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Opera students lead anthems at Cardiff Blues -V-Australia rugby match

20 November 2009

The Cardiff Blues first ever rugby match against an international team will be kicked off by two singers from the International Academy of Voice at Cardiff University.

Alun Rhys Jenkins, a Welsh Tenor and Mary-Jean O'Doherty, an Australian Soprano will take to the pitch ahead of the team’s historic match against Australia to sing the national anthem of each country - Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau and Advance Australia Fair.

It’s the first time that the Blues have played against an international team, however Cardiff RFC played and beat Australia several times, the last being in 1984.

Commenting on his starring role, Alun Rhys Jenkins said: "Being a Welshman, rugby is in the blood. It is part of the culture and this is a great opportunity to be an integral part of the Welsh rugby experience. I think the national anthem is an important part of the whole event. I'm looking forward to hearing the Welsh fans join with me as we look to inspire the Cardiff Blues to an historic victory over Australia."

Alun’s Academy colleague Mary-Jean O’Doherty will perform the Australian national anthem. Mary-Jean said: "My grandfather played rugby for the Wauchope RL (New South Wales) Club during the Great Depression and my father played rugby at St Joseph's College in Sydney. With such a family history, it truly is a great honour for me to represent Australia as well as the International Academy of Voice at Cardiff University at this match. I'm hoping that my rendition of our anthem will add to the traditionally warm atmosphere between the Welsh and Australian fans at sporting events, and even though I live and study in Wales there is only one team that I will be supporting."

The match takes place at 7.35pm on Tuesday 24th November 2009 at the Blues new ground - the Cardiff City Stadium. Alun and Mary-Jean will perform in front of an expected capacity crowd.

The International Academy of Voice is directed by world-renowned Welsh tenor Dennis O’Neill with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa as President.

The Academy provides individual voice coaching to some of the most exciting talent in international opera. A series of master-classes and workshops given by eminent figures in the operatic world enable the students to perfect their vocal techniques and fulfil their global performance potential.

1. The International Academy of Voice at Cardiff University

The International Academy of Voice at Cardiff University was formed to perfect the voices and musicianship of a new elite in world opera. It is a joint initiative by Cardiff University and the Academy’s director, the renowned Welsh tenor Dennis O’Neill CBE. Students are selected from among the world’s most promising opera singers and each is given an individually-tailored programme of coaching. The programme includes daily one-to-one tuition, regular public performances in Wales and internationally, and a unique series of masterclasses from some of the world’s most eminent singers, conductors, accompanists and coaches. The Academy is ideally sited at Birchwood House, in the Cyncoed district of Cardiff, with specialised practice facilities and student accommodation in secluded, landscaped grounds.

Victoria Dando

Public Relations

Cardiff University

Tel: 02920 879074