Archives for June 2011

Sŵn Festival brings Welsh acts to Big Weekend

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James McLaren James McLaren | 14:12 UK time, Thursday, 30 June 2011

Details of the Cardiff Big Weekend have been announced, and we can exclusively reveal the line-up for the Friday night (5 August) of the festival, curated by the city's Sŵn Festival.

Funeral For A Friend

Funeral For A Friend

Funeral For A Friend are headliners, on the back of their critically-lauded album Welcome Home Armageddon, with support from Attack! Attack! and local indie act OK.

The evening will be compèred by Radio 1's Jen Long who will also be DJing.

Dodgy

Dodgy

The Saturday and Sunday nights, as ever, will be a mix of pop, world music, jazz and other genres. The line-up includes:

  • The Feeling
  • King Charles
  • Dom Duff
  • Edei
  • Vintage Trouble
  • The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble
  • Dodgy
  • Zing Zong
  • Nerina Pallot
  • The Big Gig Winner

Cardiff Big Weekend official website.

Kicking off our summer festival blog

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The Joy Formidable The Joy Formidable | 13:36 UK time, Wednesday, 29 June 2011

We are delighted to welcome one of our favourite bands of the moment, The Joy Formidable, to the BBC Wales Music fold. They'll be blogging their way round the European festival summer for us; this week they kick off with their Solidays and Glasto weekend. On to Ritzy, Rhydian and Matt:

The Joy Formidable at Glastonbury

The Joy Formidable at Glastonbury. Luckily most of the mud had dried up by Sunday!

Friday 24 June

Today we're off to Solidays Festival on the outskirts of Paris. It's amazing how, with some clever packing, you can fit a 60 inch gong, a 12ft banner, an entire backline and eight passengers into a modest sized splitter van. It's 20 degrees with a light north westerly wind and Rhydian is wearing bright red trousers, as you can see from the photo photo below; it puts us in the mood for some Bluddle- Uddle - Um - Dum.

Bottom in tight red trousers

Rhydian's rear end in some very bright red trousers

A journey time of six and a half hours involves George Pelecanos, Broken Sword, and Suckers, amongst other distractions.

The Joy Formidable in their tour bus

We have a 60 inch gong... but that's not it Rhydian!

We stop briefly at a French service station adjoined to a nature reserve. There are lots of ducks and a pond swarming with fish. We tickle the belly of what we deduce to be a perch.

This comes on the playlist and I have a singalong in my head: "When your heart's on fire, you must realise that smoke gets in your eyes".

We arrive on site, welcomed by a picnic and a nice bottle of red. Fun tent, fun lights, the gong hangs by a thread but doesn't squash any toes. A success! Enchantée.

Sunday 26 June

Up and on the move by 6am, straight to Glastonbury, Somerset for a stint on the John Peel Stage and a few buckets of scrumpy. It's hot and it's sloppy, it's going to be a good day.

The Joy Formidable's road crew

The Gang (l-r): Tom (tech man), Ash (monitor man), Matt (monkey man), Jonny (tour manager), Ritzy (Ritzy), Neak (sound man), Dan (production manager)

2pm - We have a couple of technical hiccups beyond our control that delay our onstage arrival by half an hour. The crowd are kind and patient and obviously of heightened mental capacity seeing as they were there and not watching the Wombles. We love the show, but we're sorry we have to keep it shorter than we would have liked.

The Joy Formidable at Glastonbury

Us from the side of the stage at Glastonbury

The plug gets pulled, a TJF first and kudos to them, nobody has had the balls to do it before. Thank you to Joy Smith on harp, it sounds magical. We enjoy a good towelling down together, finished the beers, confuse a few journalists and then hit the site. This afternoon, Q Magazine asked us which artists we thought would be influential in 25 years time. After seeing Eels, I wish I'd have remembered to mention them. A great set. We enjoy several more drinks, the sunset, Queens Of The Stone Age headlining the Other Stage, some noodles, the dance tent and the journey home is lary. Night night Glastonbury, see you in 2013.

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 26 June 2011

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 13:14 UK time, Wednesday, 29 June 2011

This week's show is now available via the iPlayer.

Ten thousand apologies for the lateness of this information. I've spent the last three days in bed wrestling my tonsils. I have no idea what day it is.

I'm having the kind of dreams that would have given Coleridge inspiration for his fantastical poetry (why is Bethan Elfyn throwing cats at me?), but that just leave me feeling unsettled and brain sore. I haven't eaten a solid piece of food for four days. For the first time ever. I keep seeing bags of Frazzles on the horizon, but when I get close, salivating, they're bags filled with rusty razorblades and the bacon flavouring is unconvincing.

Fortunately the music contained in this week's show is a fine tonic and soundtrack to vivid hallucinations and throaty fed-uppitiness.

Amongst the more familiar troubadours are début plays for: QRed, Murda, Terror Cell, T T D, The Burning Ferns, Huw Haul, Deep J, Vodsel and Venus De Milo.

Please send demos / new releases / gig info and throat lozenges to: themysterytour@gmail.com (high quality .mp3's / download links), or via the BBC Introducing Uploader.

I recommend reading the blogs linked to below before submitting music. They offer some insight into what we're listening out for, and will help you avoid some of the more obvious pitfalls:

Given the mind-boggling amount of amazing music that we're received already this year (see stats below), this coming Sunday night's show (live from Bangor), will be a Best of 2011 So Far special. A great way to catch up with anything you may have missed.

894 unique songs, 1067 total, 540 artists in 25 shows since 1 January 2011, average 43 songs per show, average 22 unique artists per show, 94% Welsh music.

Tweet me @welshmusic or text me on 81012 (during the show, naturally).

Have an excellent week!

HOUDINI DAX - 'Tank Man'
Cardiff

BYZANITE - 'Ring Ting'
Dunvant / Swansea

GO - X - 'Pi'
Llangattock

TERRIS - 'Trial By Fire'
Newport

SWEET BABOO - 'The Day I Lost My Voice'
Bangor / Cardiff

CUBA CUBA - 'We Rode'
Cardiff

EVM (EVERMEAN) - 'D. N. A. ( Instrumental )'
Mold

QRED - 'Cyclopean Vistas'
Pembrokeshire

MURDA - 'Raindrops ( Featuring Mayhem )'
Cwmbran

EXOTOPE - 'Dagga'
Newport

CHLOE LEAVERS - 'Chase The Dawn'
Colwyn Bay

TRWBADOR - 'Once I Had A Love'
Camarthen / Cardiff

MASTERS IN FRANCE - 'Control ( Inhale E. P. Version )'
Caernarfon

HUW WILLIAMS - 'Spoken Contribution'
Swansea

MIKE HUDSON - 'One Sided Love'
Cardiff

TERROR CELL - 'Haunting'
Cwmbran

EXIT INTERNATIONAL - 'Glory Horn ( Alt. Edit )'
Cardiff

HOWL GRIFF - 'Sunrise'
Aberystwyth

VVOLVES - 'People'
Monmouth / Cardiff

T T D - 'I Like Ike'
Mynydd - Bach

JEN JENIRO - 'Powys'
Llanrwst

CHANNEL SWIMMER - 'Hold Music'
Cardiff

JOHN STAMMERS - 'Idle I'm ( Colorama Coloured In Remix )'
Manchester

SERPENTS - 'No Mask No Cloak Dim Gobaith'
Bangor

CRACK FOX - 'Minimal Glow'
Swansea

DAMIR BOJANIC - 'Canine Poetry'
Llanfairfechan

BURNING FERNS, THE - 'Sand'
Newport

HUW HAUL - 'Dyn O'r Coed'
Llanbrynmair / Clynnog Fawr

AL LEWIS - 'Je T'en Prie'
Abersoch

RUBY SAMBA - 'Unkind'
Cardiff

DEEP J - 'A Thousand Stars'
Carmarthen

GALLOPS - 'Eukodol'
Wrexham

Y NIWL - 'Saith'
Gwynedd

LARA CATRIN - 'Spoken Contribution'
Bangor / Cardiff

RADIO LUXEMBOURG - 'Pwer Y Fflwer'
Aberystwyth

BASTIONS - 'In The Shadow Of A Mountain'
Angelsey

VODSEL - 'Power'
Northop

VENUS DE MILO - 'Fallen Love'
Mold

BEN HAYES - 'Spoken Contribution'
Ruthin

MANDINGO - 'Mandingo'
London

UNDERPASS - 'Why Can't We Have Nice Things?'
Cardiff

SHY AND THE FIGHT - 'Living ( Sweeping The Nation Comp Version )'
Chester / Llangollen

DEFICIT - 'December'
Bethesda

Rhydian and Only Men Aloud! for Gŵyl Gobaith

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:12 UK time, Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Gŵyl Gobaith line-up has begun to be announced, with some of Wales' top classical/crossover stars in the frame.
Rhydian

Rhydian Roberts

Rhydian Roberts will join The Three Welsh Tenors and Only Men Aloud! at the Deeside festival which takes place 26-28 August.

Part of the philosophy of the festival is to raise money for charities and this year the three main sponsors have each chosen their own good cause. Clic Sargent, Ysbyty Glan Clwyd and Wales Air Ambulance have been chosen by Airbus, Gardeners Accountants and Windpower Wales respectively.

Rhydian Roberts said: "It is a pleasure to be able to perform here. I love to perform and it is essential that we keep music festivals alive in Wales and Clwyd, because it is a great place, with good links across the border.

"I am very excited to be at the launch and the Air Ambulance is something that is also close to my heart and saved the life of a neighbour of mine. It's a great line up and going to be a great festival."

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Hannah Stone appointed new Royal Harpist for Prince Charles

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:16 UK time, Monday, 27 June 2011

Hannah Stone, 24, of Mumbles, is the latest Welsh woman to be appointed official Royal Harpist for Prince Charles. She makes her début tonight (Monday 27 June) for the prince and his wife at their Welsh home in Llwynywernod near Llandovery. Hannah Stone

Hannah Stone

Stone said: "I am honoured to have been appointed official harpist to HRH the Prince of Wales. I am proud to be promoting the harp, a central part of our Welsh heritage and to be following the fantastic example set by Claire [Jones].

"It's a huge role which will begin tonight and be the start of the most exciting part of my career so far."

Stone studied at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD), and was a regular winner of prizes at the Urdd Eisteddfod in her youth. She also studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Universitat Mozarteum in Salzburg. This appointment is not her first run-in with the royals: she most recently performed at the opening of the fourth session of the Welsh Assembly.

She follows not only Claire Jones, but Catrin Finch and and Jemima Phillips in her new role.

In other harp news, another RWCMD graduate, Gwenllian Llŷr, has become the first Welsh harpist to be given a place at the prestigious Juilliard School in New York. The Swansea musician starts her two year masters degree in August, after a series of high-profile wins and guest slots with artists including Bryn Terfel.

Revoker interview

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 13:00 UK time, Thursday, 23 June 2011

On Saturday on BBC Radio Wales, Jamie and Jack from Revoker joined me on the show to catch up about their forthcoming gig with Ozzy Osbourne for Kerrang's 30th anniversary, their signing last year to Roadrunner Records and everything that's happened since.

Revoker

Revoker

They talk about the band's past and how they made the jump from hopefuls to touring the world with icons of metal like Rob Zombie and Sepultura.

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Wychwood Festival 2011: a report from The Method

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 10:59 UK time, Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Hidden behind the main stage where The Waterboys, The Charlatans and others entertained the crowds is the Wychwood Festival Introducing stage. The Cheltenham festival recently ran a new music stage curated by a few different BBC stations in the area, among them some chosen by BBC Radio Wales.

On behalf of Wales The Keys, The Method and Cuba Cuba played the festival and flew the flag, and had a really fantastic experience by all accounts. As I wasn't there in person, I asked the bands to give me a little report back after the festival, and here's what The Method had to say.

Wychwood, wychwood, wychwood. Our first BBC supported festival stage appearance... and hot dog, what a blast.

We played the Blue Lagoon festival in St Davids the night before, and despite some serious early morning trauma including (but not limited to) a choking hangover, some MacGyver-style van repair involving breeze blocks, a log and a lot of curse words (combined with the special sadness that comes from bolting upright after three hours of freezing sleep in a tent positioned on the edge of a cliff), we arrived at, somewhat beaten up physically and emotionally, Cheltenham race course!

It quickly became apparent, that thankfully it held within its bosom a fantastic little festival, coated head to toe in a joyous atmosphere that you couldn't help but soak up. The Big British Castle had kindly provided an excellent stage with plenty of space to twitch about on like a fish out of water hooked up to some serious electrodes!

This, coupled with an extremely responsive crowd plonked in front of us, meant that regardless of the fact that bits of our mind had forever been claimed by a godlessly cold night in west Wales, it was impossible not to have a great gig. Twas a bloody hoot I tells ya!

Also, we had some really good noodles. Aand everyone knows that really good noodles seal any deal.

Thanks a bundle Wychwood, you're aaaalllllrrriiiiggghhhhhtttttt.

The Method x

Thanks The Method for that very official report from Wychwood! Glad you had a good time. And if you want to hear a selection of the bands that played the introducing stage, there's a free download with tracks from all the bands over the weekend, on the website' blog.

Cardiff Singer diary: part three

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Cardiff Singer Cardiff Singer | 17:10 UK time, Monday, 20 June 2011

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition logo (2011)

Laura Sinnerton, a viola player in the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, has been keeping a diary during the 2011 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition.

Here's her third and final update (from the final), following on from her first and second instalments.

Saturday 18 June

What a week! A number of my colleagues who have seen more Cardiff Singer competitions than they would care to admit have said this has been the finest contest they remember.

On the nights we haven't been performing, I've been glued to my tv watching the orchestra of the Welsh National Opera performing with the competitors of rounds two and four. I actually watched the song prize final twice (how exquisite was Maire Flavin's La Souris de l'Angleterre?).

We now know who the five finalists are, so today we will be rehearsing with the representatives from England, South Korea, Russia, the Ukraine and Moldova.

These last two days of the competition are really quite stressful for the orchestra. The rehearsal day is long and it feels like there is a lot of waiting around. There is just so much music to get through and so little time.

Of course, it is nothing in comparison to the stress that the competitors are under. Some of them will have performed four times by the end of the competition and a few seem to be suffering from sniffles and slightly croaky throats. This competition means so much to the competitors and the pressure at this stage must be huge.

As I've mentioned before, I'm an avid Twitter fan on which the competition has had a huge profile. It's been amazing to see how fiercely it has been discussed.

Tweets are exchanged at lightening speed, opinions on who could lift the trophy are retweeted and challenged immediately; for anyone who thinks the social networking generation are indifferent to competitions showcasing real talent, think again!

If I was asked to choose a winner right now, I would struggle. I'm actually completely in awe of all of them. It is going to be an amazing final.

Laura Sinnerton

Laura Sinnerton

Sunday 20 June

Competition final day. It is here, at last! The atmosphere in the hall is incredible. There is a great sense of expectancy; at times you could cut the atmosphere with a knife as the mood swings between excitement, stressed tension and nervous energy.

If ever there was a day that a good meal is needed before a concert, this is it. The concentration the orchestral members must put in is incredible and you are always very aware of the fact that making a mistake could be cataclysmic disaster for the competitor.

Today, I opt for a sushi dinner, but I go easy on the green tea as we will be on stage with no break until the last competitor has performed. That's a long time!

The hall is packed with an obviously excited audience. Meeta Raval takes to the stage first, resplendent in a sea of red satin. This English soprano is so exuberant and genuine in her passion for opera, she was a pleasure to rehearse with and tonight, I am genuinely moved by her performance.

Meeta's final aria 'Beim Schlafengehen' from Strauss' timeless Four Last Songs is one of my desert island discs (we performed the complete work with 1995's winner, the beautiful Katerina Karneus, quite recently).

Ms Raval is followed by Olesya Petrova from Russia who is one of my favourites – I just love her dark voice and the way she uses her face. Her aria from Rimsky-Korsakov's 'The Tsar's Bride is a real highlight for me.

I enjoyed her choice of the Habañera from Carmen as her final piece. It was lovely to see a different side to her in the flirtatious role of Bizet's original diva, Carmen.

Watching Concert 4 on tv, I was completely blown away by Hye Jung Lee's I Am The Wife of Mao Tse Tung from Nixon in China by John Adams. This South Korean's tiny frame completely belies the incredible voice she has.

The pyrotechnics of her coloratura are jaw - dropping and the stratospheric range of her voice is incredible. Her programme must have required so much stamina and I particularly enjoyed her Alcina. I just wish she had sung Madame Mao again!

I thought her outfit was stunning, a very simple white dress reminiscent in shape and style of traditional Korean costume.

The final two competitors have caused conflict between my father and I. My favourite to win is Andrei Bondarenko from the Ukraine. My father likes 'that wee Moldova girl' .

Andrei receives a very warm reception from the audience, he has obviously built up quite a following in Cardiff over this week with his characterful performances and that incredible voice.There is just something so believable about the roles he embodies and appears to have such control over his voice.

He does not disappoint in his performance this evening and the audience react with great enthusiasm. I am very jealous of anyone who gets the opportunity to hear and see him perform Malatesta in Don Pasquale this autumn Glyndebourne Touring Opera).

The final competitor is Moldovan soprano, Valentina Naforniţă. She looks every inch the star in a dress that is both demure and exceptionally alluring at the same time.

The highlight of her programme for me is Je veux vivre from Gounod's Romeo and Juliet. You truly can imagine her not just acting, but embodying this role on stage.

There follows a long interval during which there is pretty much only one topic of conversation! I go outside to get some fresh air and am surprised to see how sunny it is – being in the hall is like entering the Twilight Zone, there is no sense of time or of anything much outside of the hall.

We're eventually ushered back on stage and to tumultuous applause, Valentina Naforniţă is announced, not only the winner of the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize, but also as BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2011. I can hear my father saying, 'see, I told you so, you'll listen to your old da yet' all the way from County Antrim.

What a week indeed! I feel very honoured to have been part of what I'm sure will go down as a very memorable competition. Congratulations to Valentina, to Andrei (winner of the Song Prize) and to all of the singers. The competitors of 2013 will have a very high standard to live up to.

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 19 June 2011

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 13:44 UK time, Monday, 20 June 2011

This week's show is now available via the BBC iPlayer. Please visit the link any time between now and the start of the next programme.

If there is one indubitable fact about compiling a radio show, it is this: no matter how much you try to be get everything tied down a few days in advance, someone's going to send you something at the last minute that will splatter those plans all over the place. Like a helicopter blade meeting a watermelon giant.

So, I was all proud and rather relaxed cooking my own Father's Day breakfast (bitter, me?), because the running order was sorted, I had some Godlike tones for you. Then, the inevitable trickle: things started arriving in my inbox that couldn't be ignored. So, like they were cub scouts trying to cram themselves into a Mini for Record Breakers, I heaved the new arrivals in with my ass against the door and promised myself not to talk too much in between.

Then the Cardiff Singer of the World competition overran by three minutes. This seemingly innocuous occurrence exerted so much pressure on the musical content of the show that it almost - almost - collapsed into a singularity of sound, a sonic black hole that would have sucked every instrument and musical mind in Wales into its utterly opaque heart, never to be heard again. That is what would have happened. It is scientific fact.

Fortunately I managed to avoid this dreadful outcome by talking a bit over the introductions and endings of a few of the tracks. It was a close call, though.

Suffice to say things are a bit squished. Well worth it when you consider what will file past your ears should you decide to visit us via the iPlayer: a live set from Llangollen & Chester's wonderful Shy & the Fight; debut plays for Tabularasa, Organ Grinder, Electric Wedding and The Lost Rivers; superb new tracks from Culprit 1, Vanguard, Andy Hickie and the Merry Maidens and many more... Alan Holmes plays us some Offspring (no, not *that* Offspring); Lara Catrin translates some Meic Stevens and Ben Hayes bridges soul and disco with an instrumental version of something from The Who.

Houdini Dax provides us with our Album of the Week (You Belong to Dax Darling - available now on See Monkey Do Monkey records). Their first brush with this show was in January 2009 when they were still in school, but clearly remarkable talents. The album is testament to the fruition of that talent. It's exuberant, melodic, fearless, as thrilling and unexpected as a crateful of Gandalf's fireworks. They sold out Clwb Ifor Bach in Cardiff on Friday night at their album launch, which is no mean feat. Exciting times ahead for them.

Further increase our musical density by sending demos/new releases/gig info/rum bumf to themysterytour@gmail.comBBC Introducing Uploader).

Loftily offered advice on submitting music to the show is available here:

Please feel free to share the iPlayer link with all and sundry. Some of these sounds will make people feel better. That's some dang powerful magic, is that.

Yours in sound,

Adam

HOUDINI DAX - 'Green Gate'
Cardiff

TIM & SAM'S TIM & THE SAM BAND WITH TIM & SAM - 'Summer Solstice'
Ewloe

AMONG BROTHERS - 'My Head Is A Vessel'
Cardiff/Aberdare

FRIENDS ELECTRIC - 'Fireworks'
Neath

VANGUARD - 'Long Beach'
Pembrokeshire

JOY FORMIDABLE, THE - 'A Heavy Abacus'
Mold

GROOVE ROBBERS FEATURING DJ SHADOW - 'Hardcore ( Instrumental ) Hip Hop'
San Francisco

METABEATS - 'The Snap Featuring Mudmowth, Rtkal & Ruffstylz ( Radio Edit )'
Cardiff

LITTLE ARROW - 'Boat'
Cardiff

SWEET BABOO - 'The Day I Lost My Voice'
Bangor/Cardiff

JODIE - MARIE - 'I Got You'
Narberth, Pembrokeshire

TINY SKITZ - 'Grime Is The One'
Newport

EVM (EVERMEAN) - 'Stay ( Featuring Amy Wilson )'
Mold

SAM AIREY - 'The Blackout ( Radio Edit )'
Anglesey

SHY AND THE FIGHT - 'Dream ( Live )'
Chester/Llangollen

SHY AND THE FIGHT - 'Hear The Sea Speaks In Whispers ( Live )'
Chester/Llangollen

SHY AND THE FIGHT - 'Living ( Live )'
Chester/Llangollen

QUIET NOISE - 'Paper Cuts'
Pembrokeshire

JEN JENIRO - 'Mewn Encyd'
Llanrwst

ALAN HOLMES - 'Spoken Contribution'
Bangor

OFFSPRING - 'There You Are'
Bangor

HOLY COVES - 'All Around You'
Holyhead

TABULARASA - 'Valley Run'
Swansea

HOUDINI DAX - 'O. L. L.'
Cardiff

TELEFAIR - 'Birds & Trees'
Rhyl

TRWBADOR - 'Hit The Bricks ( Radio Edit )'
Camarthen/Cardiff

PULCO - 'Beanbags'
Bangor

PHRAZER - 'Angry Parrot'
Newport

ORGAN GRINDER - 'Obsession'
Cardiff

RHEINALLT H. ROWLANDS - 'Merch O Gaerdydd'
Llanfair P.g.

ELECTRIC WEDDING - 'Lady Neptune'
Llanfairfechan

CULPRIT 1 - 'Grains Of Light'
Newport

CAMERA - 'Happiness'
Wrexham

CUBA CUBA - 'Golden Grounds ( Bbc Introducing With Jen Long Session Track )'
Cardiff

TOWN - 'Teenage Sky'
Newport

NO THEE NO ESS - 'Let's Get Away'
Swansea/Cardiff

ANDY HICKIE & THE MERRY MAIDENS - 'I'd Rather Be Ramblin''
Brynford

LARA CATRIN - 'Spoken Contribution'
Bangor/Cardiff

MEIC STEVENS - 'Merch O'r Ffatri Wlân'
Solva

SKINDRED - 'Cut Dem'
Newport

BEN HAYES - 'Spoken Contribution'
Ruthin

ASSEMBLED MULTITUDE, THE - 'Overture From Tommy'
Philadelphia

LOST RIVERS, THE - 'Death Of Eve'
Baden-württemberg/Welsh Label

And the winner is...

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Cardiff Singer Cardiff Singer | 20:28 UK time, Sunday, 19 June 2011

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition logo (2011)

In a fantastic final of the 2011 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition at St David's Hall, soprano Meeta Raval from England, mezzo-soprano Olesysa Petrova from Russia, soprano Hye Jung Lee from South Korea, baritone Andrei Bondarenko from Ukraine and soprano Valentina Naforniţă from Moldova dug deep into their singing reserves to give the performances of their lives.

The winner of the 2011 Cardiff Singer competition was Valentina Naforniţă, who also won the Audience Prize.

The distinguished jury had a difficult decision to make but the Cardiff Trophy and £15,000 was awarded to Valentina Naforniţă from Moldova.

For the first time, the audience agreed with the jury as Valentina was also awarded the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize. This could have been won by any of the 20 singers competing in Cardiff whether or not they appeared in the Final, and was based only on performances from the preliminary round as the vote closed before the final took place.

All the TV experts got it wrong. Joyce DiDonato, superstar mezzo, and famed voice teacher Mary King thought it would be Andrei Bondarenko or Olesya Petrova; and Nicole Cabell, who won this competition in 2005 and now has a massive career, thought that it would definitely be Andrei Bondarenko.

Opinion on Facebook and Twitter is divided with some people still rooting for their favourites, but on the whole the result has been positively received.

Video clips of all the finalists will be available on the website tomorrow - meanwhile you can view clips from all the preliminary concerts there now, as well as viewing and listening for the next few days on the BBC iPlayer.

Cardiff Singer: Saturday

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Cardiff Singer Cardiff Singer | 13:29 UK time, Saturday, 18 June 2011

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition logo (2011)

The audience at St David's Hall was treated to a thrilling Song Prize Final last night. Coverage is on BBC Four tonight at 7.30pm and BBC Radio 3 at 8pm.

If you don't want to know who won, DON'T click on this link.

See the Frockwatch gallery of the Song Prize Final.

Tomorrow is the grand final, with performances from singers by Olesysa Petrova from Russia, Andrei Bondarenko from Ukraine, Hye Jung Lee from South Korea, Meeta Raval from England and Valentina Nafornita from Moldova. Find out what is being sung.

The five 2011 finalists

The five 2011 finalists

Today, the finalists are rehearsing and some of the non-finalists are taking part in master classes with members of the jury.

Cardiff Singer: Friday

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Cardiff Singer Cardiff Singer | 14:00 UK time, Friday, 17 June 2011

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition logo (2011)

Thursday night of Cardiff Singer week is always particularly exciting, not just because of the prospect of hearing the singers not taking part in the Song Prize for the first time but also because of the announcement of the line-up for the Final.

If you are saving yourself for the BBC Four programme tonight at 7.30pm, and DON'T want to find out beforehand which of the singers from Uruguay, Ireland, USA, Italy and South Korea was the winner of Concert 4, along with the names of Sunday's finalists, DON'T click on this link.

Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize

Voting in the Audience Prize is now open, and closes at around 11am on Sunday. Viewers and listeners in the UK can vote by phone for their favourite singer from the week, irrespective of whether or not they will be in the final. Phone numbers and full terms and conditions are available on the website.

Watch video clips of all the singers to help you decide which will get your vote.

Song Prize

The BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Song Prize Final takes place tonight in St David's Hall. Details of the finalists and programme notes are now available here https://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/cardiffsinger/sites/2011/pages/song_prize_final.shtml

If you can't make it to St David's Hall, you can catch it tomorrow night, on BBC Four at 7.30pm or on BBC Radio 3 at 8pm.

Cardiff Singer diary: part two

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Cardiff Singer Cardiff Singer | 12:14 UK time, Friday, 17 June 2011

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition logo (2011)

Laura Sinnerton, a viola player in the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, has been keeping a diary during the 2011 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition. Following on from her opening instalment, here's her second update.

Tuesday 14 June

It is 9.30am and I have already had three cups of coffee (cue phone call from my mother re my disgraceful caffeine habit). The morning seemed to come very quickly after last night's Round 1 competition and I'm off to our studio at BBC Hoddinott Hall for our 10am rehearsal for Concert 3.

Thankfully the studio is fairly empty when I arrive and knock all the music off my stand. I spend the next five minutes crawling around the floor trying to rescue Korngold from underneath the cello chairs. At five to 10 the studio is still rather empty and it is at this point I remember the rehearsal is at 10.30, not 10am. Not the most auspicious start to my day!

When rehearsal does begin, we take the same approach as for the Round 1 rehearsals - a short orchestra only rehearsal, quick cuppa, on with the competitors. Today we are rehearsing with representatives from Germany, Australia, Wales, Moldova and the Ukraine and the breadth of repertoire is even more vast than in Round 1.

We begin with German soprano Susanne Braunsteffer. I was unfamiliar with her opening aria Il est doux, il est bon from Massenet's Herodiade. Its very beautiful and she sounds wonderful, but when we come to rehearse Un bel di vedremo from Puccini's Madama Butterfly, I feel like she is most definitely holding a lot back. Hopefully in the concert she will, as a colleague of mine put it so eloquently 'let rip'.

I've been very keen to hear the Australian mezzo soprano, Helen Sherman. As an avid Twitter user, I hear lots about what she is doing through her YCAT (Young Concert Artists' Trust) representation. I love the sound of a mezzo voice and Helen has a really rich, dark voice.

Helen's programme presents some of the greatest challenges in contrast for the band. Her opening aria, from Handel's Alcina, requires a very stylised manner of playing from the strings and features exceptionally high horn lines. To go from this straight into Walton's much weightier 'How Can I sleep?...At The Haunted End of The Day' and then into the light opera buffa style of the Rossini truly means keeping your wits about you!

Last year, we played for the final of the Welsh Singer competition and tenor John Pierce was the victor on that occasion. It is lovely to hear how his voice has developed and matured in what really is quite a short period of time. His programme includes Donizetti's Una furtiva lagrima from L'elisir d'amore and our principal bassoon, Amy Harman, has been in a state of great excitement about playing this great solo for a number of weeks. Extra sparkles have been purchased in case there are any bassoon close ups.

The gentlemen of the orchestra certainly sit up when Valentina Nafornita from Moldova enters the studio. We all sit up when she starts to sing. Her control is amazing and there is a real honeyed, lyrical quality to her voice. Her Korngold could potentially be a real show stopper.

There are times when a competitor walks in to the studio and the band immediately warms to them. Such was the case with Ukranian Andrei Bondarenko. He comes across as exceptionally humble, very laid back and very pleasant. And his voice? I can't believe he's only 24! If I were a betting woman, I would put substantial pennies on him doing very well.

Laura Sinnerton

Laura Sinnerton

Wednesday 15 June

I'm even more excited than normal for tonight's competition (our manager, Byron Jenkins will probably have to sedate me one day soon). In Round 1, all the singers were fantastic, but to me, Russian singer Oleysa Petrova was the standout competitor. Tonight, however, it feels like there is a much more even playing field; any of the competitors could lift the little crystal round winner's trophy, it just depends how their performance goes.

Tonight really does feel like a competition and the mood is reflected by the chat in the band green room. Also, Mark Padmore is being interviewed by Petroc and I have been in awe of Mr Padmore since his Peter Quint in ENO's production of Britten's Turn of the Screw gave me nightmares for about a week - I am now beside myself with operatic excitement.

The competition opens with German soprano Susanne Braunsteffer. She looked fabulous in her black dress with its tight bodice and full skirt. Regarding her aria from Madama Butterfly, 'let rip' she certainly did. This was, for me, the first of many 'goosebumps moments' during this evening's round.

Next up, Australian mezzo, Helen Sherman. I absolutely loved her outfit - very simple, plain, black dress, but with the most stunning black and red embroidered and sequined, long cover up. Helen's opening Sta nell'ircana was outstanding. This gave her a wonderful opportunity to show off her incredible technical prowess as she sang the aria's long melismatic lines with what felt like complete ease.

The last competitor before the interval was Wales' own, John Pierce (tenor). The competition must have added poignancy for Welsh representatives and they must feel a great weight of expectancy. John's programme opened with a real stalwart of the tenor repertory Mozart's Dis Bildnies ist bezaubernd schön from The Magic Flute and he performs it with a great deal more poise than I would be able to summon up under the circumstances! He is given a very warm, deserved response from the audience. I love the little Clogau gold lapel pin he wore - you seen, even the gents can have a part in Frockwatch!

Backstage the orchestra are very excited about the next two candidates who really set the studio on fire in rehearsal. If they sing the way they did then, this is going to be a closely-fought round. Valentina Nafornita took to the stage, resplendent in a grecian style, off white frock with subtle touches of sparkles.

Her opening Verdi was wonderful, but in the Korngold the entire auditorium held its breath. Valentina looks so delicate and yet her voice simply soars above the large orchestral forces of Marietta's Lied (Die tote Stadt ). This was definitely one of the standout moments of tonight's round. Korngold, incidentally, writes a rather lovely viola line.

Last to take the stage, was the Ukraine's Andrei Bondarenko. To me, all of tonight's competitors were stunning, but this young baritone really has that little something extra. He sings four works, not just contrasting in style, but completely contrasting in character.

He seems to have an incredible ability to not just act out the part, but to really embody the character. With his voice, and with his gesture and face, he presented to the audience a myriad range of expression and emotion (not just the yearning for a long lost love, middle distance stare and simper that some singers seem to cultivate).

I particularly enjoyed his Meine Sehnen, Meine Wahnen, again from Korngold's Die tote Stadt and his very funny Quella e una strada (Mascagni). I've always thought comedy must be a difficult thing to successfully achieve in opera without being twee or cliched, but Andrei somehow managed to achieve a very believable and very comic rendition of this song.

The judges could not have been deliberating any more fiercely in their room than the orchestra were, but there was a great sense of satisfaction on stage when Andrei Bondarenko was declared the winner of Round 3. I am so excited to play in the final and really cannot wait to find out who the five finalists are.

If tonight's round is anything to go by, the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World final on Sunday night will be an event not to miss. I'm off to enjoy my free day with my beautiful goddaughter, Rosie, and to buy a recording of Korngold's Die tote Stadt.

The science of Cardiff Singer

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Cardiff Singer Cardiff Singer | 13:33 UK time, Thursday, 16 June 2011

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition logo (2011)

This year, the Wellcome Trust is celebrating its 75th anniversary with a series of public events exploring science and medicine through music, theatre, film and the visual arts, and the first of these events, The Science of Singing, is taking place at Cardiff Singer.

In the foyer at St David's Hall, there is an interactive exhibition, which includes a vocal cocktail bar where you can sample natural remedies used by singers over the last 75 years to soothe various different throat-associated conditions.

The vocal health cocktail bar at the Wellcome Trust exhibit at St David's Hall, Cardiff

The vocal health cocktail bar at the Wellcome Trust exhibit at St David's Hall, Cardiff

The Trust is also running two events on Saturday, featuring legendary Welsh soprano Dame Gwyneth Jones, who also celebrates her 75th birthday this November.

The Big Sing, St David's Hall, 12-12.30pm

Consultant laryngologist Tom Harris joins Dame Gwyneth Jones, to talk to a young choir, Solid Harmony, about the biomechanics of singing and the best vocal warm up techniques. The choir then gives a performance of songs made famous by singers born 75 years ago.

Tom Harris shares his top tips for keeping your singing voice healthy in our brand-new guide to vocal health.

Vocal Master Class, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, 2.30-3.30pm

Dame Gwyneth Jones will give a master class to students from the College. She is joined by consultant laryngologist Professor Martin Birchall, who will talk about the biomechanics of singing and vocal health.

Full details of all three events can be found on the Wellcome Trust website.

The Dirty Youth interview

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 13:06 UK time, Thursday, 16 June 2011

Watch out Wales because another big Welsh rock band is about to bust through. With shocking pink haired lead singer and youthful exuberance of the band, they're bouncing off the walls at the moment with each new brick being built around their future in rock 'n' roll.

The band are The Dirty Youth and thanks to a video shoot and session for BBC Radio Wales, they've just signed a major record deal and a powerful management company that look after bands like Pussy Cat Dolls - and they did all right, like!

The Dirty Youth

The Dirty Youth

I caught up with Matt after Download to find out how it all happened, and how they are currently keeping feet firmly on the floor.

How was the weekend at Download?

We had an amazing weekend at Download Festival, it was such an honour for us. The sun came out for us and the crowd were brilliant - to see so many people singing all the words made the gig really special for us.

Are you feeling an impact yet from the new management and the signing to Universal Records?

Since having everyone on board, we have played Download Festival have videos shoots lined up and a release date for the and the album that's just the start. We are real excited for what they have lined up next!

Rewind a bit - tell me all about how it happened, how you got the management company on board and the record signing.

We started The Dirty Youth 4 years ago put our heads down and always worked as hard as we could, played anywhere to no one most of the time. Someone once told me its a marathon not a race and when your ready it will happen. We sent out our promo pack along with the video from the live show we did for the Bethan Elfyn show to RMR Management they loves the sound, look and the fact that we can play live. We landed a great manager, fantastic Label and one of the biggest festivals in the world in the same week so I'm guessing we were finally ready for it.

What does the deal entail, and what's the plan for next few months with releases and festivals?

We're shooting a video any day now for the First single Fight which will be out on 8 August followed by the Album Red Light Fix on 19 September, then were gonna tour like crazy!

What do you think makes you different from the recent successful south Wales rock bands? I guess its getting more and more difficult to stand out.

We're not that worried about standing out, I think if your good enough you'll stand out. There's loads more room for more Welsh Bands!

Check the BBC Radio Wales session video that got them the lucky break.

Cardiff Singer: Thursday

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Cardiff Singer Cardiff Singer | 12:46 UK time, Thursday, 16 June 2011

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition logo (2011)

The audience in St David's Hall last night were treated to a particularly strong group of singers in Concert 3. The competitors were Susanne Braunsteffer from Germany, Helen Sherman from Australia, local hero John Pierce from Wales, Valentina Naforniţǎ from Moldova and Andrei Bondarenko from Ukraine.

See the full coverage on BBC Four tonight at 7.30pm. If you want to find out who won Concert 3, visit the website.

Concert 4 takes place tonight and it is the last of the preliminary concerts. Taking part are singers from Uruguay, Ireland, USA, Italy and South Korea.

Sunday's finalists will be announced from the stage at the end of the concert, and highlights of concert 4 can be seen on BBC Two Wales at 10pm.

Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize

Voting in the Audience Prize opens at around 2pm tomorrow. Viewers and listeners in the UK will be able to vote by phone for their favourite singer from the week, irrespective of whether or not they get into the final. Details of the voting period and full terms and conditions are available on the website. The phone numbers will also appear on the website at the point when voting opens.

Video clips

Watch video clips of all the singers who have performed so far.

Cardiff Singer: Wednesday

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Cardiff Singer Cardiff Singer | 14:35 UK time, Wednesday, 15 June 2011

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition logo (2011)

The BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition reached its halfway point last night, by the end of concert two. Tonight's concert features Susanne Braunsteffer from Germany, Helen Sherman from Australia, local hero John Pierce from Wales, Valentina Naforniţǎ from Moldova and Andrei Bondarenko from Ukraine.

Highlights can be seen on BBC Two Wales at 10pm and the full coverage on BBC Four tomorrow night at 7.30pm.

Song Prize

Yesterday saw the completion of the Song Prize recitals at the New Theatre, and the announcement of Friday's finalists. They are Leah Crocetto from the USA, Máire Flavin from Ireland, Andrei Bondarenko from Ukraine, Valentina Naforniţǎ from Moldova and Olga Kindler from Switzerland.

Their repertoire appears at the bottom of their biography pages.

Video clips

Videos of all the singers who have performed so far are now available here https://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/cardiffsinger/sites/2011/pages/video.shtml

Once everyone has sung in the preliminary concerts, viewers in the UK can vote for their favourite in the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize. Details of the times of voting and full terms and conditions are available on the website. The phone numbers will be published at the point when voting opens.

Frockwatch

See who wears what in our very popular photo galleries.

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 12 June 2011

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 10:33 UK time, Wednesday, 15 June 2011

This week's show is now available via the BBC iPlayer. Please visit the link any time between now and the start of the next programme.

The show features an exclusive live session from The Lowland Hundred. Tim & Paul, as they're known to their folks, marry bruised, pastoral folk(ish) songs with hissing field recordings and unsettling ambient soundscapes. Paul's plaintive voice can breach the most impervious heart. There is no one in Wales making music like The Lowland Hundred. There's no one anywhere making music quite like this, and we're honoured to have them in session.

Their debut album, Under Cambrian Sky, is very highly recommended. It earned excellent reviews in publications as august and respected as Mojo, the Quietus and The Line of Best Fit. So, it's not just me who thinks so.

Elsewhere Huw Williams reminds us of Christine Evans, one of Wales' answers to Dusty Springfield. A blue-eyed, pop soul chanteuse who released a small handful of perky, orchestrated singles in the mid-'60s, then promptly disappeared. We'd love to know more about her. Please email adam.walton@bbc.co.uk if you have any information as to Christine's whereabouts and musical-doings after her spell at Philips Records.

Ben Hayes comes in to pay a considered tribute to the legendary - and recently deceased - producer, Martin Rushent.

And I have oodles of the finest music I could get my grubby hands on over the last week, including debut plays for John Stammers, The Deaf Club, Tiny Skitz, Harry Keyworth and Jessica Lee Morgan.

Please send new releases/demos/gig info/recommendations/thoughts & anagrams to themysterytour@gmail.com (as a download link or high quality .mp3), or via the BBC Introducing Uploader.

My preference is to receive your music via e-mail, but whatever suits you best will suit me too.

If you're submitting your music for the 1st time, I recommend checking out the blogs linked to below first.

Submitting Music to the Show Dos & Don'ts #1
Submitting Music to the Show Dos & Don'ts #2
Submitting Music to the Show Dos & Don'ts #3
Submitting Music to the Show Dos & Don'ts #4

Thank you/diolch yn fawr iawn.

RICHARD JAMES - 'When You See Me ( In The Pouring Rain )'
Croes - Y - Ceiliog

JOHN STAMMERS - 'Idle I'm ( Colorama Coloured In Remix )'
Manchester

BASTIONS - 'In The Shadow Of A Mountain'
Angelsey

METABEATS - 'The Snap Featuring Mudmowth, Rtkal & Ruffstylz ( Radio Edit )'
Cardiff

VICTORIAN ENGLISH GENTLEMENS CLUB, THE - 'Bag Of Meat'
Cardiff

VVOLVES - 'People'
Monmouth/Cardiff

DEAF CLUB, THE - 'It, She'
Unknown.

LOWLAND HUNDRED, THE - 'Rest Harrow ( Live )'
Aberystwyth

KATELL KEINEG - 'St. Martin'
Penpedairheol

HOUDINI DAX - 'Texas Export'
Cardiff

METHOD, THE - 'Whip Around'
Cardiff

STAGGA FEATURING SKAMMA & JOE BLOW - 'Genik Riddim'
Barry

TINY SKITZ - 'Grime Is The One'
Newport

JON LANGFORD & SKULL ORCHARD - 'Getting Used To Uselessness'
Newport

HUW WILLIAMS - 'Spoken Contribution'
Swansea

CHRISTINE EVANS - 'Somewhere There's Love'
Cardiff

MARY HOPKIN - 'People Say'
Pontardawe

TARAN - 'Hotel Rex'
Barry

CHRISTOPHER REES - 'In The Middle Of The Night'
Cardiff

RHIAN BENSON - 'Be ( Featuring Jonas )'
Bridgend

MR PHORMULA - 'I Thought You Knew'
Llanfrothen

ORCOP - 'Trecco'
Cardiff

HOWL GRIFF - 'Sunrise'
Aberystwyth

CUBA CUBA - 'Building Blocks'
Cardiff

PLYCI - 'Impetigo'
Rhyl

LOWLAND HUNDRED, THE - 'Gentleman's Walk ( Live )'
Aberystwyth

HARRY KEYWORTH - 'We Knew That Day'
Hebron, Pembrokeshire

FRIENDS ELECTRIC - 'Fireworks'
Neath

JAMIE ANDERSON & OWAIN K - 'Prescription'
Cardiff

BRIGHT LIGHT BRIGHT LIGHT - 'Disco Moment'
Neath

BROKEN VINYL CLUB, THE - 'One Way Street'
Cardiff

FENNEL SEEDS - 'I'm A Traitor'
Bethel/Anglesey

WE ARE ANIMAL - 'Luminous Lights'
Bethel/Caernarfon

TACSI - 'Reggae Funeral'
Bangor

I-DE-ATE - 'Negative Cycles'
Cardiff

FERNANDO REY - 'Architects'
Swansea

GERAINT JARMAN - 'Nos Sadwrn Bach'
Denbigh

LOWLAND HUNDRED, THE - 'Dog's Mercury ( Live )'
Aberystwyth

WINTER VILLAINS - 'Icebergs'
Cardiff

FUTURE OF THE LEFT - 'Stand By Your Manatee'
Cardiff

BEN HAYES - 'Spoken Contribution'
Ruthin

JEFF BRITTON & THE SPITFIRES - 'Rub Out'
Unknown

BLATNOVA - 'Dark Horse'
Pembrokeshire

JESSICA LEE MORGAN - 'Leave The Light On'
Cardiff

The view from the orchestra of Cardiff Singer

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Cardiff Singer Cardiff Singer | 15:57 UK time, Tuesday, 14 June 2011

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition logo (2011)

Laura Sinnerton, a viola player in the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, shares her rehearsal and concert diary from BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2011:

I can hardly believe that two years have passed since the incredibly beautiful and unbelievably talented Ekaterina Scherbachenko emerged victorious at the 2009 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World.

When she sang 'No Word From Tom' from Stravinsky's 'The Rake's Progress', she made the whole hall believe she was Anne Trulove, despairing over her lover, Tom Rakewell lead astray by the devil in the form of Nick Shadow.

When the panel returned, there was little surprise when Miss Scherbachenko was announced as the victor. Now, it's that time again and I'm excited to hear what talents are in the this year's competition.

For the orchestra, the competition is definitely more a marathon than a sprint. On the first day of rehearsal, you enter the studio to find what can only be described as a doorstop of music on the stand.

Laura Sinnerton's rehearsal and concert diary from BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2011.

Laura Sinnerton's rehearsal and concert diary from BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2011.

Today (Sunday 12 June), together with conductor Jac van Steen, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales will be rehearsing with the first five competitors, from New Zealand, Armenia, Bulgaria, Russia and Romania and the breadth of repertoire to cover is quite staggering.

One of the challenges for the orchestra is switching between works of of extreme contrast very quickly. Within one competitor's programme we may have to shift from the romantic lyricism of a Puccini aria to the lightness of a continuo-led Vivaldi work or from very classically stylish Mozart to red-blooded Tchaikovsky. It certainly keeps things interesting!

We have a little time before the first singer arrives for their rehearsal, simply to run through any awkward orchestral corners.

After a quick coffee break (it takes a lot of caffeine to get through Cardiff Singer, sometimes it feels like you've read so many notes your eyes are melting), we get started properly with Anna Leese from New Zealand, gradually working our way through the schedule. Each singer is allotted the exact same amount of rehearsal time so that it's fair to everyone.

The day runs smoothly, if quite slowly. There is a lot of stopping and starting involved in rehearsals like these and I often feel a little sorry for my brass-playing colleagues who seem to spend an inordinate amount of time waiting around to play two notes at the climax of an aria before sloping back to the band room to wait for the next piece they're in.

MONDAY 13 JUNE

While the rehearsals for Cardiff Singer can seem a little dry at times (very few of the competitors actually sing out during the rehearsals), the actual competition nights are quite electric.

No-one does a good concert frock quite like a female singer and there is, as always, lots of speculation as to what each competitor will wear. As always, I am rather excited.

When we arrive for the afternoon rehearsal, St David's Hall has been transformed. There are lights, big screens, shiny floors and the set designers have even covered the well-loved/used boards of the St David's Hall stage with a very swish, smooth floor covering.

There are also extra keyboard instruments (to cover all the possible continuo options), cameras and lots of cables, so actually getting to your seat becomes a mission of military proportions, especially on the lower strings side of the stage (as if those cello spikes weren't enough to contend with at the best of times!).

The nerves of some of the competitors are palpable. Sometimes in all the frantic rehearsing and marking of parts and schedule changes, it can be easy for us to forget just what even being involved in, never mind winning, this competition means for these young singers.

You really feel for them when their nerves are so visible. Rehearsal passes off well, but some of the singers are 'marking' even more now than yesterday and it really is difficult to get a sense of how loudly you will actually have to play in the concert. Still, I appreciate that voices must be saved for the main event.

After a dinner break, it's back to the hall to get ready. Now, the presence of television cameras does a strange thing to a band that is normally used to being heard on the radio and not seen and there is a noted increase in the use of hair straighteners, curlers and hair spray in the Ladies of the Orchestra dressing room.

You never know when you may be caught in the background of a shot! There was little chance for me though as a certain cello-playing colleague's head kept getting in MY camera shot; now my mother will never know if I played in Concert 1 or not!

Once the jury has been introduced to the audience (including the new patron, the seemingly ageless Dame Kiri Te Kanawa), Anna Leese from New Zealand opened the competition. She looked stunning in a very on-trend nude toned heavy satin strapless dress.

In a wide-ranging programme she performed one of my favourite arias, Dvorak's 'Song To The Moon' from Rusalka and received a warm reception from the audience. Next came Vazgen Ghazaryan of Armenia. I really like Mr Ghazaryan's voice, it's so dark and quite menacing at times, especially in the aria from Mefistofele (featuring viola player/expert whistler, Rob Gibbons).

The third to take to the stage was Russian mezzo, Olesya Petrova. Not only did she look stunning (another pale gown with a beautiful lace overlay), but her voice is just beautiful. Her 'Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix' from Saint-Saens' Samson and Delilah was genuinely spellbinding.

A quick breath of fresh air in the interval (all the lights make it very warm on stage) and it's back to the second half for our fourth competitor of the evening, Bulgarian soprano Maria Radoeva, sporting an off-the-shoulder frock that reminded me somewhat of Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.

Her programme had one of the widest ranges of repertoire, from Vivaldi to Puccini. The evening's final competitor is Romanian baritone, Serban Vasile, with a lovely programme of Mozart, Donizetti and Tchaikovsky.

The orchestra have to stay on stage while the jury goes out to deliberate, but it is no surprise to us when they come on stage to inform us all that Olesya Petrova was crowned this evening's victor.

Today, we're back into rehearsals for Wednesday's Concert 3 (we alternate with our colleagues in the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera who play in Concerts 2 and 4). It's all go!

Laura Sinnerton

Cardiff Singer: Tuesday

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Cardiff Singer Cardiff Singer | 13:10 UK time, Tuesday, 14 June 2011

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition logo (2011)

Song Prize

The four Song Prize recitals finish today. Recital four features Hye Jung Lee from South Korea, Davide Bartolucci from Italy, Máire Flavin from Ireland and Leah Crocetto from the USA.

At the end of the recital, the five singers who will take part in Friday's final will be announced from the stage at the New Theatre.

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World

At St David's Hall, the second concert will take place and features singers from three continents. Meeta Raval from England, Wang Lifu from China, Sasha Djihanian from Canada, Olga Kindler from Switzerland and Marcela González from Chile will perform.

Broadcasts

The full broadcast schedule swings into action today. BBC Radio 3's first Song Prize broadcast is at 1pm and BBC Four's coverage of concert 1 starts at 7.30pm.

At 10pm, BBC Two Wales' second highlights programme goes out live from St David's Hall, and throughout the day there are updates on various programmes on BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio Cymru. See the full broadcast details.

Recitals and concerts at Cardiff Singer

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Cardiff Singer Cardiff Singer | 13:33 UK time, Monday, 13 June 2011

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition logo (2011)

The BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition is now well under way, with two recitals taking place yesterday. The third recital is this afternoon and the first concert is at St David's Hall tonight.

Programme notes for all the recitals and concerts will appear on the site shortly before the events take place. You can find links to each recital and concert from the concerts schedule page.

We were all very sorry that Marcela González from Chile had to withdraw from the Song Prize, where she was due to sing in recital two last night. Marcela was unwell, but hopes that she will have recovered in time to take part in tomorrow's concert at St David's Hall.

The very popular Frockwatch returns! We will shortly have pictures from the first two recitals, plus comment from the inimitable Maggi Willis, Madame Frockwatch herself.

Broadcasts get under way tonight with highlights of concert one from St David's Hall, live at 10pm tonight. Full coverage of concert one will be on BBC Four tomorrow night, and BBC Radio 3's coverage of the Song Prize also begins tomorrow lunchtime. See full broadcast details.

Concerts, broadcasts and more at Cardiff Singer

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Cardiff Singer Cardiff Singer | 14:15 UK time, Friday, 10 June 2011

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World is nearly here!

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition logo (2011)

The Song Prize starts on Sunday, with recitals one and two taking place in the New Theatre. Then, concert one is at St David's Hall on Monday. See the full schedule.

Meanwhile, get a taste for the week coming up with the special preview programme on BBC Two tomorrow (Saturday) at 6.30pm. See the full broadcast details for the week.

There are some exciting events taking place in Cardiff around the competition. It's the 75th anniversary year of the Wellcome Trust, a charitable foundation dedicated to the achievement of extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. The Trust is running events celebrating the science behind the most extraordinary of musical instruments - the human voice.

Monday 13-Sunday 19 June
The Science and Singing interactive exhibit at St David's Hall.

Saturday 18 June, 12-12:30pm, front steps of St David's Hall
The Big Sing with Dame Gwyneth Jones and vocal scientist Tom Harris.

Saturday 18 June, 2.30-3.30pm, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama
Vocal Master Class with Dame Gwyneth Jones and Professor Martin Birchall.

Full details at the Wellcome Trust website.

Choir's clock a window into the industrial past

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:54 UK time, Thursday, 9 June 2011

An extraordinary tale of a working men's male voice choir in the 19th century has come to light thanks to a hitherto unknown clock.

Penrhyn Male Voice Choir, based in Bethesda in north west Wales, have come into possession of a decorative timepiece made in 1893 and forming part of the narrative of a long-running industrial dispute between mine workers and management.

The clock, made of local purple slate, was given to Mr W Gray, who assisted the choir in their journey to be part of the 1893 World Fair in Chicago. They came second in their competition, and the clock disappeared into the historical ether.

The grandson of Mr Gray (left) and Tom Morgan, chairman of Penrhyn Choir, and a member for over 60 years, pictured with the long-lost clock

The grandson of Mr Gray (left) and Tom Morgan, chairman of Penrhyn Choir, and a member for over 60 years, pictured with the long-lost clock

The reason for the choir's desire to compete was simple: money for strike funds. Choir chairman Wil Parry told the North Wales Daily Post: "Industrial relations between the quarry owners and the workers were poor. There were a number of strikes in the 1890s and times were hard. They decided to go to Chicago because they knew the cash prizes would help the strike fund.

"They came second in their competition. The story claims the choir would have won if someone hadn't opened a door and blew the music off the stands. But that's just a story and we had nothing to remember the trip [by] at all. Until, that is, we heard about the clock."

The clock was in the possession of a Stafford woman, who came to an agreement with the choir to buy it back from her. Parry said: "The clock is a direct memento of that trip made by our choir to the World Fair and we will treasure it but we will put it on show."

Penrhyn Male Voice Choir are keen to find out more about the clock and its history from the time it was given to Mr Gray and this year. They can be contacted through their website.

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 5 June 2011

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 13:23 UK time, Tuesday, 7 June 2011

This week's show is now available via the iPlayer. One of the (many) resolutions I have drawn up since my 'significant' birthday last week is to be more measured in the language I use when I talk about this show and the music that is contained therein.

'Amazing' loses its power the 400th time you use it in a month, regardless of how much you mean it. 'Awesome' might as well be describing oven cleaner unless it's used sparingly, with a sense of perspective. (New rule of thumb: use the word 'awesome' as often as I use actual oven cleaner... which means, after this single paragraph, the word is out of bounds until 2036.)

How much of the world can, really, be 'beautifu'"? One look in the mirror tells me I'm doing more than my own part to balance that equation... but if I say that everything is beautiful, doesn't it lose its capacity to make us gasp?

Well no, not really.

It doesn't matter much what I say. It's down to the music and what you think about it. I just hope - really hope - that you're as much bewitched by its gloriousness, its amazingness, its awesome power to transform a moribund moment into something charged with excitement. But I should say these things less often, and let the music speak far more eloquently for itself. Shouldn't I?

But that makes luring you away from all of the other distractions you have in your life that much more difficult. Time is precious. It's a sad fact of modern life that we all have to be a little bit double-glazing salesman (nowt wrong with that if you're actually selling double-glazing, of course), a bit X-Factor voice-over (always something wrong with that) to try and attract each others' attention. And I don't want to be like that any more.

Suffice to say, then, that this week's programme features, without fanfare, some boggling creativity from Welsh minds operating in all different kinds of sonic spheres.

Well, I've been well and truly boggled by it.

Consider a first time play for Sam Airey. Within moments of him pouring his soulful, folkish honey onto our airwaves, my inbox and Twitter feed were busy with acclaim and praise for his talent. It's an outstanding piece of music, is his debut single Blackout. No other language will suffice.

There are début plays for Black River (swoon), Laurence Made Me Cry (beam), Ocean Red (overexcited handclaps), The Bear Beats Band (jaw drop at that voice), Black Stepdad (awed bemusement) and Broken Moods For House Kites (beaming smile).

And elsewhere, magnificent new recordings from Metabeats, Channel Swimmer, Dez Williams... heck I'm going to just list all of the tracks I played (see below for more details.)

So, the reason I say things are ace is because they're 'ace'. Where's the fun in being restrained about it? Measured is what happens to you before they stick you in a wooden box, and even I'm not ready for that yet.

If you find a few hours over the course of the week to check the show out, you'll be rewarded with some great music. And that's a fact, not a piece of hyperbole.

Godfather of the Welsh underground, Alan Holmes, comes in to enthuse about Mr's pre-millennial psychedelia.

Lara Catrin translates Edward H Dafis (and in the process disturbs her own sleep, just for you!).

Ben Hayes lyrically waxes the Jan Hammer Group. So much more than the guy who scored no socks and Phil Collins guest appearances on Miami Vice.

I want more of your music, an insight into the music you've been hearing that's amazed you, and to hear what you think about all of these sounds.

Send demos (.mp3's or download links) / releases / thoughts to: themysterytour@gmail.com or via the BBC Introducing Uploader.

My preference is to receive your music via e-mail, but whatever suits you best will suit me too.

If you're submitting your music for the first time, I recommend checking out the blogs linked to below first.

Thank you/diolch yn fawr iawn, have an excellent, awesome and (yes!) beautiful week. I'm off to break a few more resolutions. Nurse, the doughnuts please.

CHANNEL SWIMMER - 'Hold Music'
Cardiff

METABEATS - 'The Snap Featuring Mudmowth, Rtkal & Ruffstylz ( Radio Edit )'
Cardiff

DEZ WILLIAMS - 'Dominant'
Bangor

KUTOSIS - 'Shadows'
Cardiff

YAJé - 'True Love Will Find You In The End'
Cardiff

UNDERPASS - 'Suspension'
Cardiff

CHLOE LEAVERS - 'Chase The Dawn'
Colwyn Bay

SAM AIREY - 'The Blackout ( Radio Edit )'
Anglesey

DAUWD - 'Shimmer'
Llangollen

GRAHAM BOWERS - 'Issues - Section 2'
Anglesey

BLACK RIVER - 'Picture Fades'
Unknown

PRETTY PLACES - 'Gwyn Tywyll'
Llanfair P.g.

Y NIWL - 'Un Deg Saith'
Gwynedd

MOWBIRD - 'Holy Moly Me Oh My'
Wrexham

LOVE SCULPTURE - 'In The Land Of The Few'
Cardiff

ALAN HOLMES - 'Spoken Contribution'
Bangor

MôR - 'Hailstone (edit)'
Bangor

FRIENDS ELECTRIC - 'Fireworks'
Neath

LAURENCE MADE ME CRY - 'Rain Song'
Cardiff

SWEET BABOO - 'Girl Under A Tree'
Bangor / Cardiff

THOMAS TRUAX - 'It Always Rains On Sundays'
New York / London

VICTORIAN ENGLISH GENTLEMENS CLUB, THE - 'A Conversation'
Cardiff

EXIT INTERNATIONAL - 'Glory Horn ( Alt. Edit )'
Cardiff

MR HEALAN - 'Loungin'
Cardiff

BLAKTRIX - 'Sour Grapes ( First Aid Remix - Radio Edit )'
Cardiff

Y-CHROME - 'Subliminal Messages'
Cardiff

WE ARE ANIMAL - 'Luminous Lights'
Bethel / Caernarfon

KEYS, THE - 'The Colour Red'
Resolven / Cardiff

ALEXANDER COMANA - 'Apnea'
Cardiff / Milan

HYSTERICAL INJURY, THE - 'Constant Craving'
Bath / Cardiff

MY PET MONSTER - 'Soundtracks'
Cardiff

EVM (EVERMEAN) - 'U Want More (featuring Amy Wilson)'
Mold

JUMPING BACK SLASH - 'Granadilla Lolly'
Ikapa / Wrexham

OCEAN RED - 'Hold On'
Cardiff

PULCO - 'Old Stones'
Bangor

BEAR BEATS BAND, THE - 'Young Moon'
Ruthin

GALLOPS - 'Joust'
Wrexham

GRUFF RHYS - 'Honey All Over'
Bethesda

GAFBUCK - 'Athrylith (genius)'
Llangefni

LARA CATRIN - 'Spoken Contribution'
Bangor / Cardiff

EDWARD H. DAFIS - 'Mistar Duw'
Bangor

ROSEVILLE BAND, THE - 'Goodbye'
Wrexham / Brynford

BEN HAYES - 'Spoken Contribution'
Ruthin

JAN HAMMER GROUP - 'Don't You Know'
Prague / New York

TRWBADOR - 'Red Handkerchiefs'
Camarthen / Cardiff

BLACK STEPDAD - 'You, Me And The Heat Death Of The Universe (excerpt)'
Cardiff

BROKEN MOODS FOR HOUSE KITES - 'Bygone Vamp'
Milford Haven / Cardiff

Cardiff Singer is starting...

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Cardiff Singer Cardiff Singer | 12:30 UK time, Tuesday, 7 June 2011

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition logo (2011)

Singers have started arriving in Cardiff from all over the world, and are now getting over jet lag and starting their preparations for the competition, which starts on Sunday with the first two Song Prize recitals.

Unfortunately Szymon Komasa from Poland is ill and has had to withdraw from the competition. We wish him well and a speedy recovery.

Szymon's place in Concert Two and Recital Two will be taken by Olga Kindler from Switzerland who is now planning her journey to Cardiff following the phone call she received last night. Find out more about Olga and see what she will be singing.

New on the website: broadcast details of the coverage of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World on BBC television, radio and online.

Hay Festival 2011: Cerys Matthews, Eliza Carthy, Jon Ronson and more

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 10:39 UK time, Tuesday, 7 June 2011

My fond relationship with the Hay Festival goes back to my school days. Growing up in mid Wales, I'd gone to the festival to volunteer for a week of stewarding - it was last time Bob Geldof played the festival, or even the time before, in the early '80s. Aside from Sir Bob, and workshops by Rasta poet Benjamin Zephaniah the most memorable part of my stewarding experience was when my tent got eaten by the local lady's hungry Labrador, and my friend and I got put up in one of the towns lovely old hotels instead. Win win!

Cerys Matthews. Photo: www.madebyfinn.com

Cerys Matthews. Photo: www.madebyfinn.com

I try to get back to the festival as often as possible, because the calibre and variety of the guests who will travel to this quiet Powys town of books and antiques consistently amazes me. Sadly I've missed Rob Lowe, and US presidents in the past, but still.

This year my first show was the Catalan band Ojos De Brujos; they were celebrating 10 years of a life in music with a fiery fiesta of northern Spain's wild sounds, with adequate breakdowns to show off each member's particular skills, be it slap bass or flamenco dancing. It was a party from the off, and I can see how they have such a great reputation around the world for their unique fusion and authentic sounds from Barcelona.

A few nights later I was back to see Cardiff born journalist Jon Ronson promoting his new book on psychopathy. I've been to see Jon speak a few times as I'm a huge fan of his writing, and he's a rare breed that is actually even more witty and entertaining when reading from his works; the ad-lib asides have us, an intimate crowd of around 1000, in stitches! I can't wait to read the book.

The talk was followed by a celebration of 30 years of i-D magazine. Despite the magazine- and fashion-world talent on the panel, the talk was rather dry and disappointing with not enough anecdotes and too many musings on the covers themselves. Yes, i-D broke the mold; yes, it's a market leader; and yes, long may it continue, despite my slight disappointment at the event. It probably didn't help that we could hear peals of laughter roaring from the large amphitheatre next door where Chris Evans was holding court with Anne Robinson!

Finally, I caught two musical concerts on Friday night. First up, Eliza Carthy, who is a formidable character on stage. Backed with a tight knit group of musicians playing piano, cello, double bass and drums, Eliza swapped instruments, sings, tells tales and swings her formidable hips. It was rip-roaring fun from the off. Blood On My Boots (a song about her best night out ever, in London's Leicester Square for the opening of Jerry Springer: The Opera), from her new album Neptune, is hilarious.

An hour later and we were back in the same theatre for a full house for Cerys Matthews' set. It had been a while since I'd seen her play and I was curious about how the songs from Tir and recent albums would sound.

She started with two naked folk songs, her voice soaring and the big acoustic guitar loosely thrown around her lap; it's captivating from the off. Joined then by the band (comprising double bass, drums, oud and accordion), the moods of the songs travelled from the wide sunny skies of Tennessee to the Middle East and back to Wales for Deio I Dywyn, which got the crowd clapping along.

Cerys' voice throughout was tender, boisterous, raucous, soaring, trilling, raspy and quite staggeringly versatile! I was absolutely gob-smacked, to be honest, by the whole performance. The stories, the smiles and the warmth that she emanated to such a huge auditorium was also to her credit.

With over 20 years of performing experience, and a nod at a Catatonia song in a unique version of Strange Glue, I walked away in pure awe at all she's achieved since the heyday of '90s pop, from the evolution in stage style, and the music she's collected, gathered, loved and re-arranged in such a unique way.

Cerys closed the show with Arglwydd Dyma Fi: another naked performance of just voice and gentle strumming guitar, and we were transported with the words and music to a cathedral of worship, of honesty, of purity, of humble hymn and Wales' finest singer really at home with where she's at right now. An incredible show from start to finish.

So another year at Hay comes to an end for me. I woke on the boutique campsite to enjoy the espresso bar, and look forward to another enlightening experience next year!

Young Guns and The Blackout for Merthyr Rock

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James McLaren James McLaren | 12:57 UK time, Thursday, 2 June 2011

There was once a band I liked, called Fortune Favours, from Crickhowell. They did awesome power pop rock but then they split up. Their drummer, Rhodri Jones, was a spindly rock-star-in-waiting with more than a little of Steve Tyler about him.

Another promising band off into the ether, I assumed, its members destined for the great call centre in the sky. But no, hang on a minute. Rhodri went off to work for the Hay Festival and now he finds himself orchestrating the launch of a new music festival in the south Wales valleys, Merthyr Rock, on behalf of the Hay organisation.

Having been writing about music in Wales for 15 years, I find it very easy to be sceptical when any new festival launches in this country. There are reputations scattered, tattered throughout the hills and valleys. Disappearing audiences, lack of political support, crap line-ups, over-reliance on single acts, injuries, drug busts, you name it, it's probably happened to a Welsh festival in the last two decades.

So the news that the Hay Festival is putting its name, its resources and - to be fair - its reputation to Merthyr Rock (being held in the town's Cyfarthfa Park on 3 and 4 September) is encouraging. I've long believed that there is a market for a good rock/indie festival in the valleys area. Audiences for well-chosen acts should be high, as there is some genuine fandom there. As the Full Ponty 2007 showed, there is a great appetite for a well-organised festival boasting top-flight acts.

Large, totemic events filter down the economic and cultural tree to the roots, enthusing local audiences, acts, promoters, labels and other parts of the industry.

The Blackout

The Blackout

Jones is singing from the same hymn sheet: "This will be a festival that gives south Wales the occasion to match its rock'n'roll heritage. Far from being a festival that comes and goes in a weekend, our priority is to create an event that will benefit Merthyr all year round and further build a sustainable industry in Wales".

Young Guns

Young Guns

However, Merthyr Rock is starting safely, trying to build a basis from which to work. The first tranche of acts have been announced for the two-day programme, with Welsh draws The Blackout, Funeral For A Friend and Attack! Attack! joining Young Guns, one of the UK's hottest rock bands of 2011.

(Admittedly, they also have Ocean Colour Scene in there somewhere, but there's got to be something for the dads. Says I, at 33.)

Many more acts are still to be announced, and of course we'll keep you up to date with more announcements, but suffice to say, this is one festival that I'm excited by and that stands a chance of establishing itself.

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"Hopefully in five years' time, people will have got fed up of X-Factor"

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James McLaren James McLaren | 15:02 UK time, Wednesday, 1 June 2011

"It's going to be difficult to keep this positive!" said Graeme Park to me as we wandered, post-interview, back into the grand foyer of the new Creative Industries Centre of Glyndŵr University. Graeme, a DJ of international repute, is a lecturer at Glyndŵr, and is the host of a series of seminars that are taking place in the swish surrounds of the on-site TV studio.

Park was joined last Thursday by Simon Gavin, a music industry veteran and current head of Verve records, and Mancunian legend Peter Hook, of Joy Division and New Order. The three of them were in Wrexham to discuss the state of the music industry in 2011, in this new digital world we find ourselves, with all its well-rehearsed arguments, its pros and cons. But get anyone together who make their livings from music and it's par for the course that the conclusions will be maudlin at best, hand-wringingly woeful at worst.

But in the end, in front of an appreciative, rapt audience, the three music heads swapped thoughts, anecdotes and laughs that showed that while there are challenges to the way people make and sell music, things are to a large degree as they ever were: passionate, good songs are always the priority.

However, this event gave me the opportunity to probe a little deeper into the issues with the panel prior to the seminar itself (and let's be honest, the chance to talk to Hooky should never be passed up).

Take a listen to what these three music big cheeses have to say about where they are in the music business, their attitudes towards the web and its implications for their business, and where they think we'll be in five years' time:

Peter Hook
"For a lot of new bands coming now they will never have the commercial success that [I] had because it doesn't exist; because people take your music without paying for it."

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Graeme Park
"Technology is fantastic... out of that has sprung some amazing things. But unfortunately out of that has mainly sprung a load of tedious, unoriginal, poorly-produced nonsense that would never have seen the light of day as recently as the 90s."

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Simon Gavin
"It's such a tiny business now."

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