The artistic director of the North Wales International Music Festival is stepping down after 20 years at the helm.

Ann Atkinson is the third person to be the event’s artistic director, following in the footsteps of Professor William Mathias, the founder, and her immediate predecessor Geraint Lewis

The festival celebrated its 50th anniversary last year and will take place from September 15 to 30.

She said: “It was a privilege and an honour that I grasped eagerly with both hands when it was offered to me but now I feel I have served my time and it's time to hand over to someone else.

"It is strange preparing for this year's festival and not thinking ahead to next year which is what usually happens.

"The core programme of concerts and recitals remains as it always has done. William Mathias's vision was to bring top class musicians to North Wales for local audiences to enjoy on their doorstep instead of having to travel to Liverpool, Manchester and beyond to hear them.

"But the community and youth programmes have developed dramatically in the past few years and this has been so exciting and satisfying for me. I feel I have been so lucky to be the custodian of such a superbly special event.”

Ann, a celebrated mezzo soprano from Corwen, gained her B.Ed degree from the University of Wales and initially pursued a teaching career before winning a scholarship to study singing at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

Since then she has sung with many of Britain's leading opera companies, Scottish Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Wexford Festival Opera, WNO to name but a few, and performed all over the world including a memorable concert at Sydney Opera House.


In addition to her being the Artistic Director of the North Wales International Music Festival she is also the Musical Director of Côr Meibion Trelawnyd and Côr Meibion Bro Glyndwr.

From 2002 to 2009 Ann was also Musical Director of the Fron Male Choir who found fame and became known as the "Oldest Boy Band in the World" releasing several albums which topped the pop charts as well as the classical chart.

Ann was honoured by the Gorsedd of Bards at the 2009 National Eisteddfod in Bala and a year later was made an Honorary Fellow at Glyndŵr University.

In 2011 she received the Welsh Livery Guild's Merit Award in recognition of her outstanding achievements to the world of music in Wales and beyond.

She was once again recognized for her contribution to Welsh Music in 2019 when she received the prestigious Sir Geraint Evans Award from the Welsh Music Guild in Cardiff.

Then last year Ann received an honorary Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in recognition of her contribution to music.

The Chair of the North Wales International Music Festival, the Very Reverend Nigel Williams, Dean of the Cathedral, paid tribute to Ann’s “immense and invaluable contribution”.

He said: "The community of the festival in terms of audiences, musicians, composers, singers and the festival committee owe her a great deal and the legacies she passes on are testament to the incredible talents she has.

“We now launch our search for a new artistic director and the successful candidate will have some big boots to fill because Ann is a real force of nature. Anybody interested in applying for the role should contact ”

The Leader:

This year's festival is based on the theme of Horizons and the closing concert on Saturday, September 30 will take the form of a farewell to Ann.

It will feature the NEW Sinfonia, the NEW Voices Community Choir and soloists Lisa Dafydd and Dafydd Jones.

Also taking part will be Ann herself and her husband, accomplished baritone, Kevin Sharp.

Tickets for the launch concert and further details about the festival programme are available online at Tickets also available from Cathedral Frames, St Asaph - 01745 582929 (Weds - Fri, 10 - 4) and Theatr Clwyd by phone - 01352 344101 (Mon - Sat, 10 - 6).