Ball's nerves at eisteddfod debut

~ BBC.Co.Uk (10/07/2004) ~

After performing countless concerts across the world and starring in innumerable West End shows, you would think singer Michael Ball was not one to get nervous easily.

But Ball, who is headlining at Llangollen's International Musical Eisteddfod this weekend, admitted the thought of following last year's star Shirley Bassey fills him with dread.

Now Ball is under pressure to keep the standards up, on what will be his eisteddfod debut.

"I am quite nervous," he told BBC Wales News Online.

"Doing the show is such a prestigious thing, especially for anyone with Welsh blood.

"You want to be invited to perform at the eisteddfod and to be asked to do the gala event is very special.

"This will be my first eisteddfod, and where better to do it?"

Ball, whose family is from Mountain Ash, said he did not have to think twice when he was asked.

"It is incredibly flattering, but is a huge amount of pressure - I hope to do half as well as Shirley Bassey did."

Ball said he was impressed by the scale of the Llangollen festival, which attracts performers from across the globe, as well as around 80,000 visitors.

"The Llangollen Eisteddfod is like Wales opening its doors to all the world and its music.

"But always on the understanding we are the best," he added.

During his concert on Sunday night, Ball will be performing a range of songs from the theatre and other favourites he has recorded.

"People will know a lot of the songs, and I will be doing Bread of Heaven, so I will need the help of the audience."

Since finishing the run of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang last year, Ball has already released a studio album and completed a tour.

And he is keeping himself busy, with a greatest hits album later this year, and a new studio album, featuring new material, planned for release in 2005.

Organisers hope that opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti will perform at the festival next year.

Pavarotti made his debut at the festival in 1955, as part of an Italian choir that won the Choir of the World competition.

From next year, the competition will be renamed the Pavarotti trophy, in honour of the tenor and his father Fernando.

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