Their music department have been invited to perform in the High Tatras Mountains

Twenty-five talented students will be selected to travel to the High Tatras Mountains in Slovakia to perform with national and international professional musicians. The project is being spearheaded by the international conductor Simon Chalk. Simon was born and educated in a small mining village in South Wales and began playing the violin at age 11. He spent his early career as a teacher, violinist and chamber musician.

The boy from the small South Wales mining village went on to tour the globe as a conductor with the internationally renowned classical crossover group ll Divo. His relationship with Il Divo has taken him on three world tours across six continents, performing with a plethora of international orchestras along the way and conducting in many of the world’s iconic concert halls and arenas. Simon has worked with numerous eminent ensembles including the BBC Concert Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. He is currently the Guest Principal Conductor for the Slovak Sinfonietta (Štátny Komorný Orchester Zilina – state chamber orchestra of Slovakia). In January 2018 he was honoured by the government of Slovakia through the award of a Diploma of Appreciation in recognition of ‘extraordinary merits in the development of friendly relationships with the Slovak Republic’. This project continues his commitment to bringing together young aspiring musicians.

Simon explained that for any musician performing what you they learned for others to take pleasure from, as they listen, is one of the greatest privileges. When one adds to this the prospect of being able to travel to other countries, to share it, then we have a whole new set of wonderful experiences to add into the mix. I have been very fortunate in my career to date in that I have been able to both perform and travel widely and when I was approached by Nigel Payne, via the Slovak Embassy in London, to join him in planning a cultural project for young people I was delighted. We hatched a plan for an exchange visit between students from Cardiff and those in Slovakia, including an opportunity for a ‘side by side’ project with the Slovak State Chamber Orchestra, the Slovak Sinfonietta (of whom I was the former Chief Conductor). It will hopefully be a fabulous experience for the young musicians of Corpus Christi as they travel across Europe to join their compatriot young musicians in Slovakia and further, to meet with and learn from some of the best professional musicians I have had the honour of working with. I for one cannot wait to see how they will all grow as young musicians and people through this experience which could be for many of them a watershed moment.

Simon is supported by Mrs Natasha Evans, Head of Music at Corpus Christi. Natasha said, “Opportunities such as this, where our young people will get to play alongside professional musicians, are rare. For some of our pupils this event has the potential to be life-changing in terms of these pupils’ musical journeys”.

The pupils will stay at the award winning eco-friendly resort Aquacity in Poprad, Slovakia. Geothermal spring water, drilled from a vast subterranean lake and harnessed by heat exchangers, powered by solar power and wind turbines, heats the resort’s hotels, spa and water park, and supplies up to 80 per cent of the total electricity. By avoiding fossil fuels, the resort saves 27 tons of carbon emissions per day. Heat energy is drawn off the geothermal water, found in vast subterranean lakes beneath the foothills of the High Tatras Mountains in Podtatranská kotlina. Once the heat energy is drawn off, using heat exchangers, the water is cooled and returned back to nature, so the natural process can begin all over again. AquaCity is located in the sunny north east of Slovakia. In the glass facade of the Blue Sapphire Pool Centre the sun’s energy is stored and converted by photocells, to provide additional green energy for the resort. AquaCity is literally self-sufficient in terms of energy.

Dr Jan Telensky, the founder of AquaCity, said “I am absolutely delighted to sponsor this group of young aspiring musicians. It’s essential that we encourage our young people to reach their full potential in all areas of the curriculum, including music. Providing situations where students can experience and take part in music is infinitely more inspiring than telling them about it”.

Cardiff and Vale music service (CAVMS), which exists to develop young peoples’ musical talent in Wales, are involved with the project. CAVMS delivers music tuition in over 80 schools, teaching over 2000 students every week. John Murray Director of CAVMS said “We are thrilled to be involved with Corpus Christi High School and all of the sponsors of this wonderful opportunity for music students. The chance to play alongside professional musicians will be an experience they will never forget. It is a shame that we can’t do this for more young people”.

This fantastic project to enhance and develop the musical talent of these young people of Wales has been made possible by the sponsorship and collaboration of many organisations, including Jaguar Land Rover who have supported with sponsorship for these talented students as well as Wizzair. Owen Jones Wizz Air UK Managing Director said “One of the foundation principles of Wizz Air is that the low fares we offer allows people who, may never have flown before, are given the opportunity to experience a world of opportunities. This opportunity for the students to participate in this musical project fits very well with Wizzair ethos”.

Nigel Payne, Honorary Consular Office of Slovakia to Wales, said “This is a tremendous opportunity for the students to develop their music skills and be given the broader educational experience of travel as well as the experience of meeting fellow students from Slovakia with an interest in music.

Corpus Christi High School is running a fund raising barbecue and musical on the evening of Eisteddfod, which celebrates the culture and language of Wales. The event takes place at the school on Saturday 29th June 2019 starting at 7pm. Join them to hear some of the Eisteddfod 2019 competition winners perform along with the vocal ensemble FUSION. For further details check it out on Music@Corpus / PFA@Corpus