Twenty-four of the world’s best young singers will be vying for a prestigious international prize at this summer's Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.
Competitors from as far afield as China, America, Spain, Latvia and Estonia will be battling for the title of Pendine International Voice of the Future at the festival.
The contest will be one of the highlights during the 75th anniversary event which get underway on Thursday, July 7.
The popular festival had to be cancelled in 2020 for the only time since its inauguration in 1947 due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
In 2021 it took on a virtual format with performances streamed online but this year the music and dance extravaganza is back in the town where “Wales welcomes the world”.
Organisers were “blown away” by the exceptional standard of entries in the Pendine International Voice of the Future competition, sponsored by the Pendine Park care group via the Pendine Arts and Community Trust (PACT) which supports arts and community activities.
The near-record 38 entrants have been whittled down to 24 singers who will have to navigate two premliminary rounds and a semi-final before the three finalists compete on the famous International Pavilion stage on Saturday, July 9.
Competitors are required to perform a contrasting programme of up to seven minutes in length for their preliminary round and up to 10 minutes for the final.
The winner will be presented with the Pendine Trophy, a solid silver salver, and a cheque for £3,000 as well as having the opportunity to perform in concerts at the Eisteddfod and other venues. Meanwhile, the runner up will receive £1,500.
Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE said: "The ethos of the Eisteddfod chimes 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.
“The Pendine Trophy, which is solid Edwardian silver bearing a Chester hallmark, was kindly donated by the late Tony Kaye of Kaye’s Jewellers. It’s a stunning and beautiful trophy.
“It’s wonderful that, after the nightmare of the past two years, this fantastic festival is back with competitors returning to Llangollen for the first time since 2019.
He added: “Llangollen Eisteddfod was founded as a beacon of hope in the aftermath of the Second World War.
“The message about the importance of peace and harmony is as relevant today as it's ever been, especially with the war that’s being waged by Russia against Ukraine.”
The festival’s executive producer, Camilla King, said: “The standard of the competitors this year is absolutely phenomenal. The choice is so difficult for the adjudicators as the singers are all so extraordinarily accomplished.
“I used to be a casting manager with English National Opera so I have had lots of experience of sitting in on vocal auditions over the years and I can categorically say we have some truly fine entrants among our 2022 competitors. A number of them genuinely are the stars of years to come.”
Soprano Erin Rossington, 25, was triumphant in 2019 and she said winning the title was a huge boost for her fledgling singing career.
Erin, originally from Llanfairtalhaiarn, near Abergele, is now in her third year of studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.
She said: “Winning the Pendine Voice of the Future competition has gone a long way towards helping me to achieve my dream of becoming a professional opera singer.
“The prize money enabled me financially to take that important step of going to live in London and work my way through music school.
Entries have now closed for all the Eisteddfod competitions and organisers are delighted that the numbers are more than expected given the difficulties faced by performing artists over the last two years.
Performers are expected from up to 25 different countries, with about 30 overseas groups and 23 overseas soloists, 31 UK groups and 45 UK soloists.
Camilla King added: “When you consider all that has happened with the pandemic, the cost of living and economic crises, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, travel limitations in various parts of the world, it is remarkable to think that our competitor numbers in all categories are so high.
“We are in for some great music. In fact, we have high hopes of 2022 being one of our best ever eisteddfods with the prospect of some truly memorable performances to come.”
* For more information about the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod 2022 visit: https://international-eisteddfod.co.uk