Telynor Cymru 2016 celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of John Roberts (1816-1894), 'Telynor Cymru', one of the most important figures in our folk tradition.
John was a Welsh Gypsy who was famous in the 19th century for playing the Welsh Triple Harp.
The Welsh Folk Harp
The harp is the only aspect of our continuous instrumental folk tradition, and yet it is the least prominent instrument on the Welsh folk scene today. The Welsh harp world favours the international classical regime instead, and Clera feels strongly that we must correct this.
The Gypsies' treasure
The treasure of the Harp music was passed down through six generations of the Roberts family from John to his great-grand-daughter Eldra Jarman, and through her to Robin Huw Bowen.
Robin Huw Bowen
When he visited Paraguay in 2013 to play in the Festival Mundial del Arpa en el Paraguay, Robin saw a country where the folk tradition of its National Instrument was very lively. In Wales, only the harp can claim to have an unbroken instrumental folk tradition, yet it is the least prominent instrument on the Welsh folk scene today; we aim to rectify this through this project.
The Arts Council of Wales
We were successful in our application for substantial financial support from the Arts Council of Wales and have now completed the work.
This funding enabled us to develop a new folk harp Web site: www.telynor.cymru specifically for the project.
The visit of Womex to Cardiff in 2013 brought great benefit in raising the profile of traditional music and changing attitudes towards the sector, recognising the potential that our tradition has to excite people as much as other departments of the arts.
Lack of confidence and ignorance are too often associated with the Welsh scene, and lead too many performers to believe 'that these things are not for them', for whatever reason.
There's a reluctance in the classical world to take the folk style and repertoire seriously, and the folk harpists too often have an amateurish attitude and fear the challenge of playing a more sophisticated repertoire. So this project tried to build confidence in the repertoire and the ability to perform, resulting in professionalism in presenting it, just as seen in other traditions do during Womex, and succeeded in doing this.
We gave lessons across Wales during 2015, 2016 and 2017 under Robin's leadership, to play the Gypsy way so as to be competent to perform in concerts nationally across Wales, especially in 2016 to celebrate the bicentenary of John Roberts.
Harp groups across Wales are learning to learn the craft of playing traditional melodies on the harp by ear, the Gypsy learning method.
Our website, www.telynor.cymru provides support which supplemented the local lessons and also notation for tunes and relevant information and advice, and includes video tutorials with Robin.