“As for Monsieur Thomas, harpist to the Queen in London, I heard him - not in a concert hall, but from far away, between two romances, and under the noise of chatter. But one always hears the things and artists one likes, and I heard him - only him, and took my time to savour the rare and poetic qualities of his talent. That is how the harp should be played! M. Thomas is able to do whatever he likes with his noble instrument, but he doesn't aim for difficulty for its own sake: his tours de force have genuine charm. His playing is intense, passionate, even fevered, but without exaggerated nuances, and never demanding violent, inappropriate effects from the harp - which the instrument cannot evoke without losing its superbly elegant qualities, which make it such a powerful instrument in certain contexts. Also, the works composed by M. Thomas are remarkably refined. He has charmed me, fascinated me and transfixed me. If I were rich, I would afford myself the luxury of engaging such a virtuoso, to soothe my sad moments, and help me forget the real world!"
Hector Berlioz writing in the Journal des Débats, March 1854
The deadline (of March 1st) is fast approaching for the two competitions of the Pencerdd Gwalia Festival. There are two competitions, under 25 and under 17. The festival commemorates John Thomas's centenary, with set works by the great Welsh harpist in each competition category. We're delighted to be sponsoring the closing concert, which will star Catrin Finch, Katherine Thomas and Hannah Stone, on April 13th in John Thomas's birthplace of Bridgend, South Wales.