The year 2015 will be the 150th anniversary of “Y Wladfa”, the Welsh colony which was established in Patagonia, southern Argentina in 1865. It was an act of faith by many poor people who were seeking a better life on the other side of the world. Against all the odds, the colony was established successfully, and the Welsh language and culture are miraculously still alive in Chubut today.
One of the founders of “Y Wladfa” , Michael D Jones, took a Triple Harp from Wales to Patagonia. The harp is kept at the Welsh Museum in Gaiman, Patagonia, and symbolises the importance of the harp to the early settlers.
Elinor Bennett is now fundraising to send two new harps from Wales to Patagonia, in collaboration with the Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias Music Centre. This is to help underpin the cultural life of the region, and particularly of course its links to Welsh culture.
The Harp for Patagonia appeal is directed at everyone who has ever learned the harp. If you feel you have benefited from your harp lessons in Wales or anywhere else, and you would like others to benefit as you did, feel free to to contribute a small sum towards the project. Elinor writes: “ It would be wonderful if we as harpists and harp-lovers could buy new harps to give children in Patagonia the means of sustaining Welsh musical traditions. For several years, I have dreamt of helping young people in Patagonia to have access to good-quality modern harps. The 150th anniversary seems to be the right time to turn this dream into reality. Two teachers give harp lessons there, but finding suitable instruments for their pupils is a huge problem. My hope is to raise funds to buy two harps - one for the community in Dyffryn Camwy, the other for the community in Cwm Hyfryd in the Andes. I particularly appeal to every person who has received harp lessons to help achieve this objective! This will be a both a symbolic and practical act to support the amazing work done by many people in Patagonia to keep Welsh culture alive.”
It was at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival 2013 that Jakez finally found an antique Welsh triple harp for his collection of historical instruments. The harp, from 1896, has the original construction with the right hand playing the bass register, and the left hand the treble.
What you can raise for Camac harps for Patagonia, we'll match! Matching sponsorship can be a great modern funding solution, and it isn't the first time we have been involved in it. We were business partners with Arts & Business Wales, for matching funding of the Wales International Harp Festival in 2009 and 2014.
For more information, and about how to donate, see the Harp for Patagonia campaign page.