Easter Monday, April 2 2018 | 7:30pm
St Mary’s Church, Church Street, Caernarfon
The Palestrina Choir, Dublin (Director: Blanaid Murphy)
Harps: Sioned Williams, Anne Denholm
Rutter: Dancing Day
Imogen Holst: Welcome Joy, Welcome Sorrow
Gustav Holst: Rig Veda
Michael Stimpson: The Drowning of Capel Celyn (First performance in Wales)
Benjamin Britten: A Ceremony of Carols
The concert celebrates superb and less-often performed works by five English composers:- Imogen Holst, daughter of Gustav Holst, was assistant of Benjamin Britten at Aldeburgh and became joint Artistic Director of the festival, (also working with Osian Ellis). John Rutter as a young chorister took part in the first (1963) recording of Britten’s War Requiem in Coventry Cathedral under the composer’s baton, and Michael Stimpson grew up in London near to where Holst taught at St Paul’s School, and was aware of Holst and his music from a young age. All composers have written brilliantly for choir, though on this occasion, Stimpon’s work is a harp solo in remembrance of the tragic history of Tryweryn. (Note by Sioned Williams).
The concert starts on a joyous note with full choir in John Rutter’s Dancing Day , moves to the gentler sounds of Imogen Holst’s Welcome Joy, Welcome Sorrow, ending the first half with the wonderful Rig Veda of Gustav Holst. The reflective and evocative music of Michael Stimpson will surely strike an emotional chord before ending with the superb Ceremony of Carols by Benjamin Britten. The atmosphere and acoustic of the 13th century St Mary’s Church (which is part of the Caernarfon mediaeval town walls) will be the perfect setting for these musical treats.
This will be a poignant and brilliant choral concert.
Sunday, April 1 2018 | 8:00pm | Theatre, Galeri Caernarfon
Sioned Gwen Davies (Mezzo-soprano)
Rhys Meirion (Tenor)
Valeria Voshchennikova (Russia) 2014 Chief Musician
CGWM String and Harp Quartets
Senior Harp Consort Gwynedd & Môn
Dawns i Bawb dancers
The First Performance of a collaborative new work created by the poet, Mererid Hopwood, and two of Wales’ most talented young women composers and harpists – Mared Emlyn and Gwenan Gibbard – to celebrate Osian Ellis’ 90th birthday.
N.B. Valeria Voshchennikova, the winner of the prestigious Chief Musician Prize in the 2014 Festival returns to Caernarfon to perform music from her native Russia.
“OSIAN” A poem by Mererid Hopwood (main image above) is the inspiration for an imaginative new work for soprano, tenor, harp quartet, percussion, strings and dancers by the young Welsh composer and harpist, Mared Emlyn, who collaborated with singer/harpist Gwenan Gibbard to present music in praise of the legendary Welsh harpist Osian Ellis who now lives in Pwllheli, Wales.
Poet’s note: The poem comprises nine song-scenes. In the first, the listener is taken from the beginning of sound to the moments when song was first given to man and woman. Next, from the voices of rain crystals, of blackthorn blossom bells and tree winds, the song calls out Osian’s name. Borrowing themes from the ancient tale of Osian and Nia Ben Aur, we then follow deer and doe through the woods to Tir Na Nog. Here we find Nia, in the form of a silent, empty, wooden harp, her willow and strings waiting for Osian’s fingers and hands to give her a melody. In the duet that follows, we move from the drumbeat of darkness to daybreak and the song of blackbirds. Osian and Nia are united as scene 6 burst into an exuberant fiesta. Their union conceives its own new song whose birth gives flight to the oldest traditions as we move through scenes 7 and 8, until finally, in scene 9, we hear how these new melodies, in turn, are passed from one generation to the next .
New commision by Wales International Harp Festival with funds made available by ACW, Ty Cerdd, RVW Trust, PRSF Fondation for Music, Foyle’s, Colwinston Trust.
The inspirational stories of our competition entrants provide an amazing insight into their dedication to become the very best musicians. Here we provide details of two young musicians and their musical journey.
Cassandra Tomella (Italy) – Youth Competition
This is the third time Cassandra (photo above) has competed in Wales.
She has always been enthralled by Wales as a land of music, magic, and mystery. The first time she visited Wales to compete she was welcomed so warmly that she commented that “I felt at home”
She has attended the Catrin Finch Academy twice and is now an honorary Welsh harpist!
Cassandra first started harp lessons at the age of 8 and since 2013 she has studied at the Milan Conservatory, where she decided to also learn the harpsichord. She has a love for the Baroque repertoire, and the instrument allows her to better understand that period and the music composed at the time. She feels that this will help her better interpret Baroque pieces while playing the harp.
Cassandra says that her most exciting harp experience so far was playing Shostakovic’s 5th Symphony with the Milan Conservatory Orchestra and “Puer Natus” with a wind orchestra last Christmas.
In 2016 she also had a series of charity recitals in Amatrice (where there was an earthquake the same year) She especially cherishes a recital at an old people’s home where she felt how powerful music can be.
Veronika started to play harp at the age of 7. After graduating from Kharkov High Music School in the class of Larisa Klevtzova, she enrolled in Gnessins Music Academy in Moscow in the class of professor Milda Agazarian.
Veronika is currently Principal Harp in UAPhO
Veronika returns to compete in the Chief Musician competition in which she came third four years ago, a disturbing time when troubles in her home country at that time caused many concerns.
We wish Veronika every success and a happy return visit to the festival.
Enter the World Music Competition – a wonderful experience with prizes of up to £1000
The Wales International Harp Festival attracts an amazing collection of musicians playing a diverse range of music. The World Music Competition is an excellent example of the international nature of the festival. We review two entrants for the competition below:
Josh Doughty – WALES
Josh started playing the Kora (a West African 21 string harp) at the age of 8 learning the instrument at home in Wales with his father. The 28-year old travels to West Africa every year to develop his playing skills and to learn more about the Kora.
Tutored by leading Kora players Toumani Diabate and Seckou Keita he describes his best harp experience as playing with Toumani Diabate’s band in Mali when he was just 18 years of age.
Tang Pui Man, Frances (harp) & Suen Yin Shin, Eunice (soprano) – HONG KONG
Frances graduated at the Trinity Laban Conservatory of Music and Dance in London. Frances now runs her own studio in Hong Kong teaching harp music.
She has a passion for arranging harp ensemble specifically for children and enjoys playing harp with a wide variety of musicians and singers. She also enjoys her playing as part of the Honk Kong Symphony Orchestra.
She is competing in the World Competition with soprano Suen Yin Shin.
It’s not too late to enter the World Music Competition, more details can be found on the competitions page.
We regret to inform you of an unavoidable change to the date of the above concert.
On medical advice, and to protect his voice, Sir Bryn Terfel is having to take an enforced period of rest.
In a statement, he said:
“I’m desperately disappointed not to be able to perform at the Pontio Arts and Innovation Centre on 8 February. I’m very grateful to the Wales International Harp Festival and Pontio for assisting in rearranging the concert to mark Dr Osian Ellis CBE’s 90th birthday, which will now take place on 20 April 2018. I sincerely hope that as many of the audience as possible can be available on the new date, and look forward to seeing you there.
We are in the process of contacting customers to share this information. Tickets will be automatically transferred to the new date. If the date is no longer convenient, customers will be entitled to a refund and should contact the Box Office on 01248 38 28 28.