Young Welsh Singer of the Year 2009
The Final of the 2009 Young Welsh Singer of the Year Competition took place on Saturday 5 September as part of the Annual MOCSA Concert at Tabernacle Chapel in Morriston
After commenting on the high standard of the competition, the Adjudicators unanimously declared Catrin Aur Davies as the 2009 winner.
Catrin hails from West Wales and is studying at the prestigious International Academy of Voice in Cardiff with Dennis O’Neill. She previously studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD), Cardiff, and the Royal Academy of Music (RAM), London, gaining a Postgraduate Diploma with Distinction. Whilst at RWCMD, she won the first Dame Shirley Bassey Vocal Award, the Sir Geraint Evans Scholarship and the Elias Prize. She also won the RAM English Song Prize. She represented the UK in the final rounds of the Montreal International Singing Competition in May 2009 and, in August, won the Towyn Roberts Scholarship at the National Eisteddfod in Bala. Other awards include the DISS Advanced Opera Scholarship and she was a finalist in the Stuart Burrows Competition
As winner, Catrin was presented with the Young Welsh Singer of the Year Trophy, sponsored by Gravells Renault of Kidwelly, and the The Ivor E Sims Memorial Prize of £1,000, onated by the Choir.
The other three finalists, who contributed to a wonderful competition, each received an inscribed plaque and a cheque for £300
The other three finalists were:
Menna Cazel Davies: Soprano, age 20, born in Cardiff, now lives in Pontypridd. Currently studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. Menna is a former pupil of Bishop of Llandaff High School, Cardiff. She has just completed the first year of her music degree at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where she is taught by John Llywelyn Evans. Previously, she studied privately with Miriam Bowen, vocal tutor at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
Menna has been a soloist with various male voice choirs, principally with Côr Meibion Pontypridd with whom she first sang at the age of 9. Last month she accompanied the Choir on a visit to Germany.
In 2004, Menna toured New Zealand and Australia as a soloist and member of the National Children’s Choir. In 2005 and 2007 respectively, she appeared in Welsh National Youth Opera’s productions of The Tailor’s Daughter and The Rake’s Progress.
Menna is a past winner of Music in the Vale’s intermediate singing competition. She is the current holder of the senior `Vale Singer of the Year` title which she first won in November 2007 and retained in November 2008.
In 2008 at the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff, Menna won the `Operatic Solo` for competitors aged 19-25 years and the Osborne Roberts Memorial Trophy, the Blue Riband for singers of all voices in her age group. Two weeks later, she took second prize in the prestigious `Llais Llwyfan Llambed` (`Lampeter Voice of the Stage`) competition for Welsh classical singers under the age of 30. In July this year, she won first prize for singers up to age 20 years at the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.
Menna has appeared in numerous dramatic and musical theatre roles including Nancy (Oliver!), Cosette (Les Miserables) and The Plaintiff (Trial by Jury). However, her real love is classical singing and she hopes to pursue a professional operatic career.
Osian Gwynn: Baritone, age 26, born in Carmarthen, now lives in Llanelli, Carmarthenshire.Having completed a year studying at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD), he is about to commence an M.Mus course in vocal performance at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, under the tutelage of Marilyn Rees. Previously, Osian graduated from Aberystwyth University with a BA (Hons) in International Politics.
He has sung extensively as a soloist in recitals and in works such as Fauré’s Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, Handel’s Messiah and Haydn’s Creation, with choirs such as Trebanos Mixed Choir, Taunton Dean Male Voice Choir and Burry Port Male Voice Choir. He has sung at a variety of venues including Venue Cymru, Llandudno, Grand Theatre, Swansea, and Clwyd Theatre, Mold.
In opera, Osian has sung several roles including Gugliemo as part of a concert performance of Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte at St. Teilo`s Church, Cardiff, and Le Chat and Le Fauteuil in Ravel’s L’Enfant et Les Sortilèges at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff, as part of the RWCMD`s summer production in June 2009. He also took the title role in the opera Prospero by Owain Llwyd, recently commissioned by the National Trust and Arts Council for Wales, performing at venues across North Wales.
Osian has taken part in Master Classes by noted singers such as Sally Burgess, Teresa Cahill, Gwyn Hughes Jones, Patricia McMahon and Adrian Thompson. He has won prizes at the National Eisteddfod and the Abergavenny Festival. In 2006, he won the under 25 solo competition at the Urdd National Eisteddfod and was a finalist for the Bryn Terfel Scholarship Award. At Easter 2009, Osian was one of a select number of young singers from across Great Britain who took part in the British Youth Opera Workshops.
Rhian Lois: Soprano, age 22, born in Aberystwyth, now lives in Pontrhydygroes, Ceredigion. Currently studying at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the Royal College of Music, London. She has just graduated with a First Class Honours Degree in Music from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) where she was coached by Miriam Bowen and Jeffrey Howard. Whilst at the College, she won the Aneurin Davies Memorial Award, the Les Freeman Memorial Scholarship, the Mansel Thomas Memorial Award for Music, the Lyn Davies Vocal Studies Prize, the E.A. Redman Interpretation Prize and was a finalist in the Stuart Burrows International Voice Award 2009.
Singing has always been Rhian`s passion; she has competed and performed at numerous Festivals and Eisteddfodau with great success. So far, her main achievements include winning the Wilbert Lloyd Roberts Memorial Scholarship in 2005, the Osborne Roberts Memorial Prize in 2006 and the Roland Jones Prize in 2008. Also in 2008, she won the coveted Bryn Terfel Scholarship and, in May this year, she shared the stage with Bryn in a concert at the Wales Millennium Centre.
Rhian was a member of the Welsh National Youth Opera where performances included Bernstein’s `Candide` and Stravinsky’s `Rake’s Progress` in which she took the challenging role of Baba the Turk. She has performed in Fauré’s Requiem and, in April this year, sang the soprano solo in Mozart’s Requiem with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) at the Birmingham Symphony Hall under the baton of Simon Holsey: she was later invited to take part as a guest soloist in CBSO`s Stravinsky retrospective `Igorfest`. Whilst at the RWCMD, Rhian appeared in Puccini’s `Suor Angelica` and many opera scenes. She recently sang in an Opera Gala to launch the new opera company `Opra Cymru`.
She performs regularly in concerts and has appeared with many of Wales` most renowned male voice choirs. She was a soloist at the 2008 Llandeilo Fawr Music Festival and her television appearances include `Dechrau Canu, Dechrau Canmol`, `Noson Lawen`, `Wedi 3` and `Wedi 7` on S4C and, for ITV, `The Wales Show`. She has just released her first CD on which the harpist Catrin Finch features as guest soloist.
She has sung in master classes for James Gilchrist, Ingrid Surgenor, Jeremy Huw Williams, John Hugh Thomas, Janet Price and Barbara Bonney. She is a 2009 Boise Scholar and has been awarded the HRH the Prince of Wales Advanced Study Award from the Arts Council of Wales. She is also a recipient of the 2009 James Pantyfedwen Foundation.
Rhian has been offered a scholarship to further her vocal studies at the Royal College of Music, London; her hope is to pursue a career in opera