Announcement regarding the 2020 Wales Harp Festival

It is with a heavy heart that we inform you that the Wales Harp Festival which was due to take place from 8-9 April has to be postponed due to the Covid-19 virus situation. However we are determined to re-schedule and not cancel and will be in touch with you shortly with further details and hope that you will be keen to join us on the new date. If you have registered / bought tickets and are unable to attend on the new dates later on in the year, then we will arrange a refund. But please bear with us for the next few days as we are currently having to delay / re-schedule our entire work programme and adjust to working as staff from our homes. In the meantime keep playing the harp and follow the Festival and Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias Facebook page where we hope to post some videos etc to lift everyone's spirit over the next few weeks.
Best regards,
Elinor, Meinir and the team

Wales Harp Festival


New date to be confirmed

Concerts, Classes, Workshops


Festival President: Dr Osian Ellis CBE
Artistic Director: Elinor Bennett

A Message from Elinor Bennett

Artistic Director

In the same year as the World Harp Congress will be held in Cardiff, the Wales Harp Festival 2020 will be inspiring harpists of all ages and attainment with its annual course, as well as generating newfound interest in the harp and its music.

The Festival Concert will see harpist Gwenllian Llŷr performing a new piece by the Welsh composer Mared Emlyn, as well as her own arrangement of Calon Lân. The brilliant jazz harpist, Ben Creighton-Griffiths alongside his band, The Transatlantic Hot Club will also be performing in the concert as well as giving a jazz and improvisation workshop.

The TUDublin Junior Harp Ensemble will perform in the Course, and their tutors Denise Kelly & Clíona Doris will join harp teachers from Wales to give lessons and workshops. We are privileged to work with the Nansi Richards Scholarship Trust once again to organise the 2020 competition for Wales’ the best young harpists.

The Festival Concert

9 April 2020, 7:30pm, Theatr Galeri Caernarfon

Two of Wales’ brightest stars

Fabulous classical harpist Gwenllian Llŷr

Master of the Jazz Harp Ben Creighton-Griffiths

and his band the Transatlantic Hot Club
Adrien Chevalier (Violin) Ashley John Long (Double Bass)

Côr Telynau Gwynedd a Môn & Telynau Clwyd Hŷn

Two-day Harp Course

An interesting festival course which will appeal to harpists of all ages and attainment.

We have secured a team of excellent teachers and will place applicants in the most appropriate class according to the information  provided on the registration form.

Course Teachers in 2020

Elinor Bennett

Elinor Bennett

ELINOR BENNETT studied with Osian Ellis at the Royal Academy of Music, London, after completing a degree in Law, and played with major British orchestras in her early career. Elinor has made many recordings, ranging from 20th Century classics  to Welsh traditional music on Triple Harp.  Leading composers have written for her, and she directed harp studies at Bangor University. She was awarded OBE for services to music and  Honorary Fellowships from the  Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, Universities, Fellowships from Royal Academy of Music and Welsh College of Music and Drama,  and an Honorary Doctorate in Music from the University of Wales. She has directed the Thai International Harp Festival, and the  Wales International Harp Festival.  

Dylan Cernyw

Dylan Cernyw

Dylan is a freelance harpist, performer and teacher who lives in North Wales. He has given virtuoso performances in Ireland, France, Germany, Holland, Canada, Prague, China and Switzerland. Dylan has made guest appearances at the Thousand Voices Festival at the Royal Albert Hall, London and has performed with artists such as Bryn Terfel, Katherine Jenkins, John Owen Jones, Sioned Terry, Shân Cothi, Rhys Meirion, Rhydian Roberts and Rebecca Evans. Dylan has produced various albums, three are solo albums, four Piantel albums and three albums with Welsh harpist Gwenan Gibbard for Hong Kong based Sunrise Music. Apart from his own albums Dylan has appeared on a great number of other albums as an accompanist. Dylan is one half of “Piantel” who have been performing together for 13 years, and performs as a Cabaret Act “Two Blondes and a Harp

Clíona Doris

Clíona Doris

Clíona Doris has extensive experience as solo harpist and chamber musician and has performed throughout Ireland, Britain, Europe and the United States. Her broadcasts include performances on BBC Radio 3, Radio Ulster, RTÉ LyricFM, National Public Radio USA, ClassicFM TV, UTV, BBC Television and RTÉ Television and as soloist at the BBC Proms in the Park from Belfast broadcast as part of the BBC Last Night of the Proms. An active exponent of contemporary music, Clíona has premiered works by many composers. She has released two solo albums, and a recording of Handel’s Harp Concerto with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra. Clíona is a graduate of Queen’s University, Belfast and is Doctor of Music from Indiana University, Bloomington, USA. She is now Head of the DIT Conservatory, Dublin.

Mared Emlyn

Mared Emlyn

A graduate of Bangor University, Mared completed a doctorate in performance on the harp and composition in 2014.  In 2011, she won the Urdd National Eisteddfod’s Chief Composition medal for her work ‘Perlau yn y Glaw’ (lit. Pearls in the Rain) for solo harp, which is now performed regularly at different harp competitions. Mared has received a number of composition commissions, including works for Wales International Piano Festival, Colwyn Male Voice Choir, a work for the Bangor Music Festival premiered by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and most recently, a harp concerto for the Beaumaris Festival.

Denise Kelly

Denise Kelly

Denise Kelly is Lecturer in Harp at the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, Dublin. A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin and DIT Conservatory, her harp teachers include Maria Korchinska, Sidonie Goossens (Guildhall School of Music, London) and Francette Bartholomée (Conservatoire Royal, Brussels). Denise has taught in both the Belfast and Cork Schools of Music, and the Royal Irish Academy of Music, Dublin, and has coached the Irish Youth Orchestras. A composer and arranger, Denise has worked as a chamber musician and accompanist. Denise has performed and recorded with The Ulster Orchestra, RTÉ Concert and National Symphony Orchestras of Ireland, both as soloist and as Principal Harpist.

Gwenllian Llŷr

Gwenllian Llŷr

Welsh harpist Gwenllian Llyr is quickly gaining international recognition for her charismatic and engaging performances. In 2013, Gwenllian was a prize-winner at the USA International Harp Competition in Bloomington where she was highly praised for her musicianship and her ability to connect with audiences. She has also won many prizes more locally, including the Len Lickorish Memorial Prize for a String Player of Promise at the Royal Over-Seas League AMC 2018, as well as becoming an Artist with City Music Foundation in 2017.

Gwenllian’s career has taken her across the globe with performances in prestigious venues alongside renowned artists, including Rebecca Evans, Imogen Cooper, Al Jarreau, Matthew Rees and Bryn Terfel. She has also recently toured the UK alongside the release of her debut album with Sain, ‘Dusk to Dawn’, and her playing praised for its rare “liquid legato” and “compelling mellowness”. Gwenllian is becoming increasingly in demand as a soloist with orchestras and choirs, enabling her to demonstrate the wide-range of harp music to more audiences. She was invited to be guest soloist with Côrdydd as they took to the stage of Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, and she relished the opportunity to share the music of Welsh composers in this prestigious venue. Gwenllian has also recently performed the fiery and percussive Concerto by Ginastera with the Milton Keynes Sinfonia, the elegant and much-loved flute and harp Concerto by Mozart alongside Shirley Barningham with the Hallgate Chamber Orchestra, as well as the colourful and contrasting Danses by Debussy with the Orchestra of St. John’s.

Gwenllian has had the pleasure of studying with wonderful teachers in some of the best institutions across the world, with degrees from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, The Juilliard School and the Royal Academy of Music. In addition to substantial financial support from scholarships and grants, Gwenllian also received many accolades during her studies, including the William Schuman prize for outstanding achievement and leadership in music from The Juilliard School. Her studies afforded her with fantastic opportunities to work with other musicians and artists, to develop her love of chamber music as well as expanding the harp repertoire.

An avid proponent of new music, Gwenllian has worked with many composers over the past decade, helping musicians and audiences to understand the versatility of the harp and culminating in many world premieres. During her final year at The Juilliard School, Gwenllian worked with composer Sayo Kosugi and dancer and choreographer Eve Jacobs in the performance of Nebula, Blooming for harp and dance. She has also worked on new chamber music with composition students at Cardiff University, first with flautist Lisa Nelsen in the project ‘Music is Fragile?’, culminating in a premier at the National Museum in Cardiff amidst the ceramic pieces which inspired the compositions, and then with soprano Sarah Dacey in the project ‘Coma Notes’, with a premiere in Cardiff University alongside poet James Nash.

Gwenllian’s love of the harp extends beyond the stage, both as a teacher and as a composer. Alongside her busy performing career, Gwenllian teaches privately, on music courses, and at the Latymer Saturday Music Centre and King’s College London. In addition, she is an artist for the charity Live Music Now, founded by Yehudi Menuhin, which works with a diverse range of people who rarely have access to live music.

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Thanks to our Sponsors in 2020


The Wales Harp Festival is organised by Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias (William Mathias Music Centre).

Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias provides valuable opportunities for students of music at its centres in Caernarfon, Denbigh and Ruthin and through its community events throughout Wales.

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