Since it began in 2014, the hallmark of the annual Harp on Wight festivals has always been the very high standard of both concerts and teaching workshops. and the 2019 event certainly maintained that very high level of quality. It proved to be an inspired decision by the organizers to build a link with a Conservatoire for the first time. Eira Lynn Jones from the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester was invited to perform in the opening concert together with an ensemble of four of her students, and then also to lead a mixed abilities workshop entitled 'Flying with the Birds' which led to a further heart warming performance on the Sunday afternoon given by Eira and the workshop participants. Reverting back to the opening concert, Eira's solo performance included a new work by Anne Appleby entitled 'Knocking' and Charlotte Petersen ( the poem 'Invisible Wire'). The Ensemble featured a graphic score by Catherine Kontz- Yaxley, lyrical work by Monika Stadler (the poem 'Invisible Wire'. The Ensemble featured a graphic score by Catherine Kontz-Yaxley, and a raga by Caroline Lizotte. It is a tradition of the festival for the Saturday afternoon concert to provide a performance platform to the winner and runner-up from the Camac Competition held at the North London Festival earlier in the year. The festival `is very grateful for the support given to this concert by the UK Harp Association. Welsh harpist Mared Pugh Evans contemplative pieces included Sonata In A Major by Scarlatti and Rhapsodie by Grandjany, whilst Italy's Claudia Lamanna concluded her performance with an extremely elegant interpretation of Carlos Salzedo's 'Variation on a theme in the ancient style'. The highlight of Ailie Robertson's outstanding Saturday evening concert was a sublime version of 'Little Bird' from her 2018 Celtic Connections Festival New Voices commission which incorporated a choir effect on the Camac Ulysee electro-harp. Her performance showcased the full range of the instrument and included a variation on the Irish reel 'The Black Hole', foot-tapping polkas, a Norwegian tune and a lullaby as an encore. Grainne Hambly's Sunday evening concert was surprisingly the first ever by an Irish harpist in the six year history of the festival. It was an entrancing display of Irish music, including a spellbinding version of O'Carolan's 'Eleanor Plunkett', some fluid Willie Clancy finger jigs and a jaunty Junior Cregan hornpipe, all interspersed with interesting introductions about the history behind the pieces. On the Monday afternoon, the Festival's Patron Anne Denholm gave a very informative illustrated talk documenting the development of the pedal harp, including some short sections that she played on the harp. Austria's Monika Stadler's Monday evening concert was superb, and arguably one of three best ever concert in the festival's history. Mesmeric flowing playing with outstanding technical brilliance. Highlights were many, including the light and jazzy 'Away For A While', 'Tango del Pasdo' which reflected on the time that Monika spent recently in Wales, and 'Tomorrow' - a happy, joyful piece, usually performed with a kora player. Isle of Wight music teacher Helen Hankey and cellist Anneleis Scott maintained the high standard with their Tuesday afternoon concert included a striking 'Fire Dance' and two Bach pieces. It was then left to the Harp and Hang duo of Marianne Gubri on pedal and electro-harp and Paolo Borghi on hang drum to bring a blissful conclusion to a memorable festival. The resonance between their instruments is beautiful., the Celtic-inspired 'Aquamarine' being one of many highlights. It was a relaxing and fitting way to finish the event. It was evident to see why the festival added the word 'International' to it's title. The programming was spot on, and Lucia Para's striking artwork on the programme cover and posters very much reflected the friendly and welcoming atmosphere of the festival. There will be much to look forward to in 2020.
Harp On Wight is sponsored by Ryde Town Council and Wightlink Ferries