Wales’s most prestigious classical musical, Gregynog Festival, delivered its promise and brought musical pageantry across Wales last month. The festival opened at the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth, moved on to Gregynog Hall on its first weekend and then on to Chirk Castle before culminating in an extravaganza weekend in Harlech Castle and across the town.
Hundreds of music lovers listened during the Gregynog Festival and were delighted at each venue, having been entertained by acclaimed artists and special guest speakers. At the National Library lutenist Thomas Dunford mesmerised the audience, and at Gregynog Hall visitors were given insights into the world of early music pioneer Arnold Dolmetsch by his granddaughter Jeanne and recorder and harpsichord virtuosi Michala Petri and Mahan Esfahani, while at Chirk Castle they were captivated by pianist Llyr Williams and saxophonist Amy Dickson.
The final Harlech weekend was notable as the venue that inspired this year’s Pageantry theme.
Reflecting on the 2017 festival, its director Rhian Davies said, “We were thrilled with the festival’s programme this year and it delivered everything we asked for and more. We would like to thank all the artists and guest speakers who took part and made the festival happen. In Harlech especially the wonderful banners designed and produced by Ysgol Ardudwy students with the help of Luned Rhys Parri gave the closing weekend a strong pageant feeling and all the venues provided an appropriate stage for the world class artists.
“The closing concert by Septura brass ensemble truly encapsulated the whole feel of this year’s programme, especially the location at Harlech Castle where the inspiration of this year’s festival came from all those years ago, and the fanfares they played from the battlements will always stay with me.”
Gregynog is Wales’ oldest extant classical music festival, but its most significant predecessor was the Harlech Castle Musical Festival. Drawing on 20 years’ research, the programme for Gregynog Festival’s Pageantry season was inspired by those glorious summers, a century ago, when a remarkable creative community gathered in Harlech, including celebrity artists, photographers, authors and dancers as well as musicians, and thousands of people used to flock to be part of wonderful performances within the castle walls.
Among the many highlights of the 2017 season was an especially commissioned dance piece by Light, Ladd and Emberton performed in response to the tide on Harlech Beach, and enlightening talks by such luminaries as Peter Lord and Hazel Walford Davies.
Planning is now already underway for the 2018 festival which is scheduled for 22 June- 1 July 2018 and will again bring classical music alive in different venues across Wales.
For more information about Gregynog Festival visit: www.gwylgregynogfestival.org