Wales Harp Festival to be held 6 & 7 April 2016

Published on 24 March, 2016

The Wales Harp Festival will be held on Wednesday 6 & Thursday 7 April at the arts centre, Galeri, in the culturally dynamic town of Caernarfon.  Directed by world renowned harpist Elinor Bennett, this year’s Festival features a two-day course for harpists, as well as public concerts and a lecture recital.   The Festival is an annual event organised by Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias Music Centre. Every fourth year it becomes the larger scale Wales International Harp Festival.  The next International Festival will be held in 2018.

A two-day Harp Course takes place from 10am – 5pm on Wednesday 6 and Thursday 7 April and is suitable for harpists of all ages and abilities. Tutors include Festival Director, Elinor Bennett, Eira Lynn Jones (Professor of Harp at the Royal Northern College of Music), Morwen Blythin, Einir Wyn Hughes and Dylan Wyn Rowlands.

On Wednesday 6 April at 7pm, Lord Thomas of Gresford, QC, gives a fascinating history of his family who originate from the famous Welsh Romani, Abram Wood.  Lord Thomas is descended from Abram Wood’s granddaughter, Black Ellen – a reputed witch – whom he describes as “the finest story-teller and the most powerful witch of all the descendants”.

Another prominent member of his family was the famous harpist, John Roberts, ‘The Harpist of Wales’ whose 200th anniversary we celebrate during this year’s Festival. Following his family tradition, Lord Thomas has recently learnt to play the harp and will perform short excerpts during his talk.

Festival Director Elinor Bennett said: “It is particularly interesting that a distinguished member of the Upper Chamber in Parliament UK talks about his itinerant and immigrant ancestors who contributed so richly to folk music in Wales over two hundred years ago.”

The talk is followed by a short performance by Elinor Bennett on the Welsh Triple Harp.  Her programme will include Sonata No.3 from Four Lessons 1761 written by the great 18th century harpist John Parry. “

A spectacle of fifty harpists playing together takes place on the galleries and balconies of the Galeri foyer at 5:00pm on Thursday 7 April.  This event will include a variety of ensemble pieces and a mass performance of dance tunes taught during the course by Robin Huw Bowen in further
commemoration of John Roberts.

The Festival Concert features a range of music from traditional to jazz and takes place on Thursday 7 April at 7:30pm. Gypsy music of Wales is performed by Robin Huw Bowen ‘Master of the Triple Harp’and performing Irish folk music are Irish duo Chris Newman (guitar) and Maire Ni Chathasaigh (harp), who has just been awarded Female Musician of the Year in Live Ireland 2016 Awards. 
Award-winning young harpist Ben Creighton-Griffiths plays jazz on the new Camac Electric Harp,
incorporating its technology and impressive special effects into his programme. This exceptionally talented harpist, who is still in his teens, made his first international professional debut in 2004 at only 7 years old. 

The 2016 Wales Harp Festival is supported by Clogau Gold, Arts Council of Wales, Gwynedd Council and Telynau Vining Harps.  

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