A Family Affair; on Monday, the Welsh Singers Competition Will See Four Young Performers Competing to Represent Wales at BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2013. as Gareth Williams, Chief Executive of Rondo Media, Prepares to Televise the Event, He Tells Dave Owens Why It's So Special to Him
Byline: Dave Owens
MERVYN Williams was a man with a vision. He wanted to put his country - the land of song - firmly on the world's classical music map.
What better way to do that, he thought, than to draw the best ofthe world's young singers to the country's capital to celebrate the internatios al language of song.
"In 1983, he was head of music and arts at BBC Wales and it was he and his team who established the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition," explains his son Gareth.
"I don't think any of them had any idea of quite how prestigious the event would become, although he certainly had high hopes for it.
Now chief executive of Rondo Media, who are televising the event, Gareth says it brings back some special memories for him.
"I was 10 at the time," he recalls. "St David's Hall was a second home for me as a youngster and I can still remember that first competition vividly. The audience back in 1983 was captivated by a young Finnish soprano, Karita Mattila - she gave an electrifying performance.
"She went on to become the first ever BBC Cardiff Singer of the World winner and has since had an incredible career. She set an incredibly high benchmark for this much-loved competition, which has since produced so many international stars."
Over the years Gareth says he's managed to attend all the competitions and, for him as for so many Cardiff singer followers, 1989 stands out as a remarkable year.
"Bryn Terfel was representing Wales and was up against the baritone Dimitry Hvorostovsky from Russia in the final - the battle of the baritones as it became known," he remembers. "Dimitry won the main prize and Bryn was given the newly-established Lieder prize. The competition thrust both of these remarkably talented singers into the international arena.
"As well as being a stage for opera performances, the competition has seen singers present less familiar repertoires, and even unaccompanied folk songs from their own countries, with the Lieder prize growing in stature and popularity," he adds.
Years later, as a young producer with BBC Wales, Gareth worked on the live coverage of the competition - for BBC Radio Cymru in 1999 and then for the main BBC television programmes with Huw Edwards and Petroc Trelawny in 2001. …