With support from musical innovators Sir Karl Jenkins, Paul Mealor and Christopher Tin and in partnership with the University of Wales and University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Eilir Owen Griffiths, former Music Director of Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, launches the inaugural International Choral Festival Wales (ICFW) during Easter 2018.

With an exciting mix of competitions, concerts, informal performances and social gatherings, ICFW promises to be something truly memorable for all.

The competitive strand of the festival will include approximately 16 international choirs competing across four categories: Mixed Choirs; Single Voice Choirs (SSAA/ TTBB); Open Category; Young Voices (under 25’s). The overall winners will be titled Choir of Choirs and receive The Sir Karl Jenkins Trophy.

Sir Karl Jenkins, CBE said “I feel both humbled and honoured to have been approached to give my name to the International Choral Festival Wales Trophy. Over ninety nine percent of my compositional output has involved singers and singing and the sound of the human voice has been an inspiration to me over many years, whether by the conventional use of the voice as a vehicle for expressing a narrative or by using it purely as an instrument, as in my Adiemus project. Curiously enough, I rarely if ever sang, spending my time playing the oboe in the orchestra. Last week on the radio, I heard I was the answer in a quiz! This even trumps that.”

Commenting on the festival, Artistic Director, Eilir Owen Griffiths said “We are proud that Sir Karl Jenkins has supported this new venture and are delighted to have five honorary presidents including: Brit Award and Double-Classic Brit Award-winning composer, Paul Mealor; Grammy Award Winner, Christopher Tin; Internationally acclaimed conductors André Van Der Merwe and Ralph Allwood; and exceptional Welsh soprano, Elin Manahan Thomas. “

He went on “It has always been an ambition of mine to establish an international choral festival in Wales. I have gained a great deal of experience over the last six years as Music Director of Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod. I now see an opportunity to create a new festival on my door step. I’m very fortunate and thankful that my friends and colleagues have shared my vision”.

At the age of 30, Eilir Owen Griffiths was appointed Music Director of the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod. During his six year tenure, Eilir introduced a number of new competitions as well as developing the Outreach and Inclusion Projects, which recently won the Scottish Power Community Award. He drew national audiences by securing performances from global artists such as Status Quo, Manic Street Preachers, UB40, Burt Bacharach, Jools Holland and adding to this list of achievements, sustaining high quality artists that the Eisteddfod is famous for, including Sir Bryn Terfel, Joseph Calleja, Noah Stewart, Nicola Bennedetti, Alison Balsom and many more.

Owen Griffiths added “Wales is known as the Land of Song and it is my vision to bring together the best of the international choral community to Wales and establish Cardiff as a centre of choral excellence. International Choral Festival Wales is dedicated to promoting artistic excellence, global understanding, friendship and goodwill through choral music.”

Professor Medwin Hughes, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and University of Wales said – “We are very proud to be a supporting partner in the International Choral Festival Wales in their inaugural year, which reaffirms our role in promoting the arts in Wales and the World, and we look forward to showcasing the very best of the global choral community here in Wales.”

Chaired by the Festival’s Artistic Director there will be panel of world class adjudicators. The panel includes Lithuanian choral conductor, composer and music pedagogue, Vaclovas Augustinas, Norweigan pianist, singer and conductor, Maria Gamborg Helbekkmo, Brit Award and Double-Classic Brit Award-winning Welsh composer, Paul Mealor and Irish conductor and international adjudicator, Bernie Sherlock.

Paul Mealor said ‘”it’s a truly brilliant and welcome addition to the Welsh choral scene and I am delighted to be adjudicator in the festival’s inaugural year”. He added “I have no doubt that this festival will become one of the major events of the year!!”

Working alongside the festival are the travel specialists group, Rayburn Tours.  They will work with the choirs to create an itinerary that is tailored to their specific requirements, ensuring that they have a musical experience to remember.


The festival will take place at the Wales Millennium Centre’s Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff Bay over the Easter weekend [March 30 – April 01, 2018]. The full programme of activities will be announced soon and applications are now open. Choirs will be selected on the standard of their submitted application. Completed application forms and all supporting materials must be received by Saturday 21 October, 2017.

For more information about the International Choral Festival Wales and How To Apply, click here




To learn more about ICFW, please contact Carys Davies on carys@internationalchoralfestival.wales, or visit the festival website at www.internationalchoralfestival.wales.

*Artistic Director and Honorary Presidents are available to comment upon request


Notes to Editors:

About The Festival

The International Choral Festival Wales was borne out of a passion for music, a vision to welcome the best of the international choral community to Wales and a desire to push the boundaries of musical excellence. The inaugural Festival will be held at the iconic Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff over the Easter weekend [March 30 – April 01, 2018]. There will be two full days of competitions where the world’s best choirs will compete for the prestigious Sir Karl Jenkins Trophy and the ‘Choir of Choirs’ title.

Applications are now open. There are four categories: Mixed Choirs; Single Voice Choirs (SSAA/ TTBB); Open Category; Young Voices (under 25’s). Choirs will be selected on the standard of their submitted application. Completed application forms and all supporting materials must be received by Saturday 21 October, 2017.

Evenings will be dedicated to showcasing internationally acclaimed artists who will deliver musical experiences to remember. BIOGRAPHIES


Eilir Owen Griffiths is one of Wales’ most dynamic choral conductors, an established music director and one of the most exciting Welsh composers of his generation. With over 15 years’ experience in the music industry he has conducted choirs such as CF1, Côr Godre’r Garth, Côr y Drindod and The Cardiff Blues Choir, with whom he has attained considerable success in competitions and concerts around the World. He is associate conductor of the British Sinfonietta and is a regular contributor to concert platforms and musical events in the UK. His work as a conductor has seen him travel to Ireland, Germany, Poland, France, India and the United States. At the age of 30, Eilir was appointed the youngest ever Music Director of the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, where he spent six very successful years. He is a Senior Lecturer in the Performing Arts and Course Director of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David Performance Centre as well as Artistic Director of the Trinity Saint David Festival and International Voice Award which is now in its 12th year.

Website: http://altoartists.co.uk/eilir.html Social Media: https://twitter.com/MrEilirOG




Lithuanian choral conductor, composer and music pedagogue, Vaclovas Augustinas is the chief conductor and artistic director of the Vilnius Municipality Choir.  In 1993, he participated in the Congress of Choirleaders in Växjö, Sweden as guest conductor. In 1996 he led courses for choral conductors at the international festival XVI Jardanos Coralistas Aragonesas in Borja, Spain. In 1999 he delivered lectures and led a seminar at the world symposium of the International Choir Music Federation held in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. His works are regularly performed in Lithuania and abroad at various festivals, concert venues and choral competitions and in 2010 he was awarded the Lithuanian National Arts and Culture Prize. In 2014 he was appointed Head of the Composition Department of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre.

Website: http://www.alliancemusic.com/peopledetails.cfm?iPeopleID=159



The Brit Award and Double-Classic Brit Award-winning Welsh composer, Paul Mealor has been described as ‘the most important composer to have emerged in Welsh choral music since William Mathias (the New York Times, 2001). Born in St Asaph, North Wales, Paul was voted as the nation’s favourite living composer during the 2012 UK National Radio Station, Classic FM’s Hall of Fame. He has been a Professor of Composition in the University of Aberdeen’s Music Department since 2003. He is President of Ty Cerdd – Wales’s National Centre for music; Vice-President of the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod; Patron of the Welsh Music Guild and Honorary President of the International Choral Festival Wales.

Website: http://www.paulmealor.com/ Social Media: https://twitter.com/PaulMealor | https://www.facebook.com/PaulMealorMusic/



Norweigan pianist, singer and conductor, Maria Gamborg Helbekkmo is professor emeritus at Bergen University College, where she used to teach choir conducting, piano and solo voice. Helbekkmo has gained wide recognition as a musician and a teacher, and is especially known for her work with the female choir Voci Nobili. She has been the artistic director of Bergen Philharmonic Choir, and in 2000 she was in charge of Voice of Europe, a collaborative project between the European Cultural Cities. As a pianist she has given several recitals and has performed with numerous notable orchestras. She has toured with both the Norwegian and Swedish Concert Academies and has worked for many years as a freelance musician for the Norweigan Boradcasting Company; making music programmes for children.

Website: http://vocinobili.no/maria_02.html




Bernie Sherlock is a Lecturer in Music at Dublin’s DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, having previously lectured for many years in the School of Music at Trinity College Dublin. She has been Artistic Director of the Association of Irish Choirs’ International Conducting Summer School since 2008 and she is the representative for Ireland on the World Choir Council. Since 2007 Bernie has been musical director of the Culwick Choral Society with whom she has prepared and conducted many of the great works from the repertoire for large choir. Her award-winning chamber choir New Dublin Voices is a consistent prize-winner at major competitions around Europe. Bernie’s extensive conducting experience spans a wide range of choirs, and she has an international profile as an adjudicator, workshop leader, teacher of conducting and of aural training.

Website: http://www.newdublinvoices.com/the-choir/



As the recipient of 17 gold and platinum disc awards, Sir Karl Jenkins is the most-performed living composer in the world and in 2004, he entered Classic FM’s Hall of Fame at number eight – the highest position for a living composer, and has since been the highest-placed living composer. In 2015 he became the first Welsh born composer to receive a knighthood for services to composing and crossing musical genres.  Educated at Gowerton Grammar School, Cardiff University and the Royal Academy of Music, London, Sir Karl has released numerous albums with EMI Classics and Grammophon Records in Berlin.

Website: http://www.karljenkins.com/ Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/KarlJenkinsMusic/



Ralph Allwood MBE is Director of Music at the Old Royal Naval College in Grenwich, having been Director of Music at Eton College for 26 years. As a freelance choral director he has conducted over 40 live broadcasts for BBC Radio 3 and has written music that is often heard on the radio and television worldwide. He is Choral Advisor to Novello and to Trinity College, Oxford and teaches at Trinity Laban Conservatoire and Tiffin. In 2015 he co-founded the Pimlico Musical Foundation to enable children from Pimlico Primary Schools to sing in choirs, particularly at St Gabriel’s Church.

Website: http://www.ralphallwood.com/ Social Media: https://twitter.com/ralphallwood


Welsh soprano Elin Manahan Thomas has performed across Europe at major venues and festivals, including: the Edinburgh, Canterbury, Three Choirs, Mostly Mozart and Lufthansa festivals, St John’s Smith Square, Wigmore Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Bridgewater Hall, Casa de Musica in Porto, Zurich Tonhalle, and the Concertgebouw Amsterdam. She has released five solo albums, and appeared as featured soloist on innumerable discs, for labels such as Universal, Naxos, Chandos, Hyperion, Coro, Signum, Collegium and Sain. Elin is a passionate advocate of music education and has led choral workshops with Eric Whitacre, master classes at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama [RWCMD], University of Oxford. She is an Honorary Fellow at RWCMD, and at the Universities of Swansea and Bangor, and is currently Artist in Residence at Bangor Music Festival.

Website: http://www.elinmanahanthomas.org/home Social Media: https://twitter.com/elin_manahan | https://www.facebook.com/ElinManahanThomas/

Paul Mealor [Biography filed under 2018 Adjudicators]

California-born, British-educated Christopher Tin is a two-time Grammy-winning composer of concert and media music. His music has been performed and premiered in many of the world’s most prestigious venues: the Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Hollywood Bowl, United Nations General Assembly Hall and Carnegie Hall.  His output is strikingly diverse: ranging from symphonic works to world-music infused choral anthems to electro-acoustic hybrid film and video game scores. He is also an in-demand collaborator, working with artists across a wide-range of musical genres: Lang Lang, Alan Menken, BT and Danny Elfman to name a few. He is Honorary Artistic Director of the United Nations Chamber Music Society and Honorary President of the International Choral Festival Wales.

Website: https://christophertin.com/ Social Media: https://twitter.com/christophertin | https://www.facebook.com/christophertinmusic/



André Van Der Merwe is a conductor and composer from Durbanville, Cape Town. In high demand as a judge and guest conductor, he has worked in Britain, Sweden, Germany, Japan, China, Austria and Namibia.​​ He studied B.Mus (Performance) at the University of Cape Town and subsequently completed his degree in B.Drama (Directing) at the University of Stellenbosch. During the period 1990-1996 André acted as a director of drama productions for the Grahamstown International Arts Festival as well as the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK) in Oudtshoorn. He has received several national awards and prizes as actor and director. André currently conducts three choirs, namely: The Stellenberg Girls Choir (since 1999); The Stellenbosch University Choir (since 2003), The South African Youth Choir (since 2005).

Website: http://www.sun.ac.za/english/entities/choir/the-conductor

New Choral Festival Launched by Former Llangollen Music Director

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