A newly formed choir is set to impress music lovers with a one-off performance of Handel’s Messiah.
The Vale Of Clwyd Singers may not have been established for very long, but their quality of singing and impressive repertoire has inspired top timber company Clifford Jones Timber to lend their support to the group.
This funding will allow the 16-strong team of vocalists to sing The Messiah at St Asaph Cathedral at 7.30pm on Saturday, December 5.
The concert has been organised as a fundraiser for the annual North Wales International Music Festival, which takes place at the cathedral every September.
Sure fire success
Musical director Professor Robert Sells said: “This performance will be a sure fire success as long as we promote it well and fill the 400 seats we have.
“The generous contribution from Clifford Jones Timber will cover almost all our costs and it is the perfect piece of music for such an occasion.
“You don’t have to be a music nerd to enjoy the Messiah and it’s also terribly seasonal. There are plenty of people who just have to go and hear it at Christmas.
“It’s also wonderful to play as a beautiful chamber work that requires only a small orchestra.”
Keith Corbett, managing director of Clifford Jones Timber, the UK’s largest producer of fence posts, said: “There is a tremendous choral tradition in the Vale of Clwyd and the North Wales International Music Festival is one of the area’s premier music events.
“It attracts an international cast of performers but we thought it was important to recognise the wonderful talent we have here on our doorstep which is why we are supporting Robert and his choir.”
The North Wales International Music Festival is held annually at St Asaph Cathedral and attracts big names such as harpist Hannah Stone and guitarist Craig Ogden as well as extensive radio and television coverage.
“There is an exceptional musical culture in North Wales,” explained Robert, who lives in Llandyrnog: “It is centred on the traditional male voice choir. Every town has got one, it is very traditional, very Welsh and tremendously successful.
“But I wanted to bring about a choir that offered something different to that and concentrated more on the renaissance music that was slightly out of fashion.”
Having enjoyed a successful medical career as a consultant transplant surgeon at the Royal Liverpool Hospital, Robert found he had more time on retirement to pursue the music he had always loved.
He had conducted the Crosby Symphony Orchestra in his spare time for many years and he gathered together some like-minded friends to join him in his renegade singing group.
“I found two or three other people who were interested and formed a quartet about four or five years ago that went round singing carols. The response we got was just amazing and so many people were saying how there was a need for something like this.”
Through his contacts in the music world, Robert soon found many singers who were not only keen to join but exceptionally well trained and experienced so the Vale Of Clwyd Singers were formed.
“We knew we would have to find an orchestra so recorded a performance we gave at the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral and sent the CD off to the North East Wales Sinfonia as I knew their conductor, Robert Guy.
“They responded immediately saying, ‘you’re looking for an orchestra and we’re looking for a choir’ so they are now our partners.”
Dream come true
“When the New Sinfonia join the Vale Of Clwyd Singers on stage at St Asaph it will be a dream come true for Robert, who almost followed a career in music rather than medicine.”
He said: “I was all set to go to choral collage at Cambridge but my mother wouldn’t let me. She said I could be an amateur singer and a professional doctor but I couldn’t be an amateur doctor.
“She was absolutely right and I wouldn’t change what I’ve done for anything. I’ve been involved in transplant surgery through a tremendously exciting and pioneering period.”
Now 77, Robert is enjoying being able to dedicate his time to the music that has always been his passion and looking forward to finally following his boyhood dreams and singing on stage in front of a packed cathedral audience on December 5.
Tickets £10/£15 from firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01745 582929 or from the Cathedral Frames Shop, High Street, St Asaph.