How a new generation of musicians will be heard from the hillsides of Wales to the mountains of Slovakia

A group of young musicians
are to scale the heights of their ambition against the backdrop of Slovakia’s
High Tatras Mountains.

The  youngsters
are part of a project involving world-famous conductor Simon Chalk who,
fittingly, comes from a small mining village in mountains of South Wales.

Simon has toured the world three times as a conductor
with the classic and modern performers, ll Divo but now he is involved in a
major UK and Slovak cultural project for young musicians.

Simon has also worked with the BBC Concert Orchestra,
the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and is currently the Guest Principal
Conductor for the Slovak Sinfonietta (Štátny Komorný Orchester Zilina –
state chamber orchestra of Slovakia

And last year Simon was awarded the Diploma of
Appreciation by the Slovak government in recognition of ‘extraordinary merits in
the development of friendly relationships with the Slovak Republic’.

The award focussed on his cultural work with young

Simon said: “For any musician performing for others is
the real pleasure and to know they are listening is one of the greatest

“And when one adds to this the prospect of being able
to travel to other countries and share the experience, then we have a whole new
set of wonderful things to add to the mix.

“So, when I was approached by Nigel Payne, the
honorary Slovak consul for Wales, through the Slovak Embassy in London, and
asked to join him in planning this project for young people I was delighted.

“We decided to arrange an exchange visit between
students from Cardiff and those in Slovakia, including an opportunity with the
Slovak State Chamber Orchestra, the Slovak Sinfonietta. I actually was the
former Chief Conductor.

“It will 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 afield.

“They will also have the chance to learn from some of
the best professional musicians I have had the honour of working with.”

Simon is supported by Mrs Natasha Evans, Head of Music
at Corpus Christi, Cardiff. She  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

The pupils will stay at the award-winning eco-friendly resort Aquacity-Poprad,

AquaCity, in the sunny north east of Slovakia, is
famous for its geothermal spring water taken from a vast subterranean lake and
harnessed by heat exchangers,

The resort is powered by solar power and wind
turbines, heats the resort’s hotels, spa and water park, and supplies up to 80
per cent of its electricity.

By avoiding fossil fuels, the resort saves 27 tons of
carbon emissions per day.

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 “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 project is being supported by a number of
organisations, including Jaguar Land Rover and Wizzair.

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

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