We’ve 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.
Cardiff 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 Bennett, Eira Lynn Jones, and Val Aldrich-Smith, to a fascinating lecture from Meinir Heulyn about concert dress, and a grand finale with Deborah Henson-Conant live on video link from the US, the wide range of events had something for everyone – and this, not only.
It 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.