportunity for our young musicians to demonstrate their musical prowess to the general public and a fantastic experience for them to be involved in a Festival such as this.”
The evening will be sponsored by Gardners Chartered Accountants and the charity chosen to be supported from the event will be Cancer Research UK and specifically the work they do in Wales and the local area (www.cancerresearchuk.org).