5th National Botanic Gardens of Wales Harp Weekend 2016

Blog post written by Caitlyn, Student Dynamic Harps Member (July 2016)

Last weekend, both the Adult and Student ensemble had the opportunity to perform for a third time in the “Great Glasshouse” over the Saturday and Sunday. We were lucky enough to be able to perform alongside Wales’ foremost triple harp player, Robin Huw Bowen, who later performed a double-billed concert with our very own Shelley Fairplay.

To start us off on the Saturday morning, Robin Huw Bowen ran a workshop in coordination with the ‘Telynor Cymru Project’,  which is dedicated to celebrating “the two-hundredth anniversary of the birth of John Roberts ‘Telynor Cymru’ (1816-1894), the famous Welsh Gypsy harpist” who was one of the most important figures in the Welsh Folk tradition. We spent a morning practicing traditional welsh folk music, including “Walts yr Hebotaniculwen”, a piece composed by Robin himself. Then we moved on to Dynamic Harps Rehearsal.  Here we practiced the pieces for the concert we were due to perform. These pieces included a mixture of Celtic and Classical tunes, as well as one of the group’s favourite pieces, “Pirates of the Caribbean”. Videos of the Adult Harp ensemble performing in the Glasshouse are on our “Watch and Listen page, click >>here<< to have a listen, (although please excuse our tuning, it was an incredibly hot day, and as you can imagine, even hotter inside a giant glass dome!)

On the Sunday, the Student ensemble then travelled up to Carmarthen to perform. The heat was sweltering, but luckily there were no broken strings! As the student ensemble specialises in show, pop, film and jazz tunes, our set was different to the previous day. Members particularly enjoyed playing “Stars” from Les Miserables, and we debuted one of our new pieces, “Writings on the Wall” from Spectre. Again we were joined by guests on stage. Robins workshops ran again in the morning, and we were very lucky to have the “Clasarch Society Wales Branch” join us in concert.

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 12.39.51In the afternoon of both days, Robin and Shelley shared the stage in a double-billed concert, bringing a variety of music together into one wonderful hour. Robin performed traditional Welsh tunes on the triple harp, which induced foot -tapping and an urge to get up and dance in some of the audience members. Shelley then brought “Harposphere” to life in her first performance of the concert, which focuses on cycles and combines maths and music of all things! The concert was filled with music based on spheres and cycles, and one of the most notable things about it was the audience participation, where we got to jump around and throw balloons in the air as part of the final piece, based on the 7 “modes”!

Overall, both audience and performers alike enjoyed the weekend, and we have been invited back next year to perform on the 22nd and 23rd of July, so save the date!

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