Telynau Vining Harp Weekend, Cardiff
just returned from an action-packed weekend organized by
our UK partners, Telynau Vining. The harp days we and/or our partners sponsor
usually aim to provide a broad spectrum of artistic and
commercial opportunity. There will be concerts, probably
across different musical genres. There will be masterclasses
and workshops, plus Camac sales & service, with an
exhibition and regulation opportunities.
Our exhibition in Cardiff
We also always try
and strike an intelligent balance between input from
international visiting artists, and local talent. Music
is a universal language, but equally every country we
visit has its own musical life to support and celebrate.
was no exception: Telynau Vining surpassed themselves
with an ambitious programme for children, professionals
and amateurs alike. From “Become
a Harpist for a Day” for complete beginners, to
masterclasses by Elinor
Lynn Jones, and Val Aldrich-Smith, to a fascinating
lecture from Meinir
Heulyn about concert dress, and a grand finale
Henson-Conant live on video link from the US, the
wide range of events had something for everyone – and
this, not only.
can be very enlightening when a programme offers things
you can see are for you, but also explores what hasn’t been on your radar.
Once you are there, curiosity entices you through the
doors of classes you wouldn’t otherwise have thought
of. It is, for example, an education to watch a
masterful pedagogue like Elinor Bennett teaching grades
1-4. Teaching beginners well is far from self-evident,
particularly when you have just left music college, and
grades 1-4 are a long time past in you own experience.
It is similarly thought-provoking to see Eira Lynn Jones
expertly handle a mixed ability masterclass. In such
a group, how do you ensure that everyone has a constructive
experience, whether they are playing or watching? How
do you coax the less confident into performing, while
showing the more advanced players in the group why this
is also relevant to them? How do you be rigorous, so
everyone leaves having learnt something, while simultaneously
managing to inspire, not discourage? It was equally impressive
to watch Shelley
Fairplay work with her large ensembles of complete
beginners (“Become a Harpist for a Day”,
complete with T-shirts), and her own students, the aptly-named Dynamic
Harps. Teachers like these are passionate, committed
and they know that music is for everyone.
who wishes to explore music deserves to be taken seriously,
regardless of their age and stage. Many an adult amateur
will approach us apologetically at an exhibition, saying
they are not “serious”. But, define serious
- an amateur who practices, attends events, is curious
and enthusiastic and who loves music, is IMO more serious
than a conservatoire student – or teacher - who
does not look about them, does not measure their own
level against everyone else in their field, and who does
not perceive that whatever your musical direction, fulfilling
musical careers are built by being open-minded and flexible,
as well as dedicated to high standards.
Creighton Griffiths, for example, is still known
to many as a classical wunderkind. Now grown-up, he plays
as much, if not more, jazz as he does classical music.
In Cardiff, he gave an impressive concert on the Blue
Harp, creating an entire sound world through the
creative use of looper and effect pedals, and mixing
standards with original compositions. Shelley Fairplay,
as well as teaching the large ensemble classes, also
presented her “Three Strands” concert, a
full-length evening programme developed with her mentor,
Deborah Henson-Conant. This also spanned many different
types of music, indeed different types of harp. It was
all about music that was personally meaningful to Shelley,
that she felt defined her as a musician, and it was immaculately
prepared and presented. It also featured a lot of Shelley's
recent work with the DHC
Blue Light - the super light electroharp we created
with Deborah - and looper and special effects pedals.
Having heard Shelley on Saturday night, harpists had
the chance to work with Deborah the following day, live
on video link from the USA, in a class about how to arrange
music to suit your taste and purpose.
Live video link with Deborah Henson-Conant
Congratulations to Telynau Vining! We, Camac France,
brought extra harps for the special exhibition and Enric
for regulations, but it was Vining who conceived and
put the festival together. Their excellent organization
ensured that everyone could make the most of the opportunities
available, undistracted by logistical irritations, and
their programme superbly reflected values we hold dear.