Chamber music charity, Ensemble Cymru, are celebrating 15 years of bringing high quality chamber music performances to communities across north Wales and to mark this special occasion, they’re asking you to play your part in their Big Give Christmas Challenge.
The Bangor based classical music group has been chosen from thousands of other charities to take part in the UK’s largest online match funding campaign, the Big Give, which doubles donations which are made during a 72 hour window next week.
A pledge pot of £5,000 has already been raised by Ensemble Cymru but this money can only be unlocked through online donations made via the Big Give website www.thebiggive.org.uk from 12pm on Tuesday 29th November through until 12pm on Friday 2nd December. So for every pound that is donated, another £1 is unlocked from the pledge pot – doubling the original donation.
But money isn’t the only thing that will be unlocked through online donations; Ensemble Cymru’s star musicians, including Royal Harpist Anne Denholm, have recorded special personal messages and performances which will be released on the charity’s Facebook and Twitter pages as donations targets are reached.
In addition to the online music, Ensemble Cymru will also be holding a drop-in session at:
Venue Cymru in Llandudno on Tuesday 29th November 11:30am – 1pm
Wednesday 30th November, 10:30am -12pm at Pontio in Bangor
There will be ‘donations stations’ set-up where supporters can give online, plus music from Ensemble Cymru musicians.
Speaking about Ensemble Cymru’s plans for the future, its Artistic Director, Peryn Clement-Evans, said:
“Throughout the past 15 years, we’ve always been spurred on by the generosity of the public. With it, tens of thousands of people of all ages in Wales have been able to experience live performances of really inspiring music. For the next 15 years we want to raise the bar with an aim to unlock this music for hundreds of thousands more people of all ages in all parts of Wales, whoever and wherever they are be they in a community, a shopping centre, a chapel, a school hall or a concert hall. On behalf of all of us I’d just like to thank everybody so much for whatever they’re able to give to help us as we begin the task of realising that dream.”
If you are able to support Ensemble Cymru’s Big Give campaign, please visit our Big Give webpage for more information, or contact Angharad Hywel, Ensemble Cymru’s Development Officer on 01248 719 503 or email Angharad@ensemble.cymru.
Ahead of Ensemble Cymru’s new season launch at the end of October, the Ensemble’s newly appointed principal harpist, Anne Denholm, gives us an insight into her role as Royal Harpist, her love of chamber music and how growing up in Wales helped nurture her ambitions to pursue the harp as a career.
Originally from Carmarthenshire in South West Wales and of Scottish heritage, Anne was first introduced to the idea of learning the harp at school as it was one of the instruments that her primary school offered as part of their instrumental lesson scheme – something which is “definitely more likely to happen in a Welsh school!” according to Anne.
As an eleven-year-old, Anne was a member of the National Children’s Orchestra and already beginning to consider a career in music. And by thirteen, she remembers that her mind was set on a musical career and she was, in her own words, “determined to give it my best shot!”
And this determination more than paid off. Anne went on to receive her Master’s from the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) in London with distinction, graduating with the Renata Scheffel-Stein Harp Prize, the Sir Reginald Thatcher prize and a Regency Award for notable achievement.
Anne soon began earning a reputation as one of the UK’s leading young harpists and it wasn’t long before she received the invitation to take up one of the highest profile positions in the country, as the Official Harpist to HRH The Prince of Wales.
The post of Royal Harpist was reinstated in 2000 by HRH The Prince of Wales with three aims: to promote the harp as an instrument, to promote Welsh culture, and to support young artists. The process of being appointed Royal Harpist comprises nomination, application, audition and interview. In July 2015, Anne was appointed to the role and remembers feeling “incredibly honoured and elated”, before adding, “my first few months in the post were a time of great excitement and development.”
Amidst other duties, the role of Royal Harpist enables Anne to promote the harp to audiences and composers alike, something which she feels strongly about: “The harp community is greatly indebted to The Prince for reinstating this role that allows the harp to be known and experienced by a wider audience, and the post certainly helps to promote the harp in the world of classical music.”
Anne is passionate about taking classical music to the wider community. Since 2015, Anne has been performing under ‘Live Music Now’, an organisation that offers musical experiences and accessible concerts for everyone, including children and the elderly. Anne also works with ‘Bach to Baby’, a project specifically geared towards providing quality concerts to children of all ages.
It is fortunate, then, that Anne is principal harpist to Ensemble Cymru; a North Wales-based company that shares much of Anne’s spirit for sharing classical music with as wide an audience as possible. As part of Ensemble Cymru’s upcoming tour this October and November, Anne, along with another three ensemble members, will be taking chamber music to communities throughout Wales with performances in hospitals and schools, in addition to the main touring circuit of concert venues.
Not only does working with Ensemble Cymru ensure Anne continues her work taking music to communities, but it also helps to further promote the harp and its repertoire, a chance which Anne relishes:
“Any opportunity to include the harp in chamber music is a valuable chance to demonstrate the incredible versatility and power of this instrument”, said Anne. “It is fantastic that an established group such as Ensemble Cymru have decided to feature the harp in their programmes, and I am absolutely delighted to be a part of this initiative!”
Take a glance at Anne’s previous work projects and it’s clear to see she has a passion for chamber music, something which can be traced back to her upbringing in Wales where performances with other young musicians were a regular occurrence; “I was extremely lucky to be a part of a group of families who encouraged their children to play in small ensembles. From an early stage I played regularly with other people my age and we were also fortunate to be in the vicinity of excellent music festivals and competitions (such as the AFYM, Eisteddfodau and the Gwyl Cerdd Dant) where we could perform publicly and receive constructive feedback. I owe a great deal to these early formative experiences.”
It is with this enthusiasm for chamber music and the harp that Anne, alongside Artistic Director Peryn Clement-Evans, co-created the programmes for Ensemble Cymru’s 2016-2017 concerts. Staged in three parts, both the Autumn and Spring tours take a diverse approach to music for the harp. On the one hand, the company will be examining 20th century music for a variety of ensembles; on the other, the musicians have taken examples from the more traditional classical repertoire and arranged the works so that they include the harp. Paring CPE Bach with Dialogues by Welsh composer Mervyn Burtch, will surely demonstrate the range of capabilities and expression the harp has to offer.
Talking about co-curating the new season programme for Ensemble Cymru, Anne said, “Our goal was to show a variety of instrumental combinations featuring the harp (the Autumn programme is for harp and woodwind, and in May we explore the more traditional combination of flute, harp and viola), and to create programmes that are diverse, entertaining, and sometimes challenging – there is something for everyone!”
Ensemble Cymru’s new season launches at Pontio Bangor on 30th October followed by Neuadd Dwyfor Pwllhelli on October 31st, Capel Gad Cilcain on November 1st, The Ucheldre Centre Holyhead on November 2nd, Venue Cymru Llandudno on November 3rd and 5th, Galeri Caernarfon on November 4th and Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 27th November. See our events page for full details.
Anne is the first recipient of the Gaynor Cemlyn-Jones International Chair for Harp.
Chamber music champions, Ensemble Cymru, will welcome a very special guest as part of the launch of their brand new 2016-17 Concert Series. Anne Denholm, official harpist to HRH the Prince of Wales will be performing as part of the quartet for the first of Ensemble Cymru’s concerts taking place in venues across Wales this October and November.
Launching at Bangor’s Pontio on Sunday 30th October, Ensemble Cymru will go on to tour venues across Wales including Venue Cymru, Llandudno, Galeri in Caernarfon, Neuadd Dwyfor in Pwllheli, Holyhead’s Ucheldre Centre, Capel Gad in Cilcain near Mold, and finishing in Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 27th November.
As part of the Ensemble’s mission to showcase the finest chamber music from Wales and across the world, the programme for the October and November tour features an exciting international mix of pieces including sonatas from the Baroque and early Classical periods by Vivaldi and C.P.E Bach. Also included in this programme will be the lively Capriccio by Franz Poenitz and Deialogau (Dialogues) by the treasured Welsh composer Mervyn Burtch.
Speaking ahead of the tour, Anne, originally from Carmarthenshire in West Wales said:
“It is always a joy to travel and perform in Wales – it still feels like home! I have had an exciting and inspiring time working with Ensemble Cymru so far, and I am really looking forward to rehearsing and performing the varied programme we have curated for this Autumn’s series of concerts across Wales – there is something for everyone!”
Ensemble Cymru’s principal clarinettist and Artistic Director, Peryn Clement-Evans will be performing as part of the quartet this autumn alongside harpist Anne Denholm, also Johnathan Rimmer on flute and Pwllheli-born bassoonist, Llinos Elin Owen.
For full details of the tour dates please visit our Events Page. Tickets are on sale now at each of the venues.
Artistic Director, Peryn Clement-Evans, invites you to join us for a cuppa and a chat.
The 2016/2017 Season is about to start and Ensemble Cymru want to get to know you, our supporters, better. We thought a cuppa and chat was a good place to start.
Over the next six months, we will be organising informal ‘cuppa and a chat’ drop-ins in venues across Wales. The purpose, is to get to know you better; to find out what’s important to you and how you would like to see the Ensemble make a difference. In addition, we would like to know your ideas on how to develop the Friends of Ensemble Cymru.
Details for the first of these events are as follows:
Venue Cymru Café, Llandudno
Monday 10 October 2016 at 2.30pm
Cilcain Shop and Post Office
Tuesday 11 October 2016 at 10.30am
Mold Garden Centre and Woodworks Café
Tuesday 11 October 2016 at 2.30pm
Ensemble Cymru’s final offering in their Coffee Concert series will see the harp take centre stage in a programme of stunning chamber music performed by a seven-piece ensemble, featuring a string quartet and an awarding winning harpist from Switzerland.
The North Wales based chamber music group’s May tour will draw together music from French and Welsh composers performed by top flight instrumentalists from Wales, and further afield.
Elisa Netzer, a rising star on the harp in her native Switzerland, will join some of the Ensemble’s home grown talent including violist Sara Roberts from Anglesey, and the Ensemble’s Artistic Director, Peryn Clement-Evans who lives in Bangor.
Speaking ahead of her debut in Wales with the Ensemble, Elisa said:
“As I prepare to travel to Wales for this tour, I can’t help but think what a privilege it is to get to perform a programme I love, in a country that loves my instrument so much. I can’t wait to explore again the great power of chamber music: complete strangers coming together and understanding each other perfectly through music.”
The programme presents an evocative mix of music including one of the most stunningly beautiful pieces ever written, Introduction and Allegro by Ravel, which perfectly demonstrates the expressive range of the harp. Music by Debussy and Jean Francaix will also be showcased alongside pieces by Welsh composers such as Port Talbot-born Christopher Painter and John Metcalf, the founder of the Vale of Glamorgan Festival.
The Wales-wide tour will be calling at the venues in Aberystwyth, Cardiff, Mold, Caernarfon, Llandudno, Holyhead and Pwllheli this May. Full listing below and for more information please visit our events page.
The highpoint was a performance of Gareth Glyn’s arrangement of the Welsh national anthem with the youth choirs of Graubünden’s Canton School. Our musicians performed a cross section of chamber music from Wales including music by William Mathias, Hilary Tann, music from Wales bardic tradition, Cerdd Dant (arr. Sioned Webb) and the well-known song Lisa Lan.
Discussion about living through Welsh and Rumantsch
Moderated by the presenter from Radio and Television Rumantscha, Victoria Haas, there was discussion sparked by searching questions from the young people concerning the support to the Welsh language, status of the Welsh language as one of the two official languages in Wales, bilingualism in Wales and comparing its status with that of Rumantsch as one of the four official languages in Switzerland.
Then to close, performances together (us and the choirs) of entrancing Rumantsch folk songs in special arrangements for the project by the composer and bassoonist Gion Andreas Casanova of music by his father, Gion Balzer Casanova.
Music at the Heart of Education.
Graubunden’s Canton School has a brilliant team of 7 music teachers including Christian Klucker, ambassador for our project and Gion Andreas all of whom work so hard with the young people through singing and music throughout the school. Speaking with the school’s Director, I came away with the strong impression of how important the school sees music in helping it and its staff to prepare its young people for life.
The music facilities for approximately 2,000 pupils in the school are fantastic. We suspect that at least one or two of the conservatoires and music faculties in Britian might be jealous of the number of the pianos and rooms dedicated to music.
Thanks to the Director, Gion Lechmann and Deputy Director, Philippe Benguerel of the Canton School for their support. Thanks to Werner Cariget and his pupils for their work preparing questions for the discussion and to Mike Evans for instant translation. Mike’s the only person we know who speaks Welsh and Rumantsch!
We must thank especially the ambassador for the project, Christian Klucker (conductor of Incantanti and Music Teacher at the School) who has worked so hard to ensure the success of the visit. We were especially thankful to him and Erica and their family and neighbours Beatrice and Andreas for the welcome, hospitality and for looking after us.
Working with Chur’s Young Musicians
With the assistance of our interpretors, Toni, Kurt and Karin, we had a lot of fun working with the young instrumentalists (Guitar, recorders, flute, saxophone, clarinet, violinis, violas, cello) from Musikschule Domat/Ems,Felsberg.
Ensemble Cymru’s musicians led on activities to warm up the body, to develop the sense of rhythm and to develop the ability to breathe well and to support the sound effectively. Then onwards to work on Gareth Glyn’s arrangement of Ar Hyd y Nos (All Through the Night) for the Ensemble and the young musicians. The conductor of the orchestra, Ursin Widmer joined us on the second day to conduct a performance at the close of the two days with the children and young people.
We were very grateful to Sibilla Stolz (the orchestra’s Coordinator) for driving us around in the bus (and her husband Rico) and for organising the 2 workshops. We are also thankful to Anita Jehli (head of the school) and her office for enabling us to work with the school’s students and to Kathrin von Cube (Head of Strings), Bettina Marugg (Head of Flute Ensemble) and to Ursin Widmer (Orchestra Director) for working with the children and young people in preparation.
Biggest thanks go on behalf of the Ensemble: Peryn(Clarinét), Sara (Soprano), Oliver (Viola), Jonathan (Flute) and Anne (Harp) to the children and young people for being such fun to work with.
After swapping planes and almost losing our baggage in Gatwick this is Jonathan Rimmer, Oliver Wilson, Sara Lian Owen and Anne Denholme just arrived in Zurich’s main Station on the way to Chur, Graubünden. This is an exciting project with a community that speaks Romansch one of Switzerland’s 4 official languages.