A musical pageant inspired in Harlech

Tuesday 21 March 2017

Wales’s most prestigious classical musical festival has launched its programme for 2017 and it will culminate with a grand finale in Harlech. This year’s Gregynog festival promises to be the most ambitious yet, taking Pageantry as its overarching theme, presenting musical performances, dance productions, historical exhibitions and fascinating talks at a host of venues from 16 June to 2 July.

The crowning glory of the festival will be a five day extravaganza throughout Harlech with performances even taking place on the beach, visits and tours around iconic locations and headline acts including cellist Narek Hakhnazaryan, violinist Sara Trickey, pianist Clare Hammond, Septura, the brass chamber music septet and many more.

Gregynog is Wales’ oldest extant classical music festival, but its most significant predecessor was the Harlech Castle Musical Festival, and this has inspired Gregynog Festival curator Rhian Davies: 

“Bringing the festival to Harlech is a great honour and seeing my 20 years’ of research come alive in and around the community will be incredible. I have always been fascinated by the creativity and foresight of the remarkable artistic community that gathered in Harlech a century ago. These included 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.  

“Every concert this year revives repertoire by one or more members of the group and many of these compositions were written in Harlech or inspired by Welsh landscapes and legends, quite timely considering we are beginning our journey through the Year of Legends in Wales.”

An innovative addition this year will be a special production commissioned by Gregynog Festival from the dance collective, Light, Ladd and Emberton, and performed in response to the tides on Harlech Beach.  

Performer Eddie Ladd herself is very much looking forward to the experience:
“As with all the festival in 2017, this dance production is inspired by the fertile creativity and imagination of the artists that visited Harlech a century ago, especially the dance and movement pioneer Margaret Morris. The myths and histories of Harlech as well as the breathtaking landscape of the north Wales coastline will make the piece a wonder for all the senses.”

The festival will closes with a spectacular concert in Harlech Castle that brings together all the curatorial threads by evoking the historical pageants as well as the musical festivals in which the members of Harlech’s celebrity set took part.

Events  also takes place in Aberystwyth, Gregynog Hall and Chirk Castle and headline artists include pianist Llŷr Williams, the Ricercar Consort, directed by Philippe Pierlot, recorder virtuoso Michala Petri with harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, lutenist Thomas Dunford, clarinettist Robert Plane with the Gould Piano Trio, Scottish Gaelic folksinger Joy Dunlop, and pianola player extraordinaire Rex Lawson.

There is also a full supporting programme of talks, films, excursions, exhibitions and community outreach events to give context and encourage engagement and participation by residents and visitors alike.

For further information and to buy tickets visit www.gregynogfestival.org or call 01686 207100.