William Mathias remembered at North Wales music festival

Cellist Julian Lloyd Webber Cellist Julian Lloyd Webber performed at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics

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Leading classical musicians will gather to remember composer William Mathias as the festival he founded marks its 40th anniversary.

Julian Lloyd Webber and the King's Singers are among the attractions as the North Wales International Music Festival begins in St Asaph.

Prof Mathias, who was born in Whitland, Carmarthenshire, died 20 years ago.

A concert by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales next Saturday will celebrate his life and work.

The week-long festival will also include performances by Red Priest, the Chilingirian Quartet and French pianist Pascal Roge.

It will also feature the debut of a new community choir from the Parc Peulwys estate, in Llysfaen, near Colwyn Bay.

On Sunday the world premiere will be given to a new work by Karl Jenkins, commissioned to mark the festival's 40th anniversary and the granting of city status to St Asaph.

'Magical'

Prof Mathias, one of the first Welsh composers to win international acclaim, wrote music for a number of royal occasions, including the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977 and the wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer in 1981.

William Mathias William Mathias composed music for the Queen's Silver Jubilee and the 1981 Royal Wedding

He chose St Asaph Cathedral as the venue for the festival he launched 1972 believing it provided the best acoustic setting.

Mezzo-soprano Ann Atkins, the festival's artistic director, said: "St Asaph Cathedral is the perfect acoustic environment to showcase our highly talented line-up.

"The combination of the stone and the wood creates something really magical somehow.

"I have also performed in the concert hall at Sydney Opera House and, while it has a brilliant acoustic, I must say that St Asaph Cathedral is actually a much better venue acoustically."

Cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, who featured in the closing ceremony of the Olympics last month, will also perform.

"The sound he gets from the cello is absolutely wonderful," Ms Atkins said.

Prof Mathias died in July 1992 at the age of 57 and is buried at the cathedral.

The festival takes place from 22 to 29 September.

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