Mid Wales

Gregynog Festival celebrates life of 'Harpist of Wales'

Gregynog Hall Image copyright Gregynog Hall
Image caption The event will take place at Gregynog Hall in Powys

The life and work of one of Wales' most famous musicians will be celebrated with a two day festival in Powys.

The event marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of John Roberts, Harpist of Wales.

A range of performances, talks, and events will explore the life of Roberts, who performed for the likes of Queen Victoria and the King of Belgium.

The celebrations are part of the Gregynog Festival, Wales' oldest music festival.

Born in north Wales to a Romany mother and a Welsh father, Roberts and his family lived in Newtown, Powys, for most of his life where he became a noted harpist and singer.

'Significant figure'

He performed at Gregynog Hall, where the festival is taking place, during the mid-19th century.

He also played for Queen Victoria on multiple occasions, the Grand Duke Constantine of Russia, and the King of Belgium in Swansea.

In 1848, he won the World Welsh Harp competition at Abergavenny as well as the harp prize at the National Eisteddfod in Cardiff.

He taught nine of his children to play the harp and they too gave a concert before Queen Victoria in 1889.

Image copyright National Library of Wales
Image caption John Roberts lived in Newtown, Powys, for most of his life

Russell George, AM for Montgomeryshire, highlighted the work of Roberts in the Senedd on Wednesday.

He said: "Roberts became one of Wales' best known musical acts of his day, touring Wales as part of the Original Cambrian Minstrels.

"He put Newtown firmly on the musical map and remains a significant figure within Welsh culture.

"I was pleased to be able to mark his 200th birthday in the Senedd and hope that the celebrations at the Gregynog Festival are a great success."

The festival takes place between 18-19 November.

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