Aug 26 2003

That was the best festival ever in North Wales

By Eryl Crump

OPERA superstar Bryn Terfel said he was delighted with the success of the Faenol Festival - claiming it was the "best so far".

Organisers confirmed it was the best attended festival since it began and the Pant Glas-born baritone promised the thousands of people who attended the threeday festival he would do his utmost to maintain the high standard again next year.

Bryn told the Daily Post: "We were doubly blessed by truly great performances and fantastic weather."

On Sunday evening a capacity crowd of 10,000 people begged, clapped and shouted for more after top performances from Bryn, Catalan tenor José Carreras and New Zealand newcomer Hayley Westenra.

They were treated to an unprecedented six encores before the spectacular fireworks display broug ht th e evening to an exp l osive conclusion.

Bryn said last night: "Sunday's concert was an incredible mix of young and establ ished talent, with Hayl ey Westenra capturing the hearts of everyone and the maes t ro, my friend José Carreras, majestic as ever, lifting the concert to another level.

"I enjoyed every second of it and could hardly believe I was there.

"Singing the Welsh national anthem against a blanket of stars and thousands of Welsh flags is a memory that will stay with me forever."

The Catalan tenor was greeted by a standing ovation when he appeared on stage. The maestro was visibly moved by the warm reception he received.

Hayley Westenra, just 16 and tipped for major stardom by Bryn, also received a warm welcome when she came onto the stage.

She immediately found a place in the hearts of Welsh concert goers after greeting the audience in Welsh.

"Croeso i'r Faenol (Welcome to Faenol). It's a privilege to be here in your lovely country. It reminds me so much of home it makes me homesick," she said.

As the concert came to a fitting climax Bryn delighted the audience even more by proudly showing the Welsh flag, cunningly sewn into the lining of his jacket.

Leaving the Faenol after the three-hour concert, music lover Brian Williams from Benllech, Anglesey, said: "That was the best show ever in North Wales with-out any shadow of a doubt."

Another music fan, Angela Woodley from St Asaph, said:

"Bryn has such a comman d i n g stage presence on his own but add Carreras and that wonderful young girl and you have the ingredients for a magical evening. But this evening surpassed all of ou r expectations."

Bryn told the Daily Post that Saturday evening's opening concert had brought the glamour and glitz of London's West End to North Wales.

He said: "It was a magical evening. To hear the sound of Don't Cry For Me Argentina float out across the Faenol gave me goosebumps.

"I have tried to get Elaine Paige to appear at the Faenol from the very first day and now everyone knows why."

Last night's final concert, Tân y Ddraig, was expected to draw an audience of about 6,500, similar to Saturday evening's crowd.

Bryn added: "Tân y Ddraig is always a very special night for me and gives me a chance to let my hair down and perform with some of my childhood heroes and true legends of Welsh music."

As patron of the Ty Gobaith yng Nghymru Appeal Br yn invited fundraisers to hold a collection during the festival.

Last night Ty Gobaith appeals manager, Sarah Kearsey Wooller said collections at the concerts raised thousands of pounds.

She added: "We were over-whelmed by the kindness of everyone who attended over the weekend and would like to thank them all.

"We are grateful to Bryn, Harlequin Production and IMG for the opportunity to come along."

There were some problems as the massive crowd dispersed on Sunday evening with some unable to leave the car parks for up to two hours after the concert ended at 11pm.

Arthur Brown from Barry, south Wales, said: "We appeared to have been parked the wrong way. I was parked near the entrance of the car park nearest the lake and after moving five yards in two hours was told to reverse and make my way ou t through another exit.

"There were n o stewards around and no information at all. It spoilt an otherwise magnificent evening."

A spokesman for the organisers said problems associated with the massive operation were slowly being ironed out.

"We take over the Faenol as a green field site each year and it has been a steep learning curve but bit by bit we are getting it right," he said.

Police said most vehicles left the car parks within an hour.


Thanks to Steve MacDonald who located this item on IcWales website


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