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Press Release
9 September, 2004

On Saturday 18th September 2004, five singers will compete at the Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, in the Final of the 27th Young Welsh Singer of the Year Competition organised annually by the Morriston Orpheus Choir Supporters' Association (MOCSA).  Previous winners of this competition include Rebecca Evans, Gwyn Hughes Jones, Bryn Terfel, and Llinos Haf Williams.

Each finalist will receive a cheque for 300, but the winner will also receive the MOCSA Trophy, The Ivor E. Sims memorial prize of 1,000 (donated by the Choir) and a silver salver donated by Morganite Electrical Carbon Limited of Morriston.

The 2004 finalists are:

Catrin Aur (Soprano)
Gary Griffiths (Baritone)
Nicola Hughes (Soprano)
Rhian Mair Lewis (Soprano)
Claire Watkins (Soprano)

The Panel of Adjudicators consists of three eminent musicians, namely, the distinguished tenor Stuart Burrows, the renowned soprano Patricia O'neill, and the well known adjudicator and ex-Head of Music at BBC Wales Huw Tregelles Williams.

Tickets are still available from the Grand Theatre, Swansea.

ENDS

Notes to Editors.

1. MORRISTON ORPHEUS CHOIR SUPPORTERS' ASSOCIATION

The purpose of the Association is twofold:(a) to support the internationally-acclaimed Morriston Orpheus Choir in all its endeavours and (b) to encourage the growth, develelopment and potential of young Welsh singers - this is also one of the aims of the Choir.

Each year a competition is organised to find the Young Welsh Singer of the Year.  The competition is open to all Welsh students studying singing, on a full time basis, at any college in the U.K.  The final heat of the competition takes place at the Annual MOCSA Concert which is held at the Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, each September.  The Winner receives the MOCSA Trophy, the Ivor E Sims Memorial Prize of 1000, a cheque for 300 and an inscribed silver salver.  The other finalists each receive a cheque for 300 and an inscribed plaque. The winner is also given the opportunity of appearing in concert with the Choir

2.         Catrin Aur (Soprano)
 

Catrin was born and raised in Ceredigion, West Wales and received all her education in her home county.  She graduated from the University of Wales Aberystwyth with an honours degree and has been teaching singing in Secondary Schools across the county of Ceredigion for the past year.

A familiar face on the Eisteddfod platform in Wales since the age of 5, she has regularly reached the stage at the National Eisteddfod, last year being no exception as she was awarded the prestigious Violet Mary Lewis Memorial Scholarship for the most promising soprano in the Eisteddfod.  As a result she was asked by the National Eisteddfod Committee to sing at the launch of Hufen o Gn, a book of Welsh songs especially commissioned by the Committee.

Catrin is experienced in the field of Oratorio and Song having sung the lead soprano in Faures Requiem, Handels Messiah and Judas Maccabeas and the Oratorio de Noel, Saint-Saens.  She has performed in numerous recitals performing works by such composers as Schubert, R.Strauss, Bernstein, Wolf, Mendelssohn, and Welsh composers such as Mansel Thomas, Dilys Elwyn Edwards, Morfudd Owen and William Davies.

Opera is Catrins main interest and she has recently had success in the Clwyd and Dyfyrdwy Music Festival performing in the opera Dido and Aeneas, Purcell with the BBC Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Anthony Hose.  She has also performed in principal roles with the Opera Company Opera Teifi.  The success of the company with The Pirates of Penzance took them to the Celtic Festival in Barbados under the watchful eye of the Music Director, Terence Lloyd.  She also performed as lead soprano with the company in a specially commissioned Welsh opera Cythraul y Canu at the National Eisteddfod

Other international engagements have taken her as far afield as America where she performed in a variety of recitals and concerts on a Welsh Music tour with the Harpist Catrin Finch.  She accompanied the Welsh Culinary team on a trip to Kyoto, Japan where she sang for Wales in the WACS Congress with the Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Takamodo of Japan in attendance.

She will soon be commencing her post-graduate course in singing at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and has been succesful in winning the prestigous 'Sir Geraint Evans Scholarship' and the 'Elias Prize for Sopranos' to help finance her studies.

Catrin Aurs ambitions reflect her deep Welsh roots and include treading the boards of the new Millenium Centre in Cardiff.

 

2.         Gary Griffiths (Baritone)

21 year old Gary comes from Pembrey near Llanelli and is no stranger to the local stage. At an early age, he was an enthusiastic participant in local dramatic societies where he built up a keen interest in singing and developed his love of classical music.

He has performed at numerous concerts and oratorios; notably last year he was the guest soloist for the Pontarddulais Male Voice Choir on their Jersey tour. Over the past year Gary has sung at the annual Rotary Concert in Cardiff and with the Burry Port Male Voice Choir, he has also been a regular guest artist at the popular Llanelli Proms, and, more recently at the Burry Port Town Bands annual summer concert. Future engagements include Karl Jenkins The Armed Man with the Llanelli Choral Society, and a Gala concert for the centenary of the European Rotary Clubs.

Gary recently graduated with a BA Honours degree from the Mountview Academy of theatre Arts in London, where his interest in opera was encouraged with renowned tutor Ian Baar.

At present he is studying at the Guildhall School of Music with David Pollard, focusing his interests towards opera.

 

3.         Nicola Hughes (Soprano)

Nicola was born in South Wales and began her studies at the Royal Northern College of Music and later graduated from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in 2003 where she is currently undertaking the Postgraduate Diploma Course in opera. She is a former member of the National Youth Choir of Wales and winner of the National Eisteddfod, Vale Singer of the Year and finalist of Morriston Orpheus Choir Young Welsh Singer of the Year Competition (2003). She has also received numerous scholarships  including the Sir Geraint Evans Scholarship (2003) and the Elias Singing Prize for Soprano.

She has performed a number of principal roles whilst a member of the Welsh National Youth Opera including Phedra  Hippolytus et Aricie and Giannetta The Elixir of Love

Chorus work whilst at college has included Verdis Falstaff and Stravinskys the Rakes Progress. Other roles studied during her time at the RWCMD have included Stewardess in John Doves Flight, Second Witch in Purcells Dido and Aeneas, The Son in Malcolm Williamsons The Happy Prince,  Pamina Magic Flute and Chief Hen and Jay in The Cunning Little Vixen. Other engagements have included performing as a soloist at All Saints Church with the RWCMD string orchestra and at Westminster Abbey with the college orchestra.

 

4.         Rhian Mair Lewis (Soprano)

Rhian Mair Lewis is a native of Idole, near  Carmarthen.  She is currently in her fourth year studying at the Royal Welsh College of  Music and Drama in Cardiff and studies with Beatrice Unsworth and Catherine Roe-Williams.

Since her childhood Rhian has enjoyed great success on the Eisteddfod stage and in 2002 she received the Bryn Terfel Scholarship at the Urdd National Eisteddfod  and the Osborne Roberts Memorial Prize at the National Eisteddfod at St Davids.

Recently she has been a guest soloist in the United States and  Spain and Ireland and has played  leading operatic roles in performances under the auspices of the Music department of the College, these include playing the role of Lidocka in Paradise Moscow, Shostakovich, Spirit in Dido and Aeneas, Purcell and Young Vixen in The Cuning Little Vixen, Janacek.

Rhian has also been selected as this years winner of the John Fussel award as part of the Swansea Festival of Music and Arts.

Rhian enjoys singing classical works, and naturally looks forward to seeing further developments in her career as a professional singer.

 

5.         Claire Watkins (Soprano)

Claire who hails from St Davids, Pembrokeshire, has recently completed her Post Graduate Diploma in voice (distinction in performance) at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, having previously gained a BMus (Hons) degree from the University of Wales, Cardiff, winning the David Lloyd prize and Sir Geraint Evans award for most outstanding vocalist.

Claire won the Vale of Glamorgan Young Singer of the Year competition in 2002 and earlier this year was awarded a Sir Geraint Evans Scholarship and the Mabel Linwood Opera Prize by RWCMD. She most recently won the prestigious Neath Opera Bursary for 2004.

Claire was formally Head Chorister and long serving member of St. Davids Cathedral Choir and the National Youth Choir of Wales and frequently guests with the BBC National Chorus of Wales.

On the concert platform Claire performed with Dennis ONeill at the 2003 Fishguard International Music Festival before travelling to Montreal to play the role of Chair in the opera workshop for the world premiere of John Metcalfs Chamber Opera Chair in Love.

She had a work commissioned by Welsh Composer Richard Elfyn Jones to perform at the opening concert of the 2002 National Eisteddfod and is a regular soloist with the John S Davies Singers and Serendipity Singers.

In the last year, Claires solo performances have included Mendelssohns Elijah; Handels Messiah and Vivaldis Magnificat; Mozarts C Minor Mass; Bachs B Minor Mass and Magnificat; Faurs Requiem, Mendelssohns Hear My Prayer and Purcells Come Ye Sons of Art.

Earlier this year Claire was chosen to perform a collection of William Waltons Song for the Lord Mayors Table, and The Faade Songs in Ischia, Italy, and the National Museum Concert Gallery Cardiff and at the Oldham International Music Festival.

In March 2003 she appeared in the Birmingham Hippodrome, performing the role of Elizabeth Barry in the world premiere performance of the Chamber Opera Rochesters Second Bottle, written by Hans Cox and directed by Mike McCarthy and Mike Rafferty (Music Theatre Wales). Other recent operatic performances include Miss Wordsworth (Albert Herring) at the Sherman Theatre Cardiff, Ann Page (Merry Wives of Windsor), Valencienne (The Merry Widow), and Cupid (Orpheus in the Underworld).

In July 2004 Claire performed the lead role of Vixen in RWCMDs production of Janaceks The Cunning Little Vixen at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff.

Claire is continuing her studies in singing under the guidance of Beatrice Unsworth and is hoping to pursue a career in opera.

 

6.         Morriston Orpheus Choir web site - www.morristonorpheus.com

 

7.         Further information may be obtained from Clive G Williams, Alwyn Humphreys, Musical Director, Morriston Orpheus Choir on 02920 489409 or 07974 650823 or John Betts, MOCSA Secretary on 01792 419714.

 

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