Dynamic duo aged 92 on song with renowned harpist Elfair


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Two life-long friends aged 92 burst into song when a renowned harpist performed at the day centre they attend.

Morfydd Bartlett and Gwen Pritchard have been close mates ever since they met at the age of five at the primary school in Carmel, near Caernarfon, more than eight decades ago and even lived next door to each other for more than 50 years.

Three times a week the dynamic duo, known affectionately as the terrible twins, go the Bontnewydd Age Cymru Day Centre where they were treated to a “magical” concert by professional harpist Elfair Grug.

Her visit came about thanks to a partnership between the Pendine Park Arts and Community Trust Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias (the William Mathias Music Centre) in Caernarfon which was made possible by funding from Arts & Business Cymru via their CultureStep programme.

It is part of a series of 15 concerts at Pendine Park’s care homes in Wrexham and Bryn Seiont Newydd in Caernarfon and at other venues in the community.

The project will culminate with a concert by former Royal Harpist Catrin Finch at Bryn Seiont Newydd on April 18, ahead of her performance at the 2019 Wales Harp Festival concert at Galeri in Caernarfon.

Morfydd, a retired nurse, says she and Gwen were both members of Côr Mynydd y Cilgwyn in the past and listening to Elfair play had brought back many happy memories.

She said: “I really enjoyed listening to her play. It really brought back some memories, some really happy ones and some quite sad ones too. I enjoy folk songs and she played some great music. We just had to join in!

“Gwen and I have been friends all our lives and have never had a cross word. Until recently we lived next door to each other but I now live at Groeslon, Caernarfon while Gwen is at Carmel.”

Morfydd, who has four children and 17 grand or great-grandchildren, added: “We have always liked singing and I really enjoyed singing Sosban Fach and Tros y Garreg with Gwen. It’s been a lovely day.”

Former school caretaker Gwen Pritchard, a mum of three, grandmother of four and great grandmother of five, said: “Today has been brilliant I’ve really enjoyed it. We’ve always liked singing even when we were in school.

“It’s amazing that we were at school together when we were just infants and now, although we are both in our 90s, we are still close. We always behaved in school, well nearly always anyway!

“I loved the music the harpist played and it really brought back some memories of my younger days. The harp is such great instrument and it’s what Wales and being Welsh is all about.”

Nicola Jennings, from Age Cymru Gwynedd a Môn, said: “It’s been great to welcome Elfair to our day care centre here at Bontnewydd to play for clients. Everyone has clearly enjoyed the occasion and loved the music. And there’s no doubt Gwen and Morfydd enjoyed joining in!”

Pendine Park’s Musician-in-Residence, Nia Davies Williams, said: “It has enabled Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias (William Mathias Music Centre) and Pendine Park to build on their relationship following Pendine’s sponsorship of the 2018 Wales International Harp Festival.

“Elfair Grug is one of Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias’ alumni harp students.  She has delivered the 15 concerts and engaged with residents and clients in a series of workshops.

“It’s a wonderful project and we know from past experience how much residents enjoy these concert events. It’s only been possible to put the project together thanks to the Arts & Business Cymru CultureStep Funding.”

Elfair, who hails from Mynytho, in Gwynedd, is a former pupil of the renowned harpist, Elinor Bennett, at the William Mathias Music Centre at Galeri, Caernarfon, and went on to study at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.

She was a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain for a number of years playing in venues such as the Royal Albert Hall.

In 2008 she was one of 60 harpists who played at the Royal Opera House when Prince Charles celebrated his 60th birthday.

Elfair went on to spend two years living in Bangkok in Thailand where she worked as a harp teacher and harpist in residence at the Tamnak Prathom Harp Centre which is supported by the Thai Royal Family and is twinned with the William Mathias Music Centre in Caernarfon.

She said: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed today’s concert. It was lovely to see Morfydd and Gwen singing along and clearly having a great time.

“It’s clear the music they wanted was traditional Welsh songs and folk music although we also did some Andrew Lloyd Webber music such as songs from Phantom of the Opera and also Jesus Christ Superstar.”

She said: “I always enjoy performing in care homes day centres; it’s intimate and so rewarding. I work freelance as a harpist and perform with full orchestra’s or chamber groups but the reaction you get as musician from many older people is just priceless.

“Sosban Fach certainly had people singing along and it’s obviously a song they know well. It’s been amazing and I’ve loved every minute of today’s concert.”

To find out more about Arts and Business Cymru please visit www.aandbcymru.org.uk

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