World renowned harpist Catrin Finch and award-winning Welsh composer, Owain Llwyd have been working with AS and A level pupils to create folk arrangements and original compositions based on a combination of Welsh folk melodies and jazz. A series of workshops held at Ysgol David Hughes on Anglesey and Bangor University during January and February, have taught these young composers to think of the harp in a new context, by listening to traditional Welsh and Scottish harp music. The process has stimulated pupils to think openly about their compositions, resulting in one work inspired by Thai folk, for example.

With Finch leading the workshops, pupils from the Anglesey Music Consortium were able to learn about harp technique. They were introduced, for the first time, to the electric harp and the possibilities it provides for looping melodies in minimalist music. Techniques studied by the pupils have already enhanced their own compositions.

Bangor New Music Festival provides a wonderful opportunity for pupils to hear their own compositions performed by Catrin Finch and Band on Saturday 9 March at Powis Hall, Bangor University, as a climax to this pioneering series of workshops. Two talented musicians from Ysgol David Hughes, a cellist and violinist will also be given the opportunity to perform alongside Finch on the Saturday night. The concert will officially open the Bangor New Music Festival and features works from Finch’s 2011 album Annwn – inspired by ancient Welsh mythology – in an cabaret-style setting.

On Sunday 10 March, 2pm, Catrin Finch will be leading a masterclass at Powis Hall, providing an excellent opportunity for other composers and musicians to learn about harp technique. It will be followed by an evening concert with Finch and pupils of Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias at 7pm, at Powis Hall, Bangor University.

Owain Llwyd says, “I would have loved to have had these workshops when I was studying. It’s an incredible opportunity for A level students to get a recording of their work and to explore new techniques alongside a professional, world renowned artist. The students have really taken to the workshops and have been producing some great, original work.”

Owain’s work for Harp and String Quartet, ‘Welshman in America’ was based on a trip to Los Angeles.