Archives For Llangollen International Eisteddfod

Last Tuesday Night as I walked on to the main Pavilion stage at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod I had to pinch myself to make sure that it wasn’t all just a wonderful dream. 

Photo Credit – Spirit Of Wales Photography

To be opening the evening’s Opera Gala was a huge honour for me and knowing that I would be sharing the stage with Rolando Villazón and Rhian Lois brought a tingle to my spine.

Photo Credit – Spirit Of Wales Photography

My first two arias of the evening were O Luce Di Quest’anima from Linda di Chamounix, by Gaetano Donizetti followed by Je Veux Vivre from Romeo et Juliette, by Charles Gounod.

Photo Credit – Spirit Of Wales Photography

Rhian Lois then performed Quando M’en Vo from La Boheme, and O Mio Babbino Caro from Gianni Schicchi, both by Giacomo Puccini

Photo Credit – Spirit Of Wales Photography

Rolando Villazón then treated us to a lovely rendition of L’esule by Giuseppe Verdi .

Photo Credit – Spirit Of Wales Photography

I then sang my first duet with Rolando Villazón to close the first half of the Gala,  Non Ti Scordar Di Me by Ernesto di Curtis & Domenico Furnò.  This was so special for me, especially when he produced a rose from inside his jacket and gave it to me during the performance after our little waltz.

Photo Credit – Spirit Of Wales Photography

For the second half of the evening, I again sang two arias, the first was Qui La Voce Sua Soave from I Puritani, by Vincenzo Bellini followed by Glitter and Be Gay from Candide, by Bernstein. The Gala was brought to an end with the three of us performing Brindisi from La Traviata, by Giuseppe Verdi which was so much fun.

Photo Credit – Spirit Of Wales Photography
Photo Credit – Mandy Jones

I had a wonderful evening and was thrilled to have so many people in the audience to support my first Opera Gala including my parents, my Nana and Grandad, Gill and Terry, and my wonderful blog friends Hilary and Edwin, and I feel blessed to have shared this experience with them.

Rhian Lois, Rolando Villazón , Me, and James Hendry backstage after the Opera Gala

I also want to thank James Hendry, the Conductor and the British Sinfonietta for their amazing performances throughout the Opera Gala and for making my evening so special.

I’ve got four days off work in a row which is great because I’ve got to finalise my preparations for The Llangollen International Eisteddfod Classical Gala on the 2nd July at 19:30. I’ve been offered the wonderful opportunity to be part of a Classical Gala with French/Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón as part of my prize for winning the Pendine Voice of the Future competition last July.

Rolando is one of the leading tenors of our day he is frequently seen in Europe’s leading opera houses and sings with orchestras and opera houses all around the World.

Llangollen International Eisteddfod

Good news if you’re in the North West of England you don’t have to go to London to the Royal Opera House to hear Rolando he is coming to Llangollen in North Wales for the first time, Llangollen is one hour’s drive from Liverpool, 45 minutes from Chester (one hour by train), one and a half hours for my friends and family from Manchester and Stoke on Trent they’re staying overnight in some of the lovely bed and breakfast accommodation and hotels in Llangollen, I told them they could even glamp this year.

James Hendry

We will be accompanied in the Gala by the British Sinfonietta under the baton of British conductor James Hendry. James joined the prestigious ‘Jette Parker Young Artists Programme’ for emerging talent at London’s Royal Opera House in 2016. Hendry promises his Tuesday night concert to be an ‘opera pick and mix’, offering guests an exclusive repertoire through opera, classical and even musical theatre. He adds, “It will be a passionate performance that offers an inspiring tour for opera fans and newcomers alike.”

“In recent years the orchestra has performed extensively in England, Scotland and Wales as well as visiting Western Europe. Highlights include the London Welsh Festival of Male Choirs at a sold-out Royal Albert Hall in London, a performance of Berlioz’ Requiem at Cheltenham Festival, screenings of Casablanca at the Royal Opera House in London, screenings of Home Alone in Denmark, and the televised world premiere of ‘Adiemus Colores’ by Sir Karl Jenkins at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in 2014. “

I wish that you could all be there with me, got my dress ready, got my shoes, feeling prepared, can’t wait to get started.

I am looking forward to my performance at this year’s Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod on Tuesday 2nd of July as a guest of the renowned International Tenor Rolando Villazón. The evening’s gala concert is to be accompanied by the British Sinfonietta Orchestra conducted by James Hendry, also starring is the famous Welsh lyric soprano, Rhian Lois. If you have never been to the International Musical Eisteddfod in Llangollen I can heartily recommend it, whether you intend to compete in one of the many categories or just come to enjoy the beautiful singing, fabulous dancing, or the joyous multicultural atmosphere that permeates around the Pavillion and throughout the Town during the festival.

The event is best described on their website:
Every summer since 1947 Llangollen has staged one of the world’s most inspirational cultural festivals. Each year around 4,000 performers and as many as 50,000 visitors converge on this beautiful small Welsh town and its International Pavilion; to sing and dance in a unique combination of competition, performance, and international peace and friendship.

The International Pavilion, Llangollen

Llangollen’s place in world music is now immutable. Since its inaugural year in 1947 more than 300,000 competitors from over 100 nationalities have performed enthusiastically on the Llangollen stage. In 1955 a young Luciano Pavarotti sang in the choir from his home town of Modena, conducted by his father. The choir won first prize in the Male voice choir competition. Pavarotti returned for a spectacular concert in 1995.”

“Margot Fonteyn, Alicia Markova, Joan Sutherland, Angela Gheorghiu, Kiri Te Kanawa, Jehudi Menuhin, José Carreras, Lesley Garrett, Bryn Terfel, Katherine Jenkins, Dennis O’Neil, James Galway, Nigel Kennedy, Elaine Paige, Michael Ball, and Montserrat Caballé are among the musical stars that have appeared in our concerts. Placido Domingo confesses that his first professional engagement in the United Kingdom was at the 1968 International Eisteddfod.

The River Dee and the Town’s Railway Station

If you want to come along to the Eisteddfod you can buy tickets from the
Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod website.

Just to let you know that if you want to come along to watch Waterperry Opera Festival’s production of Mansfield Park this year that although they have increased the number of performances the tickets are selling fast so don’t leave it too long to book or you may be disappointed.

Finally, I am thinking about changing the header picture on my FaceBook page to the one below, please let me know what you think 🙂

Calling All Young Singers!

February 17, 2019 — 56 Comments

I was thrilled this week to be asked to help launch the search for this year’s Pendine International Voice of the Future at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod.  Ceidiog Hughes contacted me on behalf of Llangollen International Eisteddfod to find out how winning the prize had helped me.

Below is a copy of the press release which I wanted to share with you and I would encourage any young singers out there to put in an entry, it is an amazing competition and one that I have been honoured to be associated with since 2014.

As part of this year’s Eisteddfod, I have been invited to sing two ten minute performances as a guest of Rolando Villazón in a Classical Gala on the 2nd July 2019 which I am very excited about as it will be great to catch up with everyone involved with the festival.  If you have ever wanted to visit North Wales this a lovely time of year with so much to do at this festival.

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New search launched for singing stars of future

Ceidiog Hughes

A “supremely talented soprano” has launched a search to find the world’s most talented young singers.

According to Charlotte Hoather, 24, winning the prestigious Pendine International Voice of the Future competition at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod last year catapulted her career to a new level on the global stage.

Organisers say entries are already flooding in for the prestigious competition this year which has a first prize of £5,000, along with a £2,000 cheque for the runner up.

Every year the picturesque town of Llangollen in the Dee Valley welcomes around 4,000 international performers and around 50,000 visitors to the week-long festival of music and dance.

Among the highlights of the week is the prestigious Pendine International Voice of the Future competition, which showcases young talent alongside other gifted global performers.

Once again this year the arts-loving care organisation, Pendine Park, is contributing  £5,000 to the prize fund and a beautiful silver salver via the Pendine Arts and Community Trust, with the balance coming from Sir Bryn’s Terfel’s foundation and Llangollen Eisteddfod.

Following her “life-changing” experience last year, Charlotte, from Winsford, in Cheshire, is urging other young soloists not to miss the deadline for entries on March 1st.

The format will be slightly different this year, with the preliminary rounds being held at Llangollen Town Hall on Tuesday, July 2nd. The semi-final will then be held on the pavilion stage the following day with two finalists going head to head during the live televised concert in the evening.

Charlotte, who trained at the Royal College of Music, said: “The competition gave me a massive boost. It’s been huge for my confidence and helped me push the boundaries of where I could go and what I can do. And the prize money gave me such a massive opportunity to further my career.

“Having the money available meant I could fly to New York to audition for Pittsburgh Opera and attend an event at the Metropolitan Opera House and I’m also jetting off to Seoul, South Korea at the end of March for another competition which is very exciting.”

Charlotte, who previously gained a First Class Honours Degree in Music from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, added: “I’d encourage any young singer to give it a go.

“Winning the competition is life-changing. It’s helped me to take more risks and travel internationally for opportunities as a professional singer.”

“The year has been amazing. I toured the role of Uccelina in Paris organised by the Théâtre du Châtelet and appeared at the Metropolitan Opera House in the same role later touring the Scottish Highlands performing in Bambino for Scottish Opera.”

“I also performed at the inaugural Waterperry Opera Festival whose Patron is Jonathan Dove, the composer of Mansfield Park and I will reprising the role again this coming July.”

“I was also a guest soloist at Tideswell Remembrance concert and sang in the Rachmaninov recital at Pushkin House in Bloomsbury, London. More recently I reached the quarterfinals of an International Singing competition in Dublin, It was certainly a busy year!”

Charlotte’s success was music to the years of Pendine Park proprietors Mario Kreft MBE and his wife, Gill.

Mr. Kreft said: “This is the third year of the Pendine International Voice of the Future competition and the standard just seems to go up and up. Last year’s winner, Charlotte Hoather, was exceptional and a very deserving winner.”

“She is a supremely talented soprano and the competition has helped unlock the door to a hugely bright future.”

“Our aim in supporting the competition in conjunction with the Sir Bryn Terfel Foundation is to provide a springboard for brilliant young singers from around the world to achieve their dreams of establishing a career on the global stage.”

“Sir Bryn is living proof that supreme talent can take you a long way and we are delighted to doing our bit to help gifted young singers attain new heights.”

“The competition chimes perfectly with our ethos at Pendine Park because the arts in general and music, in particular, provide the golden thread running through everything we do to enrich the lives of our residents and staff alike.”

The festival’s musical director, Edward-Rhys Harry, said: “We are so grateful to Pendine Arts and Community Trust for their continued support for this truly international competition.”

“I know how much the competition has accelerated the career of Charlotte Hoather, last year’s winner and how she used her prize money to help further her career.”

“It’s a massive opportunity to perform before a big live audience and live on TV. My advice is very simple, if you are a young singer aged between 19 and 28 and think you may be good enough, then go for it.”

“Approach the competition with courage and conviction and even if you don’t make the final it will still be an invaluable lesson and a wonderful experience.”

“This major competition is something that we need to nurture and thanks to the support of Pendine Arts and Community Trust young artists are getting an opportunity to further their careers.”

“It’s certainly a competition I’m really looking forward to and it promises to be one of the major highlights of this year’s International Music Eisteddfod. And another new aspect of the competition is that the winner will be offered additional performances at other venues. The competition really is going on to another level.”

To find out more about the Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod and for competition details please visit here:

My Summer Reprise

September 2, 2018 — 72 Comments

As the summer draws to a close and the autumn approaches I wanted to put together a short reprise of what I have been up to since graduating from the Royal College of Music Masters course at the beginning of July.

The first event of the summer was my recital with the Tideswell Male Voice Choir on the 29th June 2018, such a joy to sing alongside my old friends.

After The Concert.jpg

Followed on the 3rd and 4th July with my entry into this year’s Llangollen International Eisteddfod for the Pendine International Voice of the Future competition. What a fabulous place to perform, and being selected as this year’s winner was the icing on the cake. I have added some extra pictures to my original post and hope you get the chance to check them out if you haven’t already seen them.

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Then on to the Minack Theatre, near Lands End in beautiful Cornwall where I performed the role of Cunegonde in Surrey Opera’s production of Candide 16th to 20th July 2018

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The Minack Theatre reviewer Jenni Barlow wrote that ‘her ears were ringing and singing with sheer ecstasy and my head is still spinning with delight after watching one of the Minack’s most exhilarating musical productions….the voices of its nine principle singers are sublime…, with Charlotte Hoather giving a remarkable performance on the opening night, effortlessly hitting the top, very high notes, as well as achieving perfect comic timing, in partnership with the impeccable Stephen Anthony Brown.’ I was thrilled when this was sent to me.

After traveling back to London for rehearsals, it was on to Waterperry House in Oxfordshire to perform the role of Maria Bertram in Waterperry Opera Festival’s production of Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park.  The production received a five-star review in Bachtrack this week by Charlotte Valori,    “Waterperry Opera Festival has broken new ground in its first season, opening with an ambitiously broad programme which presented four different works in four different spaces […] The jewel of these four was the chance to see Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park in the period-perfect setting of Waterperry House […] Charlotte Hoather’s precocious, determined Maria Bertram displayed a deep and sensitive understanding of her complex character […] Mansfield Park sparkled with wit and ingenuity from start to finish.”

Mansfield Park - Jonathan Dove - Waterperry Opera Festival - 17th August 2018 Director/Designer - Rebecca Meltzer Musical Director - Ashley Beauchamp Maria Bertram - Charlotte Hoather Julia Bertram - Sarah Anne Champion Aunt Norris - Andrea Tweedale Mar

Now having had such a wonderful summer full of learning, I have to start preparations for next year, starting the audition process all over again.  I have a couple of smaller projects underway at present and can’t wait to share them with you as Autumn progresses. But until then I have my return to the role of Uccellina in BambinO for Scottish Opera in their tour this September.

One of the locations that we will be visiting is Lerwick in the Shetland Isles and I was excited to see my blog friend Cindy Knoke’s blog post today on the Town, the most Northerly town in the UK, with some amazing pictures.

I have some truly amazing news to share with you, last week I entered the Pendine International Voice of the Future competition at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in Wales, UK. If you remember I last entered the competition back in 2014  when I came third. This year I was thrilled to reach the final which was held on Wednesday 4th July 2018 during the ‘Classical Collection Concert’ on the main Pavillion stage.  My fellow finalists were Rachael Marsh from Wrexham and Mark Christian Bautista of Calamba in the Philippines, who along with myself were selected from the live preliminary round held the previous day.

It was such a thrill to walk out on to the grand stage and perform in front of the large assembled audience, adjudicators, patrons and sponsors. I can’t easily express the emotion that ran through my body as Nico de Villiers the pianist who accompanied me started to play. I sang through my programme and left the stage in what seemed like the blink of an eye, I then re-joined my fellow competitors as we waited for the results to be announced. The atmosphere at the Eisteddfod was lovely, very friendly and culturally diverse.

The results were announced after the concert starring pianists Vicky Yannoula and Peter Jablonski, followed by beautiful choral singing from the Cantorion Sirenian Singers and I am thrilled to let you know that I was awarded the first prize of £6,000.00 and a new silver Pendine Trophy, awarded by Mr. Mario Kreft MBE of the Pendine Park care organisation.

Mr Kreft MBE awarding me the Pendine trophy

Mr Kreft MBE said:

 “I believe we have seen a star born this evening as Charlotte Hoather’s performance was simply breath-taking and spectacularly talented.”

The festival’s music director, Vicky Yannoula said :

“The standard of performance we witnessed from all three finalists was exceptional…singing in a competition such as the Pendine International Voice of the Future competition isn’t just about standing in front of a piano and singing, it’s about a performance.”

This award will be such a great help to me as I start my first year as a freelance musician as it will help cover some of my living costs, additional singing lessons, and coaching that I require to continue vocal development and language skills, I also need to attend auditions both here and abroad.

At the end of the concert, we all joined in to participate with The Big NHS Singalong Live which was shown on ITV to help celebrate 70 years of the NHS.

It is hard to believe that this wonderful journey started with my introduction to the wonders of classical singing by my first singing teacher, Jayne Wilson when at Knutsford High school.  She encouraged me to enter festivals and competitions to perform new repertoire and introduce me to other singers and their teachers, and I can’t wait to see her again when I’m next at home.  If you’ve followed my blog you’ve read the journey and adventures along the way I couldn’t do this without the help of many wonderful teachers, coaches and advisors, thank you all too for your continual encouragement and support.

Accompanist: Nico De Villiers

Adjudicators:  Leah Marian Jones , Dr. Anastasia Belina

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Franz Schubert, born in January 1797, was an Austrian composer who died at the young age of 31 years. His work bridged classical and romantic. He had an early gift for music playing the piano, violin and organ and was also an excellent singer although when his voice broke in 1812 it forced him to leave college, Stadtkonvikt (Imperial Seminary) after earning a choir scholarship there in 1808. His father was a school teacher, and he taught the young Schubert rudimentary violin whilst his elder brother taught him piano. His mother was a home maker and played the cello. He was their 12th child, he had 14 siblings, nine died in infancy.

Franz-Schubert

Franz Schubert

Between 1813 and 1815 Schubert was a prolific songwriter, at the age of 17 he wrote two of his first German Lieds ‘Gretchen am Spinnrade’ and ‘Der Erlkönig’. He worked with texts from poetry giants like Wolfgang von Goethe, interpreting their poetry using his musical creativeness. These pieces are very dramatic, the depiction of the spinning wheel and treadle in the piano in ‘Gretchen’ are a tricky pictorial keyboard figuration.

Therese_Grob

Therese Grob

He had to teach to make ends meet but he hated it. In 1814 he met a soprano called Therese Grob and wrote several works for her, he wanted to marry her but was thwarted by harsh marriage laws where he had to show he had the means to support a family. He lived in the early 1820’s with a close-knit group of artists and students, he and four of his friends were arrested by the Austrian police who were on their guard against revolutionary activities. One of his friends was banished from Austria and Schubert was ‘severely reprimanded’. Schubert was not quite five feet tall and his friends nicknamed him “Schwämmerl” ‘Little Mushroom’.

Franz-Liszt

Franz Liszt

When he died in November 1828, he’d been ill with headaches, fever, swollen joints and vomiting, impoverished and neglected except by a circle of his friends who were in awe of his genius. The composer Franz Liszt said of him after his death that ‘he was the most poetic musician who ever lived’. His output in his short life was prolific consisting of over six hundred secular vocal works (mainly Lieder), seven completed symphonies, sacred music, operas, incidental music and a large body of chamber and piano music.

Today Schubert is placed amongst the greatest composers of the early Romantic era and as such is one of the most frequently performed composers of the early nineteenth century.

This was the video of performance of this fabulous composition at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in 2014 courtesy of Llangollen.

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An Early Depiction Of Gretchen am Spinnrade

English Translation

My peace is gone,
My heart is heavy,
I will find it never
and never more.

Where I do not have him,
That is the grave,
The whole world
Is bitter to me.

My poor head
Is crazy to me,
My poor mind
Is torn apart.

For him only, I look
Out the window
Only for him do I go
Out of the house.

His tall walk,
His noble figure,
His mouth’s smile,
His eyes’ power,

And his mouth’s
Magic flow,
His handclasp,
and ah! his kiss!

My peace is gone,
My heart is heavy,
I will find it never
and never more.

My bosom urges itself
toward him.
Ah, might I grasp
And hold him!

And kiss him,
As I would wish,
At his kisses
I should die!

I have been researching “Der Ring des Nibelungen” the cycle of four operas by German composer Richard Wagner and have been enthralled by them.

Richard Wagner

Richard Wagner

I have always enjoyed studying German song especially Lieder, German art songs from the 19th century romantic period.  I find the interplay between the pianist and the singer captivating as each depends on the other in a way that can be quite unique to this genre of music.

One of my favourite composers of Lied, the German word for song, is Richard Strauss and I find myself getting emotionally drawn in to his songs.  Richard Strauss was born in Munich, Germany on the 11th June 1864.  Having a father that was a principal horn player at the Munich Court Opera ensured a passionate music education which resulted in Strauss completing his first composition at the age of 6.

Richard Strauss Aged 22

Richard Strauss Aged 22

In 1874 at the age of 10 he was introduced to the operas of Wagner and though the works were frowned upon at the time by his father they would go on to have a profound influence on Strauss’s work.

Following a brief period at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich where he studied Philosophy and Art History he left to take up his first conducting position.  He was taken under the wing of the renowned German conductor Hans von Bulow at the Meiningen orchestra.  At the age of just 21 Strauss went on to become the principal conductor of the Meiningen orchestra when Hans von Bulow resigned in 1885.

Pauline de Anna Strauss

Pauline de Anna Strauss

Richard Strauss married Pauline de Anna in September 1894 who was acclaimed to be the inspiration of many of his works.  I think that it is these emotions in his pieces that help me to connect with them.  “Zueignung” meaning  ‘Dedication’ is a beautiful song composed by Strauss, it is taken from a poem by Hermann von Gilm zu Rosenegg which Strauss lovingly set to music.

Ja, du weißt es, teure Seele,
Daß ich fern von dir mich quäle,
Liebe macht die Herzen krank,
Habe Dank.

[Hielt ich nicht]1, der Freiheit Zecher,
Hoch den Amethysten-Becher,
Und du segnetest den Trank,
Habe Dank.

Und beschworst darin die Bösen,
Bis ich, was ich nie gewesen,
[Heilig an das Herz]2 dir sank,
Habe Dank.

The translation provided by Lawrence Snyder :

Yes, you know it, dearest soul,
How I suffer far from you,
Love makes the heart sick,
Have thanks.

Once I, drinker of freedom,
Held high the amethyst beaker,
And you blessed the drink,
Have thanks.

And you exorcised the evils in it,
Until I, as I had never been before,
Blessed, blessed sank upon your heart,
Have thanks.

This is a video of my performance of this beautiful song from the “Voice of The Future” competition at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in the summer of 2014. I also managed to record this to go on my album “Canzoni D’Amore”. The header photo of George Todica and me was taken by my Nana the day before the grand finale in Llangollen.

Richard Strauss  Time Magazine 1938

Richard Strauss Time Magazine 1938

Strauss was a prolific composer and wrote many works including solo instrument and orchestra, fabulous Lieder and several Operas until his death in September 1949. I cannot wait to explore more of his repertoire in the years to come including some of his most famous opera roles like that of Salome.

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Richard Strauss – Salome Poster – 1910

If you are familiar with any of his works I would love to read what you think and if you have any suggestions regarding songs of his that I could explore then I would appreciate to hear from you :).

I am on holiday this week and my Mum has told me to put my iPad and phone away and enjoy a break! So in preparation before I left I sent my Dad some pictures taken in Llangollen, North Wales last Wednesday and Thursday for my blog post tonight along with the text which he promised he would upload for me.

My programme included:
Endless Pleasure, Endless Love by Handel
Gretchen am Spinnrade
by Schubert
Zueignung by Strauss
And finally my parents favourite
Song to the Moo
n by Dvorak

Here are the pictures

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Outside the venue for the first round of the “Over 18’s Vocal Solo” competition.

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The view across the river from my hotel room.

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There is a lovely steam railway that runs along the valley from Llangollen.

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My Nana and Grandad who came to watch and cheer us on.

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George Todica at the piano for me in the final of the “Voice Of The Future”.

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Enjoying the moment

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I know that I do not usually publish a post on a Thursday but I have some news that I just wanted to share with you all 🙂

After missing out on a place in the over 18’s vocal solo yesterday I got up this morning full of anticipation for today’s competition.

Today’s category was the “Voice Of The Future” and looking over the entrants I knew that that I would face some fabulous singers in the preliminary round.

I was on second in my round and after composing myself I started my programme, I thought it went well but you never quite know in a competition.  George wasn’t able to have a run through on the piano so we both had to jump in at the deep end.

I was thrilled when they announced that I had been selected as one of the four finalists.  I was so excited to get the opportunity to perform on the pavilion main stage and best of all it was to be filmed which means I could share my performance with all my friends here on my blog.

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George Todica accompanied me on the pavilion stage

The link below will take you to the main website for the TV company that filmed the event and you should be able to watch my programme which I do hope that you enjoy 🙂

http://llangollen.tv/en/clip/c1-2/