A dream came true for a talented young cellist from Anglesey when she had the opportunity to perform with world renowned harpist Catrin Finch.
Elin Taylor, 22, duetted with the former royal harpist during a concert for residents, relatives and staff at Pendine Park’s Bryn Seiont Newydd care home in Caernarfon thanks to a project backed by Arts & Business Cymru.
Ms Finch, who was the official harpist to His Highness the Prince of Wales between 2000 and 2004, was in the area to star at the Wales Harp Festival at Galeri.
She fulfilled her promise to play at the festival after having to pull out last year because she was recovering from breast cancer.
The concert at Bryn Seiont Newydd came about as the result of 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 was the culmination of a series of 15 concerts at Pendine Park’s care homes in Wrexham and Caernarfon and at other venues in the community.
Elin Taylor, whose talent was nurtured at Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias, has just graduated from Cardiff University with a First Class degree in Music and a distinction at Masters level and was delighted to perform alongside Catrin Finch at Bryn Seiont Newydd.
“I really enjoy community projects such as CultureStep. Playing in a care home environment is really intimate and interesting and playing alongside Catrin Finch is a dream come true,” said Elin who was brought up in Tregarth, near Bangor but now lives in Rhostrehwfa.
“It’s really clear residents were enthralled with the music and absolutely loved the short concert. Taking music into the community is something I always enjoy.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Catrin Finch who said: “The project has run alongside the Wales Harp Festival and it’s great to see.
“It’s always lovely to play in somewhere such as Bryn Seiont Newydd. Not many care homes have a dedicated music room or a musician in residence.
“I enjoyed the intimacy, few if any of the residents will have had the opportunity to attend the Wales Harp Festival to listen to my concert so it’s been something special to bring the music to them.
“It’s clear residents were engaged with the music and there were lots of smiles. I’m just delighted they enjoyed the music.”
Meinir Llwyd Roberts of the Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias, said: “Pendine Arts and Community Trust has been very supportive and the Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias have been able to work in partnership with them and Arts & Business Cymru to deliver what has been a superb project taking wonderful music out into the community.
“We are very proud to be working with Pendine Arts and Community Trust which has a real belief in the power of music to change people lives.
“Professional harpist Elfair Grug, one of Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias’ alumni harp students, has delivered 15 concerts and engaged with residents and clients in a series of workshops as part of the CultureStep programme culminating with Catrin’s concert at Bryn Seiont Newydd.”
She added: “The dedicated music room here at Bryn Seiont Newydd is an amazing resource and it’s wonderful to see a care organisation invest in music provision for people living with dementia.
“It’s been amazing to listen to Catrin Finch performing for residents, relatives and staff. It was also a wonderful opportunity for cellist Elin Taylor to play alongside a musician of the calibre of Catrin Finch.
“Elin has been shadowing Elfair Grug on her tour of care homes and day care centres and for her to have the opportunity to play alongside Catrin Finch was, I know, a huge thrill for her.”
Pendine Park’s Musician in Residence, Nia Davies Williams, who is based Bryn Seiont Newydd, says it was a huge privilege to have a harpist of Catrin Finch’s international standing play at the care home.
She said: “It’s something special and residents and those relatives present clearly enjoyed the performance. It really was something very special.
“Catrin Finch is the harpist I perhaps admire the most. I love the way she plays and how she interprets the music. She draws the audience in and always seems to maintain eye contact with her audience.
“I could see how our residents loved the performance by the way they responded, it’s clear Catrin Finch brought a great deal of joy to our residents.”
Pwllheli company director, Karen Jones, enjoyed the concert alongside her mum Owena Jones who has been a Bryn Seiont Newydd resident for 18 months.
She said: “It was fantastic to see and hear Catrin Finch perform, what an absolute privilege. Music is important to mum, she was an accomplished pianist in her time and one of the main reasons why we chose Bryn Seiont Newydd was their commitment to music and the arts.
“Mum enjoys music and it really has been important to her throughout her life whether that’s attending Eisteddfods or concerts.”
Anwen Hughes, the daughter of Bryn Seiont Newydd resident Alun Hughes, also enjoyed the performance with her dad.
She said: “It’s amazing, the chance to hear someone of the quality of Catrin Finch performing in a care home is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was wonderful and I know dad really enjoyed it too.
“We love the facilities at Bryn Seiont Newydd and the sheer number and quality of musical performances that residents can enjoy. We have had male voice and mixed choirs and folk music. It’s amazing.”
Bryn Seiont Newydd manager Sandra Evans added: “It was a truly magical occasion and we are immensely grateful to Catrin for finding time in her busy schedule to come here.
“Music and the arts generally are the golden thread that runs through everything we do at Pendine Park and this concert chimed perfectly with our ethos of enriching the lives of our residents and staff.”