SM453: The Harp in Wales

Hardback Book
The Harp in Wales
Bruce Cardwell
Foreword by Catrin Finch

Cover ImageA celebration of the harp in Wales, an instrument as symbolically key to a Welsh identity as the flag itself. Foreword by Catrin Finch.

Bruce Cardwell provides a history of the harp in Wales, including how it grew to prominence, its evolving role in Welsh culture, how it became a central symbol of Welshness, how it has developed as a musical instrument in response to changing musical taste, and the booming harp business today. He also explores the craft of harp-making, including the variety of construction, materials, designs and aesthetics, issues of ‘playability’ and tone, and the fusion of craft skills with art sensibilities. The book also has a section on thirty-six contemporary Welsh harpists (see "Contents" for list of harpists), with portraits and a narrative on their perspective on their personal instruments, their individual repertoires and how they see their place in the continuing tradition.

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Foreword by Catrin Finch
A Background to the Harp in Wales

Nansi Richards
Osian Elis
Elinor Bennett
Allan Shiers
Kay Davies
Chris Knowles
Eleri Turner
Alun Thomas
Delyth Jenkins
Rhodri Davies
Catrin Finch
Llio Rhydderch
Phil Lourie
Harriet Earis
Carwyn Tywyn
Meinir Heulyn & Caryl Thomas
Gwenan Gibbard
Ieuan Jones
Amanda Whiting
Robert Evans
Rhiannon, Hafwen and Branwen Lewis
Ben Creighton Griffiths
Robert Hadaway
Hannah Stone
Gwyndaf and Dafydd Roberts
Amanda Munday
Robin Huw Bowen
Ann Griffiths
Greville Hunt
Siân James
Huw and Eurgain John
Anna Georgina Chitty
Ceri Owen Jones
Nest Jenkins
Limos and Alaw Jones
Twm Morys

Key to Images



Catrin Finch (Photo from the book The Harp in WalesI first met Bruce Cardwell around 25 years ago at his house in Llwyndafydd. At the age of seven of eight I had no inkling that our paths would cross many years later when Bruce, among many other things a folk musician, was making Noteworthy, his book and touring photographic exhibition. Now we meet again a few years later, with The Harp in Wales.

It’s something of a surprise to find that there are so few books about the subject. The harp is, after all, an iconic instrument here. It is part of the shorthand of our national identity, both within Wales and abroad: one of the things with which people frequently associate us.

The growing numbers of players locally, the national and international tours for the leading players, the boost from the media interest in the revival of the position of royal harpist, are an indication of the health of the harp today. And in The Harp in Wales, Bruce Cardwell reflects the thriving state of the harp in early twenty-first century Wales, while never forgetting the long tradition in which the current scene has its roots.

This book combines an informative introduction to the harp in Wales with interviews with our leading makers and players. Here is the harp as cottage industry and amateur competition at eisteddfodau, but also at professional level with performers, and teachers and lecturers. Its subjects range from senior figures like Ann Griffiths and Elinor Bennett to the still ridiculously young like Ben Creighton Griffiths and sisters Llinos and Alaw Jones. The book deals even handedly with the folk and classical styles, taking in all sorts of themes from folk dancing on the one hand to jazz improv on the other. Its locations range from tool- strewn workshops, school classrooms, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, the concert hall, the eisteddfod stage and the local pub.

There are fascinating personal stories in the inter views which give telling insights into the world of harp music in Wales. And then there are the photographs - in colour and black and white - atmospheric and illuminating. If you thought there was only a limited number of ways a harpist could be photographed, this book will contradict you. Look out for the touring exhibition and see them larger and curated in a different style.

So here is The Harp in Wales, a book which, like its subject, I hope you will return to again and again.

Catrin Finch, July 2013


Bruce Cardwell

Bruce CardwellBruce Cardwell is a member of the Backroom Band, who has performed in Wales, Britain, Ireland and Europe. His extensive experience and musicianship give him an invaluable insight into the lives of fellow musicians in Wales. His longstanding interest in the harp was sharpened while working on a previous book of photographs documenting acoustic music in Wales, Noteworthy. he is also the author of Hoofpicks, a collection of photgraphs of the horse in Wales.

Library Information

Title: The Harp in Wales
Author and
Bruce Cardwell
Format: Hardback book
Size: 10" x 10" (255 x 255mm)
Total Pages: 231
Weight: 1500gm
ISBN: 978-1-78172-080-6
Our Ref: SM453
Publisher: Seren Books
Published: 15th July 2013
Origin: UK