Success of our Virtual Piano Day

Success of our Virtual Piano Day

After our highly successful Piano day last year we were determined not to let the current situation with Covid-19 defeat us, so we moved this year’s Piano Day on-line. The response was very encouraging with 65 performances given by pianists of all standard and ages, not only from the UK but as far afield as Germany and Thailand. The repertoire performed ranged from Classical and Romantic pieces to Jazz, Ragtime & Blues and 20th Century.

Our esteemed panel of piano experts, Dafydd Meurig Thomas, Gwawr Owen and Evgenia Startseva gave constructive feed-back to all the performers. Evgenia reflected that “it was an enormous pleasure and enjoyable experience. The performers were really impressive.”

The feedback from parents and performers was most enthusiastic with many positive observations:

“Thank you very much for the opportunity for our children to play in the Piano Day and get such useful and confidence boosting feedback!”

“It’s so important for these pianists to have the opportunity to perform beyond a competitive atmosphere, and for that we appreciate the Day immensely.”

“The Piano Day has been a very rewarding experience with a very homely feel even though it was on ZOOM – thank you for all your hard work.”

We had a very informative and enlightening ‘Question and Answer’ session during the afternoon which elicited the following comment from an audience member:

“I thoroughly enjoyed the Q & A session. One can often feel isolated as a tutor and I firmly believe that such sessions, where problems can be aired and good practices shared, are of enormous benefit to many of us.

We are delighted to have created this wonderful on-line community of pianists, parents, and teachers and look forward to planning many more events of this nature in the near future.

Osian Ellis (1928-2021)

Osian Ellis (1928-2021)

It is with sadness and regret that we wish to record the death of harpist and scholar, Osian Gwynn Ellis at the age of 92. He was a great friend and supporter of the work of the William Mathias Music Centre and the Wales International Harp Festival & he will be sorely missed.

A native of Ffynnongroyw, Flintshire, Osian was brought up in Denbigh, the son of the Rev. T.G. Ellis, a Wesleyan minister, and his first harp teacher was Alwena Roberts (‘Telynores Iâl’). As a child, he sang and performed with his mother and other members of his family, in concerts throughout Wales.

Following a period studying the harp with Gwendolen Mason at the Royal Academy of Music (London), he succeeded his teacher as harp Professor at the institution from 1959 until 1989. Early in his career, he appeared in popular television programmes on BBC Wales, and gave numerous performances of poetry and music with actors such as Dame Peggy Aschcroft, Dame Sybil Thorndyke, Cecil Day-Lewis, Hugh Griffith and Richard Burton.

As the most prominent & outstanding harpist of his time, as harp teacher, composer, arranger, penillion singer and scholar, he contributed widely to the nation’s traditional music as well as to developments in the European classical music of his day. In his numerous recordings with Sain, Philips, Lyrita, Meridian and Decca, he highlighted the varied harp repertoire, including 18th, 19th and 20th century Welsh compositions. He travelled extensively during his career, promoting the harp and the music of Wales on all four continents.

Osian Ellis was Principal Harpist of the London Symphony Orchestra from 1961, and worked with the eminent conductors of the time, such as Pierre Monteux, Pierre Boulez, Colin Davis, Antal Dorati, André Previn and Claudio Abbado. He was a regular soloist with the LSO and, as the founding harpist of the Melos Ensemble, his recording of Ravel’s Introduction et Allegro won the Grand Prix du Disque in Paris in 1962.

From the early ’60s, he worked & collaborated with the renowned English composer, Benjamin Britten, & Osian played in several performances and recordings at the Britten Festival (Aldeburgh). This partnership resulted in the harp gaining its place in several of Britten’s works – including, the War Requiem (1962), Midsummer Night’s Dream, Curlew River (1964), The Prodigal Son (1968) and his most important harp work, Suite for Harp (1969).

From 1973 – 1980, following Benjamin Britten’s illness, Osian Ellis performed many concerts with Peter Pears (tenor), and several new works were written for them. He later performed with his son, the late Tomos Ellis (tenor), giving several performances in Wales and overseas.

Osian Ellis encouraged many contemporary composers from Wales & further afield to write new works for harp – including, William Mathias, Alun Hoddinott, Rhian Samuel, David Wynne, Malcolm Arnold, Robin Holloway, Elizabeth Machonchy, William Alwyn, Carlo Menotti and Jorgen Jersild.

As a scholar, he published several seminal works on the history of the harp in Wales, the Robert ap Huw Manuscript, John Parry (Ruabon) and Cerdd Dant. His volume, The Story of the Harp in Wales, was published by the University of Wales Press (Cardiff) and he contributed to a myriad of television and radio programmes in Wales and London.

He was a member of the executive committee of the Welsh Folk Song Society and Cymdeithas Cerdd Dant Cymru. He received numerous honours from the University of Wales, Bangor University as well as from the nation’s leading musical institutions and a CBE from the Queen. As a harp teacher, he influenced generations of aspiring musicians and harpists, including Elinor Bennett and Sioned Williams.

After celebrating his 90th birthday, he was further inspired to compose two new works: ‘Cylch o Alawon Gwerin Cymru’ (for Bryn Terfel and Hannah Stone) and his work for solo harp, ‘Lachrymae’.

We extend our deepest condolences to his son, Richard Llywarch, daughter-in-law Glynis, and grandchildren David and Katie in their sadness.

Switch to online classes enables top harpist to teach protégé 7,500 miles away in Patagonia

Switch to online classes enables top harpist to teach protégé 7,500 miles away in Patagonia

A switch to online classes because of the covid crisis has enabled an acclaimed music centre in North Wales to provide lessons around the world.

Among the tutors at Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias (William Mathias Music Centre), which has bases in Caernarfon, Denbigh and Ruthin, is internationally renowned harpist Elinor Bennett who is now teaching one of her young protégés 7,500 miles away in the Welsh colony of Patagonia in Argentina.

The long-distance tutoring through the medium of Welsh is a dream come true for talented teenage harpist Helen Green who loves the lessons with her music idol.

The centre has managed to continue to conduct 65 per cent of its one to one lessons since the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Within a week of going into lockdown in March, the lessons moved online – something that also allowed the centre to extend its reach well beyond its traditional heartland.

Some face-to-face lessons have now resumed but centre director Meinir Llwyd Roberts revealed the virtual lessons are here to stay for those who are unable to attend lessons in person.

That’s music to the ears of 15-year-old Helen who said: “I feel so lucky that we have the technology to do this. To have Elinor as my mentor is a real privilege, a chance to learn so much. It’s the second-best thing to having her in the room. She’s an extraordinary teacher, an amazing harpist.”

The trans-Atlantic connection is one of the remarkable achievements secured by centre which is working hard to keep music lessons available and its teachers in work through the pandemic.

The live lessons take place online through the video communications platform Zoom.

Elinor said she immensely looks forward to the fortnightly lessons with Helen and enjoys catching up with news in ‘beautiful Patagonia’ which she has visited three times.

She said: “The miracles of modern technology have been hugely beneficial during this difficult period for musicians worldwide.

“Despite this we’ve struck up an exciting connection which Helen and I look forward to every two weeks. 

“It takes great preparation on both sides to make it work and we have to factor in the three hour time difference but so far the lessons are going fantastically well.”

Elinor holds an OBE and has performed with the English Chamber OrchestraLondon Symphony Orchestra and the Philharmonia Orchestra, as well as giving regular recitals on BBC radio and television.  Her past students include the former Royal harpist Catrin Finch, now a renowned classical musician who was official harpist to Prince Charles from 2000-2004.

Elinor said she would not be able to mentor Helen so easily without help from Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias (CGWM) of which she is a long-standing supporter.

CGWM was established in 1999 to improve access to instrumental and singing lessons for the North Wales community and provide a work outlet for self-employed music teachers. 

It encompasses 42 freelance tutors who offer individual and group tuition to more than 500 people on a weekly basis across the board from pre-school to pension ages.

These are normally in-person activities  at Galeri Caernarfon, or satellite centres at Theatr Twm o’r Nant, Denbigh, and Capel Tabernacl, Ruthin and in the wider community.

Face to face activities were put on hold during the summer lockdown and recent Wales firebreak. But helped by  funds from the Arts Council of Wales’ stabilisation fund made possible by The National Lottery, and the willingness of tutors to adapt, most of its music projects were transferred online

CGWM director Meinir Llwyd Roberts said: “There’s no question we’ve faced unprecedented obstacles sustaining musical education provision during the pandemic, but we’ve succeeded in adapting all our regular projects to offer some online provision. It’s opened our eyes to opportunities for using this as a method of delivering activities in the future. 

“Face-to-face lessons are the best option and we can’t wait to be able to return all our projects face to face but in some circumstances where this isn’t possible the online facility is a great alternative option. We’ll be continuing to offer it in the long term, post pandemic.”

“One only has to look at the remarkable example of Elinor and Helen to see how music education really can transcend boundaries whether they be geographical, physical or emotional.”

Elinor was put in contact with Helen and her music loving family by another of her former students Esyllt Roberts de Lewis, who grew up in Wales but moved to Patagonia to teach. 

After they met Esyllt recognised Helen had great potential and would benefit from more advanced tutoring. Esyllt contacted Elinor to ask if she could recommend a good mentor and was thrilled when Elinor took on board the task herself. 

Helen and her mum, a violinist, were delighted.

Elinor said: “Helen is such a keen, self-motivated student, a real pleasure to work with. She was improving noticeably after just five sessions and is currently preparing to join a virtual online performance with other CGWM students. We’re hopeful of arranging it soon. She has also taken part in a music festival in Buenos Aires.”

Patagonia is a Welsh-language colony on Argentina’s border with Chile first inhabited by Welsh settlers in the 19th century. It is the only part of the world other than Wales where Welsh is commonly spoken. Helen lives in Gaiman, near Trelew, in the Chubut area.

Covid-19: October 2020 Update

Covid-19: October 2020 Update

After over 6 months of not delivering face-to-face activities we are delighted to announce that one-to-one lessons have resumed face to face at our Centres in Galeri Caernarfon, Denbigh and Ruthin for tutors and students who wish to return to face to face lessons.  We continue to organise online lessons for those who prefer to stay online.


We have taken a number of steps to ensure that the lessons are delivered as safely as possible and to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19 including : 


• Only using rooms that allow a minimum distance of 2 meters between pupil and tutor (at least 3 meters for voice, woodwind and brass lessons).
• Invest in transparent screens which are placed between tutor and pupil.

• Installation of hand sanitizing stations throughout our teaching areas.
• Take the temperature of pupils and tutors before they go into their lessons
• In addition to a Covid-19 risk assessment and policy we have drawn up rules for tutors and pupils which are shared with them before they return to face to face lessons.
• Keep detailed records to comply with Test, Trace and Protect requirements

Anyone interested in starting instrumental or vocal lessons at our Centres or online are welcome to contact us to discuss possibilities.


We do not currently carry out any face-to-face group activities but we are extremely grateful to the Arts Council of Wales for the financial support which has enabled us to run a number of virtual activities to keep in touch with our audiences, reach new people and provide work for our free-lance tutors. This includes:

Theory Lessons – We are currently running theory lessons for school age students in small groups over Zoom. Sessions for students from beginner level up to grade 5 are currently available.


Camau Cerdd / Steps in Music : Music sessions suitable for children 6 months-3yrs and 4-7 years. Since April we have been releasing a new video every week for the children and their family to watch at a convenient time for them. There is no charge for these sessions and you can register to enter by following this link.


Concerts from Tutors and Alumni’s homes: As we are not able to hold our series of community concerts at present, many of our tutors and alumni have had the opportunity to record short concerts for release every Tuesday evening. The most recent concerts are available to view on our website www.cgwm.org.uk


Ensembles and Community Orchestra: We have been providing videos and rehearsal tracks for many of our members and some ensembles have collaborated on virtual performances including performances as part of our concert for the North Wales International Festival online https://www.nwimf.com/canolfan-gerdd We plan to hold ensemble sessions over the zoom this term.


Canfod y Gân / Discover the Song : www.canfodygan.cymru. Many of our members have been taking part in virtual performances and we have just started group sessions over zoom. We are extremely grateful to Spirit of 2012 (project funders) for their support and flexibility.


Sgwrs a Chân / Song and a Chat : As we are unable to travel around Gwynedd to deliver our Sgwrs a Chân sessions for older people in the community, since April we have been emailing a link to virtual sessions to many of our members. We are also in the process of preparing a CD for members who do not have access to the web and further plans are being made in partnership with our funders Gwynedd Council.


Update regarding our Music Festivals


Wales International Piano Festival
: Unfortunately the Festival due to be held at Galeri Caernarfon 1-4 May 2020 had to be postponed. However, we are really looking forward to hosting a festival from 30 April – 3 May 2021 at Galeri Caernarfon. We are keeping an eye on the developments regarding the Covid-19 situation and considering possible adaptations to some activities.
Following the success of our Piano Day to launch the Festival in November 2019, we will be holding a Virtual Piano Day on the 21st of November 2020. For more details, please visit the Festival website: www.pianofestival.co.uk


Wales Harp Festival : The 2020 harp festival had to be canceled but we look forward to holding a Festival on 30 and 31 March 2021. As with the Piano Festival we are keeping an eye on the developments and are busy considering various options to ensure we have another successful Festival in 2021. www.walesharpfestival.co.uk

We would like to thank our wonderful team of free-lance musicians for their cooperation during the last 6 months. It is an extremely challenging time for them all and we will continue do our best to secure as much of their work as possible at CGWM.


We hope that in the coming months we will be able to resume further face-to-face activities. Working online over the last few months has however opened our eyes to new ways of working and we look forward to continuing some online activities in addition to our usual programme of activity the future. If you would like further information on any of the activities please contact us at post@cgwm.org.uk or 01286 685230.


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New Lockdown Video: Discover the Song

New Lockdown Video: Discover the Song

A musical group that’s providing a lockdown lifeline for people in Gwynedd with and without learning disabilities has launched a new video with the help of some star names.

Performing with the members, tutors and volunteers involved in the Canfod y Gân (Discovering Music) project were Geraint Lovgreen, from Caernarfon, Dewi Pws who lives in Nefyn on the Llŷn Peninsula, along with Rhys Parry who plays guitar in Bryn Fôn’s popular band.

The video was produced using audio and video from members improvising musically which were recorded by family members or support workers on phones and tablets.

The music track was then mixed and edited by Edwin Humphreys, from Pwllheli, a tutor with the project and the video was created by Gwydion Davies, from Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias Music Centre (CGWM).

The Coronavirus pandemic hasn’t stopped the group from making music despite the fact they can no longer meet up for their fortnightly sessions in Caernarfon, Pwllheli and Harlech.

Led by CGWM and working in partnership with Gwynedd Council’s Learning Disability Team, they have put together a video of members performing the national anthem of Wales as well as the group’s own unique signature piece which they’re hoping will go viral on social media.

The project, which is funded by a three-year grant from Spirit of 2012, the London 2012 legacy fund, gives disabled and non-disabled people the opportunity to come together as equals to create music with the aim of improving mental health and wellbeing.

Matthew Murray, 25, from Bangor, a member of the Caernarfon group, loves being part of the group.

He said “I like to rap and have been writing my own stuff for a long time. My social worker was looking for a music project I could get involved with and that’s how I got to be with Canfod y Gân.

I volunteer in a cafe at the leisure center in Caernarfon on Mondays’ or until the virus I did. So, I started going to Canfod y Gân after my shift in the cafe. I love working with other people and like pretty much everything about the group.

I’ve met a friend there who volunteers and we are going to work together on some raps and we plan to record some of my lyrics. That’s really exciting.

I write what comes to mind. I write about things that are going on in my life, about family issues and things like that.”

He added: “I enjoyed being involved with the video that we have done. I wrote lyrics about the hard times and how we are coping with the pandemic and friends and family.”

Terry Tuffrey, 20, from Blaenau Ffestiniog, is a member of the Harlech group and is a student at  Coleg Meirion Dwyfor in Dolgellau where he is studying independent living skills.

He said: “I usually go every other Tuesday night and like it a lot.  I’m a very sociable person and I get to meet friends from Harlech and the area. It’s always good fun and I learn new singing skills.

“They often have new instruments to try but I prefer to sing although I can play tambourines and wind chimes things like that. I started going when I was 18 and I’m just 20 now. The singing we do I like because I get to sing the sort of things I like.

He added: “The virus has been horrible and has stopped the Canfod y Gân sessions. As a family we are just following the guidelines and hoping for the best, that’s all you can do.

“But I’m looking forward to going back and meeting everyone again.”

According to project manager Mared Gwyn-Jones, the aim is to enable all members of the group to come together with professional music tutors and volunteers to create music as equals.

She said: “Spirit of 2012 awards grants for inclusive arts, sports and volunteering activities in communities that bring people together to improve their wellbeing which is exactly what Canfod y Gȃn does.

“The Coronavirus pandemic has put a stop to our fortnightly groups at all three locations and we have to accept that is likely to continue being the case for a considerable time.

“However, we have worked together to develop alternative means of working. Not being able to meet up and work together face to face was a massive blow to many of our members as well as the freelance music tutors who have been working on the project.

“Since having to suspend group meetings we have been keeping in touch with many of our members through regular phone calls and video recordings of favourite songs.

“This has been very important in keeping spirits up and to keep the project going.  “Our Caernarfon group has taken this remote meeting a step further with their own project.

“The idea started when we received two clips of group member Llŷr Griffith, from Llanllyfni,  playing the national anthem on keyboards and then our group’s signature song which has been composed, both music and lyrics, by members working together.”

“Edwin Humphreys was inspired to start something akin to a musical snowball. Using Llŷr’s clips, along with other tutors, members and volunteers, he created a track of this particular song.

“He has created an absolutely fantastic and inspiring track in his own recording studio from the clips group members sent him and Gwydion Davies has created a fantastic video to go along with the track.

“We now plan to replicate this project with our other groups and the process is now already underway with our Harlech and Pwllheli groups.”

Edwin, from Pwllheli, worked as a session musician for many years and retrained to become a psychiatric nurse.

He said:Members recorded snippets on their phones and I’ve put those individual pieces together into one recording. Considering members had to record themselves on mobile phones or tablets they have done really well.

I’m really pleased with what we have achieved together and hopefully the other two groups can now do something similar. I’m really looking forward to working with them.”

Fellow tutor Gwenan Gibbard, from Pwllheli, who’s an acclaimed harpist, says being involved with the scheme has proved to be an “absolute joy”.

She said: “The whole Canfod y Gân experience has been a privilege. It’s amazing as there is real talent out there and the best thing is everyone makes new friends. “Before Christmas we also had a couple of public performances which were really special. We performed music as a group and had some individual performances too.”

“On the video there is an eclectic mix of instruments. Several group members played guitars, there’s a cellist, a flautist, drummers and a glockenspiel and many different voices including Matthew Murray who does his own raps.”

CGWM director Meinir Llwyd Roberts said: “It has been wonderful to see Canfod y Gân develop during the 18months since we received the support from Spirit of 2012 and we’re delighted that we have been able to maintain contact with our members and ensure that music continues to be part of their lives during lockdown.

“We believe that every person has a song to sing and that every person deserves the opportunity to discover and share their song.”

Online Lessons and Activities

Online Lessons and Activities

The doors to our Centres in Caernarfon, Denbigh and Ruthin are closed at present but with the cooperation of our fantastic team of tutors, the music continues. Here’s a taste of our online provision with more projects to come during the next few weeks…..

Covid-19: October 2020 Update

Job Vacancy: Receptionist

Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias (Music Centre) wish to appoint enthusiastic and reliable individual with strong interpersonal skills to work as part-time receptionists in the Centre’s office during the weekday evenings and Saturday mornings (term time only).

Apply by letter and CV noting two referees addressed to Gwydion Davies (gwydion@cgwm.org.uk) CGWM, Galeri Caernarfon, Gwynedd. LL55 1SQ.

Closing date: midday Monday, 9 December 2019.  

For any further details or an informal chat contact Meinir Llwyd Roberts (Director) on 01286 685 230 or meinir@cgwm.org.uk 

*Please note that the ability to communicate fluently through the medium of Welsh is essential for this post.

For more information please see the Job Description.

Music teachers hit the high note in festival fundraiser

Music teachers hit the high note in festival fundraiser

Music tutors from a highly acclaimed music centre in Wales will see the tables turned next month when they perform in front of an audience packed with students as part of a festival fundraiser.

International concert pianist Iwan Llewelyn-Jones will be joined by a galaxy of talented Welsh musicians from the Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias (William Mathias Music Centre) for a special concert at 3pm on Sunday, November 10, in aid of the Wales International Piano Festival.

The tutors will embark on a musical journey across the globe, from Europe to America and Australia, performing duets and trios from classical, popular and jazz repertoire.

The music centre, which has bases in Caernarfon, Denbigh and Ruthin, was founded two decades ago in Caernarfon with support from the Arts Council of Wales to help  instrumentalists and singers of all ages and abilities to reach their potential.

The centre, which has helped to launch the national and international careers of dozens of musicians, now boasts more than 40 freelance tutors including internationally renowned harpist Elinor Bennett, who has taught at the centre from the very beginning.

Next month’s concert, which takes place at Galeri in Caernarfon at 3pm on Sunday, November 10, will showcase the talents of nine of its piano tutors in a fun community event featuring an array of popular classics.

The concert, which has been organised by Iwan Llewelyn-Jones, the  Artistic Director of the Wales International Piano Festival, will raise money towards the sponsorship of a competition prize at next year’s piano festival.

He said: “This is a community event and everybody is welcome. All the tutors have invited their students along too and so these pupils will have the unique opportunity to see their tutors performing.

“A lot of work goes into preparing pupils for exams and competitions and this is a nice way for the tables to be turned.

“We are all friends and the nice thing about doing something like this is when you get together as an ensemble, it’s so much fun. You don’t have to talk you just play. You let the music do the talking for you.

“We did a similar concert in 2015 to launch the 2016 festival. There was some anticipation and nervousness, of course, as some of the tutors don’t have the time to perform in public a lot but they loved it, it was an exhilarating experience for us all. This is what it’s all about.”

The concert, will feature, Glian Llwyd, Nia Davies-Williams, Steven Evans, Ann Peters Jones, Helen Owen, Hawys Price, Teleri-Siân, Sian Wheway and Iwan.

Among the highlights will be performances of Saint Saens’ popular classic ‘Carnival of the Animals’, Debussy’s ‘En bateau’ and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 and Tchaikovsky’s ‘Nutcracker Suite performed on two grand pianos.

“This is one of two launch events bringing the music centre and the people who work in it together for an opportunity to showcase their talents,” said Iwan,

“I’ve put a lot of thought into the selection of music and have tried to make it as attractive as possible. The pianists are all giving their time free for this concert and it would be wonderful to have a full-house like we did back in 2015. Everybody is welcome.”

Meinir Llwyd Roberts, Director of the Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias, added: “It’s a very colourful and interesting programme which will appeal to families and people of any age.

“It’s also a wonderful opportunity to hear the tutors themselves performing, especially for their own students. They all teach at different times on different days and evenings and it’s nice to bring them together to perform as a team”

The Wales International Piano Festival, organised by Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias, takes place between 1-4 May 2020 and will explore the three key areas of performance, competition and education.

Next year’s festival will pay homage to Ludwig van Beethoven and his pianistic legacy as part of celebrations marking the 250th anniversary of his birth.

A Piano Day is also taking place on November 23 at the School of Music at Bangor University as a further launch event to the festival.  www.pianofestival.co.uk.

To book tickets for the Piano Tutors’ Concert visit: www.galericaernarfon.com or call 01286 685222

Internationally renowned soloist Mary Lloyd-Davies to headline Caernarfon Galeri concert

Internationally renowned soloist Mary Lloyd-Davies to headline Caernarfon Galeri concert

Internationally renowned soloist Mary Lloyd-Davies from Llanuwchllyn, near Bala, will lead a musical extravaganza to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias (William Mathias Music Centre.)

Mary has taught at the centre, which was founded in Caernarfon with support from the Arts Council of Wales, since its first day. The centre also has bases in Denbigh and Ruthin.

The concert will be held at the Galeri, in Caernarfon, on Saturday, September 7, when Mary will be joined by a galaxy of Welsh musical stars.

There will be performances by acclaimed harpist Elinor Bennett, who has been instrumental in the centre’s success, and flautist, Rhiannon Mathias, the daughter of the composer, Professor William Mathias, after whom the centre was named.

Despite enjoying a career that has taken her so some of the world’s most famous opera houses, Mary Lloyd-Davies, stayed close to her roots by tutoring vocal students at the centre.

She said: “I’ve been performing since around 1969 and have enjoyed a wonderful career. There have been some fabulous highlights and inevitably a few low points too.

“One particular highlight was performing at Milan’s La Scala Opera House in an opera entitled 1984 which is based on George Orwell’s famous book.

“I have also performed in Hansel and Gretel in San Francisco and Houston and in Strauss’ Elecktra at the Opéra Bastille in Paris.

“I made my Royal Opera House debut as the fortune teller in Arabella. I also spent 22 years with the Wales National Opera (WNO) doing lead roles in Fidelio, Macbeth, Elektra, Tosca, Ballo in Maschera, Tristan and Isolde.”

“My big break came in 1992. I was understudy for the lead role in the Richard Strauss opera Elektra. However, the lead became sick and I had to step in at very, very short notice.

“I was then offered the lead role in Elektra in the same production in 1995 for another WNO production and then stepped in at very short notice for the same role at Opéra Bastille in Paris for a different production. That was also a big career boost.”

She added: “I’ll be performing some William Mathias arranged traditional Welsh folk songs accompanied by harpist Elinor Bennett. I performed these folk songs at the memorial service for Yvonne Mathias, William Mathias’ widow, after being asked by their daughter, Rhiannon.

“The line-up for the concert is very impressive as along with Elinor Bennett we have harpist Glain Dafydd and pianist Glian Llwyd both of whom were Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias students.

“Also performing will be a former student who has become a successful singer songwriter, Casi Wyn ; cellist Gwydion Rhys and sopranos Tesni Jones and Lisa Dafydd, who were both students at the Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias’ satellite in Denbigh before going on to study at the Royal Northern College of Music.

“It’s going to be a wonderful evening of music and a great way to celebrate 20 years of Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias success.”

“It’s really important we have Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias in North Wales. There really is nowhere else in the region offering such a broad range of high quality music activities.. And this concert is really going to be a celebration of something quite special.”

According to the centre’s director, Meinir Llwyd Roberts, it’s a charity that offers a place with a real musical buzz to musicians of all ages.

She said: “We started 20 years ago offering one to one lessons and now have more than 40 freelance tutors. And as well as being based at Galeri Caernarfon we offer a facility at Denbigh and Ruthin with lessons two evenings a week. “But we do so much more than offer one to one tuition.. We have a pre-school music programme,, we work in care homes offering music to people living with dementia, we offer singing groups in rural communities and recently secured a substantial grant to develop our provision for adults who have learning disabilities. .

“We also offer a variety of ensembles and masterclasses and organise an annual Wales Harp Festival as well as both an international Harp Festival and an International Piano Festival every four years.

“The range of activities we are involved in has and continues to grow significantly. And many of our students have gone on to become very successful musicians in their own right.”

“It’s going to be a very special evening of music with something for everyone and I’d encourage music lovers to book their tickets now to save any disappointment.”

To book tickets please ring Galeri on 01286 685222 or go to the website www.galericaernarfon.com

New Community Orchestra for Caernarfon Strikes a Chord During First Meeting

New Community Orchestra for Caernarfon Strikes a Chord During First Meeting

A new instrumental ensemble for adults held in Caernarfon, the Caernarfon Community Orchestra held its very first rehearsal on Tuesday the 5th of March.

Under the direction of the cellist, Nicki Pearce from Colwyn Bay and with Steven Evans, originally from Caernarfon as répetiteur the Community Orchestra meets on Tuesday evenings from 8:00pm – 9:15pm at Theatr Seilo in Caernarfon.

Sixteen members attended the first rehearsal with another 3 joining the second week.

It has been a dream for many years for Nicki Pearce, the orchestra leader to establish an orchestra for adults. Nicki said:

“I’m thrilled that I’ve finally been able to establish a community-based orchestra here in Caernarfon for adults.”

“There are so many adult learners who have been receiving one-to-one music tuition and this is a brilliant way for them to come together and have fun through music.”

“Also it is a great way for adults who have maybe not touched their instruments for years to pick it up again and have a go in a friendly and supportive environment.”

This new venture is organised by Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias which is based at Galeri Caernarfon and provides high quality music tuition, as well as organising a variety of community events throughout Wales.

Talking about the new orchestra, the director of Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias, Meinir Llwyd recognised the need for such an ensemble in Caernarfon:

“Nicki Pearce and I had been discussing for a while the possibility of establishing an orchestra that would provide opportunities for adults to come together, to socialise and enjoy creating music.

“Steven Evans who has recently started teaching piano at the Centre, also expressed an interest in being involved.”

“It’s interesting to see that the number of adults receiving one-to-one lessons at Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias has increased over recent years, which is very good news.”

“However, we also recognised the need to provide more opportunities for the adults receiving one-to-one lessons to also take part in group tuition as well as encouraging those who may have once played an instrument – perhaps whilst they were children to take up their instruments again.”

One member that enjoyed the first rehearsal was Gwyneth M Davies from Benllech that plays Bb Cornet.

“It is only recently that I have started having lessons, though I’ve been playing for around ten years.”

“I love music – I am a keen member of the LSW Band as well as Côr Hamdden Mathias – a women’s choir that meet on a Thursday afternoon in Caernarfon.”

“To be honest I was quite nervous before the first rehearsal – not quite sure what to expect.”

“But we’ve jelled as a Group and I’ve made new friends – we’re all very supportive of each other and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves.”

“The conductor Nicki Pearce is wonderful – she knows our different levels, and takes that into consideration when choosing pieces. It made me feel great that I could play the part I had.”

“I’ve also been encouraging my friends to join – they have an interest and are always asking how the rehearsals are going – I hope they’ll come and give it a go.”

One of the members who enjoyed the first rehearsal was Desmond Burton from Bangor. Desmond is an English language tutor at Bangor University and has previously taught English language overseas for almost 25 years. Desmond said:

“Regardless of your experience and level, if you think you’d enjoy playing music with others, come and join us in the Community Orchestra. Lots of us have never played in an orchestra before, so don’t be put off by the thought that everyone else will be better than you, because they probably won’t be!”

Nicki Pearce and Steven Evans were both very pleased to see such a variety of instruments. According to Steven:

“I did think that we might struggle to find woodwind and brass instrumentalists – but we had no trouble whatsoever – although we could do with some more violinists!”

Since the first rehearsal more members have now joined and a warm welcome awaits any other new members wishing to join the orchestra.

A new series of Caernarfon Community Orchestra will begin on the 9th of April.

To register and for more information members are encouraged to contact Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias (01286 685 230 / post@cgwm.org.uk).

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