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Entertainment

St Davids Cathedral Music Festival promises a spectacular line-up

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AFTER a pause last year, the beloved St Davids Cathedral Music Festival is set to make a grand return this May, bringing a vibrant mix of international talent to Pembrokeshire. The festival, a staple in the cultural calendar, will coincide with the May half-term week, offering six days of musical excellence.

The 2024 festival will open with a dazzling performance by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales on May 25. The orchestra will treat audiences to Mathias’s Festival Overture and Brahms’ Second Symphony. Adding to the splendour, award-winning violinist Inmo Yang will grace the stage with his rendition of Sibelius’ Violin Concerto.

This year’s festival will also introduce several new performers. The Choir of Royal Holloway is set to debut on May 27, enchanting attendees with choral arrangements of orchestral classics. Local talent is also in the spotlight, with Pembrokeshire-born horn player Simon Lewis performing alongside Trio Preseli on May 26, showcasing works by Welsh composer Anthony Randall.

Adding a touch of environmental consciousness to the festival, clarinet virtuoso Emma Johnson returns on May 28 with her Orchestra for the Environment. Their repertoire will include pieces by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and Johnson’s own composition, ‘The Tree of Life’.

The festival will kick off with the 150-strong Children’s Festival Chorus on May 24, captivating audiences with their youthful energy and a live band. Throughout the week, the cathedral musicians will feature prominently in several concerts, with the highlight being the full Cathedral choir performing Choral Evensong live on BBC Radio 3.

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased online, over the phone, or at the box office. Entry for under-18s is free with an accompanying adult, with other tickets starting at £8. Early booking is encouraged to secure seats, although last-minute tickets may be available at the door.

Simon Pearce, the artistic director, expressed his enthusiasm for the festival’s return, hoping that it will draw a large crowd to celebrate the rich musical heritage and the serene setting of the cathedral. All cathedral services, including festival ceremonies, will be open to the public free of charge, making it a perfect family-friendly event.

PROGRAMME OF EVENTS

Friday 24th May

6.00pm: Festival Launch Concert with Children’s Chorus

The 2024 Festival kicks off with a performance by the Festival Children’s Chorus, led by Mathew Wright MBE, Artistic Director of the Barnsley Youth Choir. Matthew is a member of the international jury representing the World Choir Games and in 2023 was appointed as a representative for Great Britain on the World Choir Council.

8.30pm: Vox Angelica and Vicars Choral by Candlelight

Join Vox Angelica and the Vicars Choral of St Davids Cathedral Choir for their annual late-night concert. Expect light-hearted songs and anthems, perfect for a late spring evening.

Saturday 25th May

11.00am: Coffee Concert – Choristers Unplugged!

The Cathedral Choristers ditch the cassocks and present a programme of their favourite popular and musical theatre songs. One not to be missed!

7.00pm: BBC National Orchestra of Wales

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales return for their annual performance at the Festival. Conductor Dinis Sousa leads the orchestra in William Mathias’ ‘Festival Overture’, in the composer’s 90th anniversary year. Violinist Inmo Yang joins the orchestra for Sibelius’ popular Violin Concerto in D minor. The programme concludes with a staple of the classical repertoire, Brahms’ 2nd Symphony in D Major. This annual performance is one of the highlights of every Festival programme, and this year’s promises to be no different.

Sunday 26th May

Choral Services: 11am Choral Eucharist, 4pm Choral Evensong

St Davids Cathedral Choir sing the services for Trinity Sunday.

7.00pm: Preseli Trio

The dynamic Preseli Trio join us from Santiago de Compostela in Spain, with strong links to Pembrokeshire. The trio, consisting of Soprano, Horn and Piano, are champions of contemporary composers and the work of Welsh composer Anthony Randall. Simon Lewis, the horn player, hails from Pembrokeshire, and named the trio after the rolling hills of our beautiful county. Join them for their debut UK performance, including the UK premiere of a new work by Galician composer Fernando Buide.

Monday 27th May

11.00am: Coffee Concert – St Davids Cathedral Choral Scholars

Join our fabulous choral scholars, Lucy Dunn, Alto, George Webb, Bass and Nathanael Laidlaw, Bass, in a recital of arias, art songs and lieder.

Choral Service: 5pm Choral Evensong sung by the Cathedral Singers

7.00pm: Orchestral Classics for Choir with The Choir of Royal Holloway

The Choir of Royal Holloway is now well-established as one of the leading collegiate choirs in the UK. This crack team of 24 choral scholars and director, Rupert Gough are known internationally for their highly engaging performances and vast catalogue of stunning recordings, particularly in collaboration with Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo. In their Festival debut, they present a programme of popular orchestral music arranged for chorus, including Vaughan Williams’ ‘Variations on a Theme of Thomas Tallis’, Ravel’s ‘Pavane une infante defunte’, and a new mass setting based on Peter Warlock’s ‘Capriol Suite’ by George Arthur. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear this wonderful choir in Britain’s smallest city!

Tuesday 28th May

11.00am: Coffee Concert – Young Musician of Dyfed

We’re delighted to announce that pianist Raphael James, winner of the 2024 Young Musician of Dyfed, will be performing in this morning recital. Full programme details to be announced soon, including music by Rachmaninov, Schubert and Chopin. The Recital will also include the first public performance of ‘Barbarica’ for harp by promising young composer Gerard Coutain – performed by the young professional harpist Nia Evans.

7.00pm: Emma Johnson with the Orchestra for the Environment

Join clarinettist Emma Johnson, winner of the 1984 BBC Young Musician of the Year, and her orchestra in a programme of music celebrating the beauty of our natural world. Expect classics in the repertoire such as Mozart’s Ein Kleine Nachtmusik, and Paul Reade’s ‘Suite from the Victorian Kitchen Garden’ complimented by Emma’s own composition ‘Tree of Life’, inspired by a wish to say something about the climate emergency.

Wednesday 29th May

4.00pm: Choral Evensong live on BBC Radio 3

St Davids Cathedral Choir sing the office of Choral Evensong live on BBC Radio 3, on the eve of Corpus Christi. Please be seated by 3.45pm.

8.00pm: Alaw

To round off the 2024 Festival in style, dynamic folk trio Alaw treat us to a concert full of soulful folk songs and toe-tapping melodies and dances. A joyful concert not to be missed!

Entertainment

An evening of Cuban music at Twr y Felin Hotel, St Davids

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TWR Y FELIN art hotel in St Davids is offering an exciting evening of Latin American music on Saturday, 29th June.

Go along between 7pm and 9pm and enjoy the Cuban rhythms and vibrant sounds of Raul Speek’s Latin Kings Band. They will also perform a selection of original jazz compositions in the intimate setting surrounded by specially commissioned artwork.

Born in Guantanamo, Cuba, Raul came to the UK in 1991 and now lives and works in Wales. As well as a talented musician, he is also an accomplished artist with a local gallery in Solva.

Tickets, priced at £14 per person, can be booked online at www.twryfelinhotel.com or call 01437 725 555 for more details. Information about Rual Speek can be found on www.raulspeek.co.uk.

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Entertainment

Live music event for Nia, raising money for the Withybush Hospital Cancer Day Unit appeal

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Twenty years ago, the world lost another star to the clutches of cancer. This particular person was a member of the increasingly successful Pembrokeshire rock band JYlt, and her name was Nia George.

JYlt had been praised by John Peel of Radio 1, completed a UK tour including a performance at Glastonbury, distributed over 20,000 CDs, and were in talks with Sony about furthering their record deal. Nia was just 21 years old when she passed away after battling leukaemia for a year.

This summer, Nia’s life will be celebrated with a gig at HaverHub on August 10th. The event will feature Bryde (former JYlt singer), Tom Jenkins (who recently released his EP ‘Meadows Pt1 & Pt2’ through Xtra Mile Recordings), Persona B (with two other JYlt members), and SLAK, the winners of Pembrokeshire College’s Battle of the Bands 2024. There is also the potential for a special appearance that cannot be confirmed yet.

This event is not just a celebration of Nia’s life. It is also a poignant reminder of how cancer can affect anyone at any time, and it focuses on supporting the remarkable Withybush Cancer Day Unit. All ticket proceeds and donations will be given to this wonderful place that supports so many people during unimaginably difficult times, often resulting in beautiful stories of success. This unit is a lifeline to many, and we aim to give a little back.

Please note, this event is for those aged 16 and over, with a strict ID policy in place.

Event Details:

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Business

Plan submitted for £2m holiday pods near Tenby

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£2M PLANS for wheelchair accessible holiday lodges at the site of a Pembrokeshire deer park attraction, which has animals from the Queen’s estate, would make the county a more disability-friendly location, its applicants say.

In an application submitted to Pembrokeshire County Council, Mr and Mrs Evans seek permission for 15 lodges at Great Wedlock, Gumfreston, near Tenby, the site of a 176-acre deer farm attraction, opened last year, and a recently-granted market traders’ barn.

In a supporting statement, the applicants say: “Over the last 48 years, my wife and I have developed Holiday Parks firstly in Pembrokeshire and then throughout the UK. We decided to return to Pembrokeshire where it all started for us in 1976, to develop the deer park and are now looking to develop the wheelchair accessible lodge development, to support our business and for the benefit of Pembrokeshire and its economy.

“In 2020 we bought Great Wedlock Farm and set about applying for planning permission to open the farm to the public to provide a new tourism destination and allow visitors to re-connect with the countryside and natural beauty Pembrokeshire has to offer. The deer were purchased from Woburn Abbey and some from the late Queen’s estate (to ensure the highest quality of deer breeding stock). We opened the deer park in May 2023 with a great emphasis on catering for disabled persons and the elderly.”

They say the deer park has disability-friendly facilities, along with a specially adapted MPV allowing disabled visitors to the deer park to go on ‘Safari,’ viewing the deer, as well as electric buggies and trailers for wheelchair users.

“There is an ever-increasing demand for the type of development that we are now looking to undertake. We are now applying for 15 wheelchair accessible lodges that will be made available for those with accessible needs, specially designed and manufactured by Quality Pods Wales (located in Pembroke Dock). Using local suppliers underpins our business model to support the wider Pembrokeshire economy. Current build costs to complete the development are circa £2m which will add considerable income to local suppliers, contractors and the lodge manufacturer. This will bring our total investment across the site to some £10m, funded wholly by our own funds.”

The applicants add: “The development of these units will provide an inclusive and accessible environment for guests, in addition to the work we have undertaken at the main park already,” adding it would “also take pressure off the local housing stock especially as second homes are noted as an issue surrounding local affordability and availability of accommodation for permanent residents residing in Pembrokeshire”.

“Our initial research has noted that disability organisations often have issues seeking accessible accommodation in Pembrokeshire. Demand is considered to be high, with access organisations already wishing to book accommodation all-year round for their members. This development could support year-round holidays, which would be of great benefit to the local economy.”

They hope the scheme, if granted, would create five full-time jobs.

They finish: “I realise it is against the current LDP policy however this is a very special development for those of us with accessibility problems and I really do feel that an exception could be made in this case, without setting a precedent for future planning applications.”

The application will be considered by planners at a later date.

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