Former royal harpist Hannah Stone has become an unofficial ambassador for St Asaph.
Hannah is getting ready for a hat-trick of appearances at the North Wales International Music Festival at the city’s famous cathedral.
She will be joined by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales for a world premiere performance of a work by Anglesey composer Gareth Glyn on the opening night of festival week, Saturday, September 26.
The popular festival runs until October 3 and is supported by the Arts Council of Wales.
Hannah’s last visit was in 2012 when she premiered a new commission by composer Karl Jenkins called St Asaph Dance.
She said: “It’s actually a piece I still play a lot so wherever I’m performing I explain all about St Asaph, the cathedral and the festival.”
This year’s “world class” line up also includes the renowned Japanese pianist Noriko Ogawa, Australian guitarist Craig Ogden and vocal ensemble Stile Antico.
Hannah will also be starring in a concert on Monday, September 28, which is being sponsored by Spillane & Co. but also being supported by the arts-loving care organisation, Pendine Park.
She stood down as the official harpist to HRH The Prince of Wales earlier this year after four successful years doing the job.
The harpist, who’s previously played for the likes of American president Barack Obama and German chancellor Angela Merkel, is excited about performing Gareth Glyn’s new composition which was written especially for the harp.
She said: “I’m thrilled to be going back to St Asaph for the third time in recent years. I always enjoy going back there and more importantly they seem to like me!
“The new piece I’m playing for the first time at this year’s festival is an exciting composition written by Gareth Glyn. It’s technically quite challenging but a wonderful composition.
“A lot of composers perhaps don’t fully understand the harp which is an exceptionally technical instrument and the harpist has to talk to the composer and advise what is do-able and what isn’t.
“That is never the case with Gareth Glyn. He knows the harp as an instrument and understands how it is so different than composing for the piano for example.
“The new composition he has written, Amaterasu, is based on stories from the Japanese Shinto religion. It is a very exciting and challenging piece.
“I will also be playing music by Scarlatti, Debussy, Renié, Caplet, Salzedo and Mathias during the concert.”
It’s been a hectic year for Hannah and has seen her perform in concerts in Australia, Istanbul and Dublin, as well as numerous UK performances.
She added: “I’m certainly kept busy and of course this year I stood down as the official harpist to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. It has been a wonderful experience and I was truly honoured to hold the post for four years.
“It’s a post for a new, young, up-and-coming harpist and I certainly had a wonderful time. I played at the NATO Conference in Cardiff and the Celtic Manor at a dinner hosted by Prince Charles.
“To play for a room with Barack Obama and Angela Merkel in the audience, to name just two world leaders, was certainly an experience and an honour.”
Hannah works closely with the charity Live Music Now which encourages professional musicians to use their talents for the benefit of those who would otherwise be excluded from the joy of experiencing live music.
Earlier this year she surprised residents of a Wrexham care home after playing for them during a visit with her partner, superstar bass-baritone Bryn Terfel.
She said: “I’m delighted Pendine Park is sponsoring the concert at St Asaph and wanted to thank them.
“I feel it’s important to let people, who might otherwise not get the chance to hear and appreciate classical music, have the chance to do so.”
North Wales International Music Festival’s artistic director, Ann Atkinson, said: “I’m really looking forward to hearing Amaterasu for the first time on what will be a wonderful and unmissable night of music.
“I’m thrilled to be able to welcome the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Hannah Stone to the festival for what will undoubtedly be a highlight of this year’s festival.
“Hannah Stone is a wonderfully talented musician and one of the best harpists in the world. It will be a massive privilege to welcome her to St Asaph for the third time in recent years.”
For more on the North Wales International Music Festival and to book tickets online please visit www.nwimf.com or alternatively call the festival’s box office at Clwyd Theatr Cymru on 01352 701521.