REBECCA Afonwy-Jones, the opera and concert mezzo soprano from Snead, near Bishops Castle, will be making three appearances at this year’s Presteigne Festival including in the opening and closing performances.

Having recently finished a tour in “Madame Butterfly” with Welsh National Opera, Rebecca has fitted the festival in her busy professional and personal lives which included her marriage to WNO colleague Julian Close on August 5.

The couple met while on tour in Plymouth and they were married with a musically themed wedding in Shropshire with friends from WNO, Opera North, Scottish Opera and the English National Opera forming a choir for the ceremony. A reception followed at Rebecca's family farm home.

In addition to getting married , Rebecca told Leisure Times art editor Barry Jones she had also been enjoying performing in several UK festivals this year, from St Magnus in Orkney, to Fishgruard in Pembrokeshire and later this autumn at the North Wales International Music Festival at St Asaph.

“And so I am particularly looking forward to singing so much closer to home at Presteigne. I am also delighted to be collaborating with so many living composers and presenting such an exciting theatrical and diverse range of contemporary music,” she said.

Rebecca will join the brilliantly innovative Berkeley Ensemble conducted by festival director George Vass for the opening concert at St Andrew’s Church next Thursday, August 24, at 8.30pm for the concert performance of an extraordinary music drama for voice and instrumental ensemble by Judith Weir, entitled “The Consolations of Scholarship”.

With a libretto by the composer herself, the work is based closely on the Yuan dramas “The Orphan of Chao” and “A Stratagem of Interlocking Rings”.

The evening will also include music by two Masters of the Queen’s Music, Francis Poulenc's delightful Sextet for piano and wind instruments, and a new version of “Seven”, specially commissioned for the 2007 Presteigne Festival by the president Michael Berekely.

There will also be Dances from “The Two Fiddlers” by Peter Maxwell Davies.

Rebecca’s second festival appearance will be on Monday, August 28, at 2pm at St Andrew’s Church, for “Songs of Innocence and Experience” with Rachel Roberts on violin and Timothy End on piano.

The central work is “Five Songs of Innocence and Experience” by this year’s festival composer in residence Edward Gregson.

Other works will be by Carl Nielsen, Roxanna Oanufnik, Johannes Brahams, Helen Grime and Manuel de Falla.

Edward Gregson’s “A Song for Chris” will be part of the festival finale where Rebecca will feature together with Gemma Rosefield on cello and the Presteigne Festival Orchestra conducted by George Vass, at St Andrew’s Church at 7.45pm on Tuesday, August 29.

Other works to be performed will include pieces by John Joubert, Hugh Wood, and Franz Schubert’s Symphony Number 5.