Ex-royal harpist and opera superstar delight care home residents 

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Former Royal harpist Hannah Stone visited Pendine Park along with Welsh opera singer Bryn Terfel. She performed for residents and staff at Hillbury and they watched as residents at Bodlondeb took part in musical therapy. Bryn Terfel with residents and staff

 

Amazed care home residents in Wrexham were treated to a stunning performance by former royal harpist Hannah Stone and opera superstar Bryn Terfel.

Hannah, who’s previously played for the likes of American president Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, was joined on a visit to the Pendine Park care organisation by the world-famous bass baritone.

Pendine Park are sponsoring a concert starring Hannah at the North Wales International Music Festival in St Asaph.

As part of the arrangement, Hannah agreed to come and see Pendine Park’s award-winning music therapy in action – and to put on a concert for residents.

She was unexpectedly accompanied by Bryn who was sporting a magnificent beard, grown for the role of Reb Tevye in Grange Park Opera’s production of Fiddler on the Roof.

On their arrival at Pendine Park’s Bodlondeb dementia care centre, Hannah and Bryn were greeted by staff and residents who sang Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, the Welsh national anthem – and it didn’t take long for Bryn to join in.

The couple also happily posed for pictures and signed autographs.

According to Swansea-born Hannah, 28, the music therapy she saw at Bodlondeb was “fantastic”.

She said: “To hear that these enrichment sessions are a daily occurrence is amazing.

“You can see how much enjoyment it brings to residents by the smiles on their faces.”

Bryn was equally impressed and revealed: “My mother taught at a school for disabled people in Caernarfon so I was involved with music therapy at an age when perhaps I didn’t really appreciate its benefits.

“However, the session we witnessed today was wonderful and clearly residents were having a great time.”

Hannah and Bryn later travelled across town to Pendine Park’s Hillbury care home where Hannah, who was appointed the official harpist to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales in 2011, treated residents, staff and invited pupils from Victoria Primary School’s choir and orchestra group, to an hour-long concert of harp music.

She played music as varied as the Oscar winning, The Way You Look Tonight from Swing Time, a 1936 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film, to classical tango and rumba pieces by harp composer Carlos Salzedo, along with hits from musicals including South Pacific, The Sound of Music and Carousel.

Then Bryn joined in and sang Mahalia Jackson’s, If I Can Help Somebody, which ended with rapturous applause from a clearly delighted audience.

Retired steelworker Jack Simons, 83, the husband of Hillbury resident Brenda, 84, said: “Absolutely fantastic, it made the hairs on the back of our necks stand up.

“The harp is such a beautiful instrument and when it’s played by one of the best musicians in the world it’s something different again.

“Who would have thought that just a few people could get to enjoy a harpist like Hannah Stone and a world famous singer like Bryn Terfel here in a care home in Wrexham? It’s been amazing.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Hillbury manager Cindy Clutton who said: “It’s amazing to see people of the calibre of Hannah Stone and Bryn Terfel performing here. Our residents will probably never get to see performers of this calibre in such a small setting.

“You can see how the residents are relaxed and how much they are enjoying what has been a stunning and beautiful performance.”

Hillbury manager Cindy Clutton, said: “It’s amazing to see people of the calibre of Hannah Stone and Bryn Terfel performing here. Our residents will probably never get to see performers of this calibre in such a small setting.

“You can see how the residents are relaxed and how much they are enjoying what has been a stunning and beautiful performance.”

Sarah Edwards, Pendine Park’s artist in residence, told Hannah, Bryn and the audience: “Music is at the heart of everything we do at Pendine. It inspires residents and staff.

“Since 2008 I have been privileged to work on a project with musicians from the Hallé orchestra and Welsh National Opera and, along with the rest of the team, have witnessed the benefits music can bring to a person’s quality of life.

“It was clear from the initial pilot project with the Hallé how music has the power to touch people’s lives, bring back happy memories and have a positive impact on well-being and mood.

“We are currently training more staff as part of our enrichment programme to give them confidence to build on their skills and to feel empowered to lead their own music workshop, set up a choir or simply remember to put on a person’s favourite radio station.

It was an “unforgettable experience” for Pendine Park proprietor Mario Kreft MBE and his wife, Gill, who are also celebrating after the organisation was named Business of the Year at the Arts and Business Cymru Awards where they also won the Arts, Business and Health award in recognition of the firm’s partnerships with the arts to support the mental and emotional wellbeing of its clients and staff.

Mario said: “For Hannah to agree to perform for us was wonderful and her performance was truly extraordinary.

“It’s has been a day to remember and I’m sure everyone has thoroughly enjoyed meeting both Hannah and Bryn in such a relaxed and intimate setting.”