Harpist swaps Sir Elton John in New York for festival in native North Wales

A harpist who performed alongside pop megastar Sir Elton John in New York on 10 consecutive nights can’t wait to play at a top music festival in North Wales.

As a member of classical harp quartet 4 Girls, 4 Harps, Angharad Wyn Jones , will be one of star attractions at the North Wales Music Festival at St Asaph Cathedral between September 24 and October 1.

Angharad, 26, usually has to travel farther than other members of the quartet so to have the opportunity to perform just down the road from her  home in Felinheli, near Bangor, home is a real treat.

She said: “To be honest, we do seem to play more across the border in England which is a real shame, so to perform at St Asaph Cathedral, which has amazing acoustics, is just wonderful, and I know I speak for the other girls too.

“The girls are coming up from London the day before our concert, which is on Wednesday, September 28th and are staying at the home of my parents, just down the road.

“My mum, Ilid Anne Jones, is a pianist and has a huge music room so we are having a rehearsal there the night before. We are so looking forward to the concert and performing in North Wales.”

Born in Caernarfon, Angharad began learning the harp at the tender age of seven and her hard work and dedication soon paid off as she won the Solo Harp competition at the National Eisteddfod of Wales as well as the Texaco Young Musician of North Wales 1999, a feat she repeated in 2000.

Angharad won a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy of Music, London with Skaila Kanga and graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree with honours.

And it was while studying in London that she first met the other three members of 4 Girls 4 Harps, Eleanor Turner, Keziah Thomas and Harriet Adie.

Angharad said: “We were all studying harp at various London colleges and playing in hotels to help pay our way. That’s how we got to know each other really. I suppose we saw a gap in the market for a harp quartet and decided to fill it.

“In addition to our solo work we now perform as 4 Girls 4 Harps at classical music festivals as well as Radio and TV work. We have performed on Radio Two’s Friday Night is Music Night as well as TV appearances on S4C’s Noson Lawen and Wedi 7. And our CD, Fireworks and Fables, has been featured regularly on Classic FM and BBC Radio 3.

She added: “We like to play arrangements adapted for four harps and we have original pieces written by Harriet and Eleanor that we play. Basically, if you like, it’s like a band. One harpist plays bass; another will play rhythm, another all the fiddly bits while the fourth just basically keeps it all together. It does work honestly!

“We can show things in our repertoire that you can’t with a solo harp. The different sounds, textures and levels the composer was trying to get across to the audience, but in a new, very different way.”

The North Wales International Music Festival will bring to an end what has been a busy summer for 4 Girls 4 Harps and Angharad as a solo performer.

As well as performing as part of the harp quartet Angharad has played with a number of orchestras as well as privately teaching harp to her current crop of 15 North Wales pupils.

She said: “I am currently working with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra when they need a harpist and have several performances booked in October. The harp is not always required for orchestral pieces so as a harpist you are never tied to performing at every performance and are called in as and when required.

“That means I can enjoy more varied work whether at a simple wedding in North Wales or joining Sir Elton John on stage in New York.I was playing with the Royal Academy of Music Orchestra and we joined Sir Elton when he played the Radio City Hall in the Big Apple for 10 consecutive nights.

However, according to Angharad the best audience reception for any artist she has performed with was reserved for Welsh tenor Wyn Evans, better known as Gio Compario in the Go Compare TV ads.

She said: “That was earlier this summer at Castle Howarth in Yorkshire. Wyn is a fantastic performer and has a tremendous voice. Of course he made his name as the face and voice behind those, perhaps annoying, adverts on TV.

“When Wyn, who is a fantastic guy, walked on stage the whole place erupted. It really was a remarkable reception.”

But the chance to show Eleanor, Keziah and Harriet a little bit of her beloved North Wales is something Angharad is really looking forward to.

She said: “We have played in North Wales before to be honest as we performed at the Beaumaris Festival earlier this summer which was great. But any chance to get the girls out of London and up to North Wales I’ll take!

“As a harpist we all have estate cars so we can get the instruments in. We all play Italian manufactured Salvi harps even if they are slightly different models costing around £20,000 each.

 “Personally, I specialise in jazz harp and in fact we are playing some jazz harp pieces at the North Wales International Music Festival.

“I’d certainly encourage anyone thinking of going along to get a ticket and come and see us perform. I really want to show the girls all about North Wales and how it appreciates good music.”

This year’s festival opens on September 24 and runs until October 1. The first concert features the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, who appeared in the very first festival and have returned many times since, and baritone Roderick Williams.

 Strings feature strongly in the week’s programme, with artists including Welsh triple harp virtuoso Robin Huw Bowen, classical guitarist Dimitris Dekavallas, the ensemble Blazin’ Fiddles and the Vida Guitar Quartet.

One of the main attractions this year will be the world premiere of a new work by the royal composer, Dr Paul Mealor, who shot to global fame thanks to the sensational Royal wedding anthem he wrote for Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Dr Mealor will the subject of an evening called Portrait of a Composer featuring Ensemble Cymru and the Aberdeen University Chamber Choir. Dr Mealor will also conduct a choral workshop for mixed choirs.

The audience can also look forward to 4 Girls 4 Harps who formed in London in 2000 to perform, record, create and commission new music.

They are now the world’s leading harp quartet and have been heard in hundreds of venues and festivals in the UK and across Europe.

Among other highlights is a recital by the virtuoso pianist, Llyr Wiliams, from Rhos, near Wrexham.

For more information about this year’s event which is being held between September 24 and October 1.and how to book tickets go to


Caption: From left, Eleanor Turner, Keziah Thomas, Harriet Adie and Angharad Wyn Jones..

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