LBMC: Claire Jones, harpist

The golden girl with the harp

On Saturday 20th February 2010 Leighton Buzzard Music Club presented an evening of harp music by Claire Jones, currently harpist to HRH the Prince of Wales.

On entering the theatre one found the stage dominated by Claire Jones’ magnificent golden ‘Salvi’ harp, romantic and ethereal, albeit some seven feet tall. Anticipation was high, therefore, when the golden girl from Wales joined her glorious instrument on stage.

Her programme was varied, and designed to show off the harp’s capabilities and party tricks. During the evening she also explained something about how the harp is played, how to buy a new one, how to travel with one, what it was like to play regularly for royalty and their guests and how to solve amplification problems when playing a harp in the middle of the Millenium Stadium for an international rugby union match!

She began with Fantaisie on themes from ‘Eugene Onegin’ by Tchaikovsky, gracefully coaxing from her instrument extraordinary ornamental runs and trills. Next we were given Partita No 1 by J S Bach, a particular favourite of Prince Charles. This piece showed us a different side of the harp and the harpist. It sounded as though it had originally been written for the harpichord. The music moved in a stately but lively fashion quite unlike the bird-like work in the Tchaikovsky.

Next we were given a modern piece by Patrick Hawes – a name some readers will be familiar with as he is Classic FM’s composer in residence. How Hill was obviously a favourite of Claire’s. She completed the first half of her concert with her own arrangement of Men of Harlech, demonstrating that a harp can be commanding as well. While Claire plucked music from the instrument it threw golden highlights from its pillar and highly varnished sound board around the theatre, as well as notes.

After the interval the evening continued with Rosetti’s Sonate, which music poured over us like honey, sweet and hypnotic. This was followed by another modern piece written for the harp by an Arabian composer, Ami Mayammi, about whom I can find nothing – except to encourage you to search her (or him) out for yourselves. Maqamat was music redolent of indolence, the seraglio and the oasis; Claire made the harp purr and maiow, producing luscious discords and pedalled drops in pitch.

Her penultimate offering was the Theme from ‘Schindler’s List’ by John Williams, which, again, she had arranged herself. The familiar melody felt almost as though it were being produced by a guitar – but, of course, a guitar of many more than usual strings and greater sonority. The final item in the concert allowed Claire to demonstrate her dexterity with glissandi and harmonics with her new Salvi harp. Finally, warm applause called her back for an encore, a melody drenched in lovely arpeggios.
‘Thank you for having me,’ she said as she sat down to play her final piece. The pleasure was ours, golden girl. The Prince chose his harpist well*.

* Claire Jones is no longer the Prince’s harpist.

Published by Judi Moore

Hi there, I hope you find something to interest you here. In December 2017 I published my fourth book – ‘Wonders will never cease’. It’s a satirical campus novel set in the fictional Ariel University in 1985. If you enjoyed Tom Sharpe’s Porterhouse novels, Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’, David Lodge’s campus novels or Malcolm Bradbury’s ‘The History Man’ back in the day, you may enjoy revisiting the ivory towers of 1980s’ academe thirty years on. See what you think. “It is December, 1985. The year is winding gently towards its close until Fergus Girvan, a Classicist at Ariel University, finds his research has been stolen by the man who is also seeking to steal his daughter. But which man is, actually, the more unscrupulous of the two? And is there hope for either of them?” In the autumn of 2015 I published a volume of short fiction: 'Ice Cold Passion and other stories'. I am also the author of novella 'Little Mouse', a shortish piece of historical fiction which I published in 2014 and, a sequel to it, 'Is death really necessary?', my eco thriller set in the near future and which, confusingly, I published in 2009. All the books are available from all good online bookshops and FeedARead on paper, and as e-books on Kindle. On a semi-regular basis, and about a month after the event, I post here reviews which I do for Big Al & Pals, the premier reviewer of indie books, based in the States. My interests tend to thrillers, SF, magic realism and other quirky stuff. On this blog are also posted the reviews I did for Leighton Buzzard Music Club over some five years up to the end of 2015. LBMC present annual seasons of eight monthly chamber music concerts at the Library Theatre in Leighton Buzzard, Bucks. They select young musicians just beginning to make their name - and the concerts are usually magnificent. I was very proud to be associated with them. I review other music, books, theatre and exhibitions which I've particularly enjoyed. BTW - it says the link to Facebook is broken. I dispute that. Click it and see, why not?

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