A search has been launched for singers from across North Wales to join a massed choir of 200 voices to call for world peace.
The performance at Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod will pay tribute to the thousands of men, women and children massacred in the 1990s war in Bosnia and shine a light on the desperate plight of those currently suffering in war-torn Ukraine.
The concert, called The White Flower: Into the Light, will be held at 8pm on Wednesday, July 5, just a few days before Srebrenica Memorial Day on July 11 to remember the 8,372 Bosnian Muslims who were massacred in in 1995.
The White Flower motif has been adopted as a symbol of remembrance in Srebrenica and the 11 petals of the flower represent the day the genocide began.
The theme of the concert was chosen to reflect the founding purpose of the Eisteddfod, an iconic event which was established in 1947 to promote peace in the aftermath of the Second World War.
It will feature extracts from the haunting mass for peace, The Armed Man, by renowned Welsh composer Karl Jenkins as a centrepiece of the programme.
Volunteers are needed to join the huge, specially formed choir, one of the biggest ever seen in North Wales.
They will be accompanied by the acclaimed NEW Sinfonia orchestra that will be making its debut headline appearance at Llangollen Eisteddfod.
NEW Sinfonia conductor Robert Guy has issued a call for singers of all ages to sign up for the choir, with rehearsals due to get underway on May 13.
He said there will be no barriers to taking part in this stirring occasion, adding: “It is not restricted to those with previous concert singing experience. We are opening it up to all comers, all they need is a love of singing.”
At the heart of the choir will be a group of keen amateur singers who belong to the hugely successful NEW Voices project already established by NEW Sinfonia.
Robert said: “It’s thanks to the huge success of our NEW Voices project that we already have a core group of enthusiastic amateur singers ready to step up and sing at Llangollen. But we need lots more singers, especially tenors and basses.
“We will need 200 voices in all so we are urging anyone with a passion for singing and a desire to take part in this momentous event to sign up quickly now.”
NEW Voices includes refugees who have settled in North Wales following conflicts or persecution in their own countries. They have found solace in singing together and made new friends through the common language of music.
Among them is a young Ukrainian conductor Polina Horelova who with her young family was forced to flee her home city of Mariupol after the Russians invaded and razed the city.
It is hoped Polina will conduct the traditional Ukrainian folk piece River Song during the concert of remembrance.
Robert added: “We are proud that NEW Voices comprises such a wide mix of musical abilities and a range of nationalities. We encompass singers from Wales, Ukraine, Iraq, Iran, Algeria and El Salvador, among other countries.
“For our White Flower: Into the Light programme we need sopranos, altos, tenors, basses and young voices too; we encourage everyone to come forward.
“There will be regular rehearsals so people need not fear that they are not good enough or lack confidence. We are here to guide them through the whole wonderful process.”
Rehearsals will be at two hubs, one in Tŷ Pawb community arts centre, Wrexham, and the other at St Asaph Parish Church. They meet on Saturday mornings from 10am-12 noon. There is also a facility for people to join rehearsals via Zoom video conferencing technology.
Llangollen Eisteddfod Executive Producer Camilla King said: “We have been thinking about doing something on this theme and scale for some time but it is only this year that the various strands have come together to create what promises to be a magical evening.
“It is heart-breaking to look back on the Bosnian war and realise that a whole cultural identity was under attack.
“As well as the relentless murdering of the population, its entire heritage was targeted, artworks destroyed and cultural icons demolished. Now just two decades later very similar monstrosities are happening in Ukraine right now.
“We wanted to put on a concert to highlight that humanity at its heart is so much better than this. We wanted to reflect the ethos of peace, friendship and cultural diversity which is at the very roots of the International Eisteddfod and is the reason why it was founded in the first place all those years ago in 1947.
“It will be a thought-provoking, contemplative evening but it will also be uplifting as it highlights important themes of hope, togetherness and overcoming division.”
Camilla added: “I am expecting demand for tickets will be high as there is no doubt in my mind that this will be a truly unforgettable evening. We invite everyone to come along and enjoy.”
For more details about the concert at 8pm on Wednesday, July 5, visit: https://international-eisteddfod.co.uk/events/wednesday-evening/ and to sign up for the choir or get more information email at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com or call Robert Guy on 07725 050510.